Once you see the open-pit rotisserie in the middle of the dining room, che, you'll understand why Graziano's leaves even the most ravenous carnivore sedated after a full-course meal. Tender cuts of churrasco steaks, blood sausage, and other meats are grilled over the flames burning quebracho, a South American smoking wood. A word of caution: You might want to leave your PETA friends at home for this dining excursion, what with the skinless suckling pigs, lambs, and rabbits hanging from the ceiling. But if your veggie pals can handle the scenery, Graziano's offers a meatless vegetable parillada. Of course, no meal at Graziano's would be complete without sampling the restaurant's extensive wine selection, which emphasizes Argentine and Chilean labels and which won Best Wine Selection in a Restaurant in last year's Best of Miami.

Once you see the open-pit rotisserie in the middle of the dining room, che, you'll understand why Graziano's leaves even the most ravenous carnivore sedated after a full-course meal. Tender cuts of churrasco steaks, blood sausage, and other meats are grilled over the flames burning quebracho, a South American smoking wood. A word of caution: You might want to leave your PETA friends at home for this dining excursion, what with the skinless suckling pigs, lambs, and rabbits hanging from the ceiling. But if your veggie pals can handle the scenery, Graziano's offers a meatless vegetable parillada. Of course, no meal at Graziano's would be complete without sampling the restaurant's extensive wine selection, which emphasizes Argentine and Chilean labels and which won Best Wine Selection in a Restaurant in last year's Best of Miami.

This place's actual full name is Captain Jim Hanson's Seafood Market and Restaurant. But no one would waste time wrapping their mouths around that moniker when they could be wrapping their mouths around Captain Jim's grouper sandwich. The size is impressive (two fillets) and so are the accompaniments of hush puppies and crisp slaw, but what makes the sandwich so superior is the fish's freshness. The captain, who really is a fishing boat skipper, respects fish, as is evident by the sparkling appearance of the extensive fish counter's catches of the day. This includes South Florida's usual groupers and mahi-mahi plus natives available in our oceans yet unavailable in most of our markets and restaurants (amberjack, bonito, grunt, much more), as well as flown-in seafood such as Bahamian conch. The captain also respects pocketbooks, as is evident by his wholesale prices; stone crabs are generally half (often less) the price of Joe's or Epicure's. Retail and restaurant hours expanded just last year, so you can score a great grouper sandwich -- or the fishy fixings to do it yourself -- till 9:00 p.m.

This place's actual full name is Captain Jim Hanson's Seafood Market and Restaurant. But no one would waste time wrapping their mouths around that moniker when they could be wrapping their mouths around Captain Jim's grouper sandwich. The size is impressive (two fillets) and so are the accompaniments of hush puppies and crisp slaw, but what makes the sandwich so superior is the fish's freshness. The captain, who really is a fishing boat skipper, respects fish, as is evident by the sparkling appearance of the extensive fish counter's catches of the day. This includes South Florida's usual groupers and mahi-mahi plus natives available in our oceans yet unavailable in most of our markets and restaurants (amberjack, bonito, grunt, much more), as well as flown-in seafood such as Bahamian conch. The captain also respects pocketbooks, as is evident by his wholesale prices; stone crabs are generally half (often less) the price of Joe's or Epicure's. Retail and restaurant hours expanded just last year, so you can score a great grouper sandwich -- or the fishy fixings to do it yourself -- till 9:00 p.m.

Some diners are scared off by this Coral Gables success story's fancy-schmancy menu and upscale service and ambiance. The few others who avoid it are people who want more food than garnish on their plate. Both groups should go anyway for one simple reason: the pork chop. How simple is that? And it's way bigger than any garnish. Besides, this is not just a pork chop -- this is the ultimate, the champion of the world, the thickest, sweetest, most satisfying piece of pig flesh in town. Down with dime-size crab-and-fruit cakes, down with pretension, down with menu items that require translation. Fill up on one of these pork chops and drop your fear of being underfed. You'll be an Ortanique fan like everyone else, but for a different reason. The pork chop. The pork chop.

Ortanique on the Mile
Photo courtesy of Ortanique on the Mile
Some diners are scared off by this Coral Gables success story's fancy-schmancy menu and upscale service and ambiance. The few others who avoid it are people who want more food than garnish on their plate. Both groups should go anyway for one simple reason: the pork chop. How simple is that? And it's way bigger than any garnish. Besides, this is not just a pork chop -- this is the ultimate, the champion of the world, the thickest, sweetest, most satisfying piece of pig flesh in town. Down with dime-size crab-and-fruit cakes, down with pretension, down with menu items that require translation. Fill up on one of these pork chops and drop your fear of being underfed. You'll be an Ortanique fan like everyone else, but for a different reason. The pork chop. The pork chop.

The Thai House, run by cousins Timmy Junbua and Ae Thanoosorn, is so authentic it maintains two menus, one in English and one in Thai. They are not the same. If you know your Thai, you can order dishes that might sear a Westerner's mouth but please the native tongue -- for example, kuay-tiaw-ruar, a medley of Thai noodles, broccoli, and beef in a mix of strong spices (starting at $7.95). On the English-language side, specialties include diamond duck, a deep-fried duck served with dry fried onions, garlic, and roasted hot peppers ($18.95). In South Beach's ever-shifting landscape, Thai House has survived for nine years, testament to how well the cousins do their job.

The Thai House, run by cousins Timmy Junbua and Ae Thanoosorn, is so authentic it maintains two menus, one in English and one in Thai. They are not the same. If you know your Thai, you can order dishes that might sear a Westerner's mouth but please the native tongue -- for example, kuay-tiaw-ruar, a medley of Thai noodles, broccoli, and beef in a mix of strong spices (starting at $7.95). On the English-language side, specialties include diamond duck, a deep-fried duck served with dry fried onions, garlic, and roasted hot peppers ($18.95). In South Beach's ever-shifting landscape, Thai House has survived for nine years, testament to how well the cousins do their job.

The restaurant at Laurenzo's Italian Market isn't really much of a restaurant in the classic table-service kind of way, what with the cafeteria line running past steam trays and a décor that might be described as church-rec-room-homeless-shelter classique. But for cheap Italian eats, you won't find higher-quality baked ziti for your buck than here. More Bronx than Bologna, the red sauce (marinara? I got your marinara right here, pal) used in their daily pasta specials ($3.50) is flavored with a nice blend of herbs and spices. The entrée specials like Italian sausage and peppers will not only load you up, at $5.99 they'll keep you financially solvent. Added bonus: You won't have to eat for another two days.

Laurenzo's Itialian Market
The restaurant at Laurenzo's Italian Market isn't really much of a restaurant in the classic table-service kind of way, what with the cafeteria line running past steam trays and a décor that might be described as church-rec-room-homeless-shelter classique. But for cheap Italian eats, you won't find higher-quality baked ziti for your buck than here. More Bronx than Bologna, the red sauce (marinara? I got your marinara right here, pal) used in their daily pasta specials ($3.50) is flavored with a nice blend of herbs and spices. The entrée specials like Italian sausage and peppers will not only load you up, at $5.99 they'll keep you financially solvent. Added bonus: You won't have to eat for another two days.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®