BEST CAFé CUBANO Puerto Sagua 700 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-673-1115 It's nearly impossible to get a bad café Cubano anywhere around here. The sugary jolt in a cup and its cousin the cortadito are essential to human life, thus generally prepared with care. The only thing that can make a café Cubano better is more café Cubano, so Puerto Sagua is the place to go, because once the folks at the counter get to know you, they'll give you refills. A Miami Beach landmark, Puerto Sagua opened in 1962. There's a counter by the front door and a dining room with a colorful 3-D painting of Old Havana by the famous Skull Sisters decorating the back wall, so it looks about the same as it did more than 40 years ago. Spanish is spoken first here, and attempts by learners are rewarded with authentic food as well as the titular café Cubano.

Readers´ Choice: Versailles

Puerto Sagua
Leah Gabriel
BEST CAFé CUBANO Puerto Sagua 700 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-673-1115 It's nearly impossible to get a bad café Cubano anywhere around here. The sugary jolt in a cup and its cousin the cortadito are essential to human life, thus generally prepared with care. The only thing that can make a café Cubano better is more café Cubano, so Puerto Sagua is the place to go, because once the folks at the counter get to know you, they'll give you refills. A Miami Beach landmark, Puerto Sagua opened in 1962. There's a counter by the front door and a dining room with a colorful 3-D painting of Old Havana by the famous Skull Sisters decorating the back wall, so it looks about the same as it did more than 40 years ago. Spanish is spoken first here, and attempts by learners are rewarded with authentic food as well as the titular café Cubano.

Readers´ Choice: Versailles

BEST COFFEEHOUSE Segafredo Espresso 1040 Lincoln Road

Miami Beach

305-673-0047

www.segafredo.it Segafredo's charm lies in it being a European-style café, which is similar to what the pre-Starbucks American coffee shop used to be: It's not about the bean; it's about the scene. Partners Graziano Sbroggio (Tiramesu, Spris) and Mark Soyka (News Café, Van Dyke, Soyka) know plenty about scene. Nearly all the seating is outdoors on the west end of Lincoln Road, by the gorgeous mosaic fountain created by artist Carlos Alves. Grab a seat or sink into a comfy couch, order an eponymous espresso and a precious little pastry (or go the martini/panini route, which is something you can't do at most coffeehouses), and you'll swear you're in some classy overseas city -- with tropical weather to boot. Weekday afternoons and evenings are the best times to chill. Wear a beret, perhaps a silk scarf, utter phrases such as "ne plus ultra" or "Take it from me, catwalks aren't all they're cracked up to be," and you'll fit right in. Or come as you are and be entertained by listening to other people say things like that.

Readers´ Choice: Starbucks

BEST COFFEEHOUSE Segafredo Espresso 1040 Lincoln Road

Miami Beach

305-673-0047

www.segafredo.it Segafredo's charm lies in it being a European-style café, which is similar to what the pre-Starbucks American coffee shop used to be: It's not about the bean; it's about the scene. Partners Graziano Sbroggio (Tiramesu, Spris) and Mark Soyka (News Café, Van Dyke, Soyka) know plenty about scene. Nearly all the seating is outdoors on the west end of Lincoln Road, by the gorgeous mosaic fountain created by artist Carlos Alves. Grab a seat or sink into a comfy couch, order an eponymous espresso and a precious little pastry (or go the martini/panini route, which is something you can't do at most coffeehouses), and you'll swear you're in some classy overseas city -- with tropical weather to boot. Weekday afternoons and evenings are the best times to chill. Wear a beret, perhaps a silk scarf, utter phrases such as "ne plus ultra" or "Take it from me, catwalks aren't all they're cracked up to be," and you'll fit right in. Or come as you are and be entertained by listening to other people say things like that.

Readers´ Choice: Starbucks

BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT Yakko-San 17040 W. Dixie Highway

North Miami Beach

305-947-0064 It's generally considered a prime sign of authentic excellence when an ethnic restaurant's clientele includes many people from the nation in question. That's true of Yakko-San, but even more impressive is what you'll find late at night: a lot of chefs. With no fanfare and no public-relations machine, this off-the-glam-track spot has become the late-night hangout where chefs from other Asian restaurants go to dine after their own places close. The draw is fare not to be found at the average Japanese restaurant -- virtually no sushi or yakitori this-and-that, but Japanese home cooking. Portions are sized like tapas, so diners can try a large variety of dishes. Some are admittedly strange (like "spicy konnyaku potato alimentary") but most, despite their unfamiliarity, are very accessible: kinpira gobu (burdock root bathed in intensely rich reduced sweet/salty soy sauce), maguro nuta (raw tuna strips and scallions painted with addictive honey-miso mustard sauce), or savory sautéed beef with garlic stems. The feast is on till 3:30 a.m. daily.

