BEST ASIAN GROCERY Lucky Oriental Mart 8356 Bird Road

Westchester

305-220-2838 The aroma hits you at the door, a kind of sour-sweet spice hanging low in the air. Looking around at Lucky's polished aisles, you suddenly feel you're not in Miami anymore. The customers are varied -- Asian families shop with purpose and confidence, whereas patrons of other ethnicities linger in the aisles, eyes wide with wonder, questions spilling from their eager lips. Some of the products cause these unfamiliar visitors to scrunch their noses and wince: crab spawn paste, preserved mud fish in a jar, bitter gourd tea. Many containers feature Chinese characters translated to amusing effect. One package reads "Mid-Old Ages Breakfast Paste. Agreeable to Taste." Hmmm. The Ladies' Soya Drink container boasts "The Appointed Drink for Actress of National Ballet of China." Alrighty then. There is much to question, much to discover, and much to purchase. Pearl Soybean Drink and plum juice are chilled in the refrigerated-goods section, which is flanked by an aisle's worth of ramen and other assorted noodles. Adorable bonsais, money trees, and every coiling variety of lucky bamboo clog a corner near the door. In the fresh produce aisle spiky-skinned durian monthongs rest alongside round, green Thai eggplant and cucumber-size Taiwan okra. The tilapia is so fresh it's swimming in tanks in the fish department. Tea for pleasure, or whatever ails you: Slimming Tea, Diabetes-Care, Kidney-Liver Mind, Aging Delai, Horny Goat Weed. And to serve the tea, ceramic pots, cups, and saucers are right around the corner. Near the counter, a glass case contains glittering tchochkes: statues of Buddha in all of his colorful incarnations, lucky cats, and Kwan Yin, beloved and beautiful goddess of mercy, beaming peacefully down at it all.

BEST ASIAN GROCERY Lucky Oriental Mart 8356 Bird Road

Westchester

305-220-2838 The aroma hits you at the door, a kind of sour-sweet spice hanging low in the air. Looking around at Lucky's polished aisles, you suddenly feel you're not in Miami anymore. The customers are varied -- Asian families shop with purpose and confidence, whereas patrons of other ethnicities linger in the aisles, eyes wide with wonder, questions spilling from their eager lips. Some of the products cause these unfamiliar visitors to scrunch their noses and wince: crab spawn paste, preserved mud fish in a jar, bitter gourd tea. Many containers feature Chinese characters translated to amusing effect. One package reads "Mid-Old Ages Breakfast Paste. Agreeable to Taste." Hmmm. The Ladies' Soya Drink container boasts "The Appointed Drink for Actress of National Ballet of China." Alrighty then. There is much to question, much to discover, and much to purchase. Pearl Soybean Drink and plum juice are chilled in the refrigerated-goods section, which is flanked by an aisle's worth of ramen and other assorted noodles. Adorable bonsais, money trees, and every coiling variety of lucky bamboo clog a corner near the door. In the fresh produce aisle spiky-skinned durian monthongs rest alongside round, green Thai eggplant and cucumber-size Taiwan okra. The tilapia is so fresh it's swimming in tanks in the fish department. Tea for pleasure, or whatever ails you: Slimming Tea, Diabetes-Care, Kidney-Liver Mind, Aging Delai, Horny Goat Weed. And to serve the tea, ceramic pots, cups, and saucers are right around the corner. Near the counter, a glass case contains glittering tchochkes: statues of Buddha in all of his colorful incarnations, lucky cats, and Kwan Yin, beloved and beautiful goddess of mercy, beaming peacefully down at it all.

BEST CHAIN RESTAURANT The Palm 9650 E. Bay Harbor Drive

Bay Harbor Islands

305-868-7256

and

4425 Ponce de Leon Boulevard

Coral Gables

786-552-7256

www.thepalm.com McDonald's? KFC? Quizno's? Get your mind out of the gutter and onto a higher plane. "Chain" doesn't have to imply plain, plastic, and cheap, just that there are lots of restaurants with the same name and ownership. The Palm has 31 locations, including two in Miami-Dade County, and if that makes it a small, exclusive chain, so be it. "Best" is based on quality, not quantity. What is quality? A succulent three-pound lobster so large you'll wonder if shellfish have taken to steroids. A prime dry-aged porterhouse so sublime you'll start planning interventions for your vegetarian friends. Creamed spinach that would have Popeye stuttering with delight. Also, The Palm has been around far longer than these other, Johnny-come-lately-and-cheaply franchises. In fact no restaurant in America has been run by the same family for as long. The grandsons of the original New York owners now operate the national string of posh eateries. Washington lobbyists know that The Palm is one of the most likely places to find potent politicians power-lunching in our nation's capital, but don't hold that against the Bay Harbor or Coral Gables Palms -- they're just two tasteful links in the chain.

