Best Of :: Food & Drink
Miami and flan go together like San Diego and fish tacos or New York City and hot dogs. It's just part of the culture. But deciding which flan is made just the right way can be a point of contention. And the version made at Tuto's Place is arguably the finest. First things first: Don't judge this place by its decor. Forget the Southern-pride signs and bumper stickers on the walls (and the Confederate flag) and the fact that it looks more like a greasy spoon than a Cuban restaurant. This cafeteria-style eatery serving mainly breakfast or lunch from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. gets it all right, from desayuno to postre. And though the Cuban sandwich and pan con bistec may be the two most Instagrammed dishes here, the real star is the flan ($2). Just like abuela used to make, the custard is tinged a golden brown on the top and bottom from caramelized sugar. When it's turned over to serve, the jiggly flan cracks at the edges, and an ooey-gooey deluge of that liquid sugar cascades over the sides and hardens into a crystalline candy shell at the edge of the plate. If you're lucky, Tuto himself will serve it to you. The convivial old Cuban guy is most often found behind the counter.
When Panther Coffee alum Camila Ramos announced the opening of her own java shop, we knew it would be something special. Nestled downtown between the Corner and Fooq's, her bright, expansive space is a welcome addition to the neighborhood's club-dominated scene. Inside, a simple neon board shows All Day's coffee varieties, including pour-overs ($5) and cortados ($4.25), along with more distinct brews such as Thai iced coffee with xocolatl mole bitters ($5) and a nitrogen-infused Brooklyn brew by Toby's Estate Coffee ($5.50, $7.50, or $9.50). Coffees come wet or dry, which is a sophisticated way of saying creamy milk versus a cap of froth. Curb your hunger with small and large bites such as French toast, soft-scrambled eggs, house-made pastries, and pan con croqueta ($10), a sandwich stuffed with ham croquetas, Gouda cheese, egg spread, and pickles.
Readers' choice: Panther Coffee
There is a food truck for almost everything: tacos, burgers, French fries, and doughnuts. Now there is one for coffee. Miami-based wholesale coffee purveyor Relentless Roasters is behind one of Miami's newest food truck concepts: cold-brew coffee on wheels. At C.B. Station, short for "Cold Brew Station," java is iced and put on wheels. Find a variety of flavor pairings made with two bases. Awaken and its sister brew, Awaken Nitro, which offers a creamier consistency similar to a Guinness beer, are blended with sundry ingredients, creating flavors such as raspberry-lemonade, an Arnold Palmer variety, and a classic milk-and-cream version. The truck serves two sizes — 12 and 16 ounces — priced between $4 and $5. To find out where the truck is parked, check its Instagram page.
Opened a little more than a year ago, Vice City Bean caffeinates Miami's not-so-sleepy Omni neighborhood. The café was founded by Roland and Eva Baker, who moved from Los Angeles, where they had recognized and enjoyed the sophisticated coffee culture. It's a perfect place to sip a cup of joe after a poolside live music session at the Filling Station Lofts or meandering through the stalls at the Miami Flea. Large street-facing windows fill the industrial space with warm light. It's located within walking distance of Wynwood's kaleidoscopic murals, but this café's vibe is far less pretentious than anything you'll find over there. An easygoing vibe fills the space and local artists' illustrations hang on the walls. There's plenty of seating for anyone to buckle down with a laptop for a few hours. The menu includes everything from crisp empanadas to rooibos tea latte. The highlight, though, is the specialty coffee from Madcap Roasters of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
While the rest of America goes to Starbucks, Miami heads to its neighborhood Cuban spots. Of course, born-and-bred South Floridians will always have a difficult time deciding on their favorite ventanita, but it comes down to who makes the best coffee: the strongest cortadito, the most authentic cafecito, or the smoothest café con leche. If it's the last you're searching for, look no further than Tinta y Café, a tiny Coral Gables coffee shop and eatery open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Located on Ponce de Leon Boulevard, it's a small slice of home for anyone who wanders in from the street to relax. You can sit in the lounge space, adorned with mismatched furniture, or line up at the outdoor window. Inside, a small bar peddles all manner of caffeine, including a version of the cortadito made with evaporated milk ($2.25) or without ($2). It's like café con leche on steroids. But it's the traditional café con leche ($2.95 to $3.25 depending upon size, plus 60 cents extra for a double shot) that's won the hearts of many. Maybe it's the perfect balance of dense foam and warm, creamy milk that mellows out the dark, rich flavor of the espresso. The final touch: expertly crafted leaf- or heart-shaped latte art so beautiful it's a shame to ruin it with your first sip.
This light, airy juicery is all about the positive vibes. If you forget to turn your frown upside down before entering, an array of inspirational signs will remind you. And if all else fails, the prices are sure to put a smile on your face. Cold-pressed juices in a rainbow of hues cost only $8 each — maybe Miami's tastiest cheap drink. Try the Got the Beet, an infusion of beet, carrot, celery, apple, and lemon. Down the Love Potion #9, a concoction of pear, pineapple, beet, chia, and ginger. Or sip the Essential, a verdant mix of green apple, cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, ginger, lemon, and spirulina. And liquid magic isn't the only thing on the menu. Smoothies ($8) contain exotic ingredients such as dragon fruit and maca. Check out a zoodle (zucchini noodle) bowl ($9.50), avocado toast ($5.50), green vegetable soup ($4.50), or a superfood salad ($9.50). The juice bar is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. At Roots, you'll drink the rainbow, eat the rainbow, live the rainbow.