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.

The fam just jet in from the Left Coast, with that dreadful stopover in Houston? Get them away from the fumes and across the street (with a few twists and turns) for a cozy (fifteen tables) gourmet dinner with five-star service courtesy of the Gonzalez family. The Argentine folks opened Basilico six years ago and have only increased the general excellence of their bistro. A little Latin touch with plenty of seafood will let your guests know they've arrived in Miami. Bring on the seafood linguine, the menu's signature item and a certain crowd pleaser. The pasta is perfect, of course, and heaped with mussels, clams, shrimp, and pieces of squid. But the trick to Basilico's palate-pleasing is the extra ingredient that seems to appear in each dish; in this case it's salmon. All those carbs and all that protein are lifted even higher with a sauce of olive oil, wine, tomato, basil. If your visitors, for some ungodly reason, ate on the plane, stop in anyway for one of the desserts and the primo cappuccino. The desserts are limited and selections change. Lately the chef recommends the chocolate soufflé à la mode.

Basilico Ristorante
The fam just jet in from the Left Coast, with that dreadful stopover in Houston? Get them away from the fumes and across the street (with a few twists and turns) for a cozy (fifteen tables) gourmet dinner with five-star service courtesy of the Gonzalez family. The Argentine folks opened Basilico six years ago and have only increased the general excellence of their bistro. A little Latin touch with plenty of seafood will let your guests know they've arrived in Miami. Bring on the seafood linguine, the menu's signature item and a certain crowd pleaser. The pasta is perfect, of course, and heaped with mussels, clams, shrimp, and pieces of squid. But the trick to Basilico's palate-pleasing is the extra ingredient that seems to appear in each dish; in this case it's salmon. All those carbs and all that protein are lifted even higher with a sauce of olive oil, wine, tomato, basil. If your visitors, for some ungodly reason, ate on the plane, stop in anyway for one of the desserts and the primo cappuccino. The desserts are limited and selections change. Lately the chef recommends the chocolate soufflé à la mode.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®