The Good of Miami Spice 2014, Part One

Courtesy of Milos
Get your fill of Mediterranean fish at Milos.
Another steamy summer, another Miami Spice. The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is back with the oft-beloved, sometimes maligned dining deals that help fill restaurants during the slow summer months and give less well-to-do diners a way to eat in the city's most lavish spots at a fraction of the price.

Things are bit different this year. Gone is the dual-tiered system that didn't insult any restaurant, but slotted some into a less costly "fine dining" group and others into a higher priced "luxury dining" category. This year lunch is a flat $23 and dinner $39. One chef says this will help cover restaurants' food costs a bit, which hopefully will translate into better menus.

See also: MC Kitchen Launches Bar Menu: Shandys, Calzones, and Light Bites

Also different are the total number of restaurants, 174 at last count, down from more than 200 the previous year. Boozy options are also limited and the most memorable choice from years past, Mercadito with its comp margarita alongside an onslaught of punchy Mexican dishes, is no more after the Midtown spot closed in March.

The good news is after a few years of this delicately orchestrated dance, both restaurants and diners appear to be getting it. The dreaded skirt steak-farmed Atlantic salmon-pasta lineup seems to be increasingly rare as time goes by, and many restaurants are taking to the challenge with gusto and making weekly, if not monthly menu changes.

So lets start with the Good, the restaurants that you ought to check out, recommend to an out-of-town friend, or stop by on an impulse and an empty stomach.

Estiatorio Milos by Costas Spiliadis
Consider that the octopus appetizer at this South Beach Mediterranean seafood shrine with sky high prices is $27 on the regular menu. With a $39 Spice menu, that leaves less than the cost of one cocktail to cover entrée and dessert. Somehow they manage to squeeze in the choice of a whole Mediterranean sea bass or lamb chops. Portions are likely to be smaller than what you'll get the rest of the year, but these enticing options make it a can't miss. Available for lunch and dinner daily.

Location Info

Estiatorio Milos Marketa

730 1st St., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Oolite Restaurant & Bar

1661 Pennsylvania Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Zuma Contemporary Japanese Cuisine

270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Bourbon Steak, a Michael Mina Restaurant

19999 W. Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL

Category: Restaurant

MC Kitchen

4141 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Pascal's on Ponce

2611 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL

Category: Music

1826 Restaurant and Lounge

1826 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Katsuya by Starck

1700 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

Preston's Brasserie

1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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Tried 1826 Miami Spice menu and was not impressed.  Some menu items were simplified versions of regular menu dishes and did not impress.  Would have preferred smaller versions of regular items.  Did order Short rib off the regular menu and it was very good.  Will have to return to find out what the fuss is about.

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