BEST CANDY The Fresh Market 18299 Biscayne Boulevard

Aventura

305-466-1786 Maybe it's not so much the candy itself but the way it's displayed -- in a beckoning rainbow of glass jars -- or that you'd never expect to see such an impressive candy section in a "health food" market; or the elaborate holiday displays stocked with specialty sweets the store creates at Christmastime, Valentine's Day, Easter, and Halloween. It's nearly impossible not to get positively giddy the first time you discover the candy section at The Fresh Market, even if you are a jaded adult. The colors and shapes will hypnotize you as you set about the difficult task of deciding what to scoop into your plastic bag: Swedish fish or gummy bears; orange slices or green apple juicy twists; sour babies or malted balls; pixie sticks or caramel clusters; gumballs or truffles; lemon drops or Jelly Bellies (in twenty flavors); peanut brittle or peppermint bark. Gee, not only is it the best candy, but it's also the best variety of candy.

The Forge
billwisserphoto.com
BEST SERVICE IN A RESTAURANT The Forge 432 Arthur Godfrey Road (41st Street)

Miami Beach

305-538-8533

www.theforge.com The crowning moment at the Forge is when tuxedo-clad waiters approach the table with silver-domed entrées, place them down in unison, and remove the lids with synchronized flair -- the way it would be done in a Busby Berkeley musical. If you remember Busby, you'll also recall the days when going out to eat in a fine-dining establishment meant the white-glove treatment by a team of pampering professionals. The whole idea of spending oodles of money was to be treated like someone special, even, maybe especially, for those who weren't special at all. The staff at the Forge harkens back to those times, and we're not just referring to the choreography and formal attire. Like veteran stage actors, the waiters here perform with an anonymous polish and panache; they hit their marks by rote. Sure, the somber demeanors of some might remind you of the stuffy butler Dudley Moore mimicked in Arthur, but their maturity is comforting, and it's quite refreshing to hear menu items described in a knowledgeable and articulate manner, to have wines properly handled by a suave sommelier, to have your chair held and napkins refolded, to barely notice the table cloth being silently swept of crumbs. It's nice to be served, and nicer still within the ornate stained-glass grandeur of the Forge. Makes you feel special, which in these parts, in this day and age, is something special indeed.

BEST SERVICE IN A RESTAURANT The Forge 432 Arthur Godfrey Road (41st Street)

Miami Beach

305-538-8533

www.theforge.com The crowning moment at the Forge is when tuxedo-clad waiters approach the table with silver-domed entrées, place them down in unison, and remove the lids with synchronized flair -- the way it would be done in a Busby Berkeley musical. If you remember Busby, you'll also recall the days when going out to eat in a fine-dining establishment meant the white-glove treatment by a team of pampering professionals. The whole idea of spending oodles of money was to be treated like someone special, even, maybe especially, for those who weren't special at all. The staff at the Forge harkens back to those times, and we're not just referring to the choreography and formal attire. Like veteran stage actors, the waiters here perform with an anonymous polish and panache; they hit their marks by rote. Sure, the somber demeanors of some might remind you of the stuffy butler Dudley Moore mimicked in Arthur, but their maturity is comforting, and it's quite refreshing to hear menu items described in a knowledgeable and articulate manner, to have wines properly handled by a suave sommelier, to have your chair held and napkins refolded, to barely notice the table cloth being silently swept of crumbs. It's nice to be served, and nicer still within the ornate stained-glass grandeur of the Forge. Makes you feel special, which in these parts, in this day and age, is something special indeed.

Cacao
BEST CEVICHE Cacao 141 Giralda Avenue

Coral Gables

305-445-1001 In a town where good ceviche is seldom far enough away to require hopping in the car, and great ceviche is served in dozens of places (from humble neighborhood Latin joints to nationally known gourmet palaces like Ola), Cacao's creations nevertheless shine. Though young chef Edgar Leal is Venezuelan, his specialties in the restaurant's main dining area are inventive Nueva interpretations of dishes from all over Latin America, and the newer ceviche bar follows suit. To taste-test the difference between a Mexican ceviche (chunks of guachinango fish with poblano peppers) and a Peruvian tiradito (sliced tuna, salmon, and grouper with aji amarillo sauce, cilantro pesto, and diced fennel), this is the place to go. The roughly half-dozen daily offerings always include at least a couple of marinated fish dishes that have decidedly Floribbean tropical touches too, like tuna ceviche with key lime juice and mango, or guacamole-garnished grouper ceviche marinated half in lime and half in sweeter passion fruit juice. And the ceviche bar doubles as a full bar, so skip the cerveza. Cacao's Santa Teresa Rum Old Fashioned is a more appropriately elegant accompaniment to such new-fashioned snacks.

