Tasting menus are taking over the Miami dining scene. And what’s for dinner goes well beyond the typical three-course prix-fixe variety these days. Master chefs are cooking up epic culinary journeys (as in seven, 10, 15 courses or more) with delectable delights and sumptuous surprises at every turn. Here are some of our favorite menus to whet your appetite.
The Setai Grill
The Restaurant: At this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant, East meets West for a modern, French-Asian-inspired take on a prime steakhouse. Located inside glam Five-Star The Setai, Miami Beach, the restaurant is set right off the lobby, decorated in the swanky hotel’s same streamlined Asian style.
The Cuisine: Visitors are drawn to The Setai Grill for dry-aged beef that is exclusively sourced from renowned Italian-American meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda. For fall, executive chef Mathias Gervais has whipped up an exceptional five-course menu fit for the season, featuring roasted beet and goat cheese salad, foie gras barbecue unagi, almond-encrusted trout, 32-hour-braised beef short rib, and a collection of chocolate confections. A wine pairing is also offered.
El Cielo Miami
The Restaurant: At El Cielo Miami, elite Latin American chef Juan Manuel Barrientos modernizes traditional Colombian fare with his inventive cooking techniques and passion for neurosciences. Located in Brickell on the Miami River, the gastronomic excursion begins when you enter the airy, oasis-like, softly lit dining room that overlooks the stunning Miami skyline. With inside seating for 50 and outside space for 100 that fills up fast, reservations are strongly encouraged. You’ll want to set aside three to four hours to truly savor every delicious moment.
The Cuisine: Choose from 10-course The Trip or 15-course The Journey, which includes wine pairings. Some standouts: “The Tree of Life” (yuca bread perched on copper wire); creamy carrot soup; crab brulee; Andean pacific crudo; and meltingly tender chicken flourished with a splatter of squid ink. Each course also involves the senses — the “Rose Spa” involves pouring liquid into your hands and the meal concludes with a Columbian rose petal that naturally disintegrates in your hands when you rub it. A six-course brunch tasting menu that’s also heavenly is available, too.
Macchialina Taverna Rustica
The Restaurant: Over on South Beach’s west end on Alton Road, Macchialina’s concept is a sophisticated take on soulful, traditional Italian cuisine. The exposed brick walls, handcrafted wood tables and tufted leather banquets — we’re excited to see what changes come to the place when it reopens on August 1 — matched with friendly services create a warm and welcome everybody-knows-your-name kind of atmosphere which has made it a neighborhood favorite.
The Cuisine: Feast on a banquet of rustic Italian fare from chef Michael Pirolo (formerly of Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s Four-Star Scarpetta Miami Beach). The five-course tasting menu includes raw bar items, charcuterie, signature pasta dishes (lasagna with short rib and taleggio or spaghetti pomodoro with cherry tomatoes and basil) and the polenta boards — these can measure over six feet long! — with meatballs, quail and ribeye. A selection of more than 15 Italian wines is the perfect pairing for this family-style Italian meal.
Casabe 305 Bistro
The Restaurant: Set inside a quaint 1920s bungalow, this tiny jewel is paradise found nestled between downtown and Coral Gables. Part of Casabe’s allure is its old-world New England charm and décor (see patchwork panels of colorful wallpapers, a hodge-podge collection of antique utensils and mismatched wine glasses.) With the pleasant ambience and kind staff, you’ll feel like you’ve just walked into grandma’s home. If you ask chef Diego V. Texera, he’ll happily share the story of the original Casabe that was located in a small Old Spanish colonial fishing village called Choroní in Venezuela. It’s things like this that help you understand why the waitlist for the prix-fixe menu at the first Casabe was six months long, and why this new address is nearly as popular.
The Cuisine: Chef Texera fuses a culinary background in Venezuelan, Cuban, Dutch and Mediterranean cuisines with Miami’s vivid multicultural vibe and organic, locally sourced ingredients to create healthy dishes layered with flavors and textures. Menus change seasonally, but currently on the seven-course tasting menu you’ll find some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, such as tostones with ceviche, grilled mahi mahi over yuca, prime New York strip steak and rustic fries, decadent flourless chocolate cake, and homemade orange cordial.
The Restaurant: Inspired by the flavors of the Incan Empire, the recently opened locale in Brickell is the first U.S. outpost of Coya, which has other locations in London and Dubai. A series of elaborate murals by Carlito Dalceggio and Martin Chambi, and ornate antiques collected throughout the region, decorate the inside. For diners seeking a more intimate experience, there’s an exclusive Members Lounge with weekly live music and a private oasis of a terrace.
The Cuisine: Fresh seafood is front and center on the six-course tasting menu. Sample a variety of Coya’s most mouthwatering dishes such as classic ceviche and tiraditos (sliced raw fish), anticuchos (grilled skewers of fish, chicken and vegetables) off the Robata charcoal grill, succulent Chilean sea bass and spicy tenderloin. Salted caramel ganache with pisco and raspberry sorbet is a sublime sweet ending. The restaurant also boasts 20 varieties of infused piscos made in house