Readers´ Choice: Nobu

BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT Yakko-San 17040 W. Dixie Highway

North Miami Beach

305-947-0064 It's generally considered a prime sign of authentic excellence when an ethnic restaurant's clientele includes many people from the nation in question. That's true of Yakko-San, but even more impressive is what you'll find late at night: a lot of chefs. With no fanfare and no public-relations machine, this off-the-glam-track spot has become the late-night hangout where chefs from other Asian restaurants go to dine after their own places close. The draw is fare not to be found at the average Japanese restaurant -- virtually no sushi or yakitori this-and-that, but Japanese home cooking. Portions are sized like tapas, so diners can try a large variety of dishes. Some are admittedly strange (like "spicy konnyaku potato alimentary") but most, despite their unfamiliarity, are very accessible: kinpira gobu (burdock root bathed in intensely rich reduced sweet/salty soy sauce), maguro nuta (raw tuna strips and scallions painted with addictive honey-miso mustard sauce), or savory sautéed beef with garlic stems. The feast is on till 3:30 a.m. daily.

Readers´ Choice: Nobu

Taco Shop Mexican Grill
BEST TACO Roberto's Taco Shop Various locations in Miami-Dade County

www.robertos.us The year 1962 was very bad for tacos. That's when Glen Bell opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, California. A good year for tacos was 1964. That's when Roberto and Dolores Robledo and family introduced their original Mexican Taco Shop in San Diego. Their mission statement then was the same it is now for the far-flung Roberto's Taco Shop chain: "Fresh, authentic, quality ingredients; simple food at modest prices; and satisfying portions." Roberto's tacos encapsulate these qualities within their hard little U-shaped shells and soft tortilla wraps. The grilled chicken and beef tacos will satisfy any hunger, but grilled and marinated fish, juicy carne asada, and plump pork carnitas, in our preferred soft tortillas, will have you shaking your head at just how delicious a fast-food taco can be. Prices are more than modest: $1.95 to $2.25 for a generously sized shell, or three smaller tacos for $1.99 (a dollar more with guacamole or sour cream). A wide array of hot sauces too. Ay, Chihuahua!

BEST TACO Roberto's Taco Shop Various locations in Miami-Dade County

www.robertos.us The year 1962 was very bad for tacos. That's when Glen Bell opened the first Taco Bell in Downey, California. A good year for tacos was 1964. That's when Roberto and Dolores Robledo and family introduced their original Mexican Taco Shop in San Diego. Their mission statement then was the same it is now for the far-flung Roberto's Taco Shop chain: "Fresh, authentic, quality ingredients; simple food at modest prices; and satisfying portions." Roberto's tacos encapsulate these qualities within their hard little U-shaped shells and soft tortilla wraps. The grilled chicken and beef tacos will satisfy any hunger, but grilled and marinated fish, juicy carne asada, and plump pork carnitas, in our preferred soft tortillas, will have you shaking your head at just how delicious a fast-food taco can be. Prices are more than modest: $1.95 to $2.25 for a generously sized shell, or three smaller tacos for $1.99 (a dollar more with guacamole or sour cream). A wide array of hot sauces too. Ay, Chihuahua!

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Jonathan++Postal
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BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT Lung Gong Restaurant 11920 SW Eighth Street

West Miami-Dade

305-553-4644 If we dusted off our abacus and computed the percentage of South Florida's Chinese restaurants that are situated in strip malls, it would probably turn out to be a high figure. If we then pushed the beads around to determine those that served the sort of authentic cuisine rarely found outside of Beijing and big-city Chinatowns, the numbers would plummet to a scant few. One of these few would be Lung Gong. Those lacking a sense of gastronomic adventure can satisfy themselves here with inexpensive Cantonese standards such as egg rolls, chow mein, chop suey, sweet-and-sour dishes, and a pu pu platter. Those of us who profess to possess a more sophisticated palate can ponder tender strips of chicken breast tossed in peanut dressing with "green bean starch sheet" (flat noodles made from the vegetable) and sesame-seeded matchsticks of cucumber. Or thin, chewy wheat-dough noodles with black mushrooms and dried lily flower. Or beef flank stewed with malanga in coconut-laced brown sauce. Important: Do not bypass shockingly delectable fried duck perfumed with bay leaves. Really sophisticated diners can try "spicy pig intestine with pork blood and tofu in fire pot." Lung Gong's owners are from Beijing, the chef is from Szechuan, and the sometimes mellow, often fiery, always awesomely authentic foods are from all points in between.

BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT Lung Gong Restaurant 11920 SW Eighth Street

West Miami-Dade

305-553-4644 If we dusted off our abacus and computed the percentage of South Florida's Chinese restaurants that are situated in strip malls, it would probably turn out to be a high figure. If we then pushed the beads around to determine those that served the sort of authentic cuisine rarely found outside of Beijing and big-city Chinatowns, the numbers would plummet to a scant few. One of these few would be Lung Gong. Those lacking a sense of gastronomic adventure can satisfy themselves here with inexpensive Cantonese standards such as egg rolls, chow mein, chop suey, sweet-and-sour dishes, and a pu pu platter. Those of us who profess to possess a more sophisticated palate can ponder tender strips of chicken breast tossed in peanut dressing with "green bean starch sheet" (flat noodles made from the vegetable) and sesame-seeded matchsticks of cucumber. Or thin, chewy wheat-dough noodles with black mushrooms and dried lily flower. Or beef flank stewed with malanga in coconut-laced brown sauce. Important: Do not bypass shockingly delectable fried duck perfumed with bay leaves. Really sophisticated diners can try "spicy pig intestine with pork blood and tofu in fire pot." Lung Gong's owners are from Beijing, the chef is from Szechuan, and the sometimes mellow, often fiery, always awesomely authentic foods are from all points in between.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®