BEST CEVICHE Cacao 141 Giralda Avenue

Coral Gables

305-445-1001 In a town where good ceviche is seldom far enough away to require hopping in the car, and great ceviche is served in dozens of places (from humble neighborhood Latin joints to nationally known gourmet palaces like Ola), Cacao's creations nevertheless shine. Though young chef Edgar Leal is Venezuelan, his specialties in the restaurant's main dining area are inventive Nueva interpretations of dishes from all over Latin America, and the newer ceviche bar follows suit. To taste-test the difference between a Mexican ceviche (chunks of guachinango fish with poblano peppers) and a Peruvian tiradito (sliced tuna, salmon, and grouper with aji amarillo sauce, cilantro pesto, and diced fennel), this is the place to go. The roughly half-dozen daily offerings always include at least a couple of marinated fish dishes that have decidedly Floribbean tropical touches too, like tuna ceviche with key lime juice and mango, or guacamole-garnished grouper ceviche marinated half in lime and half in sweeter passion fruit juice. And the ceviche bar doubles as a full bar, so skip the cerveza. Cacao's Santa Teresa Rum Old Fashioned is a more appropriately elegant accompaniment to such new-fashioned snacks.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR A POWER LUNCH

BEST RESTAURANT FOR A POWER LUNCH The Capital Grille 444 Brickell Avenue

Miami

305-374-4500

www.thecapitalgrille.com Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolutely corrupt power tearing up 5-pound lobsters and ravaging through 24-ounce slabs of porterhouse is downright frightening. Yet it occurs daily come lunchtime at The Capital Grille. Located at the Brickell Avenue apex of Miami's financial center, the Grille's mahogany walls and private booths provide the proper backdrop for corporate wheeling. An award-winning wine list and aptly dry martinis set the stage for daring dealing. And quiet, gracious service minimizes distraction. Giant cuts of meat dry-age on hooks in a glass locker visible to diners, perhaps a not-so-subtle metaphor for the worst-case scenario of a deal gone bad. Still there's always the considerable consolation derived from executive chef Innocent Utomi's powerful steak-and-seafood house cuisine. How important can money be when one is presented with a wedge of iceberg smothered in blue cheese and bacon; a thick, succulent Delmonico steak; a decadent chocolate espresso cake? Only important enough to pay the hefty bill. But don't worry, the company will pick it up, and besides, lunch here is well worth the price. Delicious food satisfies, and The Capital Grille's absolutely delicious food satisfies absolutely.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR A POWER LUNCH

BEST RESTAURANT FOR A POWER LUNCH The Capital Grille 444 Brickell Avenue

Miami

305-374-4500

www.thecapitalgrille.com Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and absolutely corrupt power tearing up 5-pound lobsters and ravaging through 24-ounce slabs of porterhouse is downright frightening. Yet it occurs daily come lunchtime at The Capital Grille. Located at the Brickell Avenue apex of Miami's financial center, the Grille's mahogany walls and private booths provide the proper backdrop for corporate wheeling. An award-winning wine list and aptly dry martinis set the stage for daring dealing. And quiet, gracious service minimizes distraction. Giant cuts of meat dry-age on hooks in a glass locker visible to diners, perhaps a not-so-subtle metaphor for the worst-case scenario of a deal gone bad. Still there's always the considerable consolation derived from executive chef Innocent Utomi's powerful steak-and-seafood house cuisine. How important can money be when one is presented with a wedge of iceberg smothered in blue cheese and bacon; a thick, succulent Delmonico steak; a decadent chocolate espresso cake? Only important enough to pay the hefty bill. But don't worry, the company will pick it up, and besides, lunch here is well worth the price. Delicious food satisfies, and The Capital Grille's absolutely delicious food satisfies absolutely.

