Best Food Stop On The Drive To Key West 2000 | Green Turtle Inn | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Best Food Stop On The Drive To Key West

Green Turtle Inn

The drive to Key West can be grueling, especially when you're hungry and stuck in weekend traffic. Resist the urge to succumb to a quick fish-sandwich-and-fritter fix and instead hit the brakes in Islamorada. The Green Turtle Inn, a delightful old-fashioned eatery where great food and just the right dose of show biz meet, will ease your weary traveling bones. The dark paneled walls covered with yellowing photos lend a cozy feel to this institution, which has sat oceanside since 1947. You'll relax the minute you walk in; song stylist Tina Martin is at the piano nightly, flipping through her massive songbooks, belting out breathy numbers, and greeting the masses with her trademark "turtle wave." The moderately priced fare is simply prepared yet delicious: steaks, chops, seasonal stone crabs, fresh catch of the day, surf and turf, lobster. The house specialty, turtle steak, is a savory treat that's always recommended by the waitstaff. (Don't feel guilty about sampling this delicacy: The Turtle assures the creatures no longer are harvested in local waters. You'll get the freshwater variety.) "Full-course" meals also are available and include soup (conch or turtle, from the restaurant's own cannery) or tomato juice, salad, rolls, and entrée with choice of potato and vegetable. Save room for key lime pie with five-inch-high meringue, "the original way it was made," according to a crusty waitress. If you have some time to spare before check-in, catch host/master magician Bastille's act on Friday and Saturday nights. The "world-famous illusionist" will dazzle you with his stellar mind-reading abilities. Before you hit the road, guzzle a cup of coffee and give Tina an appreciative turtle wave. Hop in your ride and you're halfway to paradise. Open every day except Monday.
The sopa marinera here is the Latin/Caribbean version of that New England stalwart: seafood chowder. Instead of dairy milk, the fish broth is emboldened with coconut milk. Instead of quahogs and cod, the chowder is studded with shrimp, conch, and snapper. It's a wonderful merging of the Northern and Southern hemispheres, which, after all, is Miami at its best. A small bowl, which is plentiful, runs $4.50; a large, which is obscene, $7.50. Both come with tortilla and side. Adelita is open from 7:00 a.m. until midnight.
You can feel it beginning on your way home from work: the craving, the wanting, the needing. It was a stressful day -- the boss yelled, the clients yelled, the colleagues yelled -- and more than anything, you need a pick-me-up. Call it a fix, say you have an addiction, do whatever it takes (except steal TVs), but just make sure you have sushi, pronto. Look no further than Tokyo Bowl. Not only can this counter-service Japanese restaurant satisfy your need for raw fish, vinegar rice, and seaweed, it can do it in a split second via the drive-thru, which was leftover from when the building was part of a chicken chain. The sushi menu isn't as exotic or extensive (read: numbering in the hundreds) as other sushi bars in Miami; Tokyo Bowl offers about eight rolls and five different kinds of sushi, including tuna, salmon, and dolphin. But here it's not just the quality of the eatery, it's the speed of it that counts. In our busy book, instantaneous sushi is the eating man's heroin, and you don't have to worry about withdrawal.
If writer David Mamet had been to Villa Habana, he never would have scripted the line in his film Wag the Dog, in which William H. Macy's character declares there is no difference between good flan and bad flan. Granted, making a cup of custard is kind of hard to screw up, so there probably isn't any flan out there that would scream "bad." But the Villa Habana version goes way beyond "good." It's thicker, creamier, less eggy than most, with a delicate flavor that goes great with a foam-topped, after-dinner cortadito. The restaurant's regular menu is full of familiar Cuban favorites, executed with a deft and distinctive touch. So sure, go there for the ropa vieja al vino, but remember, there's always room for flan.
It's been a long journey pushing westward in the brutal traffic. But here you are at the roadside oasis called Rancho los Cocos. This glorified country produce stand used to be really way out west but is now in scenic Westchester. Wooden tables piled with locally grown fruits and vegetables are lined up under a wide roof, which also shades a cluster of little tables and chairs. Here the weary commuter can enjoy Cuban home cooking chosen from an indoor minicafeteria. Or try a shrimp, beef, or chicken shish kebab grilled to order outside. Then there's the wonderful los Cocos juice bar offering a full complement of fresh juices and batidos. When you're finished eating, browse through the produce and bring home a bag or two of whatever's in season.
Judging by the nightly crowd of people milling about outside Ragazzi, sipping wine and chatting away while waiting for a table, it appears most of you don't need us to tell you how good this petite 52-seat trattoria really is. Seems you've heard about the homemade bread; delicious risottos and pastas; freshly prepared Italian seafood, chicken, and veal dishes accompanied by brightly cooked greens; and the perfectly poached pears for dessert. In which case it's probably unnecessary to remind you just how hospitable the cozy room is, or how popular the prices. Where else can you get salmon carpaccio drizzled with truffle oil over a bed of mixed greens for $7.95? Cafe Ragazzi is the best, and you know it. Honorable mention and a tip of the capellini to Tiramesu for their great homemade pastas.
Mexico and Miami have much in common. Both have plenty of corruption and new construction. Both are working hard to join the industrialized world. Unlike the land of the big piñata, however, the Magic City has a sorely underdeveloped taco sector. But authentic taco entrepreneurs from Puebla and other Mexican towns are popping up where you'd least expect them. This little restaurant and take-out window in a dusty warehouse district is the leader of this fledgling industry. It's where you'll find the genuine item. At $1.50 per unit, the cost-benefit ratio is excellent. Each taco is constructed with two soft tortillas, instead of one. The marinated pieces of grilled sirloin are gilded with chopped onions and cilantro. Apply red or green hot sauce as needed. Consume other varieties: pork chunks cooked in a dry pepper sauce (al pastor), chorizo, or shredded chicken, all cooked with Mexican herbs. For an extra 50 cents you can receive the top-of-the-line tacos: beef tongue, tripe, jerky beef, or goat meat with avocado leaves. Viva el capitalismo!

