For more than two decades, lovers of the Cuban sandwich have made their way to the charming cafeteria on Flagler with the Spanish name that translates into the Palace of Juice. Covered in palm branches and bamboo, the cafeteria is famous for an infinite selection of freshly squeezed tropical fruit juices, but it also makes a hell of a Cuban sandwich. The dish isn't very complicated, so the trick is simply getting the best quality meats and cheeses in between a toasted Cuban loaf. And El Palacio does it like nobody else. Huge, juicy portions of pork and aromatic Swiss cheese make every bite absolutely satisfying. And if the scenery or food isn't interesting enough, this place is, like so many Cuban eateries, also connected to politics. Miami For Dean -- Howard, that is -- used the cafeteria as a mobilization center. See, Democrats are carnivores too.

El Palacio de los Jugos
Photo by Zachary Fagenson
For more than two decades, lovers of the Cuban sandwich have made their way to the charming cafeteria on Flagler with the Spanish name that translates into the Palace of Juice. Covered in palm branches and bamboo, the cafeteria is famous for an infinite selection of freshly squeezed tropical fruit juices, but it also makes a hell of a Cuban sandwich. The dish isn't very complicated, so the trick is simply getting the best quality meats and cheeses in between a toasted Cuban loaf. And El Palacio does it like nobody else. Huge, juicy portions of pork and aromatic Swiss cheese make every bite absolutely satisfying. And if the scenery or food isn't interesting enough, this place is, like so many Cuban eateries, also connected to politics. Miami For Dean -- Howard, that is -- used the cafeteria as a mobilization center. See, Democrats are carnivores too.

At Wish in South Beach, the bold Mediterr-Asian cuisine of Andrea Curto was awesome. At both the Heights in Coral Gables and later at the Gaucho Room in the Loews Hotel, Frank Randazzo's Southwest-influenced creations were equally dazzling. Put these two inventive chefs together and what do you get? Personally, marriage. Professionally, Talula, which immediately began attracting rave reviews locally and nationally. And why not, with an intriguing merger menu of what they call "Creative American Cuisine"? Some dishes are influenced by their former individual venues, like Curto's flavorful grilled quail crusted with a cascabel chili rub (a signature item at Wish). But most items are new, some sounding similar to dishes available elsewhere but tasting delightfully different, such as a tartare of diced ahi tuna flavored not with the usual sesame but with chili oil, and playfully topped with snap-crackle-popping fresh trout caviar. For dessert, an amusingly marshmallow-topped layered sweet potato/custard crème brûlée is as festive as South Beach itself.

Talula
At Wish in South Beach, the bold Mediterr-Asian cuisine of Andrea Curto was awesome. At both the Heights in Coral Gables and later at the Gaucho Room in the Loews Hotel, Frank Randazzo's Southwest-influenced creations were equally dazzling. Put these two inventive chefs together and what do you get? Personally, marriage. Professionally, Talula, which immediately began attracting rave reviews locally and nationally. And why not, with an intriguing merger menu of what they call "Creative American Cuisine"? Some dishes are influenced by their former individual venues, like Curto's flavorful grilled quail crusted with a cascabel chili rub (a signature item at Wish). But most items are new, some sounding similar to dishes available elsewhere but tasting delightfully different, such as a tartare of diced ahi tuna flavored not with the usual sesame but with chili oil, and playfully topped with snap-crackle-popping fresh trout caviar. For dessert, an amusingly marshmallow-topped layered sweet potato/custard crème brûlée is as festive as South Beach itself.

Talk about your power dressing. While the suits are likely to be seen mixing it up with the beatniks in this converted warehouse on the edge of an up-and-coming arts and design district, your eyes will be fixed upon your plate should you order one of several caesar salads from Soyka's stable menu. Though the linchpin of the caesar -- the dressing -- is tart and peppery, chef Kevin Wright's version is also creamy and a bit earthy, making the relatively good-for-you salad, which can come topped with chicken or salmon as well as croutons and Asiago and Parmesan cheese, seem like comfort food.

Soyka
Talk about your power dressing. While the suits are likely to be seen mixing it up with the beatniks in this converted warehouse on the edge of an up-and-coming arts and design district, your eyes will be fixed upon your plate should you order one of several caesar salads from Soyka's stable menu. Though the linchpin of the caesar -- the dressing -- is tart and peppery, chef Kevin Wright's version is also creamy and a bit earthy, making the relatively good-for-you salad, which can come topped with chicken or salmon as well as croutons and Asiago and Parmesan cheese, seem like comfort food.

You'll definitely want a side of kalalou to go with your savory poul di. Unless you order the fresh pwason gwosel, in which case we'd recommend the mayi moulen. It may sound Greek to you, but the Kreyol specials at this long-time South Beach eatery seem to have gotten better of late. The sauces are a little more flavorful, the conch a little more tender, the service a little more professional. And of course the signature mojitos are still some of the best around. Besides the cuisine, it's always a party at Tap Tap, what with the colorful interior, live music, and occasional impromptu drumming sessions. Enjoy a slice of the Caribbean and ride the crest of this latest wave.

Tap Tap
You'll definitely want a side of kalalou to go with your savory poul di. Unless you order the fresh pwason gwosel, in which case we'd recommend the mayi moulen. It may sound Greek to you, but the Kreyol specials at this long-time South Beach eatery seem to have gotten better of late. The sauces are a little more flavorful, the conch a little more tender, the service a little more professional. And of course the signature mojitos are still some of the best around. Besides the cuisine, it's always a party at Tap Tap, what with the colorful interior, live music, and occasional impromptu drumming sessions. Enjoy a slice of the Caribbean and ride the crest of this latest wave.

It isn't just the amazing albondiguitas (spicy meatballs in vegetable stock) or the fantastic fajitas that have earned Paquito's this award three times already. The food is excellent and the service impeccable. What gives this place so much appeal is the authentic Mexican atmosphere. Walk inside and you're transported to a hacienda where Yucatan hospitality offers a wonderful night of dining and inspecting the Mexican folk art blanketing the walls. If you're with friends, though, don't get lost in your gaze. Your nachos will disappear in a flash. They're that good.

Paquito's Mexican Restaurant
Aran S Graham
It isn't just the amazing albondiguitas (spicy meatballs in vegetable stock) or the fantastic fajitas that have earned Paquito's this award three times already. The food is excellent and the service impeccable. What gives this place so much appeal is the authentic Mexican atmosphere. Walk inside and you're transported to a hacienda where Yucatan hospitality offers a wonderful night of dining and inspecting the Mexican folk art blanketing the walls. If you're with friends, though, don't get lost in your gaze. Your nachos will disappear in a flash. They're that good.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®