Rosebriar Cafe
The Rosebriar Café is tucked into an old Miami house on a side street off Biscayne Boulevard. It's decorated like a Victorian tea parlor. Although the service is often slow, the food, by chef John Stump, is always worth the wait -- especially the pumpkin soup. It's a nice setting for both a relaxing lunch and for the minor social dramas that unfold regularly between the gay couple who run the place and the guys who staff it. For instance, Mat is always convinced there aren't enough lace doilies and rose petals, while Carlos is forever trying to find ways to get hot young women to frequent the place. One such creative attempt was to offer a list of cocktails whose primary ingredient is sake. This was done because the café lacks the license necessary to offer hard liquor. So the Rosebriar technically abided by the law by mixing potent drinks made with sake (it's classified as a wine), usually in neon colors and Sex and the City-worthy flavors such as appletinis and the ubiquitous cosmos. Our favorite is the mojito, a delight of green minty tartness.

Urban myth has it that on every corner up North there's a bar waiting to warm up its shivering patrons with alcoholic libations. Wouldn't it make similar sense for every block in Miami to have an ice cream shop waiting to shiver up its customers instead? Is opening a beer bottle so much easier than scooping out Rocky Road? The folks at Cold Stone Creamery sure don't make it seem that way. This rapidly growing chain is making inroads into the competitive Miami market with some remarkable innovations. Ice cream creations are made to order on a frozen granite slab. Ingredients are freshly mixed into whatever base you select. If you like the results, tip your chef and listen to the entire crew belt out a song of praise for you. Imagine auditioning for an afterschool job here. Brrr.

Cold Stone Creamery
Urban myth has it that on every corner up North there's a bar waiting to warm up its shivering patrons with alcoholic libations. Wouldn't it make similar sense for every block in Miami to have an ice cream shop waiting to shiver up its customers instead? Is opening a beer bottle so much easier than scooping out Rocky Road? The folks at Cold Stone Creamery sure don't make it seem that way. This rapidly growing chain is making inroads into the competitive Miami market with some remarkable innovations. Ice cream creations are made to order on a frozen granite slab. Ingredients are freshly mixed into whatever base you select. If you like the results, tip your chef and listen to the entire crew belt out a song of praise for you. Imagine auditioning for an afterschool job here. Brrr.

What Guayacan (Best of Miami winner in 1996) lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for with delicious food at reasonable prices. Highly recommended is the superb churrasco steak (charbroiled tenderloin) with gallo pinto and red beans and rice. You'd expect this quality of beef at a fancier restaurant -- with fancier prices. Also notable is a collection of traditional appetizers that includes such delights as the quesadilla-like repocheta, taquitos, and fried cheese. Remember that Nicaragua is bordered by both the Pacific and the Caribbean, so there are plenty of excellent choices for seafood lovers. The proper way to wash down these or any of the other traditional Nicaraguan foods is, of course, with a bottle of Toña beer.

Guayacan
What Guayacan (Best of Miami winner in 1996) lacks in atmosphere, it more than makes up for with delicious food at reasonable prices. Highly recommended is the superb churrasco steak (charbroiled tenderloin) with gallo pinto and red beans and rice. You'd expect this quality of beef at a fancier restaurant -- with fancier prices. Also notable is a collection of traditional appetizers that includes such delights as the quesadilla-like repocheta, taquitos, and fried cheese. Remember that Nicaragua is bordered by both the Pacific and the Caribbean, so there are plenty of excellent choices for seafood lovers. The proper way to wash down these or any of the other traditional Nicaraguan foods is, of course, with a bottle of Toña beer.

While some of the tacos (cow brain and pork intestine) on this menu would make good practice for potential Fear Factor contestants, Taquerias El Mexicano does offer a delectable array of tacos for the average eater, such as chicken chunks, carnitas, picadillo, and seasoned pork. For breakfast, we highly recommend the huevos rancheros taco. Served in crisp, golden brown corn tortillas or savory soft flour wraps in rojo, verde, enchilada, or cream sauces, these tacos will make you forget about running for the border. Instead you'll just venture out to Calle Ocho.

Taquerias El Mexicano
Courtesy of Taquerias El Mexicano
While some of the tacos (cow brain and pork intestine) on this menu would make good practice for potential Fear Factor contestants, Taquerias El Mexicano does offer a delectable array of tacos for the average eater, such as chicken chunks, carnitas, picadillo, and seasoned pork. For breakfast, we highly recommend the huevos rancheros taco. Served in crisp, golden brown corn tortillas or savory soft flour wraps in rojo, verde, enchilada, or cream sauces, these tacos will make you forget about running for the border. Instead you'll just venture out to Calle Ocho.

Remember the old adage, fake it till you make it? Well, the folks over at Natural Chicken Grill really take it to heart. It's not enough that these restaurants bear an uncanny resemblance to Chicken Kitchen, but on their Website they blatantly and falsely claim to have won this award last year. For shame, Natural Chicken Grill, but hear hear on the clairvoyance thing. If they want it that much, who are we to get in the way? Besides, it really is good for you. Both Natural Chicken Grill and Chicken Kitchen offer food prepared in accordance with the American Heart Association. That means less fat and cholesterol, and fewer calories. If we are to bestow this prestigious accolade to the Grill, however, we would be remiss in not hooking up their obvious inspiration and doppelgänger, Chicken Kitchen. Seriously, aside from the name, what the hell is the difference between a "Chop Chop" and a "Natural Chop"? We don't know, but for riding the coattails of the healthy chicken phenomenon, mad props to Natural Chicken Grill, bringing Miami yet another meaning to the words "chop shop."

Natural Chicken Grill
Remember the old adage, fake it till you make it? Well, the folks over at Natural Chicken Grill really take it to heart. It's not enough that these restaurants bear an uncanny resemblance to Chicken Kitchen, but on their Website they blatantly and falsely claim to have won this award last year. For shame, Natural Chicken Grill, but hear hear on the clairvoyance thing. If they want it that much, who are we to get in the way? Besides, it really is good for you. Both Natural Chicken Grill and Chicken Kitchen offer food prepared in accordance with the American Heart Association. That means less fat and cholesterol, and fewer calories. If we are to bestow this prestigious accolade to the Grill, however, we would be remiss in not hooking up their obvious inspiration and doppelgänger, Chicken Kitchen. Seriously, aside from the name, what the hell is the difference between a "Chop Chop" and a "Natural Chop"? We don't know, but for riding the coattails of the healthy chicken phenomenon, mad props to Natural Chicken Grill, bringing Miami yet another meaning to the words "chop shop."

BEST WAY TO BEAT THE WAIT AT JOE'S STONE CRAB

Joe's Take Away

From the "duh" file: This 90-year-old institution qualifies as one of America's most famous restaurants, with primo food, a vast and varied menu, super service, and a pleasantly hectic ambiance. But only a tourist would endure the notorious wait for a seating. From the "beat the system" file: Visit this annex next door to the main restaurant and force yourself to decide from a roomful of eye-popping, mouthwatering works of edible art. Stone crabs, of course. But maybe also some squid salad, an overstuffed sandwich, some lobster ravioli, and the flourless chocolate cake. No, the key lime pie. Um, those cookies are huge. Carry your bounty two-tenths of a mile south to South Pointe Park, spread a blanket on the grass, take in the spectacular aquamarine view, and -- the rest doesn't require a file.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®