Forget the goofy name. Roasters, as it's called by most customers, is hard-core, straight-up deli fare. Breakfast is an array of the basics: thick French toast, eggs (or egg whites, perhaps), toast, bagels, lox, and such, all accompanied by orange juice squeezed fresh. The lunch menu features meaty deli sandwiches and the best matzo-ball soup around. The restaurant's owners strive to make their deli a place where locals can gather and feel among friends, sort of what the late lamented Wolfie's was like in Miami Beach in its heyday 35 years ago. Roasters has succeeded spectacularly. It's where Kendall and Pinecrest come to nosh.
Pelican's on the Pier
Aran S Graham
Calling the Pelican a restaurant may convey the wrong impression. It's a thatched-roof, open-air, low-cost, shorts-and-sandals throwback to a different era, perched high above the sand on the Newport's fishing pier (known to old-timers as the Sunny Isles pier). The north side offers table seating. We recommend the south side. Tall cocktail tables attached to the pier railings accommodate three stools each. Grab one to catch the southeasterly summer breeze and behold the sweeping view down the coast. Turquoise water, white sand, deep blue sky, a distant cruise ship heading to sea. It's sensational at sunset. The Pelican's menu favors burgers over seafood, but if you ask for the freshest fish and have it simply prepared you can't go wrong, especially with an Italian pinot grigio or German Riesling (no bottle more than $15). The kitchen is open till 9:00 p.m. seven days a week. You can park at the foot of the pier but it's expensive. Better to use the public parking up the road and across the street.
This is a humble little spot, a bit down on the heels, but the fresh and plentiful fare makes up for the lack of décor. The star in Holy Family's firmament of classic dishes is its divine pwason gwo sel, a whole fish, usually snapper, prepared and fried in a traditional Haitian style. Also without blemish are the lanbi, or conch, in a Creole-type sauce, and legim, a spicy mixture of vegetables and usually meat. The basic diri ak pwa, rice and beans, are good enough to make up a whole meal. There is one dish missing, for religious reasons, from Holy Family's menu: griot, or fried pork. The restaurant's faithful don't mind at all.
Despite the name, Hernandez looks like an old-fashioned neighborhood butcher shop, a mom-and-pop operation bordering an industrial neighborhood in Hialeah. Nothing very notable about the place. Except that the best roast pork on the planet can be had there. You have to call or visit ahead of time and tell them what kind of pig you want: A 40-pounder? 60-pounder? Bigger? A 100-pounder? No problem. Then tell them when you would like the pig to be ready: Next Saturday? Sunday? Fine. On that day, all you have to do is keep your eyes from popping out at the gorgeous, bronzed porker they'll slide out of their bread oven for you, drenched in mojo, face down, spread eagle on a large metal tray. Crackly, crunchy skin on the outside. Moist, piping-hot meat on the inside. Take it home. Feed a hundred people. Tell them you cooked it yourself. Squeal with delight.

Khoury's Mediterranean Restaurant
Humble chickpeas are transformed by the application of secret spices, herbs, and the old Khoury family magic. But don't ask chef/owner Maroun Khoury for the recipe. Over his many years in the business he's developed a reputation in that regard for being a Lebanese version of the Soup Nazi. So just plunk down $3.99 for an appetizer order, maybe with some hummus on the side, and enjoy this crisply fried treat. Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; till 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 1:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sunday.

