Best Haitian Lunch 2001 | Jus Tropical | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
It's just a simple ground-beef sandwich, dressed with a bit of sauce and the obligatory vegetable matter. Yet somehow it's like biting into a memory of your favorite comfort food Momma used to make. Wash it down with a tropical juice: banana, mango, passion, papaya, guava, or Jus Tropical special blend. About as much lunchtime bliss as you can expect for five or six dollars. There are a handful of other sandwiches -- chicken, tuna, or a daily special-- and some sweet snacks for dessert. Friday and Saturday nights the place stays open until 1:00 a.m. so patrons can lounge at outside tables and listen to the sounds of Haitian musicians like Sweet Vibe play at the front of the shop. During the week Jus Tropical is open from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
If you judge Haitian restaurants as we do -- solely on the virtue of the lambi -- then you'll agree with us that Le Pavillon is tops in conch. The pounded conch, smothered in a tomato sauce and served so tender you know the chef has carpal tunnel syndrome from all that whacking, justifies the honor alone. Fortunately that's not the only qualified dish at this smartly trimmed eatery, which has been open for several years but is under new management. The beef-vegetables stew and the goat with gravy both rule their categories, as does the rice and peas. And while this eatery clearly is Creole to the nth degree, you won't find better fried chicken -- available every day -- served anywhere in the Deep South. Le Pavillon's motto is "home of many cultures," but really we think it's the place for just one: the culinary society.
Kevin Rusk took a risk when he named his brewpub for the doomed ocean liner that sank in 1912, but he's managed to keep it afloat for the past two years. Drawing on his success at Tobacco Road and Fishbone Grille, Rusk has created an eclectic menu that's designed to complement Titanic's handcrafted award-winning beers. Bypassing the uncharted (but tasty) waters of gangplank salmon and steerage skirt steak sandwich, we've found our safety zone in something tried and true: the essential burger. One-half pound of fresh ground Angus beef grilled to juicy perfection, crisp romaine lettuce, and a ripe-red tomato slice sit atop a toasted onion bun and are accompanied by a choice of caesar salad or fries. Extras (add fifty cents to a buck to the ample $5.95 burger) include grilled onion, jalapeños, cheese, mushrooms, and bacon. We'll be enjoying these consistently savory beefburgers until an iceberg forms on the UM campus.
In Miami Beach there are two kinds of happy hours: the ones that begin at midnight, and the ones that begin at 6:00 a.m. But in downtown Miami, where the business people -- yeah, those with day jobs -- play, there's only one happy hour. That's when work is over, the stuffy execs go home, and the unbuttoned professionals come out to play. And there's no better place to relax than on the patio at Gordon Biersch. Located in the heart of the Brickell streetscape, the brewery has even the sharkiest of lawyers relaxing with a homebrewed lager and a plate of fried artichoke hearts. In the end the crowd here, especially on Fridays, may make it tough to negotiate some space for yourself. But if you consider the salubrious effect of a little cheer on a lot of hard-working suits -- those you're likely to be negotiating with come Monday -- then the order of business becomes clear: Drink up, shut up.
Until there is an outbreak of foot and beak disease (or, God forbid, mad chicken) this Anglo version of Pollo Tropical is still a tantalizing investment for a quick healthful meal. The Brickell locale is a favorite lunchtime or postworkout pit stop for the calorie- and cash-obsessed professionals of our shimmering financial district. (You're usually out of there for less than five bucks.) The Kitchen is a pioneer in the merger of salad and entrée: broiled chicken (or beans for the truly health-minded vegetarian) on a bed of rice with fresh tomato, lettuce, and sour cream on top. A clever variety of salsas/dressings make this culinary conglomerate complete.
One of Havana's most beloved attractions for tourists and locals alike is the Coppelia ice cream stand in the Vedado district. There are those who believe Cubans would rather give up rum, or roast pig, than live without ice cream. Thus Miami's Coppelia has quite a reputation to live up to. It does -- even if it looks like any other strip-center storefront in Flagami. In a random survey, one Cuban visiting from Havana pronounced the Miami ice cream "better" than the Cuban Coppelia (which is a state brand sold throughout the nation). The flavors and the special sundaes here all recall those offered on the island, though in greater variety: marvelous mamey and mango, coconut, orange-pineapple, and peach. Of course you can't go wrong with the all-American flavors like chocolate almond, chocolate chip, and cukis con crema (cookies and cream). A high note: the Pico Turquino sundae, an original Coppelia creation named after Cuba's highest mountain peak and featuring clouds of whipped cream raining multiple flavors of syrup over mounds of ice cream perched on a cliff of cake.
To be honest we tried really hard not to love this place so much this year. After all, while Anokha pretty much is responsible for bringing ethnic food back to the Grove (and keeping it there), spicy Indian contenders are hot on the restaurant's well-shod heels. But just when we got to the point where we weren't craving the rogan josh or chicken vindaloo for dinner, Anokha did something really evil: It added a lunch buffet. Now, with an assortment of expertly seasoned goodies for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, we had little choice but to rename Anokha numero uno.

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This wonderful little joint answers the question Can man live by meatball alone? with a resounding yes! Of course there's plenty of other fare here, including some really good pizzas, homemade sauces, and a variety of dishes inspired by chef-owner Michael D'Andrea's family. Check out Grandma Lena's soup, Josephina's asparagus purée, or Vito's ricotta cheesecake. Whatever you choose, it's not only namesake; it's guaranteed authentic, made-on-the-premises, primo stuff. Naturally we can't get past the garlic-studded meatballs quickly enough to have any room left for cannoli, but that's why we're repeat customers: We have hope for the future.
This Jamaican joint is reminiscent of a grandmother's kitchen in Kingston. But no need to travel to the island and make good with locals in order to have delicious braised oxtail or curried goat. Try the brown stew fish and fried dumplings. Until 3:30 p.m. eat the best jerk chicken in town for just $3.99. Thirst quenchers include a variety of Jamaican sodas, sea moss, and ginger beer.

Three-radish salad with soy-lime vinaigrette? Crisp oyster rolls? Lobster tempura? Green tea cheesecake? And cold sake on tap to wash it all down? An establishment that treats Japanese cuisine with respectful innovation, Shoji is the latest product to debut from the Michael Schwartz-Myles Chefetz team. Like the partners' other restaurants, including Nemo, it seems Shoji was destined for success from the get-go, thanks to flavorful drinks like the sakatini (like a cosmo but with sake). Indeed we've been waiting eagerly for it to open for almost a year -- and hey, we're not all that patient. So it's all the more satisfying not only that Shoji lives up to its implied reputation, but that we can award it for its high cuisine so readily.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®