When we think of great happy hours on Miami Beach, Semilla always comes to mind. Their Monday-Saturday specials are hard to beat: Deeply discounted beverages and bites draw droves to this modern gastropub on Alton Road and 13th Street. $6 tapas and cocktails? Count us in.
But while these specials get much of the spotlight here, there’s a ton of other satisfying selections to be had. Chef Frederic Joulin mixes French, Spanish and Italian influences to create an extensive menu that can please even the pickiest of eaters. Look beyond the happy hour selections, and your taste buds will be handsomely rewarded.
At a place that prides itself on tapas and small plates, it’s a no-brainer to start the evening with a few of them. Our selections — spicy chicken Sriracha pot stickers and tempura Brussels sprouts — are both on the happy hour menu and regular menu. Mix the pot stickers with the hot sauce to create a fun fusion of flavors, and enjoy the sprouts with or without sauce; they’re great on their own, but the chili sweet and sour dressing turned the dish into one of our favorites for the evening.
Speaking of favorites, don’t leave without trying the tomato, avocado and cucumber salad. It’s so pretty (i.e., perfect for Instagram) and hits you with a freshness and crispness that will have you thinking about it the rest of the night. A simple balsamic dressing rounds everything out and doesn’t overpower the dish; it lets the salad speak for itself.
For mains, we picked something light and something a little heftier. The lighter dish — bay scallop “au gratin” — is a playful twist on potato au gratin but with scallops and a much nicer presentation. There’s some artichokes diced in for good measure, and another sauce (this place is sauce heaven) to drive the dish home and into your mouth. The branzino was much simpler, but no less tasty. It’s just seasoned, flaky fish sitting on a bed of green beans. That’s it, but that’s really all you need — we’d order it again.
Save room for desserts. Yes, we said desserts: There are a lot to choose from. Throw caution to the wind and get the giant profiterole with dulce de leche ice cream. The massive ball of joy will have you falling in love over and over again — that ice cream does not mess around. Not in the mood for something so rich? The tarte fine aux pommes (aka French apple tart) with vanilla ice cream is a winner and won’t have you spending too much time in the gym.
The next time you’re on South Beach for dinner, go off the beaten path and make your way to Semilla. While parking in the area is far from ideal, the restaurant is worth the hassle. And whether you’re going to enjoy a few bites during happy hour or a full-fledged dinner, you can expect a good time.