With a menu of a size that befits its name, Big Pink should be able to satisfy the whims of the most finicky of progeny. Its diner-inspired creations come in gargantuan portions, so you can a) throw junior some scraps off your own plate, b) spare yourself a night's cooking by taking home a doggie bag, or c) order one of the kids' sized options. You may be able to expand their culinary horizons, at least as far as fries are concerned, with Big Pink's scrumptious sweet potato version or the crisp-on-the-outside/creamy-on-the-inside polenta sticks. And you don't have to dress up to do so. Big Pink is supremely casual, and no one will mind if you and the gang troop in wearing flip-flops and bathing suit coverups.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR THE HEARING IMPAIRED

Metro Kitchen & Bar

It could be that the noise level is deliberate, a reflection of the urban name, or accidental, a result of the former Astor Place's mod-Italian renovation. But while there may be quibbling about the motive, there's no question over the decibel level -- it's about as high as the two-story ceiling allows. That said -- or shouted -- Metro possesses a great buzz. Like that created by a horde of honeybees feeding on the pollen of flowers that have been grown on a nuclear-waste dumping ground. But a buzz, nevertheless. And on South Beach, louder is always better.

Along with Michelle Bernstein, Willis Loughhead headed South Florida's "hottest rising young chef" list for years -- enough years that a new name for the list (say, "hottest aging young chefs") seemed imminent. Quick moves from a brief stint at Tantra through her own venue at South Beach's Strand to Azul at the Mandarin Oriental finally vaulted Bernstein from "rising" to "respectable." But Loughhead, her Tantra successor, gamely stuck it out there, cooking serious food in a silly venue, for three years. When the new Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove opened this past September, however, its flagship Bizcaya Grill offered Loughhead a chance to get seriously serious. Ritz decorum, as well as supervision by dining-operations chief Roberto Holz from Germany, means that Loughhead's creative impulse is somewhat trimmed here. But the overall result is most interesting. Menu items like an heirloom-tomato salad with fig carpaccio reflect Loughhead's New American passion for locally produced, seasonal ingredients. Sautéed foie gras with Doktorenhof vinegar showcases Holz's classy Old World influence; and a "simply grilled" list enables diners to indulge their own creative impulses by pairing premium-quality meats or fish with a choice of imaginative sauces (lobster basil Hollandaise, Barolo wine/foie gras butter, saffron aioli, many more). An elegant outdoor courtyard and an indoor dining room accented by muted music also make Bizcaya a best bet for a business lunch or dinner.

Readers Choice: Caf Tu Tu Tango

It's not surprising that Norman's remains the Gables's best restaurant. Quite frankly Norman's could give the best restaurants in New York, San Francisco, or Paris a run for their money. What's surprising is that there are still Miamians who haven't been to Norman Van Aken's mega-award-winning, elegant yet friendly place. Sure, it's expensive. But so are many other Miami restaurants that are just upscale meals. Norman's is a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- or would be if it weren't for the fact that no one who's been once can resist going back again and again, to revisit favorite classic dishes such as yuca-stuffed crispy shrimp with sour orange mojo, a zingy 21st-century take on traditional Cuban roast pork, or The Ultimate conch chowder (saffron/citrus-tinged, creamy-smooth, and topped with a rich foam "cloud"), as well as to taste-test the myriad of astonishing new surprises Van Aken always, like a world-class magician, has up his sleeve. Recent new inventions include Brazilian-influenced black-eyed pea acarajé fritters stuffed with blue crab; a "New World" duck duo (mango barbecued duck in a green chili crêpe, plus slices of wood oven-roasted rare duck breast with a cumin/scallion sour crema); and a remarkably innovative sushi trio (think crisp West Coast kumamoto oyster in piquant unagi dressing with Asian shoots, or tuna tartare with quail egg) whose only flaw is that there are only three rather than thirty per serving. Hungry yet? Don't mind us. Go eat. See ya next year, Norman, same time, same BOM category.

Readers Choice: Normans

Happy "tin" anniversary! Yup, it's been ten years that PT has been in business, which means that a decade has gone by since we first awarded this outstanding Pacific Rim restaurant in our annual issue. Indeed, to our knowledge, not a single year has gone by without chef-owner Jonathan Eismann, who helped revolutionize Lincoln Road dining, being mentioned in some capacity -- whether for Pacific Time or another venture of his (Pacific Heights, PT Café, Westside Diner). But while the traditional gift for hanging in thus far is something made out of tin or aluminum -- the Happy-Anniversary.com Website suggests tin lanterns from Mexico, fireplace accessories, or woks (we're not joking, though we suspect they are) -- Pacific Time will have to settle, at least in theory, for paper.

