First, an apology. We know the place looks as if it has been attacked by sea breezes and salt water for the past couple of decades. We know it's not much to look at. We know if you're not in the know you'd drive right on by. That's because of what you don't know: the genteel atmosphere. The unobtrusive service. And the creamiest, richest peanut sauce in the industry. We like ours over the "swimming angels" -- chicken, shrimp, steamed broccoli, and tomatoes. But we also can't resist items like the honey beef, the squid with mushrooms, or the duck curry with pineapple, cashews, and peas. As an added bonus, Siam Bayshore also features a sushi bar, which hardly is an afterthought given the quality of the raw goods -- and it's certainly less fattening than the Thai fare. But when it comes to the blue ribbon, to be honest we're just not all that concerned about the ol' scale, unless it's the one we use to weigh quality. In this case that's off the scale.
The Idaho potatoes are cut fresh every day, long and thin. The restaurant buys them from a distributor who ensures uniform size and quality. The vegetable oil in which they are fried is changed daily. "And we make every batch to order," says manager Patricia Ferraro. After all, the restaurant has a reputation at stake that precedes its three-year existence on South Beach. The flagship Joe Allen on Manhattan's 46th Street is 35 years old. Sister restaurants in Paris and London both boast more than twenty years. And among them all are certain simple, signature American dishes: the calf's liver, the sirloin, the hamburger, and, of course, the French fry (which, grouped as a serving, costs $3.50). Joe Allen is open from 11:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. daily.
At first glance the gustatory enticements on this stretch of Biscayne Boulevard seem flatter than the landscape. The eye gets caught on the bright ubiquitous colors and familiar logos of McDonald's, KFC, Subway, and Taco Bell and sees little else. But the neighborhood also boasts eateries that speak not to the comfort of national fast-food dining but to the richness that waves of immigrants have brought to Miami's cuisine. Within a few blocks there is Honduran, Nicaraguan, Peruvian, and Haitian cuisine served at the kind of down-at-the-heels-looking joints that you pray have great food. Housed in a building with a lime-green shingled awning on the corner of 30th Street and Biscayne Boulevard, Delicias del Mar Peruano offers fresh seafood seasoned with lime, basil, mint, garlic and other pungent flavorings. Portions are large enough for two. The fiery jalapeño salsa with sliced baguettelike bread is worth a visit alone. The restaurant prepares six kinds of ceviche, heat adjusted to order; seafood soup (with octupi, large shrimp, and mussels in a clear broth); and perfect arroz con mariscos (shrimp with yellow rice) with flaky rice and just-cooked shrimp. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, just like a neighborhood restaurant should be.

Best Food Stop On The Drive To Key West

The Cracked Conch

The Cracked Conch is not to be confused with the Cracked Conch Café further down on Marathon Key, more expensive and not as down-home-tasty. The Cracked Conch also is not to be found by street address; it may have one for official reasons, but, the attitude about official stuff being what it is in the Keys, the address is not visible as drivers whiz down the Overseas Highway. Just look on the left side of the road, around Mile Marker 105 in Key Largo, for a small overgrown wooden shack with lots of hopeful cats on the roof licking their chops. Relax. You're there. Also there are a rustic room with booths, not tables; a terrific country jukebox; an informal take-one-now-leave-one-later bookcase of delicious vacation trash reading; even more delicious always-fresh local seafood and homemade specialties (several variety platters let you sample most everything including -- surprise!-- tender deep-fried cracked conch); a beer list longer than the food menu; and a great sense of humor: A note on the menu states that the Conch is run by "a very close staff and family. Close to broke. Close to insanity." The Cracked Conch is closed Wednesday. But if you begin a Key West weekend on Wednesday, you've been listening to waaay too many Jimmy Buffett songs.
This isn't a big sweaty American slab of beef hanging out of a bun. It's a Cuban twist on the he-man classic and thus must have some pork in it somewhere. And so it does -- a slice of roast beef atop a slice of roast pork, lettuce, and tomato, all pressed between two pieces of toasted Cuban bread. Melts in your mouth, not all over your shirt.
Perricone's Marketplace & Cafe
Photo by Lynn Parks
Caesar salad has become such a mainstay of contemporary cuisine that even fast-food joints offer a version. But we like places where the salad is tossed fresh and made to order with whatever you want put into it. The friendly salad makers at Perricone's serve a hearty and delicate caesar at the rustic restaurant's deli counter. With or without anchovies, this salad is a winner. The crisp romaine leaves are coated in a creamy egg and garlic dressing, accented with a perfect hint of Parmesan. Have it with a nice chardonnay and your lunch in Perricone's tropical garden beneath the banyans becomes downright dreamy.
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The wreath of laurel goes to Mylos for the third time. Surely the gods must descend from Mount Olympus from time to time to mingle with mortals and partake in the great feasts offered here. How else can such favoritism be explained? There's the paidakia, broiled baby lamb chops sautéed with mushrooms; the dolmades, stuffed grape leaves with rice and meat; and moussaka, ground beef, eggplant, and potato topped with layers of Béchamel. A favorite of Hermes -- so much that it was named after him -- is the platter of grilled lamb chops, filet mignon, and shrimp. Dionysus prefers simply the plate of grilled filet mignon and shrimp that's named for the god of wine.
El Nuevo Siglo Supermarket
Lunch counters like this, squeezed along a back wall in a little grocery, abound in Little Havana. A lot of them serve up some pretty good meals. Some aren't so great. But the food at Nuevo Siglo is always the best Cuban cooking around. Nothing fancy, just right. You would expect, then, a just-right Cuban sandwich. And you would get it. They don't try to make a gourmet delicacy, maybe slip in too much lean ham or try a fancy cheese. No. It's just a basic Cuban sandwich, the kind you can't improve upon.
"Welcome to Bavaria," the menu reads, and it's true on both counts: You are welcome, and Edelweiss is like a restaurant in Bavaria. By that we mean the homey, old-world décor, coupled with the traditional, finely wrought German fare, gets us salivating for a weis bier every time. We always enjoy sopping up the brew with the bread dumplings with mushroom sauce; the pan-seared trout with sherry sauce; or the grilled pork sausages over sauerkraut. And finishing off the meal with Black Forest torte doesn't suck either. But the part of the experience we think is most essential? Bestowing a pat or two on the owner's shaggy white dog, who is always resting eagerly at the top of the stairs, delighted to welcome you to -- and say goodbye from -- Bavaria.
Steve's Pizza
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®