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.

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.

Café cubano will wake your ass up from anything ... except from eating comida cubana.
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.
Contrary to popular belief, you can host a cocktail party without serving that platter of artfully arranged orange cheese cubes. It is possible to offer your guests fromage that hasn't been skewered with toothpicks. And, get this, it doesn't have to be baked Brie! At Scotty's Grocery you can choose from more than 80 specialty cheeses from around the globe, most with wine-pairing and serving suggestions. You don't have to worry what to serve with the Drunken Goat (veal saltimbocca would be divine with this semisoft goat cheese from Spain that's been immersed in red wine). There are cheeses from Switzerland (sweet, nutty Gruyère; chestnutlike Madrigal baby Swiss); Denmark (three kinds of mild yet tangy Havarti); and Germany (triple-cream Cambozola). Peek behind the four varieties of mozzarella (Italian) and you'll unearth a lovely, layered mascarpone torte with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs. Like things a little closer to home? Real Wisconsin cheddar (note its delicate pumpkin-color hue) is unbelievably fresh. Aficionados of the foil-wrapped brick variety will marvel at the difference in taste. How to decide? Stop by the shop Friday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. for a complementary wine and cheese tasting.
From bok choy to wheat grass, this weekly market features hundreds of fresh organic fruits and vegetables and a large stash of homemade sauces and salads. The selection varies, of course, according to the season, but on a recent Saturday I found eight types of organic lettuce and as many squashes. The goods are brought in from around the world by Stan Glaser, who augments the produce with goods from his own organic Redlands farm and goodies prepared by his girlfriend Tracy Fleming. Among the most popular items are pestos, salad dressings, and fresh fruit pies with fillings of mango, strawberry, raspberry-apple, and apple-almond. It's open yearround every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
It's a golden rule of commonplace cuisine: Where there is meat, there should be potatoes. Steak and rice? No. Steak and pasta? Absolutely not. Steak and potatoes. Unquestionably. They just belong together. At Tuscan Steak, however, they are kept separate, dished out à la carte. A good thing perhaps. Although the restaurant offers enormous cuts of exceptional beef, they also serve the most spectacular mashed potatoes that have ever passed our lips. Thick buttery potatoes flecked with bits of smoked onion or sweet potatoes mashed and zinged up with a splash of Amaretto. Hold the sirloin, the T-bone, and the filet mignon, and bring on a bucket of these luscious spuds.
Long known for its bread, Renaissance has now added to its repertoire pastries, danishes, cakes, cookies, and pies. As part of the new look they moved from a hidden back corner of a North Miami stripmall to a Biscayne Boulevard frontage next to the Roadhouse Grill. The bread is still excellent. The baguettes in particular are chewy and flavorful. But for those who live for dessert, especially chocoholics, take note. Chocolate here comes in cakes, tortes, mousses, croissants, soufflés, and, of course, brownies. One could spend a heavenly day just nibbling the rich chocolate truffle torte accompanied by a steady stream of caffeine. Actually you can. Renaissance has a counter along the wall with seating. The pleasantly low-key staff offers cappuccino, espresso, or just a plain old cup of joe. They are open at 7:30 every morning of the week. For those who commute along Biscayne, what a bakery oasis.
Give us your guava, your yuca, your cabbage, your corn, your watermelons, your sweet potatoes, your tomatoes, and your avocados. Each morning before dawn, masses of produce vendors huddle with truckers, grocery store owners, and restaurant buyers at Allapattah's so-called terminal market, just north of Jackson Memorial Hospital. The market supplies ingredients for Miami's cornucopia of cultures. Snatches of Spanish, Creole, and island-accented English are heard as vendors proffer exotic fruits, Caribbean tubers, giant bags of Spanish rice, Florida oranges, and Idaho potatoes. Packaged products from around the subtropics can also be found here. So grab a thimbleful of Cuban coffee from the corner cafeteria and stroll these four blocks. Buy some fresh, cheap produce while journeying into the heart and stomach of the city.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®