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.
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Okay, we admit that the interior of this freaky circus-theme restaurant, with its banquettes shaped like jesters' hats and papier-mâché harlequins dangling from the rafters, is striking. But it's also a little scary, especially if Cirque du Soleil just really ain't your game. All in all we prefer the seaside terrace, which provides the prettiest seating in North Beach. There you can enjoy executive chef Paulo Barroso de Barros's intriguing ginger duck confit with ravioli and fresh mango sauce as it should be: out in the tropical air under a full Miami moon. When it comes to magical entertainment, sometimes nature, with a little help from a chef who knows how to cook a really good osso bucco, is all you need.
A little piece of Spain is hidden in the heart of Little Havana. Step inside Casa Panza, wind your way past the old wine barrels, and chances are you will be greeted by the owner himself, if not some other family member, who will guide you inside. The first thing you'll notice then is how big the place is. After the sangría starts to flow, you realize there are chunks of fruit in there, and not the Libby's cocktail variety. Four days a week there are live flamenco performances by world-renowned dancer Celia Clara and her singer/guitarist husband, Paco Fonta. Despite all the heel thumping and hand clapping, you'll still be able to hear the grease sizzling as waiters serve up tasty fried chorizo. For large parties the paella is a must. We say large parties, because otherwise the plethora of seafood and meats will go to waste. Dining alone? The tortilla española is a light and fluffy treat. Whatever you choose, rest assured the taste will be authentic, the entertainment will be rousing, and the service will be impeccable.
Hanna's Gourmet Diner
Don't be fooled by the name Hanna -- this is the same beloved Gourmet Diner of old. And by old, we mean oldie but goodie. Original chef-proprietor Jean-Pierre Lejeune sold his signature place six months ago to new owner Sia Hemmati, who vowed to keep everything the same. Well, he broke his promise. By adding white linen tablecloths, fresh flowers, and the use of credit card machines, he actually made the stainless-steel diner with its hallmark French-inspired chalkboard specialties better. Not that we're complaining about the most perfectly herb-roasted chicken in Miami, or the meatiest veal Bolognese sauce, or the slickest steak au poivre. And of course we certainly can't bitch about the custard fruit tart, the recipe for which is exactly executed each day with vine-ripe strawberries and fresh kiwis. Call us sentimental if you must, but we're just darn glad that neither new owners nor faithful followers have lost sight of the Diner.
There is a moment in the night, usually after the clock passes 3:00 a.m., when if awake, the body hits a crossroads. Either go to bed or push on to the dawn's first light. If the choice is to forgo sleep, sustenance is usually a must. For a hot meal there is no better place than the 24-hour 11th Street Diner. Whether it's pancakes or fried chicken, the diner serves quality food at reasonable prices. An added bonus for late-night owls is the possibility of a celebrity sighting. The proximity to South Beach clubs makes the eatery a natural stopping place for the famous. Recent hungry partyers seen chowing down include pitcher Livan Hernandez and rapper-turned-actor LL Cool J. (See, the famous haven't departed the Beach; they've just moved on to better and cheaper places.)

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®