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.
According to tradition sushi chefs are supposed to clap their hands twice and say, "Happy sushi!" before molding the vinegared rice and topping it with expertly sliced fish. That way the good spirit with which they make the sushi transfers to the diner, who enjoys the Zen of a whole and wholesome eating experience. Well these folks must be clapping their hands all day long because it's impossible for sushi fanatics to discount this tiny, sponge-painted Surfside joint. Not only is the raw tuna the tenderest around, the salmon soft as flannel, the yellowtail mild, but the sushi chefs happily greet anyone who walks through the door. Clap clap to this fishmonger.

Best Restaurant To Die In The Past Twelve Months

Karli's

Under other circumstances, this place might have been awarded "Best German Restaurant." But despite splendid schnitzel and sumptuous strudel, chef-owner Karl Zoisl closed the doors after a brief six-month run. Primarily a caterer, Zoisl found the restaurant too time-consuming. 'Course, clients can still find him at his company called, appropriately enough, Karl's Catering (305-829-5607). Whatever. Doesn't stop us from wanting to shout out our disappointment: Karli! You coulda been a contender!

Creative cuisine is a Nemo hallmark, but if you're like a lot of adoring customers, you may forget that the desserts here are as much masterpieces as everything else on the menu. Forgo that last mouthful of sea bass if you have to, but try not to miss dessert. Especially exquisite: the tangerine-cardamom crème brûlée (with pistachio baklava on the side). The key lime cheesecake flan topped with blueberry-blood orange salsa is another pairing made in paradise. And then there are the chocolate concoctions, each one an inspiration: chocolate-peanut butter-banana torte; guava ice cream atop Caribbean chocolate-macadamia truffle cake; and the star of the dessert menu, Symphony of Chocolate, a half-dozen different desserts grouped on a plate like chocolate jungle gyms and seesaws on a playground. The symphony notes vary sometimes, but they'll generally include a brûlée, cake, tart, and a few variations on a cheesecake theme. All original, all beautiful to see and savor. Bonus: Nemo's Sunday brunch buffet features various cakes and tarts you don't get on the regular menu, plus pastries and breads so divine you'll be singing Nemo's praises.

Cheesecake Factory

Best Restaurant When Someone Else Is Paying

Hamiltons

You might think that restaurateur George Hamilton would overcook his meats the way he does his face. But that would be an urban legend. Not only does Hamiltons provide a terrifically tender rack of lamb and succulent duck, he "auto-bronzes" his face with a self-tanner that he developed and sells at the restaurant. And if you look solely at the entrée prices, which top out at about $30, the coddling experience at this handsome supper club might not seem that pricey. Another myth. Here's the truth: It's the padding that counts here -- appetizers no less than $12, desserts a tenspot. Add on a martini and a cigar from Hamilton's own line and you're looking at a meal that costs, if you like to come by a tan the natural, skin-cancerous way, as much as a one-way ticket to the islands.
What is this, LAX? The Top of the Port, the restaurant in the towering Miami International Airport Hotel, is a genteel Continental eatery. But its lobby, located on the departure level, is now a bustling sushi bar. For those of us sick of Cuban coffee and sandwich shops, the California rolls and tender tuna sashimi are a welcome relief from the humid, heavy heat. How the fare flies is a different story altogether -- raw fish, rice, and seaweed may not be the thing to settle a turbulent stomach on a rocky flight. But it sure calms the savage beasts we all turn into when we realize we're grounded yet again.
This is cantina-style Nicaraguan eating. That means sangría, for one thing, and an emphasis on food, not décor, for another. Nicaragua is cattle country and food there is often synonymous with beef. Argentines will lay claim to originating the churrasco steak and its featured chimichurri sauce, but the Nicas have a subtle way of making it their own. La Hormiga de Oro's churrasco is butter-knife tender. Try it with the jalapeño sauce. You can also have your chicken churrasco-ed. Even the fried beans have a Nicaraguan nuance: a big spoonful of gravylike sour cream concocted on the premises. Nicaraguans have put their brand on tamales, too: the nacatamal, which has a juicier dough than your average Mexican variety. The red- and white-check tablecloth may be cheap, but you'll appreciate it when you get the inexpensive bill.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®