Kids -- you can't live with 'em, you can't pawn 'em to finance a meal at Casa Tua. So take 'em to Aquatica. The Eden Roc's casual indoor-outdoor restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., which gives you plenty of flexibility. After the little ones have had roughly three bites of Aquatica's heroic hamburger or kid-friendly Cuban sandwich (crustless, noncrumbly bread), both of which come with tasty shoestring fries, then they'll want to ignore their food and run around the restaurant. So let 'em. Aquatica's outdoor deck dining area is practically on the beach. That's all playground out there! So they can bury each other in sand while you eat your grown-up food -- maybe the South Beach fish stew or a rock-shrimp quesadilla, and definitely one or three of Aquatica's cocktails, like the not-too-sweet Floridian: Stoli, Cointreau, fresh lime, orange juice, and a splash of cranberry. You don't have to be staying at the Eden Roc to enjoy the place; there's plenty of parking in the public lot immediately north of the hotel. And the prices are among the Beach's best bargains.

Kids -- you can't live with 'em, you can't pawn 'em to finance a meal at Casa Tua. So take 'em to Aquatica. The Eden Roc's casual indoor-outdoor restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., which gives you plenty of flexibility. After the little ones have had roughly three bites of Aquatica's heroic hamburger or kid-friendly Cuban sandwich (crustless, noncrumbly bread), both of which come with tasty shoestring fries, then they'll want to ignore their food and run around the restaurant. So let 'em. Aquatica's outdoor deck dining area is practically on the beach. That's all playground out there! So they can bury each other in sand while you eat your grown-up food -- maybe the South Beach fish stew or a rock-shrimp quesadilla, and definitely one or three of Aquatica's cocktails, like the not-too-sweet Floridian: Stoli, Cointreau, fresh lime, orange juice, and a splash of cranberry. You don't have to be staying at the Eden Roc to enjoy the place; there's plenty of parking in the public lot immediately north of the hotel. And the prices are among the Beach's best bargains.

The valets in front, not to mention the white-tented poolside dining cabanas out back, clearly convey the message that Pao is not the sort of Chinese joint where you run in for a couple of egg rolls on the way home from work. In fact, despite early publicity touting the cuisine as "vintage Chinese," there are no egg rolls on the menu, nor Chinese/American chow mein (or even Chinese chau mien). A fair number of the chef's creations are more classic Southeast Asian than classic Chinese. Prices are relatively high, too ($14 for mixed-ingredient fried rice, $19 for sweet and sour shrimp). It's designer Chinese fusion food. But it's very good food. Among the dishes worth every extra penny are spicy Chinese long bean (blessedly stringless beans seared with hot chilies, ginger, and garlic); salt-and-pepper shrimp authentically flash-fried with shells on and showered with irresistibly salty chili slivers; Manila clams subtly sauced with garlic and ginger; and hot-and-sour snapper, lightly battered fillets with a complex tangy sauce featuring citrus, tomato, and hot peppers.

The valets in front, not to mention the white-tented poolside dining cabanas out back, clearly convey the message that Pao is not the sort of Chinese joint where you run in for a couple of egg rolls on the way home from work. In fact, despite early publicity touting the cuisine as "vintage Chinese," there are no egg rolls on the menu, nor Chinese/American chow mein (or even Chinese chau mien). A fair number of the chef's creations are more classic Southeast Asian than classic Chinese. Prices are relatively high, too ($14 for mixed-ingredient fried rice, $19 for sweet and sour shrimp). It's designer Chinese fusion food. But it's very good food. Among the dishes worth every extra penny are spicy Chinese long bean (blessedly stringless beans seared with hot chilies, ginger, and garlic); salt-and-pepper shrimp authentically flash-fried with shells on and showered with irresistibly salty chili slivers; Manila clams subtly sauced with garlic and ginger; and hot-and-sour snapper, lightly battered fillets with a complex tangy sauce featuring citrus, tomato, and hot peppers.

