Hangout of Homestead regulars and racing fans alike, Shiver's has been operating for most of the last 50-odd years (they took some time out for natural disasters like Hurricane Andrew). It's a typical barbecue joint in that it's shack-shaped and filled with long wooden tables and benches. There are the obligatory old-timey doodads tacked to the walls -- lanterns, horseshoes, cattle horns. One entire wall is covered in a mural depicting a pastoral antebellum landscape that exists nowhere in Florida. In the kitchen you'll find barbecued chicken, beef, and pork, farm-raised catfish, hush puppies, beans, fried okra, even key lime pie and peach cobbler. Most everything is well turned out considering the reasonable prices, with all but the high-dollar meals (like a fifteen-dollar slab of baby-back ribs) falling between four and eight dollars. A five-dollar pork sandwich consists of tender, thin-sliced, smoked pork piled on a bun, with crinkley fries and a side of cole slaw. The warm, peppery barbecue sauce is also on the side. The place is open seven days a week 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Lynda Hull: "Sometimes after hours of wine I can almost see the night gliding in low off the harbor." Judith Berke: "The trees were wine and the sky was wine, and everything that wasn't the wine, was wine." Heather McHugh: "The wine glass fills with sun, a slow bright bomb. The mob in me sits still." So you see that the poets have spoken, and once they have spoken, must in some way be heard. Who was listening? Vino in Coconut Grove. Vin Amante and Flûte in South Beach. Joseph's Brasserie and Wine Bar in Sunny Isles. These wine and champagne bars, among others, have heeded the call to the vine and debuted within the last year to offer restless Miami residents a welcome alternative to martinis. Consider them the natural alternative to Ritalin. And now the mob in all of us can sit still.

For $1.27, proprietors Fernando and Belkis Lopez offer up a deliciously spicy black bean soup that would make any Cuban mom envious. You can order it to go or savor the soup inside the Lopezes' humble restaurant, a popular lunchtime spot for the Gables working crowd, many of whom pop in to take advantage of specials such as turkey peccadillo and veggie lasagna. You can also enjoy one of the dozen or so pocket pita sandwiches and wraps along with your black bean soup for a well-rounded meal. Also featured on the menu are luscious smoothies and vegetable-juice combos purported to cure every ill from arthritis and acne to indigestion and impotence. Open for breakfast and lunch, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Readers Choice: Dos Amigas

This establishment again reaps kudos (for the third year in a row) for its winning combination of traditional cuisine (with a good selection of fish for the noncarnivores in your crowd), festive atmosphere, and dangerously delicious caipirinhas. Get down with your samba self during the live music and dance shows on Friday and Saturday nights (Picanha's hosts karaoke nights on Thursdays). During the week it's dinner only. Weekends they open the doors at noon to those who come for a leisurely lunch that well may include the traditional feijoada.

Cane Á Sucre's version of the caesar isn't a big heaping mess of lettuce, cheese, garlic, dressing, and miscellaneous other items. It's a straightforward presentation of fresh romaine lettuce chopped into small squares, lightly topped with grated asiago cheese and tasty garlic croutons. A cup of homemade caesar dressing and a remarkably good, buttery piece of baguette arrive on the side. The result is light, simple, and tangy, with the cheese in sharp contrast to the lettuce, and that's before you add the dressing (to taste). In a world of fattening excess, Cane Á Sucre -- a charming combination café, bakery, and European sandwich shop -- consistently produces this classic salad with much-appreciated restraint.

Readers Choice: Christys

This comfortable Cuban restaurant at Galloway and Sunset Drive bears the spirit of La Carreta without the teeming hordes and with a much more refined décor (no grease on the leather booths). Their café con leche is a staple for neighborhood aficionados of this milk-and-coffee combination. What makes it better than other places? Well, for one thing they use whole milk unless you ask for low-fat. That may not do much for the love handles, but it bodes well for café richness. Also the Cuban coffee and warm milk are served separately so customers can mix to their liking. Added plus: The waitresses speak fluent English, so drive up from Pinecrest even if you're an old Cracker and talk like it.

What's the point of Cuban coffee without Cuban conversation? One fuels the other, high-octane caffeine igniting chatter that is usually loud, hurried, and emotional. Versailles's walk-up window, a local landmark if ever there was one, is as close to the heart of the Cuban spirit as you can get without boarding a boat and heading south. It is the quintessential café cubano experience in Miami. And here they know how this volatile catalyst should be served -- black as pitch, lots of sugar, and steaming hot.

Readers Choice: Versailles Restaurant

The best testament to Original Caribbean Kitchen's authenticity is the number of Caribbean transplants who eat there. Far from the rarefied air of the Beach, where ethnic food gains a capital "E" and checks double or triple, Original Caribbean Kitchen -- more lunch counter than sit-down restaurant -- serves the basics at generous prices. Heaping portions of curried goat, oxtail stew, stewed beef, and tripe -- all with peas and rice -- cost between $6 and $7.50. Call ahead and your goat will be waiting for you when you arrive.

Delicias is a delightful little neighborhood eatery housed in an unremarkable building on Miami's main drag. The food is good and reasonably priced. The tables are covered in Peruvian blankets protected by glass tops. A tragic telenovela quietly plays itself out on a television mounted high on the wall. An old man sits at the counter, slowly finishing his fish soup. And you are sitting at a table near a window, about to order a fresh, expertly prepared ceviche. This place has six varieties (all marinated in lemon juice): octopus, shrimp, fish, shellfish, and combinations. Order it and a drink to go. Take the lot and walk east, down to the water's edge. Eat your grub and gaze out onto Biscayne Bay.

There is a secret to serving good coffee that goes beyond the beans, the roast, and the water. Here it is: temperature. And those comical, corporate Einstein Bros. have figured this out. So they start each pot with a blend of Central and South American beans, roasted to a light brown, and they brew the java with water that is between 190 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. (For those who skipped middle-school science: The boiling point of water is 212 degrees F.) Then, when the coffee is made, specially calibrated heaters under each urn hold the coffee at 175 degrees. That's hot. Oh, and if the brothers' employees are paying attention to company directives, they are also brewing up fresh coffee at least every hour, even if that means dumping out a full 1.5-gallon urn, according to Ron Savelli, the chain's vice president of menu development. Of course bagels, sandwiches, and soups are also available. But the allure here is coffee. Hot and fresh, Mel's Neighborhood Blend is perfection.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®