BEST RESTAURANT FOR INTIMATE CONVERSATION

BEST RESTAURANT FOR INTIMATE CONVERSATION Mark's South Beach Nash Hotel

1120 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-604-9050

www.chefmark.com You two lovebirds want a cozy nest for cooing to each other? Fly down to the Nash Hotel, site of Mark's South Beach. Choose your venue: a stylish indoor dining room with mahogany walls and upholstered booths (elegant but not stuffy or dull) or, beyond French doors, a romantic 30-seat terrace by the pools. Music plays at a reasonable level, the lights are appropriately dim, the waitstaff attentive yet discreet. Perfect. So is the wine list, an array of mid- to high-end California bottles to pair with every fragrant flavor combination on the menu -- and the contemporary American menu at this five-year-old restaurant brims with bold taste sensations. Legendary local chef Mark Militello is a master at juggling diverse and innovative ingredients without ever losing balance, and executive chef Larry LaValley, from New York's Daniel, Union Pacific, and Bouley's Bakery, orchestrates Militello's compositions in enrapturing fashion. Share bites of your duck confit with champagne mango glaze, or black grouper and artichoke hash in sweet herb broth. Sensational food is sensual food, and sensual food encourages intimacy. But talk gets you only so far. After that it's time to leave the words behind and let passion render you both speechless -- pastry chef Juan Villaparedes's Gianduja chocolate terrine and double chocolate sorbet will do just that.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR INTIMATE CONVERSATION

BEST RESTAURANT FOR INTIMATE CONVERSATION Mark's South Beach Nash Hotel

1120 Collins Avenue

Miami Beach

305-604-9050

www.chefmark.com You two lovebirds want a cozy nest for cooing to each other? Fly down to the Nash Hotel, site of Mark's South Beach. Choose your venue: a stylish indoor dining room with mahogany walls and upholstered booths (elegant but not stuffy or dull) or, beyond French doors, a romantic 30-seat terrace by the pools. Music plays at a reasonable level, the lights are appropriately dim, the waitstaff attentive yet discreet. Perfect. So is the wine list, an array of mid- to high-end California bottles to pair with every fragrant flavor combination on the menu -- and the contemporary American menu at this five-year-old restaurant brims with bold taste sensations. Legendary local chef Mark Militello is a master at juggling diverse and innovative ingredients without ever losing balance, and executive chef Larry LaValley, from New York's Daniel, Union Pacific, and Bouley's Bakery, orchestrates Militello's compositions in enrapturing fashion. Share bites of your duck confit with champagne mango glaze, or black grouper and artichoke hash in sweet herb broth. Sensational food is sensual food, and sensual food encourages intimacy. But talk gets you only so far. After that it's time to leave the words behind and let passion render you both speechless -- pastry chef Juan Villaparedes's Gianduja chocolate terrine and double chocolate sorbet will do just that.

Don't let the silly name stop you from sampling this damn good chocolate. Some of you are happy with just a Hershey bar, but true addicts who know good chocolate from the dregs are willing to drive for their fix. Whether you like the creamy white, the bitter dark, or the smooth milk chocolate, you will find a drool-inducing display of confections (either plain or with nuts, caramel, pretzels, potato chips, or fruit) made right in the store. Fancy gift baskets are also available, and they'll take the time to make exactly what you want, and deliver or ship your goodies anywhere.

Don't let the silly name stop you from sampling this damn good chocolate. Some of you are happy with just a Hershey bar, but true addicts who know good chocolate from the dregs are willing to drive for their fix. Whether you like the creamy white, the bitter dark, or the smooth milk chocolate, you will find a drool-inducing display of confections (either plain or with nuts, caramel, pretzels, potato chips, or fruit) made right in the store. Fancy gift baskets are also available, and they'll take the time to make exactly what you want, and deliver or ship your goodies anywhere.

BEST NONVEGETARIAN RESTAURANT FOR VEGETARIANS

BEST NONVEGETARIAN RESTAURANT FOR VEGETARIANS Guru Restaurant and Wine Bar 232 Twelfth Street

Miami Beach

305-534-3996 Guru, like most Indian restaurants, offers a generous selection of vegetarian dishes. True, Guru isn't like most Indian restaurants. Proprietor Adish Jain offers an "international" menu that includes items such as Indonesian lemon fish, Argentine churrasco steak, and an American cheeseburger to go along with the kormas, masalas, and biryanis. But things work out exceptionally well for meatless diners just the same. The good veggie vibes begin via complimentary bhajia (vegetable fritter) with bowls of mint and tamarind dipping sauces and nan flatbread strips with cucumber raita. A few specially worthwhile selections from the quirky menu: dal makhani, a multidimensional lentil dish with unexpected textural variety; palak paneer, a spinach and tofu-cheese purée zinged with fresh ginger; and vegetarian dumplings in a mildly spiced yogurt-based sauce (kofta curry), the vegetable-flecked spheres so airy and tender you might find yourself looking at meatballs with suspicion from here on in. Sunday brunch is equally friendly to noncarnivores and a gift at twelve dollars.

