Best Of :: Food & Drink
A well-kept secret doesn't stay that way for long, which explains why so many people know how to find Wynwood's newest hidden tiki bar. The clandestine beach-themed place popped up in December 2016 for Art Basel, but creator Cesar Morales — owner of Wood Tavern and Bar Next Door — never closed the doors. Instead, his pop-up, dubbed Miami Mojito Company, has gained impressive popularity. Accessible only through the Plant the Future corridor on the side of Wood Tavern off NW Second Avenue in Wynwood, the back-alley bar fashioned into an island tiki hut was conceived after a trip Morales took to Brazil, where he saw carts and stands peddling fresh mojitos and caipirinhas on the beach. His idea: Bring a true taste of Brazil to Miami. Today Miami Mojito Company is open seven days a week from noon till midnight or 2 a.m. And the only menu item at this 20-seater is the mojito. It starts with fresh sugar-cane juice prepared barside using a large metal contraption that presses stalks of sugar cane into a waterfall of cloudy juice. From there, it's nothing but whole mint leaves muddled in fresh-squeezed lime juice and shaken over ice with a few shots of Don Q rum. The resulting drink is not syrupy-sweet like the ones at so many tourist traps on Ocean Drive. Instead, these are blissfully refreshing, accented with just the right touch of lime and a hint of sweetness from the raw sugar-cane juice. Order them in several flavors, including blackberry, tamarind, passionfruit, and raspberry ($10 to $12). Then sit back, relax, and let the sounds of samba transport you from the streets of Wynwood to the beaches of Brazil.
Readers' choice: Ball & Chain
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.