Black-truffle-stuffed tubes of foie gras, $58 bottles of aged balsamic vinegar, tiny round tins of salty black fish eggs -- these are pleasant things to consider, especially if you're sitting at a marble counter, nibbling a delicious smoked-salmon-and-cream-cheese sandwich and contemplating the department stores around you as they employ entirely new adjectives to describe pants. This is something you should do if you find yourself caught in mall land, feeling a bit light-headed and susceptible to the marketing onslaught. Find the Caviar & More kiosk. Order one of the array of small sandwiches served on French rolls, such as the aforementioned salmon for $2.29, a cheese manchego for $1.92, or even the foie gras sandwich for $12. There is also a caviar menu, with one- or two-ounce portions served with toast points, maybe a little crème fraîche. The caviar runs from a modest $6.50 an ounce for salmon roe to top-of-the-line Beluga (here the Huso Huso, a "smooth and pearly" Russian caviar that costs $71 an ounce if you eat it at the counter).

Yuca, plantain, papaya, all the subtropical specialties you could want: Frutería Los Girasoles is a way for Miami residents to partake of Homestead's bounty of fresh produce without having to make the drive (or at least not the entire drive). Produce prices stand out, but shoppers can also choose from an array of citrus marinades, tamarind candy, chilies of all shapes and sizes -- dried and fresh -- or knickknacks like the sculpture of a sombrero-clad stereotype napping under a cactus. The store is still pretty far south on Krome Avenue, but the selection and prices are worth the effort (and besides, it's scenic). On a recent weekend plum tomatoes went for a dollar per pound, a dozen ears of corn cost three dollars, and patrons swamped the orange stand, bagging dozens at the six-for-a-buck price.

The festively decorated Paquito's, its rooms festooned with a combination of folksy and kitschy decorations, dishes up genuine Mexican cooking the likes of which you'd find in a good fonda south of the border. Traditional fare ranges from a sopa de tortilla, sopes (small round cornmeal discs topped with refried beans and shredded cheese, served as starters), the classic chocolately rich mole poblano with chicken, tamales, and a real stick-to-your-ribs, homestyle dish, chilaquiles (pieces of tortillas soaked in sauce, topped with chicken and cheese). Margaritas are good but beer is a better accompaniment to food, and Paquito's carries a number of brands, among them the amber Pacifico as well as darker brews Negra Modelo and Bohemia. Desserts include standard Latin sweets like flan but also include crepas de cajeta -- cajeta is apparently an obscenity in certain South American quarters, but in Mexico it means dulce de leche de cabra (goat).

Readers Choice: Dos Amigas

With about a dozen specialty beers on tap (plus seasonal selections) and another half-dozen or so microbrews in bottle, Titanic may not have the biggest selection, but there's no arguing that this brewery and restaurant has the most flavorful, carefully crafted beer in town. Brewmaster Jamie Ray whips up at least half of the daily draught offerings, including the evocatively named Boiler Room Nut Brown Ale and Triple Screw light ale, and he keeps receiving national awards for them at competitions where the judges, for the record, never spit. Then there are all the beer-related events -- live blues-and-brews, Mug Club specials, name-that-brewski contests, University of Miami sports nights, Brewmaster dinners, free T-shirt happy hours. The microbrew boyz here even send out an e-mail newsletter every week.

The Mazzawi family has been dishing up falafel and shish tawook (chicken gyros) to Miami residents since 1975. Grab a spinach pie and browse the market's aisles for every conceivable Middle Eastern delight, from fresh-baked pita to tahini to a wide selection of olive oils, spices, nuts, and even, um, lifestyle accessories like hookahs. Word to the wise: If you buy a hookah, make sure you purchase some pistachio baklava. You'll regret it later if you don't.

Robert Is Here, the venerable and sprawling fruit and produce stand that everyone passes on the way to Everglades National Park, is home to the finest tropical fruit and ice cream concoction you'll ever find. Just take a number (there's usually a line for the shakes) and choose from the selection of mango, papaya, guava, strawberry, banana, and whatever else the staff has on hand.

Barton G, how we love ya. For your style, certainly: You took the Starfish building, gutted it, built out the interior, and created an undeniably stunning venue, complete with orchid garden. For your way with fresh flowers and exotic animals, obviously -- don't think we've ever seen the combination of just-plucked lilies in a wall of bud vases and live giraffes at an opening before. For your sense of humor, most definitely; of course you should always serve popcorn shrimp spilling out of a movie container onto a bed of, well, popcorn. And for your commitment to your adopted town, positively, absolutely, and completely. We knew what you were after the minute we heard that you were going to add a restaurant to your empire of design and catering concepts, you party magnate, you: total adoration. You've got it. It's no more than what a workaholic, first-time restaurateur who has the confidence, ego, and guts to put his name on a marquee -- and then live up to it -- deserves.

It's been a long time since a real South Beach restaurant opened -- real meaning, of course, unreal, the sort of place that reminds one that back in SoBe's original pioneering days as a fun-in-the-sun resort, the destination beach was called Fairy-Land. Barton G is that sort of restaurant-as-theater experience, continuing the outdoor fun after the sun goes down, in an expansive, exotically planted 125-seat garden dining patio. There's no better way to show off for visitors from the frozen north than eating outside at Barton G, surrounded by palms and orchids, in the middle of winter. The food, which generally follows the "if it's worth doing it's worth overdoing" rule (instead of the usual crabcake, there's a trio of seafood cakes; the chopped salad features not one dressing but three), is as festive as the setting, much of it giving the impression of following a playful plot rather than a recipe: Popcorn shrimp is served in a movie theater popcorn container on a bed of real popcorn; the signature dessert, Big Top Cotton Candy and Over-the-Top Popcorn Surprise, invariably evokes gales of astonished laughter from first-timers as servers sweep by with the platter of purple cotton candy and chocolate truffle-centered crackerjack balls. To be honest, since many dishes are fried and/or extremely rich, the eats may not appeal to everyone. But the eating environment surely will, as will the prices -- many entrées are under $20 and only two are above $30.

Readers Choice: News Caf

The key to a great pastelito de guava is the texture. It must be soft, chewy, and flaky all at once. The guava filling must be generous, bear a dark-violet complexion, and have a thick consistency. The worst thing a baker can do to this delicacy is to overcook it. The result of that is a concrete cast with caked guava char in between. Runny, traffic-light red paste means processed preservatives, a no-no. Vendors can disappoint with this snack if it isn't done just so. Gallito's bakery has it down. They're reliably scrumptious. There isn't a pastelito in town as fluffy and moist. Get them fresh from the SW Eighth Street bakery or unwittingly enjoy them at various Miami restaurants that purchase them from Gallito.

The key to a great pastelito de guava is the texture. It must be soft, chewy, and flaky all at once. The guava filling must be generous, bear a dark-violet complexion, and have a thick consistency. The worst thing a baker can do to this delicacy is to overcook it. The result of that is a concrete cast with caked guava char in between. Runny, traffic-light red paste means processed preservatives, a no-no. Vendors can disappoint with this snack if it isn't done just so. Gallito's bakery has it down. They're reliably scrumptious. There isn't a pastelito in town as fluffy and moist. Get them fresh from the SW Eighth Street bakery or unwittingly enjoy them at various Miami restaurants that purchase them from Gallito.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®