Miami Spice starts today, kicking off a two-month promotion, making a drive down to Miami for some restaurant deals worth the trip, even with the price of gas.
More than 100 restaurants in the Miami area participate in Spice, which features three-course special menus at $35 for dinner and a pocket-friendly $22 for lunch. This is a great way to try out new restaurants or reacquaint yourself with old favorites, as most every name in the Miami restaurant scene participates -- even "A"-listers like Michael's Genuine Food and Drink, Michy's, and Azul open their doors to patrons wanting to eat for a song.
Not all Spice menus are created equal, so do your homework. Here are a few tips when deciding where to eat:
1. Visit the Miami Spice website, which lists each participating restaurant and its Miami Spice menu.
2. Note any restrictions on each restaurant. Most restaurants don't offer Miami Spice on weekends or holidays, and some offer dinner or lunch only, so know before you go. Make reservations to avoid disappointment.
3. Look at the restaurant's official website and daily menus to get a "feel" if the Spice menu is a good value. Usually the higher-priced restaurants offer better values, but with some restaurants, you might save only a few bucks or break even.
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4. Cocktails and wine are generally not included, but many restaurants also offer discounted bottles of wine or specials. For instance, Red the Steakhouse offers 50 percent off bottles of wine on Wednesdays, and the Capital Grille offers its "Generous Pour" event through early September.
5. Though dinner may be sexier, consider breaking away for a long lunch. At $22, lunch is a great value, and many water-view restaurants, like Area 31, offer breathtaking vistas that are best appreciated in the daytime.