BEST BRAZILIAN RESTAURANT Texas de Brazil Churrascaria Dolphin Mall

11401 NW Twelfth Street

West Miami-Dade

305-599-7729

www.texasdebrazil.com What do Texas and Brazil have in common? Cowboys of course! But in Brazil's southernmost province, an important cattle-producing region called Rio Grande do Sul, they're known as gauchos. Their rodizio style of cooking, in which meats are slow-roasted over an open pit, is the central motif of this over-the-top steak house. Since opening its first location in Addison, Texas, in 1998, Texas de Brazil has expanded to eight cities. Here's the winning formula: Skilled servers roam the restaurant wielding enormous skewers of seasoned beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and Brazilian sausage taken directly from the open-fire grill, stopping at each table to carve slices for diners as they enjoy selections from a 40-item salad bar and side dishes such as housemade cheese bread, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet fried bananas, and specialty sauces for the meat. Top this off with a dessert, which may include Brazilian flan or banana pie, a couple of caipirinhas, and a fine cigar, and it's easy to see why the way of the gaucho is winning over North America.

BEST BRAZILIAN RESTAURANT Texas de Brazil Churrascaria Dolphin Mall

11401 NW Twelfth Street

West Miami-Dade

305-599-7729

www.texasdebrazil.com What do Texas and Brazil have in common? Cowboys of course! But in Brazil's southernmost province, an important cattle-producing region called Rio Grande do Sul, they're known as gauchos. Their rodizio style of cooking, in which meats are slow-roasted over an open pit, is the central motif of this over-the-top steak house. Since opening its first location in Addison, Texas, in 1998, Texas de Brazil has expanded to eight cities. Here's the winning formula: Skilled servers roam the restaurant wielding enormous skewers of seasoned beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and Brazilian sausage taken directly from the open-fire grill, stopping at each table to carve slices for diners as they enjoy selections from a 40-item salad bar and side dishes such as housemade cheese bread, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet fried bananas, and specialty sauces for the meat. Top this off with a dessert, which may include Brazilian flan or banana pie, a couple of caipirinhas, and a fine cigar, and it's easy to see why the way of the gaucho is winning over North America.

BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH Nemo The Shore Club

100 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-532-4550 The portmanteau word brunch was first introduced to England in 1895, but the concept didn't catch on in this country until the Thirties, when it became a popular forum for weekend socializing among the upper class. It's this air of exclusivity that led humorist Heywood Broun to pronounce that "there may be some perfectly nice people who use the word brunch, but I prefer not to know about them." Brunch still is a rather fat-cat affair, especially at the grand corporate hotels, where buffets are gastronomic treasure chests overflowing with glittery gourmet comestibles and champagne is poured like water. Nothing wrong with that, but Nemo's Sunday soiree is precious in a more populist way, ostentation replaced by a down-to-earth style of overindulgence -- meaning you can stuff your face with accessible, everyday foods. We're talking about a plethora of breakfast pastries; bagels and smoked salmon; Belgian waffles pressed to order; granola; carving stations with Indian-spiced pork loin and roast turkey; a luscious lineup of some 40 dishes filled with salads, grains, pastas, fruits, breakfast meats, hash browns, and sushi; and a separate menu of omelets. Every brunch needs a little decadence, and at Nemo it presents itself by way of Hedy Goldsmith's heavenly baked goods, a cornucopia of sugary riches that would put even the most grandiose Viennese table to shame. Add fresh juice, hot coffee, a stylish ambiance, and a lush foliated patio outdoors. The $29 price (half that for kids) doesn't quite qualify Nemo's brunch as working class, but it's enough of a bargain that even Heywood Broun would want to know about it.

BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH Nemo The Shore Club

100 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-532-4550 The portmanteau word brunch was first introduced to England in 1895, but the concept didn't catch on in this country until the Thirties, when it became a popular forum for weekend socializing among the upper class. It's this air of exclusivity that led humorist Heywood Broun to pronounce that "there may be some perfectly nice people who use the word brunch, but I prefer not to know about them." Brunch still is a rather fat-cat affair, especially at the grand corporate hotels, where buffets are gastronomic treasure chests overflowing with glittery gourmet comestibles and champagne is poured like water. Nothing wrong with that, but Nemo's Sunday soiree is precious in a more populist way, ostentation replaced by a down-to-earth style of overindulgence -- meaning you can stuff your face with accessible, everyday foods. We're talking about a plethora of breakfast pastries; bagels and smoked salmon; Belgian waffles pressed to order; granola; carving stations with Indian-spiced pork loin and roast turkey; a luscious lineup of some 40 dishes filled with salads, grains, pastas, fruits, breakfast meats, hash browns, and sushi; and a separate menu of omelets. Every brunch needs a little decadence, and at Nemo it presents itself by way of Hedy Goldsmith's heavenly baked goods, a cornucopia of sugary riches that would put even the most grandiose Viennese table to shame. Add fresh juice, hot coffee, a stylish ambiance, and a lush foliated patio outdoors. The $29 price (half that for kids) doesn't quite qualify Nemo's brunch as working class, but it's enough of a bargain that even Heywood Broun would want to know about it.

