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.

Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant

Macaluso's

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.
The best Jewish deli in South Florida is the Rascal House, of course. Need we say more? Of course. This isn't some sissy Southern-belle category like Best Sorbet. This is the real thing. You got your pastrami and corned beef, both as fatty as you could get at the Carnegie, or even Katz's, in Manhattan. (If you don't like it fatty, maybe you should move to Califrigginfornia.) You also got your blintzes, which at the Rascal are homestyle, meaning that the cheese -- or blueberry, or whatever -- filling is enclosed by delicate French-type crêpes rather than the thin but tough layer of pastry cement you're probably used to. You got your genuine grated-not-mashed potato pancakes -- oniony, crisp, and reasonably thin -- not those fat squashed potato puffs many establishments sell to those of you who don't know their latkes from their tushies. You got your clientele at surrounding tables that's a typically Miami mix of Cuba and New York: "¡Mira! Oy!" And Rascal House's very firm waitress-dominatrixes will make sure you return often enough to keep your soul filled. If these mother figures make you feel guilty about not calling your own mom lately, you can FedEx a Rascal cheesecake home. Strawberry is best. In short you got somewhere not even a visiting New Yorker could complain about. So, what's not to like? Come! Eat!
Once was a time when picking a good key lime pie was simple. A half-dozen well-known ingredients and a straightforward preparation added up to a consistent product that would always deliver that sweet-tart bite. You don't meddle with a good thing once it's perfected. But this is South Florida. People meddle. So you never know just what to expect from a particular establishment. Some places produce a sort of lime-flavor cheesecakelike confection, while others prepare a bright green yet bland sliver of custardy pie. Let's not even get into the variety of crusts and overdone whipped cream or meringue toppings. Ideally you want a pie that's a pale green and tart as a Granny Smith apple but with an underlying creamy sweetness that takes the edge off. It's a good finish to a meal of sweet, smoky barbecue ribs. Shorty's, a south-county throwback to the Fifties, delivers both of these well. Belly up to the long wooden benches and eat yourself silly. But save room for the bakery-delivered pie, $2.79 worth of simple delight. Open Sunday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday till 11:00 p.m.
It is indeed a cozy, homey sort of diner on a bustling corner of Miami Springs' business district. The walls are hung with fancy quiltwork and needlework, old black-and-white photos of the town circa 1930, and antique Coca-Cola paraphernalia; real and fabricated ferns and flowers are everywhere, and delicious-looking cakes, pies, and pastries sit on counters in those covered glass stands. It's plain country-good eatin' here: meat loaf and mashed potatoes, eggs and grits -- even one of the greatest dishes ever to come out of the South, biscuits and gravy. Breakfast is served anytime, and there are many excellent and reasonably priced specials. But the real test of a kountry kitchen is the waitresses. You won't find the actress-student birdbrain type at Cozy Corner. Here the food servers have weathered years on their feet, memorizing prices, and carrying three plates on one arm (if they have to). In other words they're much like the unpretentious throwback the restaurant is.

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.)
Don't get us wrong. Steve's pizzas -- hot wheels of steaming mozzarella on firm, chewy crusts -- are a delicacy any time of day (and Steve's starts baking 'em around 11:00 a.m.). But sometime around 3:00 a.m., when you're on your way home from a long night of bar-hopping or you're already in bed, wishing you had just a little something to nosh on, a slice from this (nearly) round-the-clock pizza stand acquires transcendental meaning: Someone in the universe cares -- cares enough about you to stay up slingin' dough, running the oven, churning out pizza pies (all the way to 4:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays). It's just so beautiful, man.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®