BEST EARLY-BIRD SPECIAL Crystal Café 726 Arthur Godfrey Road (41st Street)

Miami Beach

305-673-8266 When Sal Dicembrino took over Crystal Café from Klime Kovaceski this past year, he didn't do a whole lot of tinkering with the restaurant's successful formula. In fact the décor, menu, recipes, kitchen crew, and waitstaff have hardly changed a whit. That's good news for Crystal's long-time loyal clientele, who regularly pack the house for generous portions of contemporary Continental cuisine. Sal kept Klime's early-dinner special as well, which allows patrons who dine any night of the week (closed Mondays) between 5:00 and 6:30 p.m. to add a complimentary soup or salad, coffee, and dessert to their main course. So signature osso bucco, book-ended by house salad and warm chocolate bombe, goes for the osso-only price of $26.95. Crystal's incomparably crisp duck à l'orange with a cup of the day's soup and luscious strawberry shortcake becomes a full and filling dinner for $22.95. For the more common early-dinner price of $16.95 you can add the accompanying courses to pasta dishes, roast chicken, or sautéed calf's liver with applesauce, bacon, and grilled onions. But the high-end cuisine, extensive wine list, elegant design, and professional service isn't meant for those birds who chirp "cheap cheap cheap." It's for those who are looking to catch a deal.

BEST EARLY-BIRD SPECIAL Crystal Café 726 Arthur Godfrey Road (41st Street)

Miami Beach

305-673-8266 When Sal Dicembrino took over Crystal Café from Klime Kovaceski this past year, he didn't do a whole lot of tinkering with the restaurant's successful formula. In fact the décor, menu, recipes, kitchen crew, and waitstaff have hardly changed a whit. That's good news for Crystal's long-time loyal clientele, who regularly pack the house for generous portions of contemporary Continental cuisine. Sal kept Klime's early-dinner special as well, which allows patrons who dine any night of the week (closed Mondays) between 5:00 and 6:30 p.m. to add a complimentary soup or salad, coffee, and dessert to their main course. So signature osso bucco, book-ended by house salad and warm chocolate bombe, goes for the osso-only price of $26.95. Crystal's incomparably crisp duck à l'orange with a cup of the day's soup and luscious strawberry shortcake becomes a full and filling dinner for $22.95. For the more common early-dinner price of $16.95 you can add the accompanying courses to pasta dishes, roast chicken, or sautéed calf's liver with applesauce, bacon, and grilled onions. But the high-end cuisine, extensive wine list, elegant design, and professional service isn't meant for those birds who chirp "cheap cheap cheap." It's for those who are looking to catch a deal.

Tasti D-Lite
BEST FROZEN YOGURT Tasti D-Lite Various locations in Miami-Dade County

www.tastidlite.com Calling it a culinary revolution may be a bit much, but for the Beach's waist-conscious, the arrival of the NYC-based Tasti D-Lite chain was earth-moving. Virtually fat-free yet creamier than any other yogurt on the market, it almost seems too, ahem, tasty and delightful to be truly low in calories. Indeed, one vintage episode of Seinfeld even revolved around that very fear, with the action centering on a thinly veiled stand-in for Tasti D-Lite and a pint of the suspect confection being surreptitiously spirited to a lab for fat testing. No doubt cynical locals are contemplating much the same trial for Tasti D-Lite's divine French Vanilla. In the meantime, mmmmm.

BEST FROZEN YOGURT Tasti D-Lite Various locations in Miami-Dade County

www.tastidlite.com Calling it a culinary revolution may be a bit much, but for the Beach's waist-conscious, the arrival of the NYC-based Tasti D-Lite chain was earth-moving. Virtually fat-free yet creamier than any other yogurt on the market, it almost seems too, ahem, tasty and delightful to be truly low in calories. Indeed, one vintage episode of Seinfeld even revolved around that very fear, with the action centering on a thinly veiled stand-in for Tasti D-Lite and a pint of the suspect confection being surreptitiously spirited to a lab for fat testing. No doubt cynical locals are contemplating much the same trial for Tasti D-Lite's divine French Vanilla. In the meantime, mmmmm.

BEST FISH SANDWICH Jumbo's Restaurant 7501 NW Seventh Avenue

Miami

305-751-1127 It's sweet that Jumbo's turned 50 this year, and noteworthy that it was one of the first Miami restaurants to integrate, but excuse us for being more impressed with the golden fried fish sandwich than any golden anniversary celebrations. This 24-hour Liberty City soul food diner fries up bountiful platters of chicken, shrimp, and all sorts of battered delights, and red-state sides like biscuits, gravy, black-eyed peas, and collard greens. All well and fine, but the crackly battered and fried whiting, a delicate, low-fat, white-fleshed relative of cod, is a revelation when plunked into a soft dinner roll -- and it's a complete lunch or dinner when sided with Jumbo's steamy-hot fries or signature homemade coleslaw. The fried fish sandwich is $4.74, and a dollar more for your choice of side. No extra charge for neon lights, yellowed menu signs, or the gloriously distinctive aroma of grease that only a true fry-joint can impart.