What would you rather have in your face: the bellies of other drunken diners as they circle your table clumsily attempting Grecian folk dances, or a mouthful of taramasalata so silky smooth you'll think you're in heaven rather than just North Beach? If you prefer the latter, Ouzo's is the place for you. The cozily exotic restaurant has enough taverna décor and Zorba-esque music to seem suitably festive, but it also has a bargain-priced plate of stuffed grape leaves, Kalamata olives, and cheeses, plus authentic Greek dips (tarama, creamy tzatziki, hummus, and garlicky puréed eggplant melitzanosalata) that put packaged gourmet-shop stuff to shame. Other appetizers, such as a refreshingly citrus-spritzed melted cheese saganaki and great charcoal-grilled octopus, are equally impressive, as are entrées like tender souvlaki skewers and a fresh whole snapper. The corner location was known as a jinxed spot (previous Latin, Hungarian, and Mediterranean-fusion restaurants all rapidly folded), but for two years Ouzo's has been a solidly packed winner.

Ouzo's Mediterranean Bistro
What would you rather have in your face: the bellies of other drunken diners as they circle your table clumsily attempting Grecian folk dances, or a mouthful of taramasalata so silky smooth you'll think you're in heaven rather than just North Beach? If you prefer the latter, Ouzo's is the place for you. The cozily exotic restaurant has enough taverna décor and Zorba-esque music to seem suitably festive, but it also has a bargain-priced plate of stuffed grape leaves, Kalamata olives, and cheeses, plus authentic Greek dips (tarama, creamy tzatziki, hummus, and garlicky puréed eggplant melitzanosalata) that put packaged gourmet-shop stuff to shame. Other appetizers, such as a refreshingly citrus-spritzed melted cheese saganaki and great charcoal-grilled octopus, are equally impressive, as are entrées like tender souvlaki skewers and a fresh whole snapper. The corner location was known as a jinxed spot (previous Latin, Hungarian, and Mediterranean-fusion restaurants all rapidly folded), but for two years Ouzo's has been a solidly packed winner.

For more than a decade, Norman's in Coral Gables was the only venue where diners could sample master chef Norman Van Aken's creations prepared under his immediate supervision. (There are now namesake Norman's in Orlando and Los Angeles.)

When a second local Van Aken outlet, Mundo, was unveiled in late January 2004, this was big and good news for Miami's notoriously fussy food clerisy, as well as those who just love a good Cuban sandwich sassed up with Gouda and key lime mustard.

Van Aken has said that flavors don't need passports, and his successful experiments -- new wave sushis, French bistro fare, and Spanish tapas -- prove that with flourish.

Van Aken shares his good taste with the community in other meaningful ways, including sponsoring an annual benefit dinner for charitable and philanthropic causes.

Best Local Landmark
The Freedom Tower

Best Sanctuary From the Fast Track
Fairchild Tropical Garden/the Kampong

Best Month
January

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill
32 ounces of beef short ribs and an Argentinean Malbec at Graziano's

Best Cheap Thrill
Conch fritters at Alabama Jack's

Best Reason to Live in Miami
The chance to cook the way we love to cook

For more than a decade, Norman's in Coral Gables was the only venue where diners could sample master chef Norman Van Aken's creations prepared under his immediate supervision. (There are now namesake Norman's in Orlando and Los Angeles.)

When a second local Van Aken outlet, Mundo, was unveiled in late January 2004, this was big and good news for Miami's notoriously fussy food clerisy, as well as those who just love a good Cuban sandwich sassed up with Gouda and key lime mustard.

Van Aken has said that flavors don't need passports, and his successful experiments -- new wave sushis, French bistro fare, and Spanish tapas -- prove that with flourish.

Van Aken shares his good taste with the community in other meaningful ways, including sponsoring an annual benefit dinner for charitable and philanthropic causes.

Best Local Landmark
The Freedom Tower

Best Sanctuary From the Fast Track
Fairchild Tropical Garden/the Kampong

Best Month
January

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill
32 ounces of beef short ribs and an Argentinean Malbec at Graziano's

Best Cheap Thrill
Conch fritters at Alabama Jack's

Best Reason to Live in Miami
The chance to cook the way we love to cook

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®