In a neighborhood where Jamaican curries outnumber most other culinary options, Asia Market stocks a fine assortment of scotch bonnet-based hot sauces and sweet tamarind by the pound as a concession to the local populace. But the real treasure in this store is the extensive selection of all kinds of Asian goods and foods. Kimonos, incense, tea sets, and ornamental dragons are all available, along with Chinese eggplant, bok choy, and every noodle imaginable. The prices are as excellent as the selection: $1.70 gets you a pound of pickled ginger, and 99 cents buys a pound of bok choy. "We try to stock all kinds of food, and we have a really good selection of Asian food," says Anthony Verrilli, son of store owners Ann and Ralph Verrilli. Ann, a native of Vietnam, opened the store with Ralph in 1982. "Everybody comes here," Verrilli says. "White people, black people, Hispanic, Asian ..."

Big Pink doesn't look like a diner, but the menu contains all the comfort-food classics you'd find (or hope to find) in a world-class diner, even if Big Pink's versions are definitely more Reform than Orthodox. From a list of hefty ten-ounce burgers, the upgraded Big Mac (called the Pink Daddy Mack) is two beef patties, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and pink sauce on a homemade brioche bun. Fries are hand cut, and you can get sweet-potato or polenta fries as well as standard potato -- with homemade spicy ketchup. The tuna sandwich features a soy-glazed yellowfin tuna steak, cooked medium rare, with wasabi mayo. Steak is a filet mignon. Breakfasts, served all day as expected at a diner, range from normal bacon and eggs to the Hollywood (polenta fries topped with bacon, poached eggs, cheese sauce, and fresh basil). "TV dinners" have homemade food in those compartmentalized trays, which are stainless steel, not plastic. And since Big Pink is part of Myles Chefetz's South Pointe restaurant empire, Big Pink's desserts are created by Nemo pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith -- meaning that red velvet cake, Elvis's favorite Old South dessert, is far more heavenly than any version ever served up to the King.

Big Pink
Big Pink doesn't look like a diner, but the menu contains all the comfort-food classics you'd find (or hope to find) in a world-class diner, even if Big Pink's versions are definitely more Reform than Orthodox. From a list of hefty ten-ounce burgers, the upgraded Big Mac (called the Pink Daddy Mack) is two beef patties, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and pink sauce on a homemade brioche bun. Fries are hand cut, and you can get sweet-potato or polenta fries as well as standard potato -- with homemade spicy ketchup. The tuna sandwich features a soy-glazed yellowfin tuna steak, cooked medium rare, with wasabi mayo. Steak is a filet mignon. Breakfasts, served all day as expected at a diner, range from normal bacon and eggs to the Hollywood (polenta fries topped with bacon, poached eggs, cheese sauce, and fresh basil). "TV dinners" have homemade food in those compartmentalized trays, which are stainless steel, not plastic. And since Big Pink is part of Myles Chefetz's South Pointe restaurant empire, Big Pink's desserts are created by Nemo pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith -- meaning that red velvet cake, Elvis's favorite Old South dessert, is far more heavenly than any version ever served up to the King.

Puerto Sagua, an all-night Cuban diner, is a sort of refuge from the South Beach scene (and has been for 35 years, since long before there was a South Beach scene). Need a respite from all that sunshine and silicone? Cool off in Puerto Sagua and grab a cheap lunch. Need to fortify your stomach before a 4:00 a.m. drive home? Get a medianoche, or better yet, a bowl of excellent black bean soup. For $2.25, you get a cup of thick, garlicky flavor. The recipe is basic: onions, green peppers, garlic, cumin, and black pepper are added to the beans to make a tasty and filling appetizer. Or make it a meal, for $3.50 a bowl.

