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.
Carry-out is generally the order of the day at many of Miami-Dade's Jamaican restaurants. So smile at the folks tending to the long take-out line and let them know you'll be in the no-frills dining room. Stick to the tried and true basics of authentic Jamaican cuisine: jerk chicken, curried chicken, curried goat, oxtail, and cow foot. Have it with rice and peas (which are beans in the Queen's English) and a bottle of beer, and you'll be out of there for less than six bucks. Come morning, if you're in the mood for an island breakfast, wander back in and have your coffee with a dish of mackerel and bananas, seasoned callaloo, or ackee and saltfish.

Best Natural Food/Vegetarian Restaurant

Lexie's

The x in Lexie's is a carrot crossed with a celery stick. The i is dotted with a strawberry. The possessive s is attached by a mushroom. Any fool can see that this is not the place to order a burger; any gourmet diner with an appetite bigger than a rabbit's knows to steer clear. Or do they? So Lexie's doesn't use dairy in the cooking, and all vegetables and meats are organic, all-natural, or free-range. Otherwise Lexie's offers delicious, full-bodied, fusion appetizers and entrées, including black-bean cakes with mango-miso-wasabi sauce, chargrilled spicy beef salad over watercress and shredded basil, and organic artichoke penne pasta with a roasted garlic sauce. The fast-food junkie can even make do with an all-natural beef burger (for those of us educated at McDonald's, that means no filler is used in the patty) on a whole-wheat kaiser with homemade ketchup. Looks good, tastes good, feels good.
Here's one of the longest oxymorons we've come across lately: "Florida's largest Chinese gourmet buffet." Could this possibly be true? Well maybe not the gourmet part. But Emerald Coast arguably fronts the most items, hot and cold, we've ever seen: more than 100 spread over seven stations. And for one low price ($16.95 for a weekend dinner is the highest; $7.50 for a weekday lunch is the lowest), the buffet, natch, is all-you-can-eat. Visit the steam table for a choice of six soups, including miso, hot-and-sour, and egg drop. Check out the appetizer table for egg rolls, spring rolls, dumplings, and barbecued ribs, to mention a few. Move on to the neighboring entrées, including kung pao chicken and black pepper steak, or opt for the sushi counter and some California rolls. And those are just the Asian dishes. Emerald Coast also presents a tremendous salad bar with a centerpiece of peel-'n'-eat shrimp, snow crab legs, and green-lipped mussels. The carving station slices a juicy prime rib. International desserts, if you can manage them, range from Black Forest cake to miniature coconut tarts. All in all it's quite a display: not just the fare, but the spectacle you make of yourself as you fill your plate for the umpteenth time.

Will Smith's Miami is filled with supermodels in thong bikinis holding fruity drinks with umbrellas in them, dancing salsa. But if you head downtown for lunch at Morton's of Chicago, you find a very different kind of Magic City: corporate executives in tailored Armani sipping martinis, cutting deals to canned, easy-listening jazz. The twenty years this steak house chain has been serving USDA prime porterhouse steaks to movers, shakers and other future heart patients is really something to rap about. Smith might not know to git jiggy with it, but the power suits who make the city run over filet mignon are the ones you want to hear say, "Welcome to Miami."

After an exhausting day of trying on clothes and jewelry, what else could refortify a stalwart shopper but a plate of handmade pasta, a glass of wine, and a simple fish or chicken dish? Wearing Prada pumps and Gucci loafers, many such hungry shoppers wait in line for the superior northern Italian food served up by chef Manuel Poucar. The menu features elegant homemade pastas, pizzas, and, of course, carpaccio in a dozen variations. That delicious pasta may set you back as much as 25 bucks, but hey, other diners could have spent that much on shoestrings.
Owner Gerardo Cea has done his best to accommodate his demanding clientele: He's tripled the original size of his restaurant, breaking through interior walls of erstwhile neighboring businesses. He's added outdoor seating on both the porch and the sidewalk. He's expanded the menu, supplying extra meat, fish, and chicken choices along with dozens of homemade pastas and salads. All to no avail. Most times we still have to wait for a table. But this is one sidewalk on which we don't mind milling about, as fragrances from the angel hair with fresh tomato sauce or agnolotti in cream sauce waft toward our twitching noses, promising satiation. Blame the smell on the proprietor's dad, chef Arturo Cea, who serves antipasto so big and composes a lasagna so hearty diners can't move from their seats afterward. Until the espresso propels them.
Mary and Mac Klein own one of the best-known and most-loved bars on Miami Beach, Mac's Club Deuce, but it is their other, more obscure, establishment in Miami's Design District for which they deserve accolades. Piccadilly has been in place since 1965, but the Kleins have only been in control for six years. While keeping some of the restaurant's original favorites (they still dish up a "hot brown," smoked turkey served open-faced on sourdough bread and covered with cheese sauce), they have added much to the menu. Mary, in particular, pays close attention to details. "I try to make sure everything is fresh, nothing out of a can," she says, noting that she still mashes the potatoes herself. Other popular items on her menu include the teriyaki steak, with a recipe Mary brought back from Japan; and scallops with shiitake mushrooms over pasta. Indeed all of her pastas are special. So why isn't Piccadilly more popular? Location, location, location. People are reluctant to wander into the Design District after dark, Mary admits, though she's never had a customer mugged or robbed the entire time she's been there. But things are looking up for Piccadilly. With more and more businesses entering the area, and word of her food spreading, Mary says she may actually turn a profit this year. Better head down there tonight, while you can still get a table.
For the price of a designer sandwich on South Beach you can get an entire meal (dessert included) at Here Comes the Sun, one of South Florida's original health food stores. Between the hours of 4:00 and 6:30 p.m., hundreds of bargain-conscious diners come for the $7.95 special, which buys a choice of about a dozen entrées, soup or salad, coffee or tea, and a small frozen yogurt (three flavors are offered daily so that regulars don't get bored). We especially like the blackened grouper, the vegetarian lasagna and the eggplant casserole, or, for a dollar more, a meaty and moist salmon fillet. Don't be turned off by the health food designation; it's real food cooked to order with plenty of cheesy, starchy extras on the side if you want.
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines gestalt as "a structure, configuration, or pattern ... so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable from its parts in summation." Whew, what a mouthful! Here's a simpler definition: the Mozart Stube experience. Everything gels here, from the quaint setting, the Viennese waltzes playing over the sound system and the good-humored service to the sumptuous Austro-German cuisine. Emphasis on that last factor: The salmon fillet in a Riesling cream sauce is superb, the schweinebraten (roast pork) succulent, the bratwurst as mild as a cocktail frank. Proprietor Harald Neuweg also uses his eatery to host events and festivals, including Blues at the Stube, Venison Week, and Schnitzel Month. Neuweg's newest restaurant, a jazz club called Satchmo, opened recently. If it's anything like his stube, it'll be good gestalt.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®