Saturday, August 12, 2017

#ThankYouMiami for Miami Spice (Part 1)

Can you believe there are people out there who don't enjoy food? I can't either and I'm certainly not one of those people. In fact, whenever I go to a restaurant it gives me great anxiety to pick what I want to eat because in all honesty, I want to eat aaaaallll the foods.

When Miami Spice rolls around every August and September, I get giddy with excitement. It's like a two-month birthday present from Miami to me. (PSA: My birthday is September 13.) Not only do I get to eat more of the foods, but I also get to try restaurants that I can't afford the remaining 10 months of the year. Ergo, I lose myself in a whirlwind of three-course menus and emerge on October 1st a pleasantly plump and happy niña.

This year, in the first 11 days, I have already visited four of the bajillion participating restaurants. (Celeste has visited others that she'll be sharing as subsequent parts to this post shortly.) Every single one has been fantastic. I've broken down the details below for your culinary consideration. Happy Miami Spice-ing fellow gourmands!

255 Biscayne Blvd Way, Downtown Miami

I joined Amber a few weeks back for a sneak peek of DB Bistro Moderne's extensive—they have five options per course—Miami Spice menu. It was a well-curated sample of the classical French cuisine with a twist for which the restaurant is known. I'm talking about dishes like escargot tarts, a fall-off-the-bone coq au vin, and steak frites. Don't miss out on the corn ravioli, which was our favorite of the night. Also, if you love wine as much as I do, ask for sommelier Haunah. She has an uncanny talent for enhancing each dish with a selection from the restaurant's ample reserve. My final tip? Leave room for the complimentary madeleines that make the rounds during dessert. They're to die for.

100 Chopin Plaza, Downtown Miami

I'm a huge fan of all things Chef Sandoval, probably because we share the Mexican connection so his food speaks to me on a cultural level. It also speaks to me on a melt-in-your-mouth level. I am specifically thinking about the lomo saltado empanadas and the charcoal pork belly starters on this year's Miami Spice dinner menu. For your main course, you can't go wrong with either of the three options but there's something about how he cooks red meat that makes me gravitate to his steaks. Round out dessert with the cortadito cheesecake (because Miami...) or, if this is your first time at Toro Toro, order La Bomba. It is a quintessential part of the restaurant's dining experience.

1677 Collins Ave, Miami Beach

I've been to the National Hotel before for Miami Swim Week shenanigans, but this was my first time venturing there for Miami Spice. The ambiance was by far my favorite part of the evening. We were greeted at the lobby bar by the soothing sounds of a jazz vocalist that were the perfect accompaniment to our pre-dinner drinks. True to my tequila-drinking ways I ordered the Spice cocktail (tequila, jalapeño, lime, cucumber and simple syrup) which I sipped while reveling in the hotel's "old Miami" glamour. Standouts from the dinner menu were the smoked lamb souvlaki starter, followed by the seafood paella or the achiote Belle & Evans chicken for your entrée. I'm excited to try their lunch and brunch menus next. (Yes, several Miami Spice participating restaurants launched a brunch menu this year and much to our delight Tamara Bistro is one of them.)

4. Byblos
1545 Collins Ave, Miami Beach

I have been dying to try Byblos for years but only remember to go when Tash Oakley of A Bikini A Day is in town and posts about it on Instagram. The streak was finally broken last week when I joined my friends Betsy and Lynn there for dinner and a thousand-and-one bottles of rosé. Their menu gave me the hardest time because everything sounds (and tastes) ex-quis-ite. Luckily Betsy is a huge fan of sharing so we split the local snapper, the flank steak, the seared cauliflower and the blistered snap peas family style. Both of us wanted our own roasted red beets appetizer and thank god we didn't share that one because it was my favorite thing on the menu. Trust me when I say you need to run, not walk, to Byblos while the price is right.


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