BEST NONVEGETARIAN RESTAURANT FOR VEGETARIANS

BEST NONVEGETARIAN RESTAURANT FOR VEGETARIANS Guru Restaurant and Wine Bar 232 Twelfth Street

Miami Beach

305-534-3996 Guru, like most Indian restaurants, offers a generous selection of vegetarian dishes. True, Guru isn't like most Indian restaurants. Proprietor Adish Jain offers an "international" menu that includes items such as Indonesian lemon fish, Argentine churrasco steak, and an American cheeseburger to go along with the kormas, masalas, and biryanis. But things work out exceptionally well for meatless diners just the same. The good veggie vibes begin via complimentary bhajia (vegetable fritter) with bowls of mint and tamarind dipping sauces and nan flatbread strips with cucumber raita. A few specially worthwhile selections from the quirky menu: dal makhani, a multidimensional lentil dish with unexpected textural variety; palak paneer, a spinach and tofu-cheese purée zinged with fresh ginger; and vegetarian dumplings in a mildly spiced yogurt-based sauce (kofta curry), the vegetable-flecked spheres so airy and tender you might find yourself looking at meatballs with suspicion from here on in. Sunday brunch is equally friendly to noncarnivores and a gift at twelve dollars.

Captain's Tavern
BEST CONCH FRITTER Captain's Tavern 9621 S. Dixie Highway

Pinecrest

305-666-5979 People can respectfully disagree about what the best thing is about Captain's Tavern. There are those who insist that the experience of Bill (the captain) and Audrey Bowers, who've helmed ship for more than 30 years, is what makes this beloved family fish house sail smoothly. (The paneled walls, padded captain's chairs, and faux-nautical kitsch would probably not top most folks' lists, but it is sort of neat in an anti-South Beach way.) Enophiles tend to focus on the wine selection of more than 600 labels, while those who just like to drink good wine at an affordable price point out the absurdly low markup on bottles. The long-time bartender and professional old-school waitstaff would certainly win votes as the Tavern's top draw, as would the serious selection of fresh, fabulous-but-not-frilly seafood that splashes across a five-page menu: fried shrimp, Portuguese fish stew, oysters in rosemary-perfumed cream sauce, yellowtail grilled Jamaican-style -- all fantastic, really, so as we've said, we can disagree with all the unfortunate, ill-informed, and misguided patrons who don't know that the very best thing about Captain's Tavern is the conch fritter -- or fritters, because you get six glorious globes for $8.95. The secret to the Captain's rendition is properly tenderizing the conch before chopping and mixing it with flour, eggs, green onions, celery, red peppers, and a savory thyme-tinged blend of spices. Top your sandwich off with the hottest thing about Captain's Tavern: Audrey's homemade Scotch bonnet pepper sauce. If you dare.

BEST CONCH FRITTER Captain's Tavern 9621 S. Dixie Highway

Pinecrest

305-666-5979 People can respectfully disagree about what the best thing is about Captain's Tavern. There are those who insist that the experience of Bill (the captain) and Audrey Bowers, who've helmed ship for more than 30 years, is what makes this beloved family fish house sail smoothly. (The paneled walls, padded captain's chairs, and faux-nautical kitsch would probably not top most folks' lists, but it is sort of neat in an anti-South Beach way.) Enophiles tend to focus on the wine selection of more than 600 labels, while those who just like to drink good wine at an affordable price point out the absurdly low markup on bottles. The long-time bartender and professional old-school waitstaff would certainly win votes as the Tavern's top draw, as would the serious selection of fresh, fabulous-but-not-frilly seafood that splashes across a five-page menu: fried shrimp, Portuguese fish stew, oysters in rosemary-perfumed cream sauce, yellowtail grilled Jamaican-style -- all fantastic, really, so as we've said, we can disagree with all the unfortunate, ill-informed, and misguided patrons who don't know that the very best thing about Captain's Tavern is the conch fritter -- or fritters, because you get six glorious globes for $8.95. The secret to the Captain's rendition is properly tenderizing the conch before chopping and mixing it with flour, eggs, green onions, celery, red peppers, and a savory thyme-tinged blend of spices. Top your sandwich off with the hottest thing about Captain's Tavern: Audrey's homemade Scotch bonnet pepper sauce. If you dare.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR GLUTTONS Texas de Brazil Churrascaria Dolphin Mall

11401 NW Twelfth Street

West Miami-Dade

305-599-7729

www.texasdebrazil.com Everything about this churrascaria is grand in size. Cylindrical walls the color of bloody red meat rise to such lofty heights that an elevator brings patrons up and down. The 450 seats surround a salad bar in the room's center, with a gargantuan floral spray that nearly stretches to the second level. And there is such an insane amount of comestibles on display that even the most gluttonous of gluttons must occasionally flip the green marker