BEST CHEF Norman Van Aken With this new item comes a new rule that applies to it alone: no repeats. Therefore, this being something of an informal Hall of Fame, who could we possibly choose as initial inductee other than Mr. Van Aken? If he weren't the best chef, we'd feel pretty silly for having crowned his fine-dining emporium with a record ten consecutive Best Restaurant in Coral Gables awards. And who are we to second-guess the James Beard Foundation, The New York Times, and all the others who have cited Van Aken as Miami's master modern mango man? Other great veteran chefs from the area -- Mark Militello, Allen Susser, Jonathan Eismann, Douglas Rodriguez, Robbin Haas -- can lay claim to having made important contributions to what we place under the umbrella of New Florida cuisine, but Van Aken's New World cooking most clearly represents the movement's apex. This thinking-chef's chef and multiple cookbook author has spread himself thin of late with new Norman's branches in Orlando and Los Angeles (and the late, lamented Mundo), but a meal at his flagship establishment still braces with brassy, intelligent elixirs of indigenous ingredients and global concepts. Congratulations, Norman, and we wish you many more a success to come.

"Hi! Have you been to Cold Stone before?" the chirpy server asks. If not, gear up for a delicious, frosty experience. You can go for the menu choices, predetermined confections of ice cream and candy with names like birthday cake remix, breathless Boston cream pie, mud pie mojo, cheesecake fantasy, and chocolate devotion, or you can forge your own yummy path. Besides the usual Neapolitan trinity, the Creamery boasts a fabulous variety of flavors: white chocolate, sweet cream, and cake batter for starters. Your server plops a hearty scoop of your chosen flavor down on the slab. Then the mix-ins. Candied treats like Heath, Butterfinger, Snickers, M&M's, apple pie filling, graham crackers, honey, marshmallows, cookie dough, yellow cake, caramel, pecan pralines, or multicolored sprinkles are among those available to adorn your iced treat. Served in a waffle cone or bowl, your made-to-order dessert tastes like candy-coated angels dancing on your tongue. With shops scheduled to open soon in Coral Gables and North Miami, it seems that there'll be a Cold Stone Creamery ready to soothe the summertime heat just about anywhere you go in the city.

Readers´ Choice: Cold Stone Creamery

"Hi! Have you been to Cold Stone before?" the chirpy server asks. If not, gear up for a delicious, frosty experience. You can go for the menu choices, predetermined confections of ice cream and candy with names like birthday cake remix, breathless Boston cream pie, mud pie mojo, cheesecake fantasy, and chocolate devotion, or you can forge your own yummy path. Besides the usual Neapolitan trinity, the Creamery boasts a fabulous variety of flavors: white chocolate, sweet cream, and cake batter for starters. Your server plops a hearty scoop of your chosen flavor down on the slab. Then the mix-ins. Candied treats like Heath, Butterfinger, Snickers, M&M's, apple pie filling, graham crackers, honey, marshmallows, cookie dough, yellow cake, caramel, pecan pralines, or multicolored sprinkles are among those available to adorn your iced treat. Served in a waffle cone or bowl, your made-to-order dessert tastes like candy-coated angels dancing on your tongue. With shops scheduled to open soon in Coral Gables and North Miami, it seems that there'll be a Cold Stone Creamery ready to soothe the summertime heat just about anywhere you go in the city.

Readers´ Choice: Cold Stone Creamery

"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? -- how did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea," British clergyman, writer, and wit Sydney Smith gushed about the leafy brew. And he was certainly right. Nothing warms the belly and soothes the soul quite like a cup of tea. In a nation of coffee drinkers, it seems like there's a Starbucks on every other block. Finding a lovely tea shop among the coffee klatch feels like a prize won. Théine is such a prize: a bright, welcoming nook that offers an astonishing variety of teas and tisanes. Sip hot cups of Indian Darjeeling, Japanese green, Chinese oolong, or South African rooibos. Or try a blend -- Mexican chai, vanilla cream, or Irish breakfast tea -- with a plate of the delectable nibbles the proprietress, Kyra White, whips up in the kitchen. Freshly baked muffins, madeleines, sticky date cups, biscotti, and oh -- the scones. Relish them with clotted cream and jam and stick out your pinky finger proudly to represent tea drinkers everywhere.

"Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? -- how did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea," British clergyman, writer, and wit Sydney Smith gushed about the leafy brew. And he was certainly right. Nothing warms the belly and soothes the soul quite like a cup of tea. In a nation of coffee drinkers, it seems like there's a Starbucks on every other block. Finding a lovely tea shop among the coffee klatch feels like a prize won. Théine is such a prize: a bright, welcoming nook that offers an astonishing variety of teas and tisanes. Sip hot cups of Indian Darjeeling, Japanese green, Chinese oolong, or South African rooibos. Or try a blend -- Mexican chai, vanilla cream, or Irish breakfast tea -- with a plate of the delectable nibbles the proprietress, Kyra White, whips up in the kitchen. Freshly baked muffins, madeleines, sticky date cups, biscotti, and oh -- the scones. Relish them with clotted cream and jam and stick out your pinky finger proudly to represent tea drinkers everywhere.

