Best of Miami 2014: This Year's Winning Comfort Foods
In case you forgot to pay your favorite newspaper a visit, the 2014 Best of Miami has finally arrived. There are hundreds of categories, but the food and drink is the most vast. And the most comforting of all? Those junk food categories.
If you have been wondering where to get a hearty bowl of chili, a crisp piece of buttermilk fried chicken, a burger with pastrami, or a hot dog with macaroni and cheese, then look no further. Here are some greasy, cheesy, and utterly scrumptious winners we are highlighting:
See also: Best of Miami 2014
Mac and cheese on a hot dog.
Photo by Carina Ost
A hot dog with just the right toppings is sweet. Indeed, the franks at Sweet Dogs have it going on with Nathan's kosher quarter-pounders, which can be ordered boiled, grilled, or deep-fried. Beyond the bun and the meat, there are a lot of crazy toppings that give the famed Colombian dogs a run for their dinero. Try the mac dog ($5.50). Yes, that's five-cheese mac 'n' cheese on a frankfurter. Sports enthusiasts can order dogs by their favorite local team's name. The Dolphins dog ($6.50) has grilled ham, smoked bacon, melted mozzarella, pineapple, secret "home sauce," and papitas. For a little more sweetness, all dogs come with a free mini chocolate bar. It's like trick-or-treating with hot dogs.
This is Kush.
Photo by Laine Doss
Johnny Utah. It's the name of Keanu Reeves' character in the '90s cult surfer-gone-bank-robber classic Point Break. It's also the name of the new cult classic on which you're about to feast. Like the perfect wave, the perfect burger is an elusive thing. Though there are many out there, few are truly memorable. Kush's Johnny Utah ($13) is one to remember. The small Wynwood restaurant starts with beef from Florida's Cowart Ranch that's ground in-house daily. The patty is carefully cooked to order and then placed on a bun before being topped with cheddar, tomato, lettuce, diced onions, and pastrami. Yes, pastrami. Because the only thing that's better than a big hunk of meat is a big hunk of meat crowned with spicy pastrami.
A winning bowl.
Photo by Carina Ost
"Where does your chili get this hint of sweetness?" we asked at Vega's Burger Bar. Of course came the response "It's sugar." Well, after we were done feeling dumb, we dipped that spoon back into the bowl of homemade beanless beef chili ($5). It was topped with shredded cheese, diced onions, jalapeños, and sour cream. It had the heat, the sweet, and the meat. It was real good. Have it on your burger, fries, or hot dog. Pro tip: Vega's also serves a decadent macaroni 'n' cheese ($6.50). Order both and you can make your own chili mac tableside. There's also a great beer selection, but chili mac is by far the best pairing at this joint.
Buttermilk fried chicken.
Photo by Carlos Montenegro
Jefferson: So what do you feel like taking in tonight, Art? You finally got a vacation from your job in Atlanta, and I'm guessing you'd like to have yourself a time.
Arthur: Indeed, indeed, but I have to tell you, Jeff, I'm mighty hungry.
Jefferson: Hungry, eh? Well, what're you fixin' to eat? Here in Miami, you can try some Cuban food or some spicy Bahamian jerk goat or maybe some fish à la creole.
Arthur: To be honest, I'm feeling like I could go for something a little closer to home, y'know? Something Atlanta, something Southern.
Jefferson: What, like Krispy Kreme?
Arthur: No, not Krispy Kreme.
Jefferson: But Krispy Kreme is from North Carolina.
Arthur: I know Krispy Kreme is from North Carolina, but I don't want any Krispy Kreme right now. I want chicken. I want a good fried bird.
Arthur: Any chance there are joints down here that can put together a proper Southern bird?
Jefferson: Matter of fact there is, my friend. There's a place in South Miami called Whisk. You want me to get your mouth watering? Get you all riled up?
Jefferson: Art, my friend, this place Whisk, they make a plate of fried chicken for $18.95 that'll leave you clucking at the moon to thank the gods of fried fowl. They marinate it in buttermilk first...
Arthur: Speak on, brother.
Jefferson: Oh yes, and then they fry that big ol' Bell & Evans bird breast up nice and crunchy with that perfect bit of flake and lay it on top of green beans and honey-roasted carrots and some mean mashed potatoes...
Jefferson: And then they top the whole thing off with the best gravy you ever had, full of rosemary and bacon and warm, gooey goodness.
Arthur: Amen. Jeff...
Jefferson: Yes, Art?
Arthur: Why aren't we already on our way to Whisk?
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.