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.

Loyal clientele have been lured to this little storefront on Biscayne for years. Authentic baguettes, quiches, and French pastries are baked daily in their ovens. But one of the great attractions here is a trio of classic salads served in a pain de campagne (a crusty country loaf). Giant servings of romaine lettuce and tasty dressings fill a carved-out bread bowl. It would be a dieter's paradise except that once the dressings coat the bread, you're liable to toss out the greens and just munch on the fresh-baked "bowls" instead. You can also opt for soup in a loaf. Specials are offered so you can have a little bit of salad (served on a plate) coupled with a sandwich or quiche slice.

Loyal clientele have been lured to this little storefront on Biscayne for years. Authentic baguettes, quiches, and French pastries are baked daily in their ovens. But one of the great attractions here is a trio of classic salads served in a pain de campagne (a crusty country loaf). Giant servings of romaine lettuce and tasty dressings fill a carved-out bread bowl. It would be a dieter's paradise except that once the dressings coat the bread, you're liable to toss out the greens and just munch on the fresh-baked "bowls" instead. You can also opt for soup in a loaf. Specials are offered so you can have a little bit of salad (served on a plate) coupled with a sandwich or quiche slice.

The best Cuban restaurant should feature the best Cuban food, right? But that's not so easy to determine in a town with as many Cuban eateries as Miami. A judge could spend a lifetime sampling a million dishes. Most would agree, though, that the fare at Versailles ranks near the top. Cuban specialties hit the spot every time, from the bocaditos to dishes with generous portions of arroz con frijoles negros accompanying any meat, fish, or poultry. They make all their own bread and desserts at the bakery next door. And the price is right. You can manage a full meal for about ten bucks. However, it's the cultural experience that draws so many locals and tourists to this icon of Little Havana. Example: One day last summer Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Cuban American National Foundation executive director Joe Garcia happened to be there for lunch. Not at the same table, of course. (To call them el exilio rivals would be an understatement.) Without warning or provocation, and in front of about 100 awed but not surprised diners, Diaz-Balart unleashed a very loud tirade from across the dining room. Garcia, he shouted, was a "traitor" to the exile cause. Witnesses say Garcia responded to Diaz-Balart's finger-pointing outburst by sharing a laugh with his tablemates and digging back into his plate. Diaz-Balart and his entourage then stormed out. Only in Miami? Sure. But at Versailles? Often.

Versailles Restaurant
Photo by Phillip Pessar via Flickr Creative Commons
The best Cuban restaurant should feature the best Cuban food, right? But that's not so easy to determine in a town with as many Cuban eateries as Miami. A judge could spend a lifetime sampling a million dishes. Most would agree, though, that the fare at Versailles ranks near the top. Cuban specialties hit the spot every time, from the bocaditos to dishes with generous portions of arroz con frijoles negros accompanying any meat, fish, or poultry. They make all their own bread and desserts at the bakery next door. And the price is right. You can manage a full meal for about ten bucks. However, it's the cultural experience that draws so many locals and tourists to this icon of Little Havana. Example: One day last summer Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Cuban American National Foundation executive director Joe Garcia happened to be there for lunch. Not at the same table, of course. (To call them el exilio rivals would be an understatement.) Without warning or provocation, and in front of about 100 awed but not surprised diners, Diaz-Balart unleashed a very loud tirade from across the dining room. Garcia, he shouted, was a "traitor" to the exile cause. Witnesses say Garcia responded to Diaz-Balart's finger-pointing outburst by sharing a laugh with his tablemates and digging back into his plate. Diaz-Balart and his entourage then stormed out. Only in Miami? Sure. But at Versailles? Often.

When Miami Beach was known as God's Waiting Room, it was filled with the most heavenly treats. Hamantaschen, rugelach, and almond horns were enjoyed by area sweet tooths of all faiths. But with the slow migration of Miami-Dade's Jewish culture to points north, so went the traditional bakeries. Abraham's has outlasted many of its competitors, and for good reason. It's strictly kosher and pareve (great for vegetarians and lactose-intolerants), so you can count on knowing what goes into your desserts, but they also bake on a daily basis, which makes for a fresh goodness not easily found. All the traditional sweets and regular bread products are available as well. Sure, there are lots of new bakeries around but for the flavor of old Miami, nothing beats a delicious black-and-white cookie.

When Miami Beach was known as God's Waiting Room, it was filled with the most heavenly treats. Hamantaschen, rugelach, and almond horns were enjoyed by area sweet tooths of all faiths. But with the slow migration of Miami-Dade's Jewish culture to points north, so went the traditional bakeries. Abraham's has outlasted many of its competitors, and for good reason. It's strictly kosher and pareve (great for vegetarians and lactose-intolerants), so you can count on knowing what goes into your desserts, but they also bake on a daily basis, which makes for a fresh goodness not easily found. All the traditional sweets and regular bread products are available as well. Sure, there are lots of new bakeries around but for the flavor of old Miami, nothing beats a delicious black-and-white cookie.

You won't find the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test at the Grateful Deli, but you will encounter subs, cold-cut meats, and other delicious treats of psychedelic proportions. The joint's smallest bread size is a ten-inch hoagie. This deli also offers rye-wheat tortilla wraps for its patrons who are counting their carbohydrates. The menu, taking its cue from classic rock songs, offers a number of sub specials such as the "Hotel California," a combination of smoked turkey, baked ham, Swiss cheese, and spicy mustard, or the "Tell Me Why," featuring roast beef, smoked turkey, grilled peppers, fresh mozzarella, and oil and vinegar. As you wait for your order, vintage posters of all-time greats like Jimi Hendrix and the Who pay homage to the halcyon days of tie-dye shirts. The only bummer is that a trip to the Grateful Deli ends early. Its hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.

You won't find the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test at the Grateful Deli, but you will encounter subs, cold-cut meats, and other delicious treats of psychedelic proportions. The joint's smallest bread size is a ten-inch hoagie. This deli also offers rye-wheat tortilla wraps for its patrons who are counting their carbohydrates. The menu, taking its cue from classic rock songs, offers a number of sub specials such as the "Hotel California," a combination of smoked turkey, baked ham, Swiss cheese, and spicy mustard, or the "Tell Me Why," featuring roast beef, smoked turkey, grilled peppers, fresh mozzarella, and oil and vinegar. As you wait for your order, vintage posters of all-time greats like Jimi Hendrix and the Who pay homage to the halcyon days of tie-dye shirts. The only bummer is that a trip to the Grateful Deli ends early. Its hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Solo diners often feel uncomfortably like actors in a one-person show, with all audience eyes on the next forkful heading to the mouth. At Talula, though, singles can avoid the table and the awkward, onstage feel by taking one of five stools at the informal, inconspicuous "food bar" in the back of the room. Here eating is entertainment, but you're not the star. It's more like watching a live version of the Food Network. Overlooking the restaurant's kitchen, the bar provides front-row seats to one of South Beach's hottest shows: skillful line cooks (supervised by chef/owners Andrea Curto and Frank Randazzo) deftly whipping up the subtly chili-spiked ahi tuna tartare, crisp soft-shell crabs, and the chocolate bread pudding you just ordered -- or should have.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®