BEST ARGENTINE RESTAURANT The Knife 602 E. Hallandale Beach Boulevard

Hallandale

954-456-6822 "Best Argentine Restaurant" may as well be synonymous with "Best Argentine Steak House," because Argentine restaurants are almost always steak houses. And this year's pick is unquestionably a red-meat joint -- make no mistake about it. If you are a vegetarian, don't bother reading further. Certainly you wouldn't be interested in this: a large, festive restaurant decked out in warm woods and neutral tones, filled with the buzz of excited, intoxicated patrons chatting loudly and gesticulating wildly (the place is a hit among Argentines, no surprise there). Waiters bring bowls of hot French fries and baskets of fresh bread to the tables, while diners scurry away from the self-service, all-you-can-eat grill with metal plates displaying succulent sausages, ribs, steaks, and sweetbreads. In front of the grill, a cold salad bar teems with Russian salad, fresh mozzarella, ripe red tomatoes, greens, vegetables, nuts, and dressings. The waiter brings a bottle of Argentine wine for each diner. You gorge, then get up for more, then do it all over again. And again. Finally the waiter offers you coffee (which here means espresso, with steamed milk if you like) or dessert (chocolate mousse, flan, ricotta torte). You accept because, after all, you are too drunk to say no to anything at this point. Then he brings the bill. You hold your breath. The total: $25 per person. Can it be? Yes, it can. The Knife is a fixed-price, all-you-can-eat steak house, and the quality is fixed too -- at superb. And that's why, though we know there are plenty of good Argentine restaurants in Miami-Dade (Graziano's Parrilla Argentina, Zuperpollo, Rincon Argentino), we must give credit where credit is due, and that's just a bit north of the county line.

BEST ARGENTINE RESTAURANT The Knife 602 E. Hallandale Beach Boulevard

Hallandale

954-456-6822 "Best Argentine Restaurant" may as well be synonymous with "Best Argentine Steak House," because Argentine restaurants are almost always steak houses. And this year's pick is unquestionably a red-meat joint -- make no mistake about it. If you are a vegetarian, don't bother reading further. Certainly you wouldn't be interested in this: a large, festive restaurant decked out in warm woods and neutral tones, filled with the buzz of excited, intoxicated patrons chatting loudly and gesticulating wildly (the place is a hit among Argentines, no surprise there). Waiters bring bowls of hot French fries and baskets of fresh bread to the tables, while diners scurry away from the self-service, all-you-can-eat grill with metal plates displaying succulent sausages, ribs, steaks, and sweetbreads. In front of the grill, a cold salad bar teems with Russian salad, fresh mozzarella, ripe red tomatoes, greens, vegetables, nuts, and dressings. The waiter brings a bottle of Argentine wine for each diner. You gorge, then get up for more, then do it all over again. And again. Finally the waiter offers you coffee (which here means espresso, with steamed milk if you like) or dessert (chocolate mousse, flan, ricotta torte). You accept because, after all, you are too drunk to say no to anything at this point. Then he brings the bill. You hold your breath. The total: $25 per person. Can it be? Yes, it can. The Knife is a fixed-price, all-you-can-eat steak house, and the quality is fixed too -- at superb. And that's why, though we know there are plenty of good Argentine restaurants in Miami-Dade (Graziano's Parrilla Argentina, Zuperpollo, Rincon Argentino), we must give credit where credit is due, and that's just a bit north of the county line.

BEST FARMERS' MARKET South Florida Farmers Market 8287 SW 124th Street

Pinecrest

305-255-2468

http://store.gardnersmarkets.com/farmersmarket.html From relatively exotic items to basic organic produce, this Pinecrest mainstay has fair prices and a staff of local growers and dreadlocked fakin' Jamaicans to tell you about your cruelty-free produce selections and Mother Earth. Berries, greens, tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors, as well as a variety of orchids, plants, oils, preserves, and salsas, can be found here every Sunday from January through April. Bonus: Every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. a different chef from a prominent local restaurant puts on a cooking demonstration using market products.

BEST FARMERS' MARKET South Florida Farmers Market 8287 SW 124th Street

Pinecrest

305-255-2468

http://store.gardnersmarkets.com/farmersmarket.html From relatively exotic items to basic organic produce, this Pinecrest mainstay has fair prices and a staff of local growers and dreadlocked fakin' Jamaicans to tell you about your cruelty-free produce selections and Mother Earth. Berries, greens, tomatoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors, as well as a variety of orchids, plants, oils, preserves, and salsas, can be found here every Sunday from January through April. Bonus: Every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. a different chef from a prominent local restaurant puts on a cooking demonstration using market products.

Carmen the Restaurant
BEST HAMBURGER Carmen the Restaurant 700 Biltmore Way

Coral Gables

305-913-1944 Since her eponymous restaurant opened two years ago, chef Carmen Gonzalez has won so much national recognition for the upscale Nueva Puerto Rican-influenced fare in her venue's formal dining room that it's easy to forget half the place is a casual wine bar with its own menu of equally tasty light bites. And once you're committed to a bar meal, it's hard to turn down exotic stuff like rock shrimp empanadas for basic American hamburgers. But what burgers! The minimorsels of juicy ground sirloin, four per order, are only 1.5 ounces each. But unlike standard sliders, they come cooked to order, as rare as you like 'em, topped with creamy Gorgonzola and caramelized onions. Their buns? Homemade brioches. And all accompaniments, from the crisp shoestring fries to the pickles -- even the ketchup -- are made from scratch.

