The food at Jumbo's certainly qualifies as soul food but will read, and eat, as simply Southern to anyone who has spent time in Georgia or the Carolinas. The iced tea is sweet, and the greens -- collard, mustard, kale, or turnip -- are salty with bobbing bits of fatback. Other sides, such as black-eyed peas, bring good luck as well as memories of holiday feasts. As is the case with many old-timey diners, the smell of batter and grease is deeply ingrained in all porous surfaces, and will remain with you as a reminder of your hearty meal until you next wash your hair. In Jumbo's case, the ageless odor is understandable -- the Liberty City restaurant has been in constant operation for more than 40 years. Open late, open early, and located just a short jaunt from I-95, Jumbo's survives on more than sentiment. The crackling fried chicken, generous shrimp platters, and groaning, comforting plates full of biscuits, gravy, corn, peas, and beans are beloved by many psyches. For that kind of well-being, you can forget fat and carb grams for a while.

When you think in purist terms about top Japanese eateries, the impeccably classic cuisine at Matsuri (in the Redbird Mall) comes to mind; so does the home cooking at Hiro San in North Miami Beach. But aesthetics play a major role in the Japanese dining experience, and on that score nothing tops Nobu. Located in the glamorous Shore Club, everything about the restaurant is an aesthetic pleasure, from overall décor to small touches at each table. Which is not to say that Nobu Matsuhisa's famed specialties don't measure up. They do, even acknowledging that they are highly personal, Peruvian-influenced takes on Japanese cuisine. Burstingly juicy arctic char with crispy spinach will make you swoon. Two tempuras, of sea urchin and rock shrimp (the former accompanied by tangy yuzu dip, the latter by a spicy cream sauce), are as tasty as they are unusual. And while knockoffs of Nobu's succulent, signature black cod with miso can now be found everywhere, Matsuhisa did it first and still does it best.

Pan-seared scallops
Pan-seared scallops
When you think in purist terms about top Japanese eateries, the impeccably classic cuisine at Matsuri (in the Redbird Mall) comes to mind; so does the home cooking at Hiro San in North Miami Beach. But aesthetics play a major role in the Japanese dining experience, and on that score nothing tops Nobu. Located in the glamorous Shore Club, everything about the restaurant is an aesthetic pleasure, from overall décor to small touches at each table. Which is not to say that Nobu Matsuhisa's famed specialties don't measure up. They do, even acknowledging that they are highly personal, Peruvian-influenced takes on Japanese cuisine. Burstingly juicy arctic char with crispy spinach will make you swoon. Two tempuras, of sea urchin and rock shrimp (the former accompanied by tangy yuzu dip, the latter by a spicy cream sauce), are as tasty as they are unusual. And while knockoffs of Nobu's succulent, signature black cod with miso can now be found everywhere, Matsuhisa did it first and still does it best.

Talk about running with scissors. Bratty Kevin Cory runs around with a knife -- sometimes more than one, and not of the butter variety. The chef at Siam River sushi bar, Cory puts his sharp tongue and sharp blade to use talking, dishing, and serving the most innovative, undoubtedly freshest sushi in town. Siam River also has an excellent selection of Thai food, for those who avoid uncooked finned things.

The mostly self-trained Cory haunts the docks and airport seeking only the freshest, never-frozen fish and crustaceans for Siam River's (literally) lively selection of menu items, which change daily according to what the nets bring in.

Cory will talk your ear off about snatching abalone from the Pacific or triggerfish from the surf, but that's okay -- when at Siam River, you'll be busy stuffing your face.

Best Mile in Miami
From I-395 to Fifth Street

Enjoy the commute during the rising or falling of the sun. See the setting of the moon over Miami's skyline. Wave to cruise ship passengers voyaging from the Port of Miami. Admire the Jet Skiers and boaters with Star Island in the background. And anticipate a thrilling event at either mile's end with the American Airlines Arena and downtown Miami on the west or slide over the bridge and fall into the excitement of beautiful South Beach on the east.

Best Local Landmark
The Atlantic Ocean

Okay, it's more of an "off landmark," but what other landmark in Miami can give you a cool breeze, a massage, and then feed you too? I love to be relaxing, swimming, and always finding it exciting to see what our local fishermen just yanked out of the Atlantic Ocean for the sushi bar.

Hopefully while I'm swimming, the fish never get their revenge on me. Once, an opossum-playing triggerfish bit my finger on Siam River's cutting board. But then I kindly returned the favor with a greatly inspired whole fish sashimi special.