BEST FISH SANDWICH Jumbo's Restaurant 7501 NW Seventh Avenue

Miami

305-751-1127 It's sweet that Jumbo's turned 50 this year, and noteworthy that it was one of the first Miami restaurants to integrate, but excuse us for being more impressed with the golden fried fish sandwich than any golden anniversary celebrations. This 24-hour Liberty City soul food diner fries up bountiful platters of chicken, shrimp, and all sorts of battered delights, and red-state sides like biscuits, gravy, black-eyed peas, and collard greens. All well and fine, but the crackly battered and fried whiting, a delicate, low-fat, white-fleshed relative of cod, is a revelation when plunked into a soft dinner roll -- and it's a complete lunch or dinner when sided with Jumbo's steamy-hot fries or signature homemade coleslaw. The fried fish sandwich is $4.74, and a dollar more for your choice of side. No extra charge for neon lights, yellowed menu signs, or the gloriously distinctive aroma of grease that only a true fry-joint can impart.

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT Pacific Time 915 Lincoln Road

Miami Beach

305-534-5979 They are white, they are off-white, they are pink; some may be described as a pearly shade of gray. They come by boat from close by and are flown in from afar. More often than not they appear draped in fashionable Pacific Rim dress. They are always fresh but never ostentatious. They are tender, chewy, briny, and sweet. More specifically they are Pacific blue mussels with Rocky Mountain sake and lime leaves; tempura-crisped, ginger-stuffed whole yellowtail snapper from our local waters; fresh steamed Atlantic halibut with crushed tomatoes, lemon grass, fresh coriander, and sea vegetables; pink shrimp netted in the Keys and abetted on the plate with green curry, green bananas, coconut juice, and jasmine rice. To be even more precise, they are the fish of brilliant chef Jonathan Eismann's Pacific Time (far and away the best restaurant on Lincoln Road), and you won't find as diverse or impressively prepared an assemblage anywhere.

Readers´ Choice: Joe´s Stone Crab

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT Pacific Time 915 Lincoln Road

Miami Beach

305-534-5979 They are white, they are off-white, they are pink; some may be described as a pearly shade of gray. They come by boat from close by and are flown in from afar. More often than not they appear draped in fashionable Pacific Rim dress. They are always fresh but never ostentatious. They are tender, chewy, briny, and sweet. More specifically they are Pacific blue mussels with Rocky Mountain sake and lime leaves; tempura-crisped, ginger-stuffed whole yellowtail snapper from our local waters; fresh steamed Atlantic halibut with crushed tomatoes, lemon grass, fresh coriander, and sea vegetables; pink shrimp netted in the Keys and abetted on the plate with green curry, green bananas, coconut juice, and jasmine rice. To be even more precise, they are the fish of brilliant chef Jonathan Eismann's Pacific Time (far and away the best restaurant on Lincoln Road), and you won't find as diverse or impressively prepared an assemblage anywhere.

Readers´ Choice: Joe´s Stone Crab

BEST DIM SUM Jumbo Chinese Restaurant 1242 NE 163rd Street

North Miami Beach

305-956-5677 Kon Chau and Tropical Chinese Restaurant have dominated the dim sum awards for many a year, and rightly so. Both serve incontestably tasty and authentic dishes for almost minuscule amounts of money. Then again, so does Jumbo, and has done so since the Tang family, from Canton, opened the 95-seat spot in 1989. No trolley trolls the room. You just get a checklist of dim sum delicacies and mark the numbers down as if buying a lotto ticket. Here's a winning combo: steamed pork ribs; leek dumplings; rice pastry ravioli plumped with shrimp (har kow); turnip cakes stuffed with sausage, minced pork, and scallions. For dessert steamed sesame seed bun with lotus paste inside. Hard-core dim summers swear by Jumbo's chicken feet and beef tripe, but everyone gets knocked out by the pork-filled taro balls in crunchy yet airy crust. Nobody, not Tropical or Kon Chau, makes these better. Dim sum can be eaten any time of day, which is about when Jumbo serves it -- 11:00 a.m. (10:00 Sundays) until 9:30 p.m. (closed Wednesdays).

BEST DIM SUM Jumbo Chinese Restaurant 1242 NE 163rd Street

North Miami Beach

305-956-5677 Kon Chau and Tropical Chinese Restaurant have dominated the dim sum awards for many a year, and rightly so. Both serve incontestably tasty and authentic dishes for almost minuscule amounts of money. Then again, so does Jumbo, and has done so since the Tang family, from Canton, opened the 95-seat spot in 1989. No trolley trolls the room. You just get a checklist of dim sum delicacies and mark the numbers down as if buying a lotto ticket. Here's a winning combo: steamed pork ribs; leek dumplings; rice pastry ravioli plumped with shrimp (har kow); turnip cakes stuffed with sausage, minced pork, and scallions. For dessert steamed sesame seed bun with lotus paste inside. Hard-core dim summers swear by Jumbo's chicken feet and beef tripe, but everyone gets knocked out by the pork-filled taro balls in crunchy yet airy crust. Nobody, not Tropical or Kon Chau, makes these better. Dim sum can be eaten any time of day, which is about when Jumbo serves it -- 11:00 a.m. (10:00 Sundays) until 9:30 p.m. (closed Wednesdays).

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®