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BEST CROISSANT Miami 2004 - La Brioche Dorée

When this tiny bakery/café changed ownership last year, croissant connoisseurs mourned. How could the flaky French breakfast treats possibly remain Miami's most melt-in-your-mouth buttery? By retaining the same recipe, it turns out, as well as the same baker whose light touch for pastry handling -- and dense imported butter -- has always been responsible for the pastries' authentic Gallic goodness. In fact change has been, for once, for the better: Despite the shop's location in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, the newbie management doesn't close on Saturdays. Liberal new hours are every day, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (lunch served 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.). La Brioche now takes plastic, too -- all major cards, even minor majors like Carte Blanche, so you can acquire Frequent Flyer miles through your linked cards while you munch in mid-Beach. Next year (and next croissant) in Paris.

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