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.

Pasha's
Leah Gabriel
BEST HEALTHY FAST FOOD Pasha's Various locations in Miami-Dade County

www.pashas.com Fast food has always been about unhealthy choices. Still is for the most part, but nowadays McSalad chains such as Fresh Salads and Baja Fresh Mexican are yielding fresh profits from gullible dieters. Please pardon our skepticism over the notion of iceberg lettuce, white rice, and Snapple being salubrious. We don't kid ourselves into thinking Pasha's Mediterranean menu of fried falafels, meaty kebabs, or white flour-based, boat-shaped individual pizzas called pide will lead us to the road to wellville either, but they taste better than anything you'll get at the larger corporate franchises, and if you're selective, you can indeed dine on healthy hummus, zucchini pancakes, lentil soup, and bulghur salad, all under ten dollars. More to the point, unlike the fare at other fast-food emporiums, you can eat this stuff regularly and not end up looking like Shrek.

Readers´ Choice: Giardino´s Gourmet Salads

BEST HEALTHY FAST FOOD Pasha's Various locations in Miami-Dade County

www.pashas.com Fast food has always been about unhealthy choices. Still is for the most part, but nowadays McSalad chains such as Fresh Salads and Baja Fresh Mexican are yielding fresh profits from gullible dieters. Please pardon our skepticism over the notion of iceberg lettuce, white rice, and Snapple being salubrious. We don't kid ourselves into thinking Pasha's Mediterranean menu of fried falafels, meaty kebabs, or white flour-based, boat-shaped individual pizzas called pide will lead us to the road to wellville either, but they taste better than anything you'll get at the larger corporate franchises, and if you're selective, you can indeed dine on healthy hummus, zucchini pancakes, lentil soup, and bulghur salad, all under ten dollars. More to the point, unlike the fare at other fast-food emporiums, you can eat this stuff regularly and not end up looking like Shrek.

Readers´ Choice: Giardino´s Gourmet Salads

Delicias de España
BEST BAKERY Delicias de España 4016 Red Road

South Miami

305-669-4485 The espresso machine starts steaming up at 7:00 a.m., as sleepy-eyed patrons straggle in for any number of luscious Spanish breakfast pastries. Some head to the bakery counter and take their meal on the run; others settle in at one of 65 seats in the café and slowly savor a dish of eggs scrambled with Serrano ham. As the morning moves on, many more people will partake of the gorgeous desserts that positively glitter in their glass display cases; or take cakes and boxed pastries home; or carry out loaves of ciabatta, baguette, or chewy Galician bread; or perhaps purchase some of the fresh fish flown in from Spain (they cook these fish up too, about as well as anyone but for a lower price). The seats will keep turning over as diners luxuriate over dreamy crema catalanas and flans, charlottes and mousses, and individual fruit-and-custard pastries that would make a French tart blush with envy (generally about $2.50 each). You may have to take a number and wait awhile on the weekends, because the space becomes electrified with the anticipatory energy of overflow crowds. For seven years (which is how long Ernesto Llerandi and Isabel Miranda have owned the shop,) the secret has been spreading until it's hardly news anymore: Delicias is one hell of a great bakery, fish market, restaurant, and café. And that's just the half of it: The other half, accessible from indoors, is an extensively stocked Spanish-import shop with chorizos, cheeses, and more than 200 wines, sherries, and ports. Now, honestly, doesn't all of this make the bakery that you frequent seem sort of inadequate?

BEST BAKERY Delicias de España 4016 Red Road

South Miami

305-669-4485 The espresso machine starts steaming up at 7:00 a.m., as sleepy-eyed patrons straggle in for any number of luscious Spanish breakfast pastries. Some head to the bakery counter and take their meal on the run; others settle in at one of 65 seats in the café and slowly savor a dish of eggs scrambled with Serrano ham. As the morning moves on, many more people will partake of the gorgeous desserts that positively glitter in their glass display cases; or take cakes and boxed pastries home; or carry out loaves of ciabatta, baguette, or chewy Galician bread; or perhaps purchase some of the fresh fish flown in from Spain (they cook these fish up too, about as well as anyone but for a lower price). The seats will keep turning over as diners luxuriate over dreamy crema catalanas and flans, charlottes and mousses, and individual fruit-and-custard pastries that would make a French tart blush with envy (generally about $2.50 each). You may have to take a number and wait awhile on the weekends, because the space becomes electrified with the anticipatory energy of overflow crowds. For seven years (which is how long Ernesto Llerandi and Isabel Miranda have owned the shop,) the secret has been spreading until it's hardly news anymore: Delicias is one hell of a great bakery, fish market, restaurant, and café. And that's just the half of it: The other half, accessible from indoors, is an extensively stocked Spanish-import shop with chorizos, cheeses, and more than 200 wines, sherries, and ports. Now, honestly, doesn't all of this make the bakery that you frequent seem sort of inadequate?

BEST RISING CHEF Jordi Vallés The first wave of boisterous Basque cuisine came ashore a couple of years ago by way of La Broche, which was quickly swept back out to sea before most people even had a chance to dip their toes in. The second wave was Mosaico, with executive chef Jordi Vallés riding atop the cresting foams and making a very big splash in the Brickell area. Born and raised in Barcelona, Vallés is no newcomer to the brash, cutting-edge Spanish cooking that has garnered gastronomic gasps around the globe. He trained with three of Spain's most renowned Michelin-starred chefs, including a tenure as chef poissonnier under Ferran Adrià at El Bulli. After his apprenticeships and experimentations in juxtaposing the tastes and textures of classic and contemporary Spanish cuisine, Vallés spent another five years adding to his repertoire at Ritz-Carlton properties. One taste of his tantalizing, langoustine-laden gazpacho Andaluz or Gulf Stream grouper in sumptuous pork and garbanzo stew and you'll realize just how much experience does count. Even when conjuring up savory sorbets, tropical fruit gels, and other avant-garde whimsies, Vallés's cooking never veers away from diner accessibility. His ascendant talent makes him the cream of the crop (or shall we say foam at the top) among our young local chefs.

BEST RISING CHEF Jordi Vallés The first wave of boisterous Basque cuisine came ashore a couple of years ago by way of La Broche, which was quickly swept back out to sea before most people even had a chance to dip their toes in. The second wave was Mosaico, with executive chef Jordi Vallés riding atop the cresting foams and making a very big splash in the Brickell area. Born and raised in Barcelona, Vallés is no newcomer to the brash, cutting-edge Spanish cooking that has garnered gastronomic gasps around the globe. He trained with three of Spain's most renowned Michelin-starred chefs, including a tenure as chef poissonnier under Ferran Adrià at El Bulli. After his apprenticeships and experimentations in juxtaposing the tastes and textures of classic and contemporary Spanish cuisine, Vallés spent another five years adding to his repertoire at Ritz-Carlton properties. One taste of his tantalizing, langoustine-laden gazpacho Andaluz or Gulf Stream grouper in sumptuous pork and garbanzo stew and you'll realize just how much experience does count. Even when conjuring up savory sorbets, tropical fruit gels, and other avant-garde whimsies, Vallés's cooking never veers away from diner accessibility. His ascendant talent makes him the cream of the crop (or shall we say foam at the top) among our young local chefs.

BEST FRESH SEAFOOD Casablanca Seafood Market 404 NW North River Drive

Miami

305-371-4107 To get the freshest seafood, you've got to go to the source. No, not the local commercial fishing boats, they'll just shoo you away like the pelicans. We mean Casablanca Seafood Market, which is among the first stops for those boats. Once you're inside the store, grab a number, grab a plastic bus tub, and then walk up the line of fresh fish piled shiny upon glistening crushed ice: grouper, snapper, salmon, jumbo shrimp, live lobsters, soft-shell crabs -- all pristine and far less expensive than supermarket prices. Let's say you choose yellowtail snapper (recently at $4.99 a pound). You put the whole fish (gently) into your tub, and at the cash register they weigh, you pay, and one in a long lineup of fishmongers will fillet. Most days this is a quick process, but watch out on weekends -- the place gets mobbed and the wait is decidedly longer. That's all right; you can hang outside with all the others, purchase little plastic containers of conch ceviche or shrimp cocktail, and enjoy the fresh air along the river.

BEST FRESH SEAFOOD Casablanca Seafood Market 404 NW North River Drive

Miami

305-371-4107 To get the freshest seafood, you've got to go to the source. No, not the local commercial fishing boats, they'll just shoo you away like the pelicans. We mean Casablanca Seafood Market, which is among the first stops for those boats. Once you're inside the store, grab a number, grab a plastic bus tub, and then walk up the line of fresh fish piled shiny upon glistening crushed ice: grouper, snapper, salmon, jumbo shrimp, live lobsters, soft-shell crabs -- all pristine and far less expensive than supermarket prices. Let's say you choose yellowtail snapper (recently at $4.99 a pound). You put the whole fish (gently) into your tub, and at the cash register they weigh, you pay, and one in a long lineup of fishmongers will fillet. Most days this is a quick process, but watch out on weekends -- the place gets mobbed and the wait is decidedly longer. That's all right; you can hang outside with all the others, purchase little plastic containers of conch ceviche or shrimp cocktail, and enjoy the fresh air along the river.

BEST SPANISH RESTAURANT Mosaico 1000 S. Miami Avenue

Miami

305-371-3473

www.mosaicorestaurant.com Top ten reasons why Mosaico is better than your favorite Spanish restaurant: (10) Executive chef Jordi Vallés, from Barcelona, trained with three of Spain's Michelin-starred chefs, including a stint at the revolutionary El Bulli. (9) Maine lobster in golden tomato consommé, with avocado sorbet and a sprinkling of olive powder. (8) Lodged in the historic Firehouse Four building, erected in 1923, with arcaded porch and balconies, ornate quoins and cornice. (Does your favorite have ornate quoins and cornice?) (7) More challenging than other Spanish restaurants, more accessible than La Broche. (6) Roasted turbot with sea urchin cream; or seared yellowtail snapper with asparagus, creamy smoked Idiazabal rice, and baby squid imported from Spain. (5) Urban-tropical rooftop terrace. (4) Lamb shoulder braised with strawberry-rhubarb marmalade and dappled with potato foam. (3) Service as sharp as Manchego cheese, and well-priced, well-chosen wines from Spain. (2) Perky desserts such as fresh fruit with tea-mint granité and pineapple sorbet, followed by a complimentary tray of traditional pastries, homemade ice creams, and, um, more foams. (1) Mosaico is better than your favorite Spanish restaurant because we say so -- and aren't we the so-called experts?

Readers´ Choice: Casa Juancho

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®