BEST OUTDOOR DINING Miami 2004 - Barton G the Restaurant
1427 West Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Readers' Choice: Monty's
Admittedly not everything on the menu is a knockout, but Barton G's expansive, lushly planted tropical-jungle dining patio always is. Just what you'd expect from a flamboyant former Broadway set designer. Definitely reserve a table outside (the indoor space is glitzy but nothing special) and eschew fancy dishes in favor of the creative comfort-food items: playful "popcorn" shrimp served with Asian sprouts and honey vinaigrette atop real popcorn in a cardboard container; macaroni and cheese that's light on the cheese, heavy on the wild mushrooms and truffle essence -- an updated American classic. And don't miss the Big Top Cotton Candy and Over-the-Top Popcorn Surprise dessert (the surprise being that crackerjack balls flanking the traditional fluff-on-a-stick have elegant chocolate truffle centers). You can eat perfect crème brûlée at countless indoor restaurants, but cotton candy under coconut palms? That's the essence of Miami Beach.