SECOND-BEST BREAKFAST SPECIAL 2003 | Smittys Restaurant | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Smitty's has been scrambling eggs since 1941. Sit on one of the 22 spinning stools at the horseshoe-shaped counter and watch the waitresses pour steaming cups of coffee as you find yourself eavesdropping on conversations all around you. The city is waking up, ready for another hot, brutish day in paradise. Revel in the humanity at Smitty's, among the cops, construction workers, and shirt-and-tie guys who are all in it with you. The waitresses, of course, know your name. What more could you ask? How about two eggs, two pancakes, and three strips of bacon for $2.99 (on special). They've also got omelets, waffles, grits, and biscuits-and-gravy dishes that'll run you four to five bucks. Open weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Saturdays 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Some might think Gordon Biersch is a contradiction in terms: a national chain of microbrew pubs. After all, a good microbrewery by definition is local and individualistic. Yet each Gordon Biersch pub, be it the latest in Miami or the first in Palo Alto, concocts its own beer. That's worthy of note. G-B's brew is delightfully fresh-made from Hallertauer hops, two row barley, and a special yeast strain imported directly from Germany. Generally Gordon Biersch has at least three staple beers on tap and two additional ones that are seasonal. We recommend the Golden Export, which is almost always available. Lightly hopped but surprisingly full-bodied, this beer is perfect for hot summer days. If you don't like drinking on an empty stomach, the food here is tasty. The décor is full of wood and leather, dark and spacious to create an atmosphere of comfortable elegance. There are even metal tables outside so you can enjoy a bottoms-up view of Brickell Avenue.

Photo by Andrew Meade
A perennial favorite in the dim sum category, Tropical -- surprise -- also serves a great din-din. Traditional dishes include Hong Kong-style roast pork flavored with five-spice and then roasted; seafood-spinach soup; and always crisp, always succulent Peking duck. But innovative items are equally reliable, if unusual -- flounder pan-fried with peppercorns and jalapeños and served with bananas marinated in rice wine, for example, offers interesting counterpoints of textures, as does cherry-plum chicken wrapped with diced water chestnuts and fresh bamboo in egg-white crêpes. A healthy wine list replete with floral Rieslings adds to the fine-dining effect, giving aficionados of all kinds reason to make Tropical an evening as well as morning destination.

George Martinez
Big, saucy, greasy, and cheesy, a pizza pie any other way wouldn't be baked at Casola's. The pizza place tucked between Little Havana and Coconut Grove has fattened neighborhood rugrats and late-night bar-hoppers looking for a sobering slice for 21 years. The pizza slices are huge, New York style, and come in pairs for $2.85. Most patrons don't leave full, they walk out bloated. Here, it's all about the cheese -- quality mozzarella with a playful, elastic texture, not drippy or sinewy. Ask for extra cheese and you might not find the crust. Casola's actually stems from an old Boston pizza war. Back in the Seventies, Ramon Casola and Augustine Buñuel were rivals there, but each respected the other's pie enough to open Casola's together. The hungry mouths that congregate around the open-air pizza stand help them get along fine. They have a good relationship with customers too. There's always a plate of free sample pizza squares for those waiting on an order. But watch it: Hands snap toward the complimentary servings like piranhas. If you have your hand in the wrong place you might lose it, and you'll need both of them to handle the slice you're waiting on.

Readers Choice: Casolas

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.

Dining, technically speaking, refers to the evening repast. Scotty's is best enjoyed mid-to-late afternoon, when the lunch crush is over. Take refuge from the sun under the green-and-white canopy. Order up a bucket of ice-cold beers to accompany a dolphin sandwich or a burger (the menu is blissfully straightforward and unrefined), and soak up the view of the marina, bay, and Key Biscayne in a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere.

By the time you read this, Captain Dan and Chef Reddy expect to have reopened their shop, formerly next to Café del Mar, up the road apiece in bigger digs. The friendly Chef Reddy, who previously won our hearts and tummies when he sent us home with some melt-in-your-mouth tuna and a recipe (which we prepared with coarse salt he had smoked in-house), promises a bigger selection overall. Recognizing that many folks just don't have the time to cook, he's gearing up to offer an expanded variety of ready-to-cook dishes as well as prepared foods such as salmon pastrami, ceviches, clam chowders, shrimp cocktail with mango-citrus sauce, and other delights of the sea. He's still frying up traditional fish-and-chips, which he'd begun to serve at the teeny old place, as well as other fare that can be consumed on-site.

Max Shapovalov
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

Ideally the best source for quality natural foods and health-related products would be a local operation, not a national chain. Unfortunately most independents offer little more than a small selection of tired produce and prepared foods that look healthy but not like anything you'd actually want to eat. National giant Whole Foods carries a big selection of the best. Produce sparkles, the section including not just the expected mesclun mixes but gourmet greens as well: frisée, ruby chard, various colored kales. There's a sizable selection of fresh fish, including Florida lobsters in season (at a decent price) and sushi-grade tuna and salmon that is truly trustworthy. The meat counter carries beef cuts that are not just free of antibiotics for good health but nicely marbled for good taste. Sometimes, if you're quick enough, you'll find top-rated Eberly free-range poultry. Prepared foods are plentiful and delicious. The wine selection is thoughtful, with many unusual choices and helpful descriptive cards to eliminate the intimidation factor. Lots of ethnic food. Lots of vitamins and chem/cruelty-free cosmetics. And most crucial in a health-food store, chocolate from El Rey, a Venezuelan producer of single-source chocolate that arguably is the world's best-tasting -- and of course chock full of those healthy antioxidants that are the real reason we eat the stuff.

Aran S Graham
Making sure both your stomach and your wallet are full: That's what the folks at Mama Jennie's, home to delicious, reasonably priced Italian comfort food, have been doing for more than 30 years. Hearty soup or crispy salad with your choice of dressing (the zesty house vinaigrette is a favorite) and garlic rolls lightly doused in flavorful oil begin your meal. Myriad main courses include whopping servings of classics such as baked ziti with meatballs; veal Parmesan; eggplant rollatini; lasagna; gnocchi; and stuffed shells, all accompanied by Mama's lively marinara sauce. Pizza boasting all sorts of tasty toppings like pepperoni, mushrooms, or meatballs is also an option. Waistline watchers need not go hungry: Not everything is piled high with cheese and sauce. Herb-grilled chicken is among the low-fat selections. Still haven't burst your buttons or busted your budget? Don't forget dessert, which greets you in the fridge strategically placed at the dining room's entrance. Goodies can range from cannolis to spumoni to cheesecake and carrot cake.

Readers Choice: Oggi Caffe

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