Elcielo is known for its flair. Dishes smoke and bubble. The plating is more art gallery than restaurant. And, for an additional charge, a waiter will come up to the table and pour a thick, gooey chocolate all over your hands, which you’re encouraged to lick off like a happy puppy. The brainchild of Colombian chef Juan Manuel Barrientos is just the right mix of serious and playful. And the restaurant’s Miami Spice menu showcases that balance and gives Miami diners a chance to experience the ethereal vibes of this intimate, avant-garde restaurant without the usually large tab that comes with it.
When to go: The Miami Spice menu is offered Monday through Friday for dinner only. Reservations are required.
What to order: We like the catch of the day tiradito to start. The fresh fish, sliced like sashimi, is paired with a goat cheese foam you’ll want to bring home in buckets. The farmer’s chicken and Colombian atollado rice is a nice, hearty entree after the light tiradito. The chicken is rolled up like a cigarette and super flavorful. The dulce de leche is a dessert we never refuse, and here it wraps up the meal perfectly.
Why we love it: Boy, El Cielo is gorgeous. The bright dining room feels like eating inside a cloud and the Miami River, just outside the front door, makes for a perfect post-meal stroll.
You’ll save: Anywhere from $26 to $80. El Cielo’s basic four-course tasting menu starts at $65 and the staggering 16-course tasting menu costs $119 per diner.
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