BEST CHAIN RESTAURANT The Palm 9650 E. Bay Harbor Drive

Bay Harbor Islands

305-868-7256

and

4425 Ponce de Leon Boulevard

Coral Gables

786-552-7256

www.thepalm.com McDonald's? KFC? Quizno's? Get your mind out of the gutter and onto a higher plane. "Chain" doesn't have to imply plain, plastic, and cheap, just that there are lots of restaurants with the same name and ownership. The Palm has 31 locations, including two in Miami-Dade County, and if that makes it a small, exclusive chain, so be it. "Best" is based on quality, not quantity. What is quality? A succulent three-pound lobster so large you'll wonder if shellfish have taken to steroids. A prime dry-aged porterhouse so sublime you'll start planning interventions for your vegetarian friends. Creamed spinach that would have Popeye stuttering with delight. Also, The Palm has been around far longer than these other, Johnny-come-lately-and-cheaply franchises. In fact no restaurant in America has been run by the same family for as long. The grandsons of the original New York owners now operate the national string of posh eateries. Washington lobbyists know that The Palm is one of the most likely places to find potent politicians power-lunching in our nation's capital, but don't hold that against the Bay Harbor or Coral Gables Palms -- they're just two tasteful links in the chain.

BEST CHICKEN WINGS Jumbo's Restaurant 7501 NW Seventh Avenue

Miami

305-751-4267 For the most part, chickens aren't meant to be feared. They flutter, cluck, and aimlessly peck at the ground in search of food. But the chickens served up at Jumbo's Restaurant must have been a breed apart. These fowls have wings as pumped up and thick as Barry Bonds's arms. Meaty, moist, and with a warm, crunchy fried exterior, a serving of chicken wings here is like an anti-Atkins meal unto itself. Get them alone or as part of a larger feast. The "Carol City Chiefs Wing Ding Deal" comes with four wings, four shrimp, onion rings, and two sides. The "Booker T. Washington Lucky Two Special" comes with two wings, two drumsticks, as well as onion rings and sides. In fact most of the specials here come with at least two wings, and the prices can't be beat. Munch out on fried goodness in a historic landmark: Jumbo's celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and the food is as good and hearty as ever.

BEST CHICKEN WINGS Jumbo's Restaurant 7501 NW Seventh Avenue

Miami

305-751-4267 For the most part, chickens aren't meant to be feared. They flutter, cluck, and aimlessly peck at the ground in search of food. But the chickens served up at Jumbo's Restaurant must have been a breed apart. These fowls have wings as pumped up and thick as Barry Bonds's arms. Meaty, moist, and with a warm, crunchy fried exterior, a serving of chicken wings here is like an anti-Atkins meal unto itself. Get them alone or as part of a larger feast. The "Carol City Chiefs Wing Ding Deal" comes with four wings, four shrimp, onion rings, and two sides. The "Booker T. Washington Lucky Two Special" comes with two wings, two drumsticks, as well as onion rings and sides. In fact most of the specials here come with at least two wings, and the prices can't be beat. Munch out on fried goodness in a historic landmark: Jumbo's celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, and the food is as good and hearty as ever.

Timo Restaurant & Bar
George Martinez
BEST RESTAURANT IN NORTH MIAMI-DADE Timó Restaurant 17624 Collins Avenue

Sunny Isles Beach

305-936-1008

www.timorestaurant.com Timó's modern Mediterranean cuisine is so impressive you can take any one tantalizing dish from each menu category and put together a feast worthy of Babette. Begin with a hearty starter of slow-cooked tripe with bacon, onion, tomato, and Parmesan. No, wait, take that back. We'll start more delicately, with foie gras crostini accented with caramelized oranges and a dash of fleur de sel, then segue into a warm-spinach and roasted-duck salad with sun-dried black-fig vinaigrette before sampling the pasta pick of Yukon gold potato gnocchi with rock shrimp primavera. Peerless wood-fired pizzas are all worthwhile, particularly the thin-crusted pie puffed with ricotta, fontina, wild mushrooms, and white truffle oil. Fish course? Branzino with basil, asparagus, and lemon confit. Meat? Veal sweetbreads with bacon, honey -- forget that, we've already had our bacon. We'll have our sweetbreads with porcinis as a garnish for veal scaloppini, or wood-roasted chicken with Parmesan dumplings in a truffled poultry broth. Desserts? Impossible to choose just one. Besides, we're sure we can find room for both the warm apple tart with green apple granita and the double chocolate soufflé, though unfortunately there's not enough room to fully describe the winsome wine list, superior service, handsomely decorated dining room, fair prices, and exceedingly friendly neighborhood vibe. The partnering genius behind Timó is ace chef Tim Andriola (who cut his chops with Allen Susser, Charlie Trotter, and Mark Militello) and front-of-house wiz Rodrigo Martinez (formerly manager at Escopazzo and Norman's).

