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The three coolest restaurants for Miami Spice

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The heat is on in Miami during August, so visiting is not for the weary. Those that can handle the sweat and drink plenty of water are afforded wonderful restaurant deals. It may surprise many that while Miami Beach is home to lithe models and swank socialites, it also contains a burgeoning independent restaurant scene.

This scene is the focus of the annual Foodie Frenzy known as Miami Spice, which kicks off July 31st with the Iron Fork chef competition. Held in downtown Miami at the Hyatt Regency, the competition features local chefs battling for recognition and accolades. After gorging at Iron Fork, visitors can walk across the street for a drink at Epic Hotel’s Area 31 restaurant and lounge for a sweet view of the Miami River as it merges with Biscayne Bay.

But Iron Fork is just the beginning of a schedule featuring dozens of restaurant options. The seemingly endless list of participating restaurants can overwhelm novices and visitors. So for travelers visiting Miami for only a short time, these are three unique restaurants worth the effort and money.

Cecconis at SOHO Beach House is perfect for high quality dishes offered in a calm, stylish, outdoor atmosphere canopied in Buttonwood trees. The Italian fare covers pizza to pasta to fish, yet each tastes original. Here one can feast on a black truffle oil pizza, or indulge in a tasty kale salad mixed with mangos and ricotta. Carnivorous diners can sink their teeth into beef tartar, while seafarers indulge a branzino. A tasty and unusual mix is the grouper with green tomato and apple, an appetizer. The food is delectable and the setting balmy, the only downside being parking. So use the parking garage a block southwest of SOHO to save money and exit quicker.

Cool down at Makoto in the Bal Harbour Shopping mall. The menu is modern Asian fusion, covering sushi, sashimi, rice and noodle dishes, and cooked beef and fish. While these sound familiar, Makoto distinguishes its dishes with sauces and unique mixes. The spicy tuna sushi roll is emboldened with crispy rice, and the true seafood lover can enjoy the Churashi mixed raw seafood with the perfect blend of tangy-spicy sauce. For the land lubbers, the restaurant offers plenty of chicken and Kobe beef dishes.

Dine with Miami locals at Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grille in Midtown Miami. Here you’ll find a vibrant crowd of local professionals and business owners that enjoy goodies such as bacon wrapped dates and foie gras biscuits. Yet the straightforward fare is tasty too, such as the pan seared sea scallops and beef short ribs. True to its name, Sugarcane offers oysters and sweet specialty cocktails with ingredients such as jalapenos, balsamic, and coconut milk.

Besides the original and succulent food, these three restaurants are located in different sections of Miami. Cecconi’s is just a few blocks away from The Fontainebleau’s LIV Club crowd. Makotos is convenient for luxury shopping, and an easy walk across the street to the St. Regis Hotel for a drink. For bar hopping among local Miami denizens, Sugarcane’s spot is ideal because Midtown is dense with restaurants, bars, condominiums, and shops.

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