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

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®