Where else can you relive your teenage years by playing vintage video games (still a quarter, natch), munching on some of the city's best pizza, and listening to Led Zeppelin? Even Sunset Place's GameWorks has ditched its Galaga machine and tuned into the current Top 40. But in this perennial oasis of simple pleasures (well, at least till the 3:00 a.m. closing time; 4:00 a.m. on weekends) you can blast aliens to your heart's content while remaining safely tucked back in 1985. And should you need a break from conquering Ms. Pac-Man and singing along to "Stairway to Heaven," there's even a New Times rack right in front.
We know someone else coined the happy little logo "We deliver for you," but we simply insist that Gourmet Station adopt it. Not only do they actually bring your meals to you, they design them to fit your lifestyle. For instance, high-powered execs can get the "Balanced Plan," ten meals for six dollars each (plus tax) per week that ration the proteins, carbs, and veggies. Body-builders and all-around gym pros can get the "Protein Plan," which for $7.50 per meal provides absolutely nothing but the racks -- of lamb, that is. What's that, you say? You're a normal person with an average life? Well, fill up at the Station by all means. Stop in for a choice of homemade entrée, ranging from grilled salmon with lemon-dill yogurt sauce to grilled Nicaraguan churrasco with chimichurri. In the morning the place teems with coffee and muffins; lunchtime it's wraps and sandwiches such as the Italian club -- prosciutto, tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella. You can even open an account for "hassle-free billing," a status most of us haven't enjoyed with any home-meal replacement products since we lived at Mom's.

A first-time visitor to this Mexican joint in the historic district of Homestead may be baffled to see Styrofoam coolers filled with ice and bottles of beer dotting the floor next to most tables. But a quick glance at the menu explains it. El Toro Taco doesn't have a liquor license, so the only way to swig a Corona with your meal is to bring it with you, a secret most of the clientele seems to be in on. The BYOB requirement is no deterrent as the place packs a full house on weekends. As soon as you taste any one of several taco selections, you'll understand why. Choose from soft corn or flour tortillas filled with ground beef, barbacoa (shredded beef), chicken, or refried beans. For a real treat try the tacos de bistec -- corn tortillas filled with marinated, grilled steak and topped with cilantro and onions. Prices are very reasonable, the atmosphere is upbeat (you may be treated to a mariachi serenade), and take heart, margarita lovers: With the money you save on drinks you can spring for an appetizer -- a bowl of zesty bean dip or chili con queso (spicy cheese dip) -- and finish your meal with a traditional favorite: tres leches cake. Next time bring a blender! Open Tuesday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Closed Monday.

The all-American chain offering the quintessential Cuban sandwich? If it's not quite as classic an oxymoron as "jumbo shrimp," it soon could be, provided it survives the taste test. General response we've heard from the general public is that hey, it ain't bad. The novelty quotient is high enough to keep sandwich cubano in stock at the drive-thru for now, but don't look for it to be dethroned by Big Macs at Versailles.
Forget about St. Pauli Girl. Switch to San Noy, which means young girl in English. This pilsner is not only more delicious but also "ring gold" in color and "morning fresh," according to the menu notes. It is one of six types of beer brewed at this miraculous eatery featuring indoor and outdoor seating. If you feel like a sweeter exotic taste, try the Thai Woman (Ying Thai), a brown rice bock that is "malty." Also on that side of the spectrum is a Cheers (Chai Yo), a light bock made from corn, and Flower (Dog Mai), an amber-colored wheat. Serious beer connoisseurs will delight in the copper-colored and hoppy Chang Mai, which is named after a city in northern Thailand, and the Rutting Elephant (Chang Baah), a dark bock. If you're feeling really heady, you can order one of the Orchid's beer cocktails, such as the Dancing Lady: brown bock mixed with orange juice and allspice. Taps run till 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
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.
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.

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.
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.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®