Miami’s answer to Restaurant Week: Miami Spice Aug 1-Sep 30

Staying in Miami for business after a weekend of Keys traffic, I had dinner with friend Carlos in Miami’s Midtown area, known for the madness that annually descends with Art Basel, near to the Design District and the Wynwood Walls.

Carlos introduced Miami Spice, two months of Restaurant Week-type set menus during the Aug-Sep slow season. Restaurants are classed as luxury dining (lunch $23, dinner$39) and fine dining (lunch $19, dinner $33). Menus are 3-course (or more) with an adult beverage.

American Express is a sponsor, but it does not appear that they have any promotion this year.

Miami Spice (like Restaurant Week) at #mercaditomia, the double guacamole first round

Choice of 2 guacamole and a Michelada

Participating restaurants are grouped by the Beaches, and Miami North and South. Helpful tables on the Miami Spice website list which days and meals for each restaurant. We dined at Mercadito, which does not participate for lunch though has dinner nightly.

Pork belly tacos at @mercaditomia

Pancinta pork belly tacos

About Mercadito, the menu offered considerable choice with the proviso that each selection is per table. This can strain relationships among people passionate about their food yet not accustomed to eating family style. Some flexibility is granted to large groups. The food was good, nice to see cactus on a menu in the US. Did not like seeing a charge for water appear on the bill, a small amount yet there was no disclosure, not even the oft-heard and underhanded “still or sparkling.” The bottle looked like a reusable tap water bottle. I like restaurants that do not try to slip in charges like this. An introduction to Micheladas help to compensate (beer, Worchestershire sauce and lime in this variant).

And the dessert, all for $33 with the Miami Spice menu, @mercaditomia

Chocolate cake

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  • Drew

    As an MIA resident, this is the ONLY place I’ve ever heard of that charges for water – even “tap” water. Plain and simple, it’s ridiculous.

  • Dan R

    Drew – Don’t forgot the required tipping; unheard of anywhere else I’ve been to in the US

  • @Drew – we were quite surprised, though the bottle had a screw top it looked generic and seemed already open when the waiter brought it. After seeing the bill we looked at the bottle again and there was a very faint logo, but again, the waiter just came out and poured, never offered.

    By the way, I love Miami from the eight months I was assigned there and jump at any chance to return. I even keep seeing my dentist in Kendall.

  • @Dar R – thanks, my local friend alerted me to that as well. I believe I had heard that happens some in Hawaii with large Asian tourist diners not accustomed to giving tips.

  • Drew

    @Dan – yeah, this unfortunate practice that was primarily isolated on Miami Beach (due to tourists not being aware of the custom so they say) has now crept over to the mainland. More and more restaurants seem to be adding 18% “for your convenience” HAH! Where’s the incentive to provide good service if the tip is decided up front? Of course, you can alter the amount if you want – but I bet it’s not done very often.

    @RTC – apparently they justify the charge by saying it’s “filtered.” Unacceptable not to ask or confirm upfront though. Next time I go, I’m tempted to ask for water directly from the tap – “you know, the faucet back there in the kitchen.” I can only imagine the perplexed look that will result.

  • Nice! Thanks for sharing, keep up the writing 🙂