Best Restaurant To Die In The Past Twelve Months

Al Amir

This self-labeled "Mediterranean" restaurant, more Lebanese than anything else, was chef-owner Ali Husseini's second attempt to crack the dining code in Miami. His first, an eatery of the same name on South Beach, gave way to this particularly welcoming oasis on Biscayne Boulevard. Unfortunately Al Amir II eventually also bowed out, exiting in an understated manner a few months ago: One day it was there, the next day it was Ponte Vecchio, an Italian restaurant (because Miami really needed another pasta palace). Al Amir's extinction makes it that much harder to find tangy labneh, a yogurt dip; or fried kibbeh (ground beef and wheat balls), or chicken breast stuffed with coriander and sautéed in butter. But we're Miamians. If there's anything we know how to do, it's wait for what we want. So when (we will not say if) Husseini comes back with round three, we'll be ready.
"Moshi moshi!" bellows a voice as you cross the threshold of this oddly decorated Japanese restaurant. That's manager Annop Lasongyang, a.k.a. Nick, greeting you. Often he throws in a "meow, meow!" for good measure. Moshi moshi means hello in Japanese. "Meow, meow?" Well, that's the sound a cat makes. And if anyone knows about great fish, it's finicky cats. Formerly known as Sushi Yama, two-and-a-half-year-old Moshi Moshi, an outpost of the Boca Raton-based sushi house, changed its name a while ago to avoid confusion with a certain similarly named restaurant down the street. The décor mutated a bit, too. Big blue beach umbrellas, a disco ball, and myriad rubber sea creatures and origami birds hanging from the ceiling have been added to the sedate blond-wood room. The thumping disco music, big televisions, and rubber lizards guarding the top of the sushi bar remain, though, as does the friendly service and consistently fresh fish. On the menu: a mouthwatering array of ordinary sushi à la carte, everyday rolls (spicy tuna, smoked salmon), exotic special rolls (e.g., salmon, tuna, yellowtail, avocado, and scallions wrapped in buckwheat noodle), and even what they call super rolls (e.g., chicken katsu, lettuce, avocado, cucumber, and mayo), always expertly prepared and temptingly tasty. Leaves little question that Moshi Moshi is the cat's meow.
You'd think more restaurants in this food capital of the Caribbean would know how to fry a green plantain. Yet all too often, even otherwise outstanding Cuban (or Puerto Rican, or Dominican, et cetera) restaurants produce indifferent patacones. They're always too big, too thickly sliced, not ripe enough. And they're never hot; you find yourself staring at a flavorless, lukewarm pile of plantain pucks. The ones at Laguna always come out sizzling and are made from plaintains just ripe enough to leave the insides tender without crossing the line into plátanos maduros. This bustling, low-priced lunch spot has plenty else to recommend it, but its tostones are without peer. Ask for una tasita de mojo al lado. Mmmm.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®