Aziza Yuself's café has been open for five years, and while the place is small and the décor low-key, there is one telltale sign that points to the excellence of the cuisine: Brazilians hang out there. Wander into Varanda's in the middle of the day and you'll likely find some of North Beach's swelling Brazilian populace watching Brazilian TV and speaking lilting Brazilian Portuguese. The food is all good, but for a real treat try the excellent muqueca de peixe, fish perfectly simmered in a coconut sauce. Varanda's is only open from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays but it's a good spot for late dinners the rest of the week, when it is open from noon until 10:00 p.m.

Aziza Yuself's café has been open for five years, and while the place is small and the décor low-key, there is one telltale sign that points to the excellence of the cuisine: Brazilians hang out there. Wander into Varanda's in the middle of the day and you'll likely find some of North Beach's swelling Brazilian populace watching Brazilian TV and speaking lilting Brazilian Portuguese. The food is all good, but for a real treat try the excellent muqueca de peixe, fish perfectly simmered in a coconut sauce. Varanda's is only open from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays but it's a good spot for late dinners the rest of the week, when it is open from noon until 10:00 p.m.

Julio Bertoni is a third-generation Italo-Argentine ice cream maker. So he knows what he's doing. From the fresh ingredients -- he buys his fruit from the gourmet Epicure market -- to what he calls his secret recipe, Bertoni and his workers maintain strict quality control as they squeeze out creamy, smooth tubs of chocolate roche (hints of hazelnut), dulce de leche granizado, chocolate suizo (chocolate chunks), and Bertoni's personal favorite: Super Sambayon, from the Italian zabaglione, a dessert of egg yolks, cream, and Marsala wine. All his gelatos are made on location. Cones range from $2 to $4. Tubs are also available in sizes ranging from 1.65 pounds ($13.50) to 3.3 pounds ($23).

Dolce Vita Gelato Cafe
Julio Bertoni is a third-generation Italo-Argentine ice cream maker. So he knows what he's doing. From the fresh ingredients -- he buys his fruit from the gourmet Epicure market -- to what he calls his secret recipe, Bertoni and his workers maintain strict quality control as they squeeze out creamy, smooth tubs of chocolate roche (hints of hazelnut), dulce de leche granizado, chocolate suizo (chocolate chunks), and Bertoni's personal favorite: Super Sambayon, from the Italian zabaglione, a dessert of egg yolks, cream, and Marsala wine. All his gelatos are made on location. Cones range from $2 to $4. Tubs are also available in sizes ranging from 1.65 pounds ($13.50) to 3.3 pounds ($23).

Since the preservative practice of "cooking" seafood with a salt/herb/chili/citrus marinade most likely originated in Latin America, centuries ago, there are naturally many restaurants in Miami that serve good ceviches. But let's face it: Douglas Rodriguez wrote the book. That's The Great Ceviche Book, published just last year -- which is also when OLA (Of Latin America) opened, with ten ceviches on the menu. Each is influenced by a different locale on the globe -- Thailand in the case of baby sweet conch ceviche with coconut water, ginger, and coconut gelee; Spain inspired paella ceviche mixto with saffron-lobster sauce and Valencia rice puffs; characteristic additions of tomatoes and popcorn characterize Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche -- but the main inspiration comes from the chef's unique vision. Rodriguez sees ceviche as not just a small snack but a whole culinary frontier awaiting discovery. Numerous OLA regulars, who ignore the menu's many other temptations to head straight for the ceviche section on visit after visit, obviously agree.

Since the preservative practice of "cooking" seafood with a salt/herb/chili/citrus marinade most likely originated in Latin America, centuries ago, there are naturally many restaurants in Miami that serve good ceviches. But let's face it: Douglas Rodriguez wrote the book. That's The Great Ceviche Book, published just last year -- which is also when OLA (Of Latin America) opened, with ten ceviches on the menu. Each is influenced by a different locale on the globe -- Thailand in the case of baby sweet conch ceviche with coconut water, ginger, and coconut gelee; Spain inspired paella ceviche mixto with saffron-lobster sauce and Valencia rice puffs; characteristic additions of tomatoes and popcorn characterize Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche -- but the main inspiration comes from the chef's unique vision. Rodriguez sees ceviche as not just a small snack but a whole culinary frontier awaiting discovery. Numerous OLA regulars, who ignore the menu's many other temptations to head straight for the ceviche section on visit after visit, obviously agree.

Place St. Michel is an old (by Miami standards), European-style hotel built around the time Coral Gables was master-planned into existence as the City Beautiful. The environs inside the ivy-covered walls are both lush and elegant enough to suggest a miniature version of the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans -- and promise a similar New World French decadence. A romantic mood envelops you as you move through the gorgeous lobby, with its wood-paneled walls, Queen Anne chairs, plus Deco touches and flowers. Next to the restaurant, a pianist plays softly. We could go on, but suffice it to say that if you can't have an intimate interlude here, you've got bigger problems.

Restaurant St. Michel
Place St. Michel is an old (by Miami standards), European-style hotel built around the time Coral Gables was master-planned into existence as the City Beautiful. The environs inside the ivy-covered walls are both lush and elegant enough to suggest a miniature version of the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans -- and promise a similar New World French decadence. A romantic mood envelops you as you move through the gorgeous lobby, with its wood-paneled walls, Queen Anne chairs, plus Deco touches and flowers. Next to the restaurant, a pianist plays softly. We could go on, but suffice it to say that if you can't have an intimate interlude here, you've got bigger problems.

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 ..."

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 ..."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®