Do a little dance, make a little art, get down with appetizers -- it works for Tu Tu Tango. The concept, with tapas from around the world served in a bohemian setting designed to reflect an artist's garret, proved so popular that chairman and founder Bradley Weiser went ahead with plans to expand nationally. Currently the café, launched in 1991, has five successful locations, with two in Miami-Dade, one in Atlanta, one in Orlando, and another in Anaheim, California. Several more are scheduled to open in 1999 in diverse areas like Kansas City, Missouri; and Columbus, Ohio. So far the fare round here has remained consistently good, and the theme, "food for the starving artist" (hence the small portions), is carried out in live entertainment: Local artists are employed to draw, paint, or sculpt on the premises in exchange for eats. The resulting art is displayed in the restaurant until some art-hungry diner purchases it along with some Cajun chicken egg rolls, Mediterranean spinach dip, and an order of hurricane shrimp.
Fabulously flaky, beautifully buttery, splendidly spicy. Ahhh! Jamaican Beef Patties from Hammond's. Forget manna from heaven. At one dollar each in hot or mild flavors, these tasty treats, which resemble empanadas on steroids, are nirvana from Jamaica.

If you've called, faxed, and written yourself silly and you still can't reach the Herald, try Mike's at lunchtime: You may find that writer who's been avoiding you. The café, located on the ninth floor of the Venetia condominium, serves tasty and affordable meals that are like catnip to the scribes and editors barricaded across the street in One Herald Plaza. It may only be an urban myth, but it is believed that at least two Herald employees are eating at Mike's at all times. Who can blame them? Hot roast beef-cheddar sandwiches, broiled grouper, shrimp scampi: The food is better than expected and priced to move. The waitresses are nice, too. True story: The editors of Tropic spent so many afternoons on the outdoor patio that their magazine folded from neglect.

You may think a health food market's prepared-foods counter would feature 25 different tofu casseroles and some sprouts-n-avocado sandwiches. Not here. Yes, you'll find vegetarian staples such as spinach sautéed with sesame seeds, beets simmered in orange and ginger, luscious tofu steaks marinated in a mustardy Thai sauce, several varieties of pasta salads. But if you're a carnivore you'll be happy, too. Pick from grilled chicken breasts, spicy Thai chicken curry, stuffed chicken breasts, turkey piccata. Seafoods abound as well: mussels scampi on special during a recent visit, grilled salmon steak, baked trout. There is usually a wide variety of sandwiches depending on how close to lunch you arrive. Back in the refrigerated section you can find some great soups and dips. And just down the counter a dessert awaits: a slice of cake or pie, perhaps, or cookies, tarts, muffins, rolls. If you can't wait to feast, stop outside at a sidewalk table.
Before Robert Is Here began peddling shakes from the roadside, the Pinecrest Wayside Market was there, since 1948, gaining fame as the "home of the famous strawberry milkshake." Down the street from Parrot Jungle and adjacent to Pinecrest Elementary School, the open-air Wayside is the place where many a kid has ridden his bike and gulped down frosty frappés. As young boys growing up in the neighborhood, Michael Costa and Jay Rodriguez were among the thirsty youngsters. This past year the thirtysomething friends bought the market; renovated it; upped the quality of the produce; added herbs, a line of jams, vinegars, and condiments, fresh bread from the Renaissance Bakery, and a myriad of goodies. Nevertheless the two knew that if you blend them right, they will come. Topnotch milkshakes were and continue to be their main draw. The divinely refreshing concoctions of creamy nonfat yogurt and puréed fresh fruit are still available in strawberry and a slew of other flavors: pineapple, banana, mango, orange, papaya, cantaloupe, pear, peach, raspberry. Chocolate is an option as well, as is mixing and matching. Because nothing this good should be contained in a small cup, the frothy drinks are offered in only two sizes: medium ($2.55) and large ($2.95). The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., so you can guzzle milkshakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Best Place To Cheaply Summon The Spirit Of Paul Gauguin

Curry's Restaurant

Is it the large mural depicting tan smiling girls (and a few men) wearing leis and grass skirts, swaying seductively and gathering food? Maybe it's the dozen or so hanging fixtures resembling upside-down baskets lushly strewn with a variety of wax fruit that Carmen Miranda could have used for headgear? Perhaps it's the light-wrapped palm tree twinkling in the middle of the room, or the turquoise walls bearing huge paintings of a happy couple rowing an outrigger and frolicking in the surf? Most likely, though, it's the complete dinners that drive us to take refuge in the ersatz Polynesian atmosphere of Curry's Restaurant (established in 1937) the way Gauguin fled chaotic civilization to the serene island of Tahiti. The bowl of crisp salad brought to your table with a choice of four dressings; the warm round of bread served on a cutting board with butter; the baked potato, French fries, or vegetables presented in a stainless steel dish; the sizzling platters of steak, chicken, and liver; and the desserts (apple cobbler, strawberry shortcake, and chocolate pudding) -- a different one every day. It all starts at $8.95. Paradise indeed.
Café cubano will wake your ass up from anything ... except from eating comida cubana.
Restaurants are where strangers go to eat; diners are where friends and neighbors see each other over a cup of coffee and a turkey sandwich. In that way Larry's All American Restaurant is really misnamed. Larry's is a diner in the proudest tradition of the word. Good food with prices that are easy on the wallet. Run by Larry and Cindy Roth, the best part about this eatery is its sense of community. Last year during Hurricane Georges the diner stayed open all night so that emergency workers would have a place to eat. Eventually it turned into a makeshift shelter, as some residents, who were forced to evacuate from their homes, slept in booths. So the next time you're heading down to the Keys, stop into Larry's for a bite to eat and meet some of your neighbors from South Miami-Dade.

Alright, okay, so it's not entirely a Greek restaurant. Purists might even argue that Pasta Fiore is Italian. And we'll concede that two-thirds of the menu offer edible baubles from the boot. But we're always enticed back here by the smattering of Greek specialties offered by owners Luccia and George Stilianudakis and chef Walter Rivas's delicate way with flaming saganaki, spanakopita, moussaka, and braised lamb shank. Our only regret is the limited menu. Sappho might have gone into raptures here, but in the end she would only have been able to compose a poem or two about the fare before running out of things to say.
Although it doesn't sport neon lights or a drive-through window, Amos's Juice Bar in North Miami Beach serves healthy and good food fast. You can sit in a booth surrounded by brightly painted palm trees and giant cartoon fruit. Or grab a seat at the counter next to the Birkenstock-clad regulars who don't flinch at the traffic whizzing by on busy Dixie Highway. The place is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Weekdays at lunch hour you may have to hustle for a seat or call in your order for take-away. Specialties include hummus, falafel, tabbouleh, tuna, blackened fish or chicken, plus many salads and fresh-made juices and smoothies. Sandwiches and salads range from four to seven dollars. Smoothies go for around $2.50. A favorite is José's Special, an ambrosial concoction of carrot juice, coconut milk, banana, pineapple, and honey. For hard-core partiers, the root tonic is the ticket. Says chef Craig Lewis: "It's a blood purifier and it's good for sinuses and hangovers. It'll give you a great sex life, too." The potent remedy, which sells for just one dollar per shot, is made from roots and barks of plants like sarsaparilla, mauby, eucalyptus, strong back, Irish moss, and ginger. It looks like a cloudy tea but tastes like Listerine mixed with mud. Amos swears by it. Hey, if it don't kill ya, it'll cure ya.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®