Sango's has won our hearts before as the best Caribbean take-out -- but why stop there? Rosie Hollingshead's jerk is so good, her little counter in Perrine can take on all dining-room challengers. If the huge portions don't fill you up, the Arawak-inspired pepper pot and pumpkin soup will. Or do true honor to Jamaica with the national dish of ackee and codfish. If you're carrying a meal home for a little romance, be sure to order the home-brewed love juice, Sango's planter's punch. If that's not enough to get in the mood, stop in at Aquarius Records next door while you're waiting for your order and pick up some deep luvy dub to listen to back home while you tickle your honey's lips with coconut drops.
Nobody denatures raw-fish proteins in citrus juices like the Peruvians. So it should come as no surprise that this low-key restaurant that calls itself Chabuca's Place, dedicated to the memory of famous Peruvian composer Chabuca Granda, serves some damn good ceviche for $12. Get it Chabuca-style and you'll get to try an unusual starchy corn from Peru. If you must have your fish tempered with heat, there are plenty of dishes from which to choose, including an excellent mixed seafood platter that comes as a mound of rice loaded with shrimp, mussels, scallops, squid rings, and itty-bitty octopi. The restaurant is open from noon till 10:00 p.m. most days, and until 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

It's the eternal Zen question: How many links does a chain make? In chef-proprietor Mark Militello's case, we think the answer is several, all located in the South Florida area. With the recent addition of Mark's CityPlace in West Palm Beach, "Trade-Mark" Militello has expanded the empire he began in North Miami, then moved to Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and South Beach. Many chefs of his James Beard Award-winning caliber think a namesake restaurant is sufficient, but we know when it comes to talent, a single venue is only one hand clapping. But four -- now there's some real regional noise in the making.
This food is so good you have to pass through a metal detector just to get to it. Hang a right just past the bathrooms in the Juvenile Justice Center, and there it is, the colorful little trailer from which at-risk teenagers on probation in the juvenile court system serve up fresh food for low prices five days a week. You can get sandwiches, salads, chicken wings, and daily specials flavored with vegetables and herbs grown onsite by the teens. Park yourself at a picnic table or lounge in the sun-filled courtyard where you can watch the mingling of cops, judges, social workers, and children. An average breakfast or lunch will run you from $2.75 to $4 and is almost always healthier than fast food. Teen Cuisine also offers catering.
Cheese and wine can be a match made in Heaven, but only when in harmonious union. Such are the laws of nature. At Whole Foods Market another perfect pair can offer advice on how to achieve this delicate balance. Specialty cheese buyer Claudia Roldan will offer suggestions on choosing and combining just the right cheeses for any occasion, from the grainy Parmigiano Reggiano for an authentic Italian feast, to the drunken goat cheese from Spain. There are more than 35 cheeses from around the globe, and wine connoisseur Marguerite Roldan, related to Claudia by marriage, knows how to pair them with just the right wine from France, Italy, Chile, or Spain. For instance the Pyrenees with pepper, a semisoft rich and creamy cheese with a buttery taste, goes well with a red wine from Chile, offers Marguerite. The sumptuous Belletoile Brie, which Claudia says is perfect with raspberries, should be flushed down with a light red French wine. And Leerdammer, a baby Swiss, should be combined only with a sauvignon blanc. For further education on cheeses and wines, there's even a small shelf with reference books on the subject.
A nice big bowl of hot chili doesn't require the commitment that a cheeseburger does. To get the full enjoyment from a burger, you have to eat it while it's piping hot, straight through, before the juices seep into the bun and before the cheese coagulates. A bowl of chili can be spooned into your mouth at a leisurely pace, between gulps of beer. It even tastes better that way. A spoonful of chili, a sip of beer, a spoonful, well, you get the point. The beer cuts through the tomato flavor and gives your tongue a fizz. The tomato in the chili makes the back of your throat feel good. If you're doing some serious beer drinking, there is no better accompaniment than an order of chili. With cheese, sliced jalapeño peppers, and onions on top, like they serve it at Tobacco Road, it's a balanced meal in a bowl: protein in the hamburger, niacin in the kidney beans, vitamins A and C in the tomato, calcium in the cheese, and antioxidants in the onions. Sit at the pecky wood bar at the place that boasts the oldest liquor license in Miami and order another Foster's. You all fired up?
Buried in a tiny nondescript minimall, Macau does not look impressive from the outside. And the interior décor is humble, too. But so is the décor in many of China's best restaurants. And Macau's food is Miami's most authentically Chinese. Since Macau is an ex-Portuguese colony and major South China trading port island, people from all over the world have passed through for centuries. So chefs there know how to punt -- and so does Miami Macau's chef/owner May Yuen. If some menu item sounds appealing but not quite appropriate, negotiate; May is happy to improvise for diners with special diets or tastes. Even confirmed carnivores, for instance, will find an unlisted invention of vegetable ho fan (usually called chow fun), chewy broad bean noodles sautéed dry-style with snow peas, bean sprouts, and several other fresh Chinese vegetables. There also are at least a dozen nonmenu specials nightly, often featuring exotic seasonal ingredients. Don't miss delicate sautéed pea shoots with crab or deceptively simple-sounding Maine lobster with ginger and scallion when on the board. But some of Macau's tastiest treats are available always, like salty pepper shrimp. To ensure protection against Macau's only likely disappointment, phone first. Since May is the only cook, Macau closes when her kid has a cold.
This isn't a confection shop; it's a chocolate gallery filled with objets d' cocoa: miniature pianos, magnum-size champagne bottles, and swans, all sculpted out of milk, white, or dark chocolate. Tired of chewing on a dry bird at Thanksgiving? Order a solid chocolate turkey. They make 'em. Don't know what to give the man or woman who has everything? Try an oversize check, made out for a million dollars and printed on 100 percent solid chocolate. It's just one of the many custom-made creations the folks at Le Chocolatier have cooked up over the years. Order anything you see on display, come up with your own chocolate fantasy, or grab for the goodies in the case: chocolate-dipped biscotti, pretzels, fruit, and, of course, truffles -- tons and tons of truffles -- including tropically inspired mango, banana, key lime, and piña colada. Le Chocolatier? C'est magnifique!
Café Demetrio has everything we demand in a coffeehouse. The atmosphere, with its blond wood and tall windows, is comfortable and pleasing to the eye. Regular art shows keep the walls interesting. The food and beverages are exquisite. Demetrio's has an extensive coffee selection that runs from plain old espresso to caramel lattes. While the food tends toward sandwiches, the desserts are more adventurous and include an amaretto tart and linzer tortes. Finally Demetrio shares that great legacy of the modern coffeehouse: music. Generally Friday evenings feature romantic pop, and Saturdays are devoted to jazz.
Tony's represents Miami-Dade County the way it used to be, with a small-town rural feel. Breakfast at this greasy spoon begins at 5:00 a.m., daybreak being the time farmers usually go to work. Plopped in the middle of each of the two dining rooms are two big tables, one square, one round. These are where regulars who are eating alone but want to chat with their neighbors can sit. A prime topic of conversation is the weather (did we mention this is rural farm territory?). The food at Tony's is basic, but one can usually fill up on a good, complete breakfast for less than five dollars. Still doubt that this establishment isn't just another joint shoveling hash for cash? A toy train motors through the restaurant on tracks built high into the wall -- can't get more country than that.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®