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.

Churchill's Pub
Alexander Oliva
BEST CURRY AT A PUB Churchill's Pub 5501 NE Second Avenue

Miami

305-757-1807

www.churchillspub.com It may be hard to believe, but one Wednesday evening recently we blindfolded Paris (Hilton) and Nicole (Ritchie), drove them to the other side of the tracks to this often gloomy, always gritty pub in Little Haiti, and they said, "This is definitely hot." That's because Wednesday nights are when chef Natasha Hunte concocts a variety of mind-blowing curries from recipes that pub manager Mike Toms has collected over the years. Toms is a curry freak who started experimenting with the stuff years ago near his native Yorkshire, England, while slumming in Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi restaurants in Bradford. His offering to Little Haiti slummers is a buffet table of "mucky curries" -- beef, lamb, chicken, and vegetable varieties (plus jasmine rice). Cost: five dollars per plate or ten dollars for all you can eat. Paris did not stay long after nibbling, because her eponymous new fragrance was being overtaken by the aroma Churchill's puts out. It's called beer.

BEST CURRY AT A PUB Churchill's Pub 5501 NE Second Avenue

Miami

305-757-1807

www.churchillspub.com It may be hard to believe, but one Wednesday evening recently we blindfolded Paris (Hilton) and Nicole (Ritchie), drove them to the other side of the tracks to this often gloomy, always gritty pub in Little Haiti, and they said, "This is definitely hot." That's because Wednesday nights are when chef Natasha Hunte concocts a variety of mind-blowing curries from recipes that pub manager Mike Toms has collected over the years. Toms is a curry freak who started experimenting with the stuff years ago near his native Yorkshire, England, while slumming in Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi restaurants in Bradford. His offering to Little Haiti slummers is a buffet table of "mucky curries" -- beef, lamb, chicken, and vegetable varieties (plus jasmine rice). Cost: five dollars per plate or ten dollars for all you can eat. Paris did not stay long after nibbling, because her eponymous new fragrance was being overtaken by the aroma Churchill's puts out. It's called beer.

El Toro Taco
BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT El Toro Taco 1 S. Krome Avenue

Homestead

305-245-8182 People head toward South Miami-Dade County for all sorts of reasons -- some for a short visit on their way to the Keys, some to enjoy a day at Biscayne National Park or the produce-rich farm country, some to spend time in a detention center. We take the drive for the glory of authentic Mexican cooking, which is accessible in various restaurants and take-out joints that cluster along, or a short distance from, Krome Avenue. Our favorite is El Toro Taco, where the tortilla chips are crisp, the salsa hot, the beer cold -- or as cold as you can store it in your cooler, because it's a BYOB policy here. The jammed-to-capacity crowds who congregate on weekends gladly tote their own Coronas and gleefully partake of warm corn tortillas filled with grilled steak, cilantro, and onions (tacos de bistec). Or sumptuous chicken leg and thigh smothered in smooth mole sauce with sharp whispers of sleek, bittersweet chocolate (mole de pollo). Or burritos that burst with shredded chicken or beef (or bulging barbacoa beef tamales or flame-seared fajitas). Over the decades, the Hernandez family has turned its humble establishment into a Homestead institution the old-fashioned way -- by making everything, refried beans to the tastiest of tortillas, from scratch. Be forewarned: You might be subjected to a mariachi serenade.

Readers´ Choice: El Rancho Grande Restaurant

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Best Of Miami®