The thing about croquetas is that every one is different. It's impossible to know exactly what you're biting into. They come in different colors, sizes, and stuffing. Some are crisp and others chewy. Admittedly we bit into some really nasty shit before we found a winner, but Islas Canarias's croquetas takes the prize because they are the plumpest and most delicate of all. They fall apart in your mouth, and they're so good you can't stop at just one. Unlike most, there's no need to worry about heartburn, because they are not overdone in a deep fryer, creating that crisp shell with the raw middle that leads to many a sleepless night. A dab of ketchup creates an interesting, zestful flavor.

BEST CROQUETAS Islas Canarias Restaurant 285 NW 27th Avenue

Miami

305-649-0440

and

13695 SW 26th Street

West Miami-Dade

305-559-6666 The thing about croquetas is that every one is different. It's impossible to know exactly what you're biting into. They come in different colors, sizes, and stuffing. Some are crisp and others chewy. Admittedly we bit into some really nasty shit before we found a winner, but Islas Canarias's croquetas takes the prize because they are the plumpest and most delicate of all. They fall apart in your mouth, and they're so good you can't stop at just one. Unlike most, there's no need to worry about heartburn, because they are not overdone in a deep fryer, creating that crisp shell with the raw middle that leads to many a sleepless night. A dab of ketchup creates an interesting, zestful flavor.

Gelateria 4D
BEST GELATO Gelateria Parmalat 670 Lincoln Road

Miami Beach

305-276-9475

www.gelateriaparmalat.net Once upon a time there was a traffic accident involving a Carvel truck, a Häagen-Dazs truck, and a Vinnie's Italian Ice truck. Moments later an unassuming man, who was fortuitously carrying an empty waffle cone in hand, passed by the messy scene and instinctively scooped up some of the melting debris. It became immediately apparent to him that he had stumbled upon a new taste sensation that was softer and fruitier than regular ice cream. After much experimentation, the ecstatic passerby gained a lot of weight, but more pertinently he came up with a recipe that duplicated the product, and called it "gelato" (which a prankster friend convinced him was Italian for "lucky occurrence"). The concoction became an immediate success, and the now obese billionaire -- um, well, perhaps we're getting off message. What we're trying to say is that we love rich, delicate gelato, especially when we get it at the bright, clean Gelateria Parmalat. You can find the choice of local, tropical fruit (guava, papaya) and traditional Italian flavors (cioccolato, crema, stracciatella, giandula) at other gelaterias, but the fruits here taste fruitier, the nuts nuttier, the creams creamier, all imbued with fresh and natural colors and tastes (the base ingredients of sugar, eggs, and milk come from Parmalat's own dairy). Try a flavor combo of white chocolate/hazelnut. Divine.

BEST GELATO Gelateria Parmalat 670 Lincoln Road

Miami Beach

305-276-9475

www.gelateriaparmalat.net Once upon a time there was a traffic accident involving a Carvel truck, a Häagen-Dazs truck, and a Vinnie's Italian Ice truck. Moments later an unassuming man, who was fortuitously carrying an empty waffle cone in hand, passed by the messy scene and instinctively scooped up some of the melting debris. It became immediately apparent to him that he had stumbled upon a new taste sensation that was softer and fruitier than regular ice cream. After much experimentation, the ecstatic passerby gained a lot of weight, but more pertinently he came up with a recipe that duplicated the product, and called it "gelato" (which a prankster friend convinced him was Italian for "lucky occurrence"). The concoction became an immediate success, and the now obese billionaire -- um, well, perhaps we're getting off message. What we're trying to say is that we love rich, delicate gelato, especially when we get it at the bright, clean Gelateria Parmalat. You can find the choice of local, tropical fruit (guava, papaya) and traditional Italian flavors (cioccolato, crema, stracciatella, giandula) at other gelaterias, but the fruits here taste fruitier, the nuts nuttier, the creams creamier, all imbued with fresh and natural colors and tastes (the base ingredients of sugar, eggs, and milk come from Parmalat's own dairy). Try a flavor combo of white chocolate/hazelnut. Divine.

Barton G. the Restaurant
Max Shapovalov
BEST RESTAURANT FOR KIDS Barton G the Restaurant 1427 West Avenue

Miami Beach

305-672-8881 When it comes to choosing restaurants for kids, many people think of places that are clean, inexpensive, relatively cheery, and, above all, fast. Which means burger chains, pizza parlors, theme eateries like Rainforest Café, and dining venues that provide distractions by way of video games, thumping music, and giant TV screens. In other words, these children are being taught that dining out is a choice between cheap, unhealthy food and mediocre mass-produced chow accompanied by flashing lights and jungle noises. We have a different strategy: Take the young ones to Barton G, which works like a great family film, the sort that kids relate to on one level, the adults on another entirely. You can relish the fresh ingredients and flawless preparations of contemporary American fare, and they can get their kicks via the fantasyland presentations. It's amazing how excited children become when a skewer of fish the size of a pirate sword comes to the table, or when their macaroni and cheese arrives in the guise of a giant mousetrap (and equally fascinating to see how such foods bring out the gleeful child within each adult). Watch eyes widen at a ficus-size nest of cotton candy, or a milkshake replete with blender and add-ins, or cupcakes with a decorating kit of candies and icings. The little people go home happy and at the same time get to experience a sophisticated dining experience -- well, as sophisticated as a place that serves duck in a duck decoy can be.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR KIDS Barton G the Restaurant 1427 West Avenue