BEST JAMAICAN RESTAURANT Sango Jamaican and Chinese Restaurant 9485 SW 160th Street

Perrine

305-252-0279 Seems to us it would be entirely appropriate if Rosie Hollingshead decided to hang a sign in her petite Caribbean (forget the Chinese) take-out shop that reads: "It's the jerk, stupid." We wouldn't quibble with those who lean on the yellow Formica counter and request the Arawak-inspired pepper pot stew, or heartwarming pumpkin and beef soup, oxtails with lima beans, fried fish escovitch, or Jamaica's national dish of ackee and codfish; they are all delicious. Nor would we take issue with anyone who'd choose the curried goat, which comes aswirl in a delectably piquant stew. Prices are wonderfully low (under ten dollars), and portions are, as Rastafarians might put it, "I-normous." But Sango's jerked pork is the best north of Boston Bay -- thick chunks of slowly cooked meat punched up with the pungent and potent cure of scallions, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, coriander, ginger root, spicy Jamaican pimento, and intensely fiery Scotch bonnet pepper. A caveat: The dish is on Sango's weekly rotation of daily specials, so you have to arrive on a Wednesday to get your jerk; otherwise you might feel like one. But you can console yourself with any of the aforementioned delights, as well as a thick wedge of bread pudding and the purportedly aphrodisiacal Irish moss beverage.

Sango Jamaican and Chinese Restaurant

BEST JAMAICAN RESTAURANT Sango Jamaican and Chinese Restaurant 9485 SW 160th Street

Perrine

305-252-0279 Seems to us it would be entirely appropriate if Rosie Hollingshead decided to hang a sign in her petite Caribbean (forget the Chinese) take-out shop that reads: "It's the jerk, stupid." We wouldn't quibble with those who lean on the yellow Formica counter and request the Arawak-inspired pepper pot stew, or heartwarming pumpkin and beef soup, oxtails with lima beans, fried fish escovitch, or Jamaica's national dish of ackee and codfish; they are all delicious. Nor would we take issue with anyone who'd choose the curried goat, which comes aswirl in a delectably piquant stew. Prices are wonderfully low (under ten dollars), and portions are, as Rastafarians might put it, "I-normous." But Sango's jerked pork is the best north of Boston Bay -- thick chunks of slowly cooked meat punched up with the pungent and potent cure of scallions, thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, coriander, ginger root, spicy Jamaican pimento, and intensely fiery Scotch bonnet pepper. A caveat: The dish is on Sango's weekly rotation of daily specials, so you have to arrive on a Wednesday to get your jerk; otherwise you might feel like one. But you can console yourself with any of the aforementioned delights, as well as a thick wedge of bread pudding and the purportedly aphrodisiacal Irish moss beverage.

BEST SANDWICH SHOP Frankie's Big City Grill

8601 Biscayne Boulevard

Miami

305-762-5333 A sandwich is a sandwich is a sandwich -- two pieces of bread or a roll cut in half, with stuff in between. Two exceptions: The bread you choose happens to bear an image of the Virgin Mary, in which case it sells for oodles of money and tours the country accompanied by a Miami Herald columnist; the sandwich comes from Frankie's Big City Grill, which means it's fresh, fat, and delicious. The "Big City" theme is culled from 14 of the 60 sandwiches (plus 17 breakfast sandwiches) being modeled after signature snacks of American metropolises. Fact is, the Virgin Mary bread probably couldn't find a stopover that isn't represented on Frankie's menu. New Orleans? Muffuletta. Boston? Italian sausage. Our town is appropriately represented with properly pressed medianoches. There's also pastrami from the Big Apple, crabcakes from Maryland, strip steak from Kansas City -- you get the idea. Frankie and wife Priscilla are from Philly, and you can find them on the premises proudly putting forth an exemplary version of their brotherly city's cheese-steak sandwich -- slices of sizzling rib eye and white American cheese, a cup of hot peppers on the side. Ask for "cheese with," which brings sautéed onions on top.

