Let’s be real, while shows like Ballers make Miamians look like we rolled straight out of a Lil’ Wayne music video, most of us aren’t hitting up the club and swanky rooftop bars all week long.
But, this is the time of year when locals can let loose and spend a long lunch, a dinner date, or a boozy brunch ballin’ out on a budget. August and September bring the magic of Miami Spice, when you and your crew can grab a three-course lunch for $23, dinner for $39, and as of this year, $23 for brunch from the best chefs and at the ritziest spots in town.
Gather your entourage, call your bae and make a date at these luxe and celebrity chef-owned hotel Miami Spice spots to feel bougie sans the broke.
Get wined and dined with fan-fave Chopped judge and James Beard award-winning chef Scott Conant. You’ll be fine and fancy inside the restaurant’s sleek white and gold interiors that set off wall-to-wall window views of the ocean and The Fontainebleau’s, like, 11 pools. And not to make a dig on your nonna’s spaghetti, but this menu of modern-meets-Italian comfort food is next level. Creamy polenta and truffled mushrooms or any of their homemade pastas inspire major “amore.”
Gili’s Beach Club
Why dine next to the beach when you can dine literally on the beach? Gili’s Beach Club serves up Mediterranean-style cuisine right on the sand. Order a round of house-made guac and jumbo shrimp, and keep those cocktails coming. There’s probably nothing more Miami than grabbing a cabana, and watching the waves roll in while the ocean breeze keeps you cool(ish).
Dining at Palme d’Or is so classy and classic that dining there feels like you’re living your ’90s fantasy of starring in Titanic (minus the whole sinking ship and Rose hogging that giant piece of wood stuff). Expect ornate, old-world decor and small plates so gorgeous they should be hung at the Met. The restaurant features a modern approach to French dishes, so you’d be remiss not to get “un peu aventureux” and try the foie gras, duck breast, or frog legs.
La Côte is a terrific trendy spot to sit poolside and sip summertime cocktails. It’s the kind of place that almost always has a DJ, and while you’re probably there for the views and booze, the light Mediterranean fare will leave you feeling refreshed. Maybe it’s a Miami cliché, but sometimes there is nothing better than a sparkling pool, beachside views, and a watermelon marg.
Il Mulino NY
Oceanside at the Acqualina, Il Mulino New York is a classic, Italian fine-dining experience where you can get your fill of homemade, comfort foods, like creamy pastas and risottos, paired with a perfect wine. You’re guaranteed to be treated right, and unlike many other upscale restaurants, the portions are plentiful. Pro tip: The porcini ravioli has been known to change lives. Prepárate.
In The Biltmore’s Mediterranean-style courtyard, Fontana is the Italian counterpart to Palm d’Or – a little less small plates and a whole lot more fancy, homemade, glorious carbs. Any plate of pasta will make you swoon, but their lobster ravioli is ravishing. If you’re feeling bubbly, the true star of the show here is the Sunday champagne brunch. Sip, savor, turn up.
Los Fuegos By Francis Mallmann
Renowned Chef Francis Mallmann, a contemporary grillmaster inspired by the Argentinian live-fire cooking, keeps Los Fuegos lit for foodies who love a little char. Meat is obvs the star at this hotel hotspot, but fish fans will adore the branzino and octopus “a la plancha.” And, like the hotel itself (have you seen the gold-encased mammoth?), the decor is beyond eccentric, complete with string lights, seashells, and beach umbrellas.
La Mar by Gastón Acurio
Miami loves Peruvian eats, and La Mar by Gastón Acurio at the Mandarin Oriental is some next level ish. As its name suggests, head here to treat yourself with top notch views of the bay and fresh seafood bites. While you should certainly order a cebiche (or two), don’t skimp on their anticuchos, grilled marinated meats inspired by Peruvian street food. Dishes are a combination of Acurio’s novo-Andean culinary background and Asian fusion, which you should pair with one of their signature spins on the classic pisco.
StripSteak by Michael Mina
Attention carnivores, we’ve found your meat mecca. Located in the Fontainebleau, this steakhouse is the dreamchild of celebrity chef Michael Mina, and with its butcher shop, on-site aging room, and wood-fired oven, it’s basically a steak lover’s dream. The menu also features a dope seafood spread, and veggie lovers can sample salads, sides and their truffle butter stuffed brioche.
Aligned with The Setai’s stunning Asian-inspired ambience, Jaya features a fusion menu straight outta, like, six different countries. You’ve got your noodles, your curries, your sticky rice, your naan, and more to take your tastebuds on a cross-continent carb tour. If you’re sharing, dig into some Dim Sum, or if you’re really feelin’ yourself, try their bomb Peking Duck. The drinks are also Asian-inspired, infused with flavors like chili and ginger to spice up your evening nightcap.
Although it may not initially seem all that high up, the 16th floor locale of the EPIC’s Area 31 in serves up some of the most stunning and sweeping views of downtown and the Miami River. If you want to seriously impress your date, this skyline and fresh, Mediterranean-inspired menu should do the trick. They’ve got an on-site herb garden to complement one of Brickell’s best craft cocktail menus, which you can sample after the workweek grind for their Friday “chase the clock” happy hour
LT Steak & Seafood
At Art Deco mainstay The Betsy, LT Steak & Seafood features a swanky surf ‘n’ turf-inspired menu right on Ocean Drive. You’ll start with cheesy popovers (like Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits got a major luxury upgrade). After you’ve sufficiently covered yourself in butter and crumbs, soak it up with lean meats or fresh-caught seafood like their grilled local snapper or certified Black Angus steak, all crafted and curated by celebrity chef Laurent Tourondel.
Authentic Asian is a bit of a weak spot for our fair city, but this Fontainebleau gem is serving up some of the most classic Cantonese in town. Hakkasan was already a global hit by the time it rolled into Miami, and trust us, their crispy duck is a testament to that rep. Dimly lit and dressed up in deep reds and blues, the restaurant dishes an upscale vibe, but don’t be too cool to go ham on their lunchtime Dim Sum.