Readers´ Choice: Fuddruckers

BEST HAMBURGER Carmen the Restaurant 700 Biltmore Way

Coral Gables

305-913-1944 Since her eponymous restaurant opened two years ago, chef Carmen Gonzalez has won so much national recognition for the upscale Nueva Puerto Rican-influenced fare in her venue's formal dining room that it's easy to forget half the place is a casual wine bar with its own menu of equally tasty light bites. And once you're committed to a bar meal, it's hard to turn down exotic stuff like rock shrimp empanadas for basic American hamburgers. But what burgers! The minimorsels of juicy ground sirloin, four per order, are only 1.5 ounces each. But unlike standard sliders, they come cooked to order, as rare as you like 'em, topped with creamy Gorgonzola and caramelized onions. Their buns? Homemade brioches. And all accompaniments, from the crisp shoestring fries to the pickles -- even the ketchup -- are made from scratch.

Readers´ Choice: Fuddruckers

BEST RESTAURANT FOR INTIMATE CONVERSATION

BEST RESTAURANT FOR INTIMATE CONVERSATION Mark's South Beach Nash Hotel

1120 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-604-9050

www.chefmark.com You two lovebirds want a cozy nest for cooing to each other? Fly down to the Nash Hotel, site of Mark's South Beach. Choose your venue: a stylish indoor dining room with mahogany walls and upholstered booths (elegant but not stuffy or dull) or, beyond French doors, a romantic 30-seat terrace by the pools. Music plays at a reasonable level, the lights are appropriately dim, the waitstaff attentive yet discreet. Perfect. So is the wine list, an array of mid- to high-end California bottles to pair with every fragrant flavor combination on the menu -- and the contemporary American menu at this five-year-old restaurant brims with bold taste sensations. Legendary local chef Mark Militello is a master at juggling diverse and innovative ingredients without ever losing balance, and executive chef Larry LaValley, from New York's Daniel, Union Pacific, and Bouley's Bakery, orchestrates Militello's compositions in enrapturing fashion. Share bites of your duck confit with champagne mango glaze, or black grouper and artichoke hash in sweet herb broth. Sensational food is sensual food, and sensual food encourages intimacy. But talk gets you only so far. After that it's time to leave the words behind and let passion render you both speechless -- pastry chef Juan Villaparedes's Gianduja chocolate terrine and double chocolate sorbet will do just that.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR INTIMATE CONVERSATION

BEST RESTAURANT FOR INTIMATE CONVERSATION Mark's South Beach Nash Hotel

1120 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-604-9050

www.chefmark.com You two lovebirds want a cozy nest for cooing to each other? Fly down to the Nash Hotel, site of Mark's South Beach. Choose your venue: a stylish indoor dining room with mahogany walls and upholstered booths (elegant but not stuffy or dull) or, beyond French doors, a romantic 30-seat terrace by the pools. Music plays at a reasonable level, the lights are appropriately dim, the waitstaff attentive yet discreet. Perfect. So is the wine list, an array of mid- to high-end California bottles to pair with every fragrant flavor combination on the menu -- and the contemporary American menu at this five-year-old restaurant brims with bold taste sensations. Legendary local chef Mark Militello is a master at juggling diverse and innovative ingredients without ever losing balance, and executive chef Larry LaValley, from New York's Daniel, Union Pacific, and Bouley's Bakery, orchestrates Militello's compositions in enrapturing fashion. Share bites of your duck confit with champagne mango glaze, or black grouper and artichoke hash in sweet herb broth. Sensational food is sensual food, and sensual food encourages intimacy. But talk gets you only so far. After that it's time to leave the words behind and let passion render you both speechless -- pastry chef Juan Villaparedes's Gianduja chocolate terrine and double chocolate sorbet will do just that.

Don't let the silly name stop you from sampling this damn good chocolate. Some of you are happy with just a Hershey bar, but true addicts who know good chocolate from the dregs are willing to drive for their fix. Whether you like the creamy white, the bitter dark, or the smooth milk chocolate, you will find a drool-inducing display of confections (either plain or with nuts, caramel, pretzels, potato chips, or fruit) made right in the store. Fancy gift baskets are also available, and they'll take the time to make exactly what you want, and deliver or ship your goodies anywhere.

Don't let the silly name stop you from sampling this damn good chocolate. Some of you are happy with just a Hershey bar, but true addicts who know good chocolate from the dregs are willing to drive for their fix. Whether you like the creamy white, the bitter dark, or the smooth milk chocolate, you will find a drool-inducing display of confections (either plain or with nuts, caramel, pretzels, potato chips, or fruit) made right in the store. Fancy gift baskets are also available, and they'll take the time to make exactly what you want, and deliver or ship your goodies anywhere.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®