Puerto Sagua
Leah Gabriel
Puerto Sagua, an all-night Cuban diner, is a sort of refuge from the South Beach scene (and has been for 35 years, since long before there was a South Beach scene). Need a respite from all that sunshine and silicone? Cool off in Puerto Sagua and grab a cheap lunch. Need to fortify your stomach before a 4:00 a.m. drive home? Get a medianoche, or better yet, a bowl of excellent black bean soup. For $2.25, you get a cup of thick, garlicky flavor. The recipe is basic: onions, green peppers, garlic, cumin, and black pepper are added to the beans to make a tasty and filling appetizer. Or make it a meal, for $3.50 a bowl.

His name is Romeo, and he'll be taking your reservation for this evening, and greeting you at the door, and introducing the cuisine, and preparing your prix-fixe six-course meal. So naturally the place would be called Romeo's Café, and the creatively prepared, exquisite northern Italian cuisine is a winner at this Coral Way eatery. The set menu is tweaked for diners' dietary preferences or restrictions, but otherwise you'll be happy to sit back and enjoy the Romeo culinary ride as course after course arrives with delicious anticipation. At $65 per person (excluding wine), it's considered expensive, but for the experience it's a steal.

Romeo's Cafe
Via Romeo's Facebook
His name is Romeo, and he'll be taking your reservation for this evening, and greeting you at the door, and introducing the cuisine, and preparing your prix-fixe six-course meal. So naturally the place would be called Romeo's Café, and the creatively prepared, exquisite northern Italian cuisine is a winner at this Coral Way eatery. The set menu is tweaked for diners' dietary preferences or restrictions, but otherwise you'll be happy to sit back and enjoy the Romeo culinary ride as course after course arrives with delicious anticipation. At $65 per person (excluding wine), it's considered expensive, but for the experience it's a steal.

Patriots might be disappointed to know the French didn't invent French fries, so the whole wartime freedom fries propaganda campaign was a waste, erroneously disparaging an innocent food. The word "french" in fries has more to do with the thin cut of the potato than with our insolent non-allies. Belgians, frequently mistaken for French folks, actually get the credit for creating the potato sticks, often pairing them with a tasty mayonnaise. But the French might have been the first to marry fries with steak. And at Les Halles, there is no better accompaniment to a juicy hanger steak, or any other main dish for that matter. Hand-sliced potatoes, a little thicker than a shoestring cut and thinner than a steak fry, are briefly soaked in water to remove starch, dried carefully, and then dipped in hot oil until their center is tender and cooked through. After a short rest, they're deep-fried in hotter oil a second time to attain a crispy exterior. The result: perfectly browned frites tasty enough to be a meal all by themselves and destined to make even the most nationalistic diners coo, "Ooh la la!"

Patriots might be disappointed to know the French didn't invent French fries, so the whole wartime freedom fries propaganda campaign was a waste, erroneously disparaging an innocent food. The word "french" in fries has more to do with the thin cut of the potato than with our insolent non-allies. Belgians, frequently mistaken for French folks, actually get the credit for creating the potato sticks, often pairing them with a tasty mayonnaise. But the French might have been the first to marry fries with steak. And at Les Halles, there is no better accompaniment to a juicy hanger steak, or any other main dish for that matter. Hand-sliced potatoes, a little thicker than a shoestring cut and thinner than a steak fry, are briefly soaked in water to remove starch, dried carefully, and then dipped in hot oil until their center is tender and cooked through. After a short rest, they're deep-fried in hotter oil a second time to attain a crispy exterior. The result: perfectly browned frites tasty enough to be a meal all by themselves and destined to make even the most nationalistic diners coo, "Ooh la la!"

Owned by the venerable Valls family (masterminds behind Versailles and La Carreta), Casa Juancho feels like the Epcot version of Spain, which is exactly what many locals and especially tourists like about it. The giant fortress plunked on Little Havana's main drag for nearly twenty years has never really seemed to fit. But that's just another of its lures, not to mention what lurks inside in the cavelike darkness: hams hanging serenely from the ceiling, lobsters struggling to avoid being chosen as someone's dinner, and cheery musicians strolling around taking requests. While filling up on atmosphere, though, don't neglect Juancho's true temptations: refreshing sangria, perfectly grilled seafoods, scores of tapas, four kinds of tasty paella, and desserts such as a transcendent crema Catalana.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®