Dogma Grill
Aran S Graham
BEST HOT DOG STAND Dogma Grill 7030 Biscayne Boulevard

Miami

305-759-3433 Hot dogs are eaten in 95 percent of American homes, consumption per person averaging out to 80 franks per year. Some like the boiled, porky type, and nobody makes the soft, pink pup better than Arbetter's Hot Dogs. Those who prefer Hebrew National 100 percent beef frankfurters, not boiled but assiduously browned on a flat-top griddle, and who desire a range of dressings beyond sauerkraut, pickled relish, and chili-cheese, tend to favor Dogma Grill. This two-and-a-half-year-old southern Californian-style stand wraps around the corner of Biscayne Boulevard and 71st Street as comfortably as dog in bun -- the buns here, incidentally, are fluffy-fresh and pot-shot with poppy seeds. You can choose from among seventeen types of wieners, including a pair of New York-style (mustard/sauerkraut or sautéed onions), Chicago-style (peppers, pickles, sauerkraut, and, well, a whole bunch of stuff), and a spicy "burrito dog," which is actually two dogs, each sliced in half lengthwise and tucked in a tortilla with chili, bacon, onions, and melted cheddar -- a hefty snack for $4.75. Other dogs average three dollars apiece, while the "classic," with any-or-all choice of mustard, ketchup, relish, and chopped onion, goes for $2.45. Fat Polish beef sausages and malignant little veggie dogs are also on hand. Dogma has recently spread its frank philosophy to the corner of Washington Avenue and Fifteenth Street in South Beach. This doubling of accessibility is timely, because if you haven't already consumed at least 40 frankfurters this year, it's going to take a lot of Dogma visits to reach your statistical per-capita intake.

BEST HOT DOG STAND Dogma Grill 7030 Biscayne Boulevard

Miami

305-759-3433 Hot dogs are eaten in 95 percent of American homes, consumption per person averaging out to 80 franks per year. Some like the boiled, porky type, and nobody makes the soft, pink pup better than Arbetter's Hot Dogs. Those who prefer Hebrew National 100 percent beef frankfurters, not boiled but assiduously browned on a flat-top griddle, and who desire a range of dressings beyond sauerkraut, pickled relish, and chili-cheese, tend to favor Dogma Grill. This two-and-a-half-year-old southern Californian-style stand wraps around the corner of Biscayne Boulevard and 71st Street as comfortably as dog in bun -- the buns here, incidentally, are fluffy-fresh and pot-shot with poppy seeds. You can choose from among seventeen types of wieners, including a pair of New York-style (mustard/sauerkraut or sautéed onions), Chicago-style (peppers, pickles, sauerkraut, and, well, a whole bunch of stuff), and a spicy "burrito dog," which is actually two dogs, each sliced in half lengthwise and tucked in a tortilla with chili, bacon, onions, and melted cheddar -- a hefty snack for $4.75. Other dogs average three dollars apiece, while the "classic," with any-or-all choice of mustard, ketchup, relish, and chopped onion, goes for $2.45. Fat Polish beef sausages and malignant little veggie dogs are also on hand. Dogma has recently spread its frank philosophy to the corner of Washington Avenue and Fifteenth Street in South Beach. This doubling of accessibility is timely, because if you haven't already consumed at least 40 frankfurters this year, it's going to take a lot of Dogma visits to reach your statistical per-capita intake.

BEST RESTAURANT IN SOUTH BEACH

BEST RESTAURANT IN SOUTH BEACH Barton G the Restaurant

1427 West Avenue

Miami Beach

305-672-8881 Barton G. Weiss made his name in catering grand events, and as such he understands that dining out is ultimately about more than great food and service, it's about having a great time -- which is just what people experience when they come to his eponymous South Beach restaurant. The outdoor garden and indoor room are absolutely lovely and arguably the only dining settings around where the cuisine is greeted with audible oohs, aahs, and whoops of delight; also the only place we know of where people pull out cameras to photograph their meals. That's because there's more creativity manifested on Barton G's menu and presentations than at other restaurants in town. Combined. Heck, they exhibit more creativity on their coffee menu alone (including a bean that gets soaked in animal enzymes for extra fullness). Macaroni and cheese is served in a giant mousetrap, with a wedge of cheddar as the "bait." Shrimp gets served in a giant glass vase with dry ice releasing a sweep of smoke across the table. Duck decoys, wooden chickens, miniature lounge chairs -- just about anything goes as garnish here (no need for karaoke nights when the entertainment is built into the food). There is so much fun per plate that it's easy to overlook just how fresh and delicious the contemporary American fare is; it would be among the best even if it didn't have a great sense of humor. Service is strong too, the wine list sophisticated, desserts so over the top they go through the roof -- almost literally in the case of the towering cotton candy treat. Dining at Barton G's is a trip -- and the best one you'll take in South Beach.

Readers´ Choice: China Grill

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®