Mykonos Greek Restaurant
Natalia Molina
A Miami institution for nearly three decades, Mykonos consistently offers the best in Greek cuisine. From standards such as gyros and souvlaki to richer dishes, including moussaka and pastitsio. They can even make roasting half a chicken seem exotic, seasoning it with just the right herbs and spices. The portions are large and the prices are so reasonable that over time, you'll be able to save enough money to take your own trip to Greece (and stop in on that party island all covered in blue and white, also called Mykonos). But when you do, you probably won't find the food any better. The best thing about this Mykonos: the people. Most of the staff are relatives of owners John Kafouros and Nick Pantelaras, which gives the place the warm feel of a small, family-run eatery.
Lucila Jimenez has turned her family tradition of baking festive and inventive cakes into a thriving business. Her two Sweet Art bakeries, with their 50 employees, seem to be able to coax batter and icing into almost any shape, for any event. Mountains, hearts, toys, the island of Cuba -- nearly anything is possible. Her signature "jewelry box" cakes are a true marvel: They look for all the world like oversize Limoges porcelain boxes, complete with gold fittings, and yet, amazingly, they are not only edible, but delicious. Try one of Lucila's cakes for a special occasion, and her tradition will quickly become yours as well.
Like any blank canvas, tofu is only as good as the artist who prepares it, and "natural" food can sometimes taste like a form of punishment. Lucky for us Suzanne's chef is first-rate, and her menu is downright indulgent (in a health-nutty, new-agey way). Open since November 1999 for take-out, lunch, and dinner, this meatless wonder offers classy (not stuffy) fare that's kind to animals and your (nonleather) wallet. Although the menu is vegan (no dairy, eggs, et cetera, are used), the results are hearty and flavorful enough to tempt even die-hard flesh-eaters. The organic wines, available by the glass (from $3.95) or bottle (from $17.95), don't hurt, either. An introductory dinner here -- grilled tofu, steamed organic vegetables, and brown rice in tahini sauce ($8.95) -- was a sign of good things to come, including a juicy, robust tofu Reuben with deliciously (un)creamy coleslaw. And hey, if it'll enhance your pleasure, go ahead and pretend you're dining on the deceased. We won't squeal to PETA.
Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House
What sets this Jewish diner apart is the bread, made fresh every day in the adjacent bakery. Three plates of goodies are served with every meal. Besides your traditional soft and chewy rolls, they toss in white toast swirled throughout with sweet cinnamon. Also offered are chunks of raisin bread dotted with the gooey black stuff and covered with a thin coat of sugar. Real butter and cream cheese are served on the side to spread across the delicacies. For diners who can't finish the bread, servers offer a doggy bag to enjoy it at home or the office. Don't feel like waiting for the sometimes slow service or interminable lines? Then walk straight into the bakery, where the selection grows to include buttered toast, pumpernickel, and sticky honeybuns. And don't fret when you get a craving -- they're open 24 hours.
You just made it. Booth okay? Care for a beverage? Will that be the pasta fagioli or the garden salad? And your rolls: plain or dripping with garlic? For dinner there's lasagna, stuffed shells, eggplant rollatini, chicken parmigiana, veal cacciatore, linguine in clam sauce, ziti with sausage, or something else ... I forgot; I'll be right back. What do you mean you're full? No dessert? Either way it's $7.95. Come on, take the cannoli! (Oh well, just come back: The early bird special is offered seven days a week, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.)

Best Restaurant For A Power Lunch

Bice

Bice Restaurant
The ambiance is one of restrained elegance. The menu is one of distinct priciness. And the clientele is easily of the double-breasted caliber. So there's no doubt, whether you're a long-time lawyer entertaining clients or a Gen X dot.com millionaire meeting potential venture capitalists, you'll want to invest in fine northern Italian fare: delicate seafood and pasta for the fluttery of stomach, hearty meat dishes for the cast-iron all-business body. Whether you're betting on a jury or taking a ride with a pre-IPO CEO, at least you'll be able to keep your chops in fine form by biting down on a, well, chop.
Got a hankering for a half-sour? A craving for sauerkraut? The palate for a pickled green tomato? Relax, you're covered. The only pickle stand in Miami that's called a kiosk, Picklelicious imports its barrels of pickles, about ten varieties, directly from the Lower East Side in New York. And don't worry if you don't feel like purchasing a pint or a quart of the briny goodies. Picklelicious also sells the ever-popular pickle-on-a-stick, which leaves you one hand free for flipping through the clothes at Macy's. Just be careful not to get yourself in a pickle, and have the courtesy to buy whatever you manage to squirt with garlicky juice.

Best Restaurant When Someone Else Is Paying

Petrossian

The Forge
billwisserphoto.com
Can you say beluga, sevruga, osetra? Petrossian can: It's the largest importer of Russian caviar in the world. Can you say foie gras? Petrossian can: The company's farms in France produce plump, silken specimens. Can you say expensive? Petrossian can, because it ain't cheap to get all that good stuff over here. Indeed you can ply your senses with twenty grams of sevruga for $23, or beluga for $47. But you should be aware that while for drug addicts, twenty grams is a feast, for caviar aficionados it's barely a snort. And if you're planning on accompanying those sturgeon eggs with champagne, be prepared for some bottles to run over the $400 mark. Needless to say the best time to dine at Petrossian is when you have grateful guests in the house. Allow them to think of the dinner check as room and board, and in the end, everyone -- especially your waiter (what's fifteen percent of $400?) -- is more than sensually sated.
Chef Pepin -- no, not the famous one, just a hardworking Cuban cook named Pepin -- has been a fixture at Little Farm Store's diner for the past twenty years. More than a fixture; Little Farm Store cognoscenti prize Pepin's homestyle Cuban dishes. But especially his medianoche. Now what is it that makes Pepin's sandwich a cut above? How would he know? Does an artist know what drives him to the canvas? Pepin throws generous portions of pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mayo, and pickles (amount will vary at your order) on some of that soft egg bread, grills it just right, and there it is. Another masterpiece to go. Invest now while you can get one for $2.50.

Best Restaurant To Reinvent Itself Again

Big Fish

Big Fish
This restaurant has had more lives than Shirley MacLaine. And part of the eatery's perseverance has to do with its location. As one of the only, and certainly just about the oldest, riverfront restaurants in Miami, we almost owe it our patronage. In fact we've seen this place through good times and bad, through Twenties' gas stations and fish sandwiches (courtesy of its first owner), through gondolas and gigantic sculptures of animals standing on each other's backs (courtesy of the previous owner). It's almost like a marriage that way -- love it or leave it. And we love it. We can't help ourselves. Some glitches will always affect this restaurant: It's hard to find; the neighborhood could be better; the river traffic could be less noisy. But as far as landmark bars built around banyan trees go, we'll take this one. And we'll drink martinis here and eat fish sandwiches (okay, maybe just one, since they're currently so big) no matter who owns it, or cleans it up, or installs weird artwork, or dirties it again. That's a promise.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®