Readers Choice: Joes Stone Crab

BEST RESTAURANT TO DIE IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS

Macau

It always was easy to overlook this hole-in-the-wall eatery, located in a nondescript minimall on NE 167th Street, so possibly you've driven by a dozen times in the last few months without noticing it's gone. But the next time you're in the mood for authentic Chinese food, you will not be able to find any because May Wong's one-woman operation was virtually the only place in the county, save a couple of good dim sum joints, where you could find actual Chinese Chinese food -- not Americanized stuff but rather the dishes only found, outside of China, in sophisticated urban Asian outposts like San Francisco and Vancouver. Delicate sautéed pea sprouts with crab, dry-style or wet (sauced) fresh ho fan noodles, comforting porridge-like ginger-spiked shrimp and mushroom congee, addictive whole salty pepper shrimp (with the heads left on for maximum flavor) on a bed of crunchy-battered Chinese broccoli. You can't continue the list without wanting to run right out and -- but there's no place to run. And don't bother grilling the nice guys from the Thai restaurant that's replaced Macau about a possible new location. We've tried and they don't know. If you're reading this, May, come back! Miami needs you!

The SSC has carried out a number of successful lunchtime sandwich deployments since completing its Design District buildup in late 2002. The Bay of Pig, one of the most effective items in its arsenal, contains the following judiciously selected ordnance: roasted and seared pork loin with grilled onion and mojo marinade, all packed into a baguette. But given the disastrous and deadly April 1961 invasion of Cuba for which it is named, do customers find it tasteless? Co-owner Cesar Canton, whose family carries bona fide anti-Fidel credentials, serves up an anecdote on wry: "A woman recently called up and ordered one for delivery. She goes: 'And could you send it with some air cover this time?'"

Lyon-born Olivier Farrat and partners were South Beach pioneers when they set up this simple, open-air shop back in 1988. Among the first eateries to assuage the hunger pangs of late-night clubbers, La Sanwicherie now is open practically 'round the clock, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. (sometimes as late as 6:00 a.m.). The casual atmosphere -- an extended counter with stools along an alley and across the street from the Deuce -- belies the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Choices are simple: crusty French bread or a croissant and fillings such as roast beef, tuna, ham, turkey (the best seller), cheeses, prosciutto, or smoked salmon. But we say thumb your nose at those who would have us eat freedom fries and try one of the classically French options like pâté, saucisson sec (French salami), or Camembert cheese (combine the last two and you have Farrat's personal fave). Other Gallic touches include tiny cornichon pickles and perfectly executed mustard vinaigrette. There's usually a midday and late-night (2:00 a.m.) rush, but the staff operates like a well-oiled machine, assembling orders lickety-split.

Not many of us think about checking out a Mexican restaurant when we feel like tucking into a stuffed crab-back and sucking the heads of prawns. Perhaps, being stone crab claw- and Key West pink shrimp-centric, we haven't had the exposure necessary to inspire such appetites. Or maybe, being offered mostly central Mexican cuisine here in South Florida, we simply haven't had opportunity enough to appreciate the fact that Mexico has a cuisine deriving from a couple of thousand miles of coastline -- and that's just on the Pacific side, where the town of Puerto Vallarta is located. Fortunately our education is at hand via El Puerto de Vallarta, and we're not just talking about the three R's of fish tacos, but the ABC's as well: avocado-garnished shrimp and snapper ceviche with pico de gallo; botana (appetizers) including shrimp quesadillas and oysters on the half-shell; and seafood caldos (soups) such as the piquant mariscos siete mares, a luxurious combination of seven different types of shellfish served with homemade corn tortillas. Finish off your secondary schooling with bacon-wrapped shrimp or garlic-sautéed lobster and a cool Tecate beer, and you'll be set to graduate with culinary horizons appropriately expanded.

Readers Choice: Joes Stone Crab

The space looks so funky, the crowd so cool, the music just right -- please don't bring the mango salad long before a lone bottle of beer, and have those be the only two "dishes" in front of your group for the next hour! Alas, that was the way it was. No amount of cajoling or directing could bring any rhyme or reason to the order of appetizers, main dishes, drinks, or God forbid water that arrived at the table. Welcome the new Tap Tap! Same funky Haitian art, same cool crowd, but new management that understands the golden word: service! Is it too cold for you in the back room? Zoom, up to the front. The jerk is particularly good today, says the waitress, but are your mojitos sweet enough? Finished with your coconut spinach appetizer? Then I'll bring your main dishes. Jaw dropping, you wonder if it's drugs, or whether you may have been mistaken for someone powerful. But then hospitality surfaces again, and not just for you. After stuffing yourself to the limit, there's still griot left on the plate. No need to waste it. Take it home. Okay, says your waitress, but remember, that means less to eat for the dumpster dog.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®