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.

Zesty, refreshing, cool, and minty. Yes, minty. Making lemonade may seem trivial, but at Eat'n Colors it's become almost an art form. Mixed with bits of fresh mint leaves, a tall glass will quench your thirst and offer respite from not just the heat but the overwhelming demands of life. Nature supplies the crew of Eat'n Colors with lemons, and they make wonderful lemonade for us to enjoy. So enjoy!
The late Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer and his wife, Alma, used to visit this soda fountain and drugstore at least once a day, sometimes twice. For lunch Singer often ordered the grilled cheese on white. The prolific short-story writer and novelist was at Sheldon's in 1978 when a courier from the Nobel Prize committee showed up at his Surfside home with the news he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sent to the drugstore to find the author, the courier interrupted Singer's midday meal. The unassuming writer reportedly replied with characteristic aplomb, "Oh, okay," and resumed eating. Singer probably liked the place, says owner Ethel Spector, wife of the late Sheldon, because the backstore diner treated him like any other customer. A sign printed on typing paper above a table near the coffee station states that Singer learned he won literature's greatest award in 1979 while sitting at "this" table. Even if they got the year wrong and have since moved the tables around, there's something inspiring about eating near where genius dined. In addition to its literary charms, Sheldon's is a soda-fountain aficionado's dream. They serve old-school sundaes with pineapple goo and chocolate sauce; banana splits; New York egg creams; phosphates; ice cream sodas; and thick, rich milkshakes in tall frosted glasses with both a straw and a spoon.
We thought proprietor Alejandro Garcia and chef-wife Lorena Vega-Beuggie were completely nuts when they reopened Divina. They'd formerly operated this Mexican haute-cuisine restaurant for only seven months a couple of years ago, and while they got great reviews and built a loyal clientele, landlord problems forced them to give up the space. But when they saw that Divina's successor, Chow, had gone out of business, they decided a little resurrection was in order. Can't say any of Vega-Beuggie's fans were dismayed; that corn torte with poblano cream sauce she makes produces a powerful craving, and, admittedly, we also were suffering without our regular fix of squash blossoms and cuitlacoche. Our goal now? To let everybody in on the secret of their success, so the duo will have no choice but to expand their hours to include a divine lunchtime.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®