Spris
What makes Spris' baked-to-order, personal pies supreme: a pizza chef from Naples, originating city of modern custom-made whole pies; a wood-burning oven, indispensable for those irresistible charcoaled thin crusts; and fresh, authentic adornments. Frankly the recent opening of also-authentic-Italian Piola just a few blocks away on Alton Road made this category a close call this year. The newer pizzeria also bakes its pies in a real forno a legna, and crusts are a bit more appealingly crunchy around the edges from the get-go. At Spris diners must request a crisp crust, or slices will arrive limp enough that folding them double, or eating with a knife and fork (as is customary in Naples), pretty much is de rigueur. But what really makes Spris' pizzas tops is what's on top: The tomato sauce is full-flavored and spicy enough to stand up to whatever other embellishments are piled on -- fresh porcini mushrooms, quality mozzarella, and raw arugula (thrown on at the last minute) is a typical combo. There's no canned crapola and no precious Hollywood designer-pizza pretension at Spris, just the toppings you'd find in Italy.
Never underestimate the power of an old maxim: Power is as power does. If you want to be perceived as powerful, act it. And eat some power protein for lunch. At this Brazilian rodizio eatery, you don't have to be a glutton to prove you're worthy. Order the "executive lunch," a complete meal for $12.99, which includes soup, caesar salad, side dishes, and a main course ranging from sirloin steak to salmon in white wine-caper-mushroom sauce. Or go all out and sample everything on the 30-item salad bar, then give the green light to the skewer-carrying meat carvers, who will feed you until you feel like having a power hurl, for $25.99. 'Course we don't recommend that if you're trying to impress a client or a senior partner. What we do advise: Check out the free valet parking, then tip big. Your power is in the (doggy) bag.

Picanha's Grille
When Picanha's opened a couple of years ago in the former Tark's, which was attached to a Dairy Queen, we thought it would be another restaurant serf, dredging the lower realm of the dining public for customers. We're not ashamed to admit we were wrong about this honest Brazilian eatery, which is named for the cut of rump roast called a pincanha. Indeed the eatery was so successful with both Brazilians and the uninitiated alike that it recently took its meaty linguincinha sausages and rich prawns sautéed in palm oil and coconut milk to a more conducive venue: the former Mark's Place. Now the Grille is even more packed, especially on Thursdays for Brazilian-style karaoke and caiprinhas, and on weekends for executive chef Edson Milto's traditional feijoada. And here we thought nothing could ever take the Place of Mark's.

Best Fried Chicken In A Supermarket Chain

Publix Deli

Freshly chopped chicken, coated with flour batter flecked with ground black pepper, deep-fried en masse to a golden crunchy brown, done on the inside but not overdone, and always hot off the serving tray, Publix fried chicken is so good it brings back memories. Serve it cold, and it makes you hanker for a grassy lawn, a shady tree, and a picnic basket packed with lemonade and potato salad. Serve it hot, and you'll long for macaroni and cheese, a heap of greens, and cornbread seasoned with diced jalapeño peppers. Meets the mom bar, which says a lot about a supermarket deli.

El Rincon De Chabuca
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.

Best Wine Selection In A Restaurant

Bice

Bice Restaurant
With 222 wines on hand, ranging in price from moderate to expensive, oenophiles and novices alike can enjoy Bice. In fact when it comes to vino, the restaurant walks confidently between egalitarianism and elitism. There is no wine steward, an old-school vestige that had more to do with pomp than practicality, according to restaurant manager Jason Bruce. Instead the entire waitstaff takes part in weekly wine tastings by experts in a continuous training exercise, where they are taught how to isolate the components of taste in a wine. "We'd rather have the whole staff know about the wines rather than just one specialist," says Bruce. Management is as proud to offer a $780 bottle of Chateau Margot, or a $295 of Gaja Barbaresco, as it is to offer a $26 bottle of Roggiano super Tuscan (meaning all the grapes come from the Italian region of Tuscany). The wine "cellar" actually is part of the dining room, where, with reservations, up to eighteen diners can enjoy their meal surrounded by racks of wine.
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.
Whole Foods Market
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.
People's Bar-B-Que
People's Bar-B-Que, in the heart of Overtown, dishes up comfort food with a smile. They pay attention not only to the way the food is prepared but also to how it's served. And it shows in the soul-satisfying fullness that sticks with you long after you've gone on your way. The iced tea is sweetened the way it should be: while it's still hot. The cornbread has a nice chewy crust. The greens are seasoned just so. The mashed potatoes are made from scratch. And the chicken, dipped in flour and deep-fat fried, is cooked to order. It comes to the table so hot it's still sizzling.

Granny Feelgood's Natural Food
Contrary to the icon stenciled on the door, Irving Fields looks nothing like an iron Granny bent on reforming the eating habits of a decidedly pudgy nation. To look at his round, avuncular shape, one might not immediately guess that he has operated a health food restaurant in downtown Miami since 1971. But just watch him bustle around the restaurant and store. He's hawking vitamins, mixing strawberry-banana protein shakes, and ringing up the bill -- all the while maintaining a constant stream of banter and gossip directed at newcomers and regulars alike. The restaurant is only a short walk from the county courthouse and county hall, so many of the regulars are a mixed lot of Miami's most famous and notorious denizens. "Mayors, commissioners, judges, lawyers, and cops, I know 'em all," Fields declares. One of his favorite customers is former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who he says confessed that she missed coming into the shop while she served out her term up in D.C. "She said, “Irving, I've got to tell you I fantasized about your fresh fruit and yogurt,'" Fields recalls with evident pleasure. "Fantasized -- that's a strange word coming from her." Oh yes, about the actual food. The menu is large, with well-priced items ranging from tasty veggie burgers and spinach lasagna to chimichangas to a variety of chicken or fish dishes and a selection of salads and fresh juices. The restaurant operates on the downtown's bustle-and-bust cycle, Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®