Best Place to Savor the Flavor of Miami
Mango's

All of us in Miami are guilty of cruising down Ocean Drive and then stopping in front of Mango's. It's where the bartenders and servers spin the very best spicy salsa steps. If you're visiting and want a real taste of Miami, then it's a must to run into Mango's and savor the feeling of tapping your feet, gyrating your hips, and having sex-on-the-beach until 5:00 a.m.

Best Month
February

Miami's consistently gorgeous weather in February turns Valentine's Day into an entire month. Clear skies and cool breezes with slightly warming sunshine let everyone in Miami "live the life." Meanwhile snowbirds instinctively flock here for golfing, VolleyPalooza, sports fishing, sunbathing, the Miami International Boat Show ... and did I mention VolleyPalooza?

Best Reason to Live in Miami
Never need to leave home

Wherever you are in Miami, you cannot escape the feeling that something exciting may happen. Conveniently save your time traveling and your money on airplane tickets and car rentals for a romantic upgraded hometown vacation. Mix into the long warm beaches and relax at the Sheraton Bal Harbour or blend into the hot bar and pool scenes at the Delano or Shore Club. Stay in downtown Miami's city lights at the Mandarin Oriental with a wonderful dining experience at Azul. Or pamper yourself in Aventura at the Mediterranean-style Turnberry Isle Resort & Club.

Talk about running with scissors. Bratty Kevin Cory runs around with a knife -- sometimes more than one, and not of the butter variety. The chef at Siam River sushi bar, Cory puts his sharp tongue and sharp blade to use talking, dishing, and serving the most innovative, undoubtedly freshest sushi in town. Siam River also has an excellent selection of Thai food, for those who avoid uncooked finned things.

The mostly self-trained Cory haunts the docks and airport seeking only the freshest, never-frozen fish and crustaceans for Siam River's (literally) lively selection of menu items, which change daily according to what the nets bring in.

Cory will talk your ear off about snatching abalone from the Pacific or triggerfish from the surf, but that's okay -- when at Siam River, you'll be busy stuffing your face.

Best Mile in Miami
From I-395 to Fifth Street

Enjoy the commute during the rising or falling of the sun. See the setting of the moon over Miami's skyline. Wave to cruise ship passengers voyaging from the Port of Miami. Admire the Jet Skiers and boaters with Star Island in the background. And anticipate a thrilling event at either mile's end with the American Airlines Arena and downtown Miami on the west or slide over the bridge and fall into the excitement of beautiful South Beach on the east.

Best Local Landmark
The Atlantic Ocean

Okay, it's more of an "off landmark," but what other landmark in Miami can give you a cool breeze, a massage, and then feed you too? I love to be relaxing, swimming, and always finding it exciting to see what our local fishermen just yanked out of the Atlantic Ocean for the sushi bar.

Hopefully while I'm swimming, the fish never get their revenge on me. Once, an opossum-playing triggerfish bit my finger on Siam River's cutting board. But then I kindly returned the favor with a greatly inspired whole fish sashimi special.

Best Place to Savor the Flavor of Miami
Mango's

All of us in Miami are guilty of cruising down Ocean Drive and then stopping in front of Mango's. It's where the bartenders and servers spin the very best spicy salsa steps. If you're visiting and want a real taste of Miami, then it's a must to run into Mango's and savor the feeling of tapping your feet, gyrating your hips, and having sex-on-the-beach until 5:00 a.m.

Best Month
February

Miami's consistently gorgeous weather in February turns Valentine's Day into an entire month. Clear skies and cool breezes with slightly warming sunshine let everyone in Miami "live the life." Meanwhile snowbirds instinctively flock here for golfing, VolleyPalooza, sports fishing, sunbathing, the Miami International Boat Show ... and did I mention VolleyPalooza?

Best Reason to Live in Miami
Never need to leave home

Wherever you are in Miami, you cannot escape the feeling that something exciting may happen. Conveniently save your time traveling and your money on airplane tickets and car rentals for a romantic upgraded hometown vacation. Mix into the long warm beaches and relax at the Sheraton Bal Harbour or blend into the hot bar and pool scenes at the Delano or Shore Club. Stay in downtown Miami's city lights at the Mandarin Oriental with a wonderful dining experience at Azul. Or pamper yourself in Aventura at the Mediterranean-style Turnberry Isle Resort & Club.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®