BEST RESTAURANT IN NORTH MIAMI-DADE Timó Restaurant 17624 Collins Avenue

Sunny Isles Beach

305-936-1008

www.timorestaurant.com Timó's modern Mediterranean cuisine is so impressive you can take any one tantalizing dish from each menu category and put together a feast worthy of Babette. Begin with a hearty starter of slow-cooked tripe with bacon, onion, tomato, and Parmesan. No, wait, take that back. We'll start more delicately, with foie gras crostini accented with caramelized oranges and a dash of fleur de sel, then segue into a warm-spinach and roasted-duck salad with sun-dried black-fig vinaigrette before sampling the pasta pick of Yukon gold potato gnocchi with rock shrimp primavera. Peerless wood-fired pizzas are all worthwhile, particularly the thin-crusted pie puffed with ricotta, fontina, wild mushrooms, and white truffle oil. Fish course? Branzino with basil, asparagus, and lemon confit. Meat? Veal sweetbreads with bacon, honey -- forget that, we've already had our bacon. We'll have our sweetbreads with porcinis as a garnish for veal scaloppini, or wood-roasted chicken with Parmesan dumplings in a truffled poultry broth. Desserts? Impossible to choose just one. Besides, we're sure we can find room for both the warm apple tart with green apple granita and the double chocolate soufflé, though unfortunately there's not enough room to fully describe the winsome wine list, superior service, handsomely decorated dining room, fair prices, and exceedingly friendly neighborhood vibe. The partnering genius behind Timó is ace chef Tim Andriola (who cut his chops with Allen Susser, Charlie Trotter, and Mark Militello) and front-of-house wiz Rodrigo Martinez (formerly manager at Escopazzo and Norman's).

Mandarin Oriental Hotel
BEST WATERFRONT DINING Café Sambal Mandarin Oriental Hotel

500 Brickell Key Drive

Miami

305-913-8251 Being a restaurant located directly beneath the nationally acclaimed kitchens of Azul is something like being Dolly Parton's shoes -- you get little recognition. Too bad, because few dining establishments boast as bedazzling a view of Biscayne Bay as Café Sambal, the waters practically slapping the seashell-studded terrazzo floor of the outdoor patio. Well, maybe there are a couple of other restaurants offering such vivacious vistas, but none features chef Paul Miller's splashy and inventive Asian dishes. Sushi selections are pretty and pristine, the five-spice honey-glazed spare ribs put the standard Chinese version to shame, and main courses like teriyaki seared salmon in green-tea butter sauce are as refreshing as ocean spray. Prices are shockingly sane -- the salmon entrée, for instance, is $21, which ain't bad for dining in stunning al fresco style at the Mandarin Oriental. Café Sambal offers this same soothing setting for breakfast and lunch too.

BEST WATERFRONT DINING Café Sambal Mandarin Oriental Hotel

500 Brickell Key Drive

Miami

305-913-8251 Being a restaurant located directly beneath the nationally acclaimed kitchens of Azul is something like being Dolly Parton's shoes -- you get little recognition. Too bad, because few dining establishments boast as bedazzling a view of Biscayne Bay as Café Sambal, the waters practically slapping the seashell-studded terrazzo floor of the outdoor patio. Well, maybe there are a couple of other restaurants offering such vivacious vistas, but none features chef Paul Miller's splashy and inventive Asian dishes. Sushi selections are pretty and pristine, the five-spice honey-glazed spare ribs put the standard Chinese version to shame, and main courses like teriyaki seared salmon in green-tea butter sauce are as refreshing as ocean spray. Prices are shockingly sane -- the salmon entrée, for instance, is $21, which ain't bad for dining in stunning al fresco style at the Mandarin Oriental. Café Sambal offers this same soothing setting for breakfast and lunch too.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®