BEST RESTAURANT TO DIE IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS

BEST RESTAURANT TO DIE IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS One Ninety Restaurants are like soldiers -- we often mourn their passing but are rarely surprised to hear about it. Soldiers, though, have a far better survival rate than restaurants. But One Ninety wasn't just another faceless statistic in the loss column. This bohemian bistro at NE Second Avenue and 46th Street could be deemed heroic in its bid to be a true community gathering ground, with local artists on the walls, local music on the stage, and fresh, tasty, affordable American fare on the plates. Sunday brunch here was the bomb. Alas, owners Alan and Donna Lee Hughes were unable to negotiate a reasonable rent increase with their evildoer landlord, and the neighborhood lost a gem. Some glass-half-full types might proclaim that One Ninety isn't a total goner -- chef Hughes will soldier on and we hope will get life support from South Beach when he brings a new One Ninety to the Albion Hotel. For residents of Miami, though, the old One Ninety will be sorely missed. In these parts, such places are harder to find than weapons of mass destruction.

BEST RESTAURANT TO DIE IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS

BEST RESTAURANT TO DIE IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS One Ninety Restaurants are like soldiers -- we often mourn their passing but are rarely surprised to hear about it. Soldiers, though, have a far better survival rate than restaurants. But One Ninety wasn't just another faceless statistic in the loss column. This bohemian bistro at NE Second Avenue and 46th Street could be deemed heroic in its bid to be a true community gathering ground, with local artists on the walls, local music on the stage, and fresh, tasty, affordable American fare on the plates. Sunday brunch here was the bomb. Alas, owners Alan and Donna Lee Hughes were unable to negotiate a reasonable rent increase with their evildoer landlord, and the neighborhood lost a gem. Some glass-half-full types might proclaim that One Ninety isn't a total goner -- chef Hughes will soldier on and we hope will get life support from South Beach when he brings a new One Ninety to the Albion Hotel. For residents of Miami, though, the old One Ninety will be sorely missed. In these parts, such places are harder to find than weapons of mass destruction.

Everything you could want from a Mexican market -- dried and fresh peppers by the handful, salsa picante, cheap fresh produce, even mortar and pestle sets -- is for sale here. If you're English-only, bring a Spanish phrasebook in case you plan on any complicated transactions. Bring your appetite as well: Contemplating the salsa that could be produced by any combination of the market's produce (a little lime, some cilantro, a few jalapeños, and a tomato or two) or the simple feast resulting from combining some chicken with one of Azteca de Oro's moles is mouthwatering.

Everything you could want from a Mexican market -- dried and fresh peppers by the handful, salsa picante, cheap fresh produce, even mortar and pestle sets -- is for sale here. If you're English-only, bring a Spanish phrasebook in case you plan on any complicated transactions. Bring your appetite as well: Contemplating the salsa that could be produced by any combination of the market's produce (a little lime, some cilantro, a few jalapeños, and a tomato or two) or the simple feast resulting from combining some chicken with one of Azteca de Oro's moles is mouthwatering.

Carmen the Restaurant
BEST PUERTO RICAN RESTAURANT Carmen the Restaurant The David William Hotel

700 Biltmore Way

Coral Gables

305-913-1944 Miami's better ethnic dining establishments present solid renditions of fan favorites, whether egg rolls, thin-crust pizza, Middle Eastern combos, or arroz con pollo. Rarely, however, do these places think outside the box. Carmen Gonzalez takes her native Puerto Rican cuisine out of its box, disassembles it, adds New American and Nuevo Latino ideas, puts everything back together, and then gives it a shake. Boom! Out comes an original menu of fresh, brash, expertly prepared food peppered with Puerto Rican ingredients and pride. Lobster/avocado terrine teams with crisp plantain fritters; adobo-rubbed pork plumps up mini-designer sandwiches; and whole grilled pompano marries a modernized mojito. Mofongo looks like the old mofongo's better-looking kid sister. Chocolate soufflé -- well, not very island-oriented, but it's a dandy nonetheless. The real link between chef Gonzalez's cooking and that found in a typical Puerto Rican household is this: Everything at Carmen's is made from scratch, even the ketchup and pickles. It's safe to say you won't find finer cuisine, better service, a more elegant dining room, or a savvier wine list at any Puerto Rican restaurant this side of San Juan.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®