BEST SANDWICH SHOP Frankie's Big City Grill

8601 Biscayne Boulevard

Miami

305-762-5333 A sandwich is a sandwich is a sandwich -- two pieces of bread or a roll cut in half, with stuff in between. Two exceptions: The bread you choose happens to bear an image of the Virgin Mary, in which case it sells for oodles of money and tours the country accompanied by a Miami Herald columnist; the sandwich comes from Frankie's Big City Grill, which means it's fresh, fat, and delicious. The "Big City" theme is culled from 14 of the 60 sandwiches (plus 17 breakfast sandwiches) being modeled after signature snacks of American metropolises. Fact is, the Virgin Mary bread probably couldn't find a stopover that isn't represented on Frankie's menu. New Orleans? Muffuletta. Boston? Italian sausage. Our town is appropriately represented with properly pressed medianoches. There's also pastrami from the Big Apple, crabcakes from Maryland, strip steak from Kansas City -- you get the idea. Frankie and wife Priscilla are from Philly, and you can find them on the premises proudly putting forth an exemplary version of their brotherly city's cheese-steak sandwich -- slices of sizzling rib eye and white American cheese, a cup of hot peppers on the side. Ask for "cheese with," which brings sautéed onions on top.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR DINING DURING A HURRICANE

BEST RESTAURANT FOR DINING DURING A HURRICANE Palme d'Or Biltmore Hotel

1200 Anastasia Avenue

Coral Gables

305-913-3201

www.biltmorehotel.com The first thing you might ask yourself in the event of being stuck somewhere with a savage, life-threatening hurricane raging outside is this: How are the rations? At Palme d'Or they're about as good as you're ever going to hope to get. Imagine your post-storm diary: Day one: Supped on pumpkin soup with smoked duck breast, Maine lobster, crme frache cappuccino, and Hudson Valley foie gras with fruit chutney and toasted brioche. Crisp plum tart with pink peppercorn ice cream for dessert. They put us up in quite a pleasant room! Day two: Storm continues unabated. After apologies from kitchen for having run out of sevruga caviar spoons with potato mousseline, we made do with beef tenderloin tartare with basil oil and main course of "braised seven-hour beef" -- we all had a good laugh at the table when I told the waiter: "Why not make it fourteen; we've got plenty of time!" Day three: Chef Philipe Ruiz regretfully announced that the only menu items left for dinner would be ahi tuna tartare, seared lamb rack with vegetable ragout, and a light dessert of tomato confit and fennel salad with basil-lime sorbet -- only so much dry ice in the house, he said. Water has seeped through the glass doors overlooking the famous Biltmore pool and onto the polished Brazilian cherry-wood floors. Gee, they just refurbished the place too. Crystal chandeliers and ceiling frescoes don't appear to be in any danger. Will the rains never cease? Day four: Food rations are gone. To the wine cellar! To the wine cellar! Day five: Hurricane is over. Tremendous tragedy, they say. But it was the best damn vacation of my life!

BEST RESTAURANT FOR DINING DURING A HURRICANE

BEST RESTAURANT FOR DINING DURING A HURRICANE Palme d'Or Biltmore Hotel

1200 Anastasia Avenue

Coral Gables

305-913-3201

www.biltmorehotel.com The first thing you might ask yourself in the event of being stuck somewhere with a savage, life-threatening hurricane raging outside is this: How are the rations? At Palme d'Or they're about as good as you're ever going to hope to get. Imagine your post-storm diary: Day one: Supped on pumpkin soup with smoked duck breast, Maine lobster, crme frache cappuccino, and Hudson Valley foie gras with fruit chutney and toasted brioche. Crisp plum tart with pink peppercorn ice cream for dessert. They put us up in quite a pleasant room! Day two: Storm continues unabated. After apologies from kitchen for having run out of sevruga caviar spoons with potato mousseline, we made do with beef tenderloin tartare with basil oil and main course of "braised seven-hour beef" -- we all had a good laugh at the table when I told the waiter: "Why not make it fourteen; we've got plenty of time!" Day three: Chef Philipe Ruiz regretfully announced that the only menu items left for dinner would be ahi tuna tartare, seared lamb rack with vegetable ragout, and a light dessert of tomato confit and fennel salad with basil-lime sorbet -- only so much dry ice in the house, he said. Water has seeped through the glass doors overlooking the famous Biltmore pool and onto the polished Brazilian cherry-wood floors. Gee, they just refurbished the place too. Crystal chandeliers and ceiling frescoes don't appear to be in any danger. Will the rains never cease? Day four: Food rations are gone. To the wine cellar! To the wine cellar! Day five: Hurricane is over. Tremendous tragedy, they say. But it was the best damn vacation of my life!

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®