Doughnuts are sin. You cannot yield to the temptation of a low-fat or sugar-free doughnut. Such abominations are not doughnuts. Therefore, brothers and sisters, he who eats of the glazed, powdered, cream-filled, and all other manner of deep-fried dough, make damn sure it's worth sinning for. Can I get a witness? When you're out there hungering in the depths of your gut for a chocolate frosted, drive thou not into a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot, for that way leads to perdition. No, my children! Hold out for the worst sin! The very anti-halo! A still-warm glazed doughnut fresh from the Krispy Kreme kitchen! What is it, you may ask, that the Krispy Kreme people put in those doughnuts to render them so meltingly soft? So dangerously delicious? Oh, ye of little faith! Shut up and start sinning!
Ortanique on the Mile
Photo courtesy of Ortanique on the Mile
Numerous high-profile restaurants with authentically gifted chefs opened this past year: Mayya (Guillermo Tellez), The Strand (Michelle Bernstein), Ortanique (Mary Rohan), and Bambú (Rob Deer) to name a few. Then there's Mark Militello's latest effort at the refurbished Nash, which not only tops these other topnotch contenders but perhaps even his own prior work. The cuisine is more Mediterranean, less fusion than at the flagship Las Olas restaurant. The savvily conceived combinations and contrasts, however, are as well executed as ever. Witness the crisp-skinned Scottish salmon with soft fondue of leeks and tomato in truffled sweet-pea coulis. Better yet, go taste it. Time will tell if the quality can be kept consistent without the man himself being around, but for now it sure looks like a keeper.
Moises Bakery
As the neon sign reads inside, everything in this bakery is made with "chispa Venezolana." The bread comes to you fresh out of the oven in all shapes and sizes. The cakes are topped with fresh strawberries, kiwis, and peaches. The meat, chicken, and cheese empanadas go a long way. Be sure to wash down the dough-wrapped lunch-in-a-pocket with a Frescolita ( a cherry-flavor Venezuelan soda in a glass bottle). Have a bomba (a pastry stuffed with cooked condensed milk) for dessert, or a flaky mil ojas (1000 leaves) covered in powdered sugar. They even have something to cure the lethargy that comes from eating too much.
When the Portuguese "settled" Brazil and forced African slaves to cook for them as well as work in the fields, the result wasn't completely tragic, at least from a gastronomic point of view. Without native and African influences, no doubt Brazilians would still think salt cod is delicious. Fortunately for the culinary-minded, the folks who got taken advantage of wound up contributing to one of the most interesting cuisines in the world, a mixture of Portuguese, native South American, and African ingredients and cooking styles. And Barroco, a pretty Brazilian restaurant, is perfectly poised to educate our palates with dishes like black-eyed pea fritters with oven-roasted shrimp sauce; shrimp with coconut milk and yuca purée; and adobo-rubbed roast pork tenderloin with aged port sauce and collard greens. The truth is, of course, that you don't really have to know your colonial history to take advantage of supping on this sumptuous fare. There won't be a quiz after the meal. But there just might be some bossa nova.
The mallification of the once-distinctive Road is now complete. Just like every other mall, it has: (1) a Williams-Sonoma, and (2) a food court. Though restaurants are strung along its length, the culinary heart of the Road is at the artificial grassy knoll where skaters and homeless folks rub shoulders with the world's best-looking mall rats. What more could you want in generic upscale eatin'? There's the Joffrey's Coffee shop, the Thai/sushi place, the ... other Thai/sushi place. Okay, okay, there's no Cheesecake Factory, but there's the Nexxt best thing. And for dessert you've got the packed-to-the gills Gelateria Parmalat. All within striking distance of real.life.basic. Coming soon, just down the street: Victoria's Secret! Just like every other mall.
Take a look on the other side of the counter in either one of these locations, and what you see could very well be a picture from a local agricultural promo. The fruits and vegetables are so fresh and ripe they look as though they belong on a billboard rather than in a blender. That's the way it's been for 58 years at the original Athens on Collins Avenue (the second location opened in 1997). As far as smoothies go, forget about the elaborate menus with clever names you'll find at other establishments. When ordering at Athens, simply rattle off whatever combination you want and it's yours, all for the same price: about three bucks for a medium cup. How do they do it? While other smoothie places choose to go with some frozen material or use bottled juice, the folks at Athens get up early every morning and select their produce from a stable of local farmers or the farmers' market in Homestead. But during September, take your thirst elsewhere; that's the low season for most of the local produce, and rather than work with inferior merchandise, Athens just closes shop.
The Cheesecake Factory
You may want to call us predictable, common, okay even cheesy, but as far as chain-restaurant food goes, the Cheesecake Factory stands alone. We've even heard that other restaurants like to pick Cheesecake items straight from the menu and serve the delicious dishes themselves. That's the same menu that features page after page of tasty selections, like the sweet-corn tamale appetizer, Sheila's favorite blackened chicken pasta (hot, hot, hot), or the Chinese chicken salad. Leave room after the gargantuan portions for a slice from one of the Factory's 30-plus cheesecake selections. And leave some time to get your fill: You'll probably have to wait up to a half-hour on evenings and weekends.
It's hard to believe a society capable of cloning sheep can't produce a decent-tasting nonfat dessert. A fellow frozen-yogurt consumer once said, "It's supposed to taste strange; it's nonfat. It's got all kinds of weird chemicals in it." She then continued contentedly munching the junk, not unlike a cloned sheep. Well it tastes like crap, and I'm not going to eat it anymore! Fortunately science finally has come up with Yocream. This stuff is super rich, extra creamy, and (Seinfeld fans take note) fat free! One-half cup vanilla contains 100 calories and zero grams of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; one-half cup chocolate has 110 calories with .5 grams total fat (zero from saturated fat or cholesterol). And there's not a trace of the artificial aftertaste common in other nonfat treats. Ingredients include active yogurt cultures, some natural items you'd find in a baker's pantry, plus a few you might not, including the mysterious "sweetener" and "stabilizer," plus cellulose and guar gum. You can find vanilla and chocolate Yocream at Banana Royale ice cream store in Aventura, News Café on South Beach, as well as in shakes and smoothies at Norman Brothers.
Tucked among the many unexpected treasures in Libreri Mapou are tall bottles of a mysterious ivory liquid. A love potion? A purifying bubble bath? Not exactly, though you could say Kremas Mapou has alchemic properties. Here in this venerable Little Haiti bookstore, the cultural and intellectual heart of Miami's Haitian community, is owner Jan Mapou's homemade contribution to the potable arts. Kremas Mapou is this thick, syrupy drink that doesn't taste quite like anything else. A subtle pang of alcohol -- "sugar cane rhum," as noted on the label -- heats up the rich vanilla-almond-cinnamon mixture just enough to turn it into a deep velvety dream of a cream. A 700-ml bottle costs $13; smaller quantities are correspondingly less, down to a cute little pocket size for $1.
Unfurling waves of hot-shot eateries have recently been splashing into South Beach, but this is nothing new. Big-money ventures and top-drawer chefs have been dashing onto our shores for years now, only to crash on the rocks of financial reality and roll quietly back out again. One, Pacific Time, has ticked consistently along like a fine-tuned watch since stunning locals with what was then radical for these parts: pan-Asian food. That was back in 1993, when PT was the only place to go for fine dining on Lincoln Road. Now, with cafés cluttering every corner and cranny, many maintain it's still the only place. Pacific Rim favorites like Szechuan grilled black grouper have been around from day one but the ever-evolving menu manages to keep surprising. Desserts, too, are legendary. Owner/chef Jonathan Eismann's steady presence and talent have kept Time like a Rolex in a neighborhood of Swatches.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®