The tacos in this barrio-style taquería are truly Mexicano, as are the prices. For a buck and half you can erase all traces of Taco Bell from your taste buds. You'll become a born-again taco eater once you indulge in the light, crispy corn tortilla or the soft flour wrap with your choice of chicken chunks, carnitas, picadillo, barbacoa (steamed beef), and seasoned pork. Also on the menu: brain, intestine, and gut tacos. The contents may be as gory as the Mexican Revolution, but the items are popular among the more radical eaters. Fresh lettuce and tomatoes are the final touches to what is ultimately an authentic Mexican experience. ¡Viva Taquería!.
In My Year of Meats, a novel by Ruth L. Ozeki, an Asian character says, "Name is very first thing. Name is face to all the world." No doubt she'd appreciate Sam Woo's moniker, which in English means to seduce. And that's precisely what he does with his "snowballs," chopped shrimp molded into balls and dressed with a sweet mayonnaise, and the artfully prepared double-cooked pork, rife with peppery cabbage and water chestnuts. But if Woo's appellation makes a great first impression, and his wokking a terrific second one, his décor certainly leaves something to be desired. The few rickety tables and chairs in this twenty-seat dive look as though they've been gleaned from a garage sale. Take-out's definitely the way to go here. Just ask the steady stream of neighbors and MDCC college students who perch temporarily while their orders are prepared from scratch, to go.

In Andalusia's vacated Kendall location the ghost of a bakery remains. Through the darkened windows you can still see boxes of wax paper, ovens, cash registers, and industrial mixers, all just waiting to spring back to life and commerce. Faithful customers await a resurrection, combing the recesses of their freezers for a loaf of rye, a danish, any bittersweet memento. Although the empire has fallen like a soufflé, Andalusia's goodies live on in the hearts, minds, and perhaps kitchens, of many Miamians. In 1988 Andy Kaplan bought Andalusia Bake Shop (which had operated in its Coral Gables location since 1963) and over the next ten years opened seven additional shops throughout Miami-Dade County, expanding services and product selection. The cheesecakes and sacher tortes couldn't be beat, their icings to die for. With expansion the Andalusia standards, such as rye bread, braided challah, and rugalach gained renown from Aventura to Hialeah. Unfortunately while trying to cash in on his golden goose, it seems retired CPA Kaplan cooked his own. Over the course of 1998 his stores began closing rapidly until finally even the original Coral Gables location locked its doors, and Kaplan's enterprise landed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Until the end even employees seemed in the dark about the future of the store. As the days counted down, loyal customers stockpiled supplies in a desperate attempt at cake cryogenics.
The Epicure is to serious gourmands what Times Square once was to perverts: an endless display of guilty pleasures one can ill afford. Inches-thick columns of blood-red filet mignon in the meat department; tins of Beluga caviar at $50 for 1.75 ounces, or $795 per kilo; fragrant, exotic cheeses; exquisitely fresh vegetables; an array of freshly baked goods; and unique delicacies such as bottarga di tonno -- a tuna roe dried and cured like prosciutto, and priced at $95 per pound. This high-end repository of gustatory delights was founded shortly after World War II by Edward Thal, whose family continued to run the store until a California company bought it this past year. The Thals still manage the emporium, however. Which means little has changed in how the store is run or what it stands for: the palate as a museum, and food as art.
Working in the music business is no nine-to-five job. Recording sessions that start one day can finish the next, and pulling all-nighters is par for the course. No surprise that producers and engineers who work at North Miami's famed Critieria Recording Studio know what to do when they need a little something to keep them going. No, not that. We mean Cuban coffee from La Minuta. This small cafetería on West Dixie Highway serves the quintessential Cuban octane: hot, sweet, and smooth. The brew never tastes too sugary, rancid, or bitter, but it's strong enough to keep you going for the next few hours. La Minuta opens early and closes late, so walk up to the window and enjoy this superior (and legal) stimulant. You just might run into bleary-eyed recording engineers refueling after a long night's work.
Are you sick of key lime pies that taste treacly, like green-color candy? Yet you live in South Florida and, damn it, when visitors come to call, they expect the local confection. Fret not, there is hope. Oddly enough it comes from sternly dressed German Baptists. More than a half century old, the Knaus Berry Farm in Homestead is rightly celebrated for its pecan rolls and fresh strawberries. On weekends between the middle of November and the last Saturday of April, customers brave long lines to buy fresh pastries and milkshakes from these traditionalists, whose long beards and conservative clothes often cause people to mistake them for Amish. The key to their key lime pie, they say, is the topping. These Baptists use cream cheese in place of whipped cream. They also exercise a puritanical control over the sugar in the lime filling. The result is a sublime and sophisticated interplay of tartness and sweetness, truly a proper dessert with coffee after dinner. At $6.50 for a small pie that serves about five, this treat is moderately priced. Those who arrive at the farm late in the day are unlikely to find any left.
Anyone can make a buttery, flaky croissant, like the fat golden crescents you find at the Publix Bakery. But not anyone can take that very same croissant and turn it into ... a doughnut. Sometimes the bakery counter's best-selling item is glazed after the raw croissant dough has been dropped like a fritter into the deep-fryer. Sometimes it's coated with cinnamon-sugar granules. Either way the new take is the best thing to happen to the traditional croissant since it made the leap over the big pond into the indulgent hands of American bakers.

It would be impossible for any flan to have a more perfectly silky, dense texture and rich taste than Lila's flan does. So many Lila's customers grew to love the flan (a most fitting finale to Lila's also-celebrated palomillo steak heaped with crisp fresh-cut fries) that ten years ago owner Reinaldo Navarro began selling the delicacy to stores. Now you can buy Lila's flan at Publix, Albertson's, Winn-Dixie, and other markets from Palm Beach to Monroe counties. But it's still better enjoyed after a big meal with a tableful of café-chugging, Cuba-policy-arguing companions in Lila's backroom.
Step into this spacious restaurant in a modest stripmall off U.S. 1 and you'll think you've taken a wrong turn over the border. Furnished with tile floors, ceramic crafts, woven wall hangings, and a wandering mariachi band, Paquito's feels authentic without being kitschy. Likewise the food here is really Mexican, not that overstuffed Americanized variation often found at so-called Mexican establishments. Dishes are simply prepared with country-fresh ingredients according to traditional recipes. Case in point: the sizzling fajita. Substantial slices of chicken or beef smothered with onions, plump cherry tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms are laid out on a metal plate, accompanied by a platter of yellow rice, refried beans, salad, and guacamole. There's a covered basket filled with warm, soft tortillas set to the side. A subtly flavored feast for the senses and stomach, eating Paquito's superior fajita is a sensual experience -- your own version of the wedding banquet in Like Water for Chocolate. Thirteen dollars and ninety-five cents seems a small price to pay for such pleasure.

Miami is a great food town, of course. Most famously for the chefs who fuse Caribbean foods into a mango-habanero mojo of New World cuisine. Less exotic, but still welcome in the mix, are the cheese steaks and inimitable pizzas transplanted from Philadelphia and New York. To this Americana end, at long last, Miami can add the hot dog. Make that the authentic Chicago-style hot dog. Mr. G's USA, a humble joint new to town, keeps it real: A Vienna Beef wiener served on a steamed bun with onions, mustard, relish, peppers, tomatoes, celery salt, and absolutely positively no ketchup. A bit of Midwestern mojo, if you will. Each substantial dog costs $2.75, and usually comes with either free fries, free soda, or both. Open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. There are other food options at Mr. G's, from ribs to Greek salads to a breakfast eggs Benedict. But why?

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®