Miami Beach

305-672-8881 When it comes to choosing restaurants for kids, many people think of places that are clean, inexpensive, relatively cheery, and, above all, fast. Which means burger chains, pizza parlors, theme eateries like Rainforest Café, and dining venues that provide distractions by way of video games, thumping music, and giant TV screens. In other words, these children are being taught that dining out is a choice between cheap, unhealthy food and mediocre mass-produced chow accompanied by flashing lights and jungle noises. We have a different strategy: Take the young ones to Barton G, which works like a great family film, the sort that kids relate to on one level, the adults on another entirely. You can relish the fresh ingredients and flawless preparations of contemporary American fare, and they can get their kicks via the fantasyland presentations. It's amazing how excited children become when a skewer of fish the size of a pirate sword comes to the table, or when their macaroni and cheese arrives in the guise of a giant mousetrap (and equally fascinating to see how such foods bring out the gleeful child within each adult). Watch eyes widen at a ficus-size nest of cotton candy, or a milkshake replete with blender and add-ins, or cupcakes with a decorating kit of candies and icings. The little people go home happy and at the same time get to experience a sophisticated dining experience -- well, as sophisticated as a place that serves duck in a duck decoy can be.

BEST COLOMBIAN EMPANADAS Mi Colombia 702 71st Street

Miami Beach

305-867-1013 In contrast to the snacky little Argentine and Cuban empanadas one tends to find around town, the Colombian variety is more of a meat-and-potatoes, meal-in-itself phenomenon. Loosely translated, empanada means "breaded thing," and in much of Latin America that something (chicken? beef? pork? cheese?) is stuffed inside a wheat-flour crust. But empanada chefs from the land of Bolivar use cornmeal, the result of which is a crunchier, more robust, and less processed Latin American turnover experience. Some Colombian restaurants in the county sell mass-produced empanadas, but Mi Colombia's cooks create their own, with a beef-and-potatoes recipe. You can grab a stool at the counter, which is really the only place to sit, pull over a big bowl of cilantro-chocked salsa, and dig in from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week. At $1.20 (plus tax) per empanada, the big chalupa in your party may be tempted to order two, but be a wise enchilada and tell him to start with one.

BEST COLOMBIAN EMPANADAS Mi Colombia 702 71st Street

Miami Beach

305-867-1013 In contrast to the snacky little Argentine and Cuban empanadas one tends to find around town, the Colombian variety is more of a meat-and-potatoes, meal-in-itself phenomenon. Loosely translated, empanada means "breaded thing," and in much of Latin America that something (chicken? beef? pork? cheese?) is stuffed inside a wheat-flour crust. But empanada chefs from the land of Bolivar use cornmeal, the result of which is a crunchier, more robust, and less processed Latin American turnover experience. Some Colombian restaurants in the county sell mass-produced empanadas, but Mi Colombia's cooks create their own, with a beef-and-potatoes recipe. You can grab a stool at the counter, which is really the only place to sit, pull over a big bowl of cilantro-chocked salsa, and dig in from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week. At $1.20 (plus tax) per empanada, the big chalupa in your party may be tempted to order two, but be a wise enchilada and tell him to start with one.

BEST OUTDOOR DINING Blue Door Delano Hotel

1685 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-674-6400

www.chinagrillmgt.com Most diners hardly notice that the back wall of the Blue Door's outdoor veranda is covered end to end with a collection of wooden tribal masks. How can you not notice such a thing? Easy. Everyone is busy looking outward at the meticulously appointed and eclectically designed garden with quaint tea tables, swinging hammock, Phillippe Starck life-size chessboard, and beyond that, the cool pool. The scene looks so lush and tranquil as to resemble the village in The Prisoner television show, except the people here have more money and appear to be a lot happier. And that's what makes this place so great: premium people-watching, meaning not just the occasional J.Lo or P. Diddy sighting, but all sorts of movers, shakers, and deep-pocketed tourists. Oh, and the food -- the French-tropical menu, composed by Claude Troisgros and orchestrated by chef Stephane Becht, is brashly innovative and smoothly refined, a perfect pairing for the panorama of hip South Beach grandeur.

BEST OUTDOOR DINING Blue Door Delano Hotel

1685 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-674-6400

www.chinagrillmgt.com Most diners hardly notice that the back wall of the Blue Door's outdoor veranda is covered end to end with a collection of wooden tribal masks. How can you not notice such a thing? Easy. Everyone is busy looking outward at the meticulously appointed and eclectically designed garden with quaint tea tables, swinging hammock, Phillippe Starck life-size chessboard, and beyond that, the cool pool. The scene looks so lush and tranquil as to resemble the village in The Prisoner television show, except the people here have more money and appear to be a lot happier. And that's what makes this place so great: premium people-watching, meaning not just the occasional J.Lo or P. Diddy sighting, but all sorts of movers, shakers, and deep-pocketed tourists. Oh, and the food -- the French-tropical menu, composed by Claude Troisgros and orchestrated by chef Stephane Becht, is brashly innovative and smoothly refined, a perfect pairing for the panorama of hip South Beach grandeur.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®