(Miami) Spice Up Quarantine

Need to Get Out of the House? Dine at These Miami Spice Restaurants

Miami Spice looks different this year. Usually a two-month promotion starting in August, it turned into four, giving the restaurant industry a much needed boost post-shutdown. However, restaurants without outdoor dining had to switch to “Spice To Go” in early July when indoor dining rooms were forced to close again. Compared to last year, the number of Coral Gables restaurants participating in Miami Spice were cut in half. But we are still left with a dozen establishments with stellar three-course brunch/lunch menus for $25 and dinner menus for $39. We visited seven of the 12 restaurants below.

Amore Restaurant & Bar, Bachour, Bellmónt Spanish Restaurant, Brasserie Central, Bulla Gastrobar, K.a.o. Sushi & Grill, Pascal’s on Ponce, Sawa Restaurant & Lounge, Seasons 52, Talavera Cocina Mexicana, Tap 42, Tur Kitchen

Tur Kitchen – Dinner

Starter: The seared eggplant may have been the best dish of the night. Atop a layer of San Marzano tomato, the eggplant is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and complimented by its feta and sourdough toppings.
Entrée: The wagyu steak caught our eye and it did not disappoint. The chef recommends cooking it medium rare for a truly flavorful cut of beef. And the polenta fries on the side are some of the best we’ve had.
Dessert: With raspberry sorbet on the side, the lemon tart is sour and sweet all at the same time. But if you’re a decadent dessert lover, definitely order the chocolate nemesis tart.
Though not included in the prix-fixe, we highly recommend their signature cocktails, especially the “El Faraon” if you’re into spicy drinks or “Thyme is of the Essence” for something fruity.

 steak Tur Kitchen
Wagyu steak

K.a.o. Sushi & Grill – Lunch

Starter: We could not resist the Roca Chicken, which are like deep fried rock shrimp – crunchy balls of chicken cooked in tempura batter and then served with spicy mayo and kettle style potato chips. Very tasty, well coupled with the chips.
Entrée: The portions here are stunningly large. We ordered the shrimp chaufa, a Peruvian style fried rice with veggies, egg, red onion and cilantro. Rich, hearty flavors, with fluffy saffron rice and juicy shrimp. We also tried the ribs. Cooked in a bourbon barbecue sauce, the half dozen large ribs we got were fall-off-the-bone flavorful.
Dessert: A traditional Argentine flan or a tres leche? You can’t go wrong with either one.

Dine at These Miami Spice restaurants
BBQ ribs

Bulla Gastrobar – Dinner

Starter: The dinner menu comes with any of their three sangrias or a Moscow Mule, so technically we started with a cocktail. If you haven’t had their sangria de cerveza or renowned Moscow Mule, you’re missing out. Bulla’s tartar de atún, or tuna tartar, is top notch. Made with ahi tuna, mango, avocado, soy sesame vinaigrette and Sriracha aioli on the side, it reminds us of a deconstructed sushi roll.
Entrée: The arroz caldosa is similar to paella, but more brothy; like if paella and soup had a baby. A very hearty dish with rice, seafood, chicken, red sofrito and saffron.
Dessert: With sides of rich chocolate and warm dulce de leche for dipping, the churros con chocolate win us over every time.

Dine at These Miami Spice restaurants
Arroz caldosa

Amore Restaurant & Bar – Lunch

Starter: Amore’s Spice menu also comes with a drink – either beer or house wine. Yes, even for lunch. Anyone who frowns upon day drinking is not your friend. Our appetizer of choice was the Caprese salad, a classic Italian dish of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes topped with extra virgin olive oil and a balsamic vinegar reduction.
Entrée: We were blown away by the fagottini pasta stuffed with pear and masarpone cheese tossed in a gorgonzola sauce. It’s savory and cheesy and we would go back again and again for this dish alone. Chef’s kiss
Dessert: In the battle of two traditional Italian desserts – cannoli and tiramisu – the cacao-heavy tiramisu took home the trophy.

 Miami Spice restaurants

Tap 42 – Dinner

Starter: Japanese and Latin American cuisines come together in the form of the spicy salmon tostones. Stacked atop tostones is a tower of salmon, guacamole, eel sauce, Sriracha aioli and cilantro. We’ve dined at a lot of restaurants in this city and we haven’t had anything like this anywhere else.
Entrée: The baby back ribs take barbeque to a whole new level. They’re slow cooked, tender and messy, drenched in sweet and smoky BBQ sauce. A generous portion of crispy fries is the cherry on top.
Dessert: There’s only one dessert option on the menu: The ice cream cookie sundae. It’s not the towering sundae you’re used to, but a more modest ice cream cookie sandwich with a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce. Even with the reduced portions, we still left in a food coma.

Tap42 starter
Spicy salmon tostones

Sawa Restaurant & Lounge – Lunch

Starter: We do miss last year’s chilled mango gazpacho, but this year’s Bang Bang Shrimp goes a long way to make us forget. And while the hummus duo was oddly bright green and pink (cilantro and red beet variations), it delivered one of Sawa’s homemade mainstays. Can’t find better or fresher.
Entrée: Sawa is known for its inventive rolls that push the edge of the sushi envelope, and their “Two Timing Tuna” roll does nothing less, combining spicy and seared tuna with shiitake mushroom for a taste and texture sensation.
Dessert: The perfect split for the Middle Eastern/Japanese restaurant: Either Japanese mochi ice cream or homemade baklava, a Mediterranean pastry with nuts and honey. Both were delectable.

Dine at These Miami Spice restaurants
Two timing tuna roll

Bellmónt Spanish Restaurant – Dinner

Starter: Ascend into cheese heaven with Manchego croquetas. Once you bite through the crunchy outer layer, warm Manchego oozes out. The portion size is two, but we could have eaten 10.
Entrée: We love ordering a steak entrée for Miami Spice because it’s usually the most bang for your buck, and the churrasco a la parrilla did not disappoint. The grilled skirt steak comes with roasted vegetables that are covered in a brilliantly flavorful seasoning. The meat itself is so tasty that no steak sauce is needed.
Dessert: Torrija is a very popular dessert in Spain around Easter. It’s somewhat of a crossover between French toast and bread pudding. For $2 extra, you can add nougat ice cream on the side, which we definitely recommend, as it complements the flavors of the torrija perfectly.

Dine at These Miami Spice restaurants
Manchego croquetas