I usually don’t need any encouragement to try a new restaurant, especially in these quieter days of summer when the restaurants are less crowded, specials abound, and I think service is better. I also don’t need much encouragement to spend a couple of days visiting restaurants in Miami, one of the country’s greatest restaurant cities. But during August and September the Miami Spice promotion makes visiting Miami irresistible!
Miami Spice started as a way to bring in customers to Miami restaurants after 9/11, which was one of the worst years for restaurants around the country. It was modeled after New York’s Restaurant Week, which was launched in 1992 to encourage people attending the Democratic National Convention to visit some of New York’s best restaurants. The original restaurants that participated agreed to offer a three-course prix fixe lunch for $19.92. The program was such a success that the following year the price went to $19.93 and that pricing structure continued for a number of years. Eventually the program in New York expanded to lunch and dinner and one week stretched into four weeks.
In Miami this year there are an astounding 243 restaurants participating in Miami Spice! Starting August 1, each will offer a three-course lunch for $23 and/or dinner for $39. The restaurants have to have a good rating (according to the Zagat restaurant guide), and must be a good value for the price point. As a result, some of the very best (and most expensive restaurants) in Miami participate in Miami Spice. For foodlovers this is a chance to try some of the best Miami restaurants at a much more reasonable price, such as Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel, or French 27, a fabulous new French bistro in the SoFi area in South Beach. Even Miami’s hottest new restaurants are participating. I was surprised to see that Alter, a very hip but tiny restaurant in the Wynwood area in downtown Miami was a participant. Each restaurant and their Miami Spice menu is posted at www.ilovemiamispice.com and you can reserve a table online there as well (which is highly recommended for the more popular restaurants).