BEST PUERTO RICAN RESTAURANT

Benny's appetizer list is like a dim sum of Caribbean cuisine. Bacalaitos (flat cod fritters), alcapurria de masa (ground beef in fried plantain dough), tostones rellenos (fried plantains sliced and stuffed with your choice of shrimp, lobster, or squid), and the list goes on. You may not want mondongo (beef tripe) with your mofongo (mashed stuffed plantains) but owners Benny and Wanda will recommend it with snapper, yellowtail, or kingfish. Just south of the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds, Benny's opens at noon, and the slightly cheaper lunch menu is out until four o'clock Monday through Friday. The place closes at 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Buenos Aires Bakery & Cafe
The empanada is to many South American countries what the cheeseburger is to heartland America: the most popular grab-and-go meal and a cultural icon. These fried or baked dough pockets stuffed with a variety of meat or vegetable fillings are abundant at bakeries all around Miami, but few establishments serve them as fresh and authentically Argentine as Confiteria Buenos Aires Bakery & Café. The fried, ground-beef version (jazzed up with bits of hard-boiled egg, green olive, and spices) is the winner. Its baked cousins -- available with chicken, spinach, or ham and cheese -- with their flaky crusts, are equally delectable. Take a dozen home for the family. Better yet, linger inside this warm and bustling café and have them with a Quilmes (Argentine beer) while enjoying the swirl of activity created by the Bonarense transplants who flock here for a taste of home. Open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

BEST NATURAL FOOD/VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT

The Honey Tree

Honey Tree
Alexandra Rincon
Gleaming white, spongy, and about as tasty as a giant sugar-free marshmallow, tofu isn't exactly the most appealing ingredient. But place it in the capable hands of the chefs at the Honey Tree and tofu is transformed into something entirely different: It's eminently edible. Grilled tofu in tamarind peanut sauce, Indonesian tofu stir-fried with vegetables, curried tofu triangles. Hungry yet? Each weekday the six-year-old market (and three-year-old deli) offers several freshly made dishes for lunch that you can eat in or take out. Mouthwatering and healthy vegan and vegetarian specialties can include penne pasta tossed with tomato sauce and soy sausage, sautéed spinach with mushrooms, and kale and potato patties topped by chunky tomato salsa. A hearty soup of the day, fruity smoothies, and delicious desserts such as nondairy chocolate mousse pie and carob- and walnut-studded banana bread are also available. Sold by the pound, the eats are often gone by late afternoon. So if all else fails, you can choose some organic produce from a small fridge and settle down for a healthful meal from one of the freezers. The friendly folks who surround you will make you feel as good as the food.
Shorty's Bar-B-Q
Anais Alexandre
Maybe it's the seasoning that's developed from years of repeated cooking on the grill and in cast-iron pots that makes the food at Shorty's taste so good. If the crowds of hungry patrons lined up at all hours outside the log-cabin-looking Dadeland eatery are any indication, the restaurant, founded in 1951, continues to dish out the same lip-smacking chicken and ribs it always has. Various combinations of meat and poultry are offered, but for those not inclined to the juicy, Flintstone-size slabs, a selection of substantial sandwiches beckons. Barbecue beef or pork, chargrilled chicken breast, and tender beef brisket are served on a bun, accompanied by crinkle-cut French fries (creamy coleslaw dotted with zingy celery seed comes with the brisket). A sweetish red barbecue sauce or a smoky-brown homemade mixture provides embellishment. Baked beans, potatoes (sweet and white), garlic bread, and perfectly cooked ears of corn (plain or drenched in butter) are among the starchy sides. With courteous, efficient service and grub this good, Shorty's is bound to be around another half-century.
South Beach is known as sushi central, and it is arguably true that a greater concentration of very good Japanese restaurants can be found on any square mile of Beach than anywhere in the U.S.A. Still, visiting Japanese chefs, local Asian foodies, and others in the know head west to this small spot in a fairly downscale shopping mall for Miami's most authentic Japanese fare -- especially Matsuri's daily specials, dishes rarely found elsewhere like foie graslike (and nonfishy) monkfish liver in spicy broth, or shisamo, succulent salt-broiled smelts stuffed with their own "caviar." And well worth the drive by itself is Matsuri's selection of toro, buttery belly tuna often seen on sushi-bar menus but almost never available: silken chutoro (particularly tasty in negitoro, a steak tartare-esque preparation of chopped toro and scallions, topped with a quail egg), and even more marbled otoro, the ultimate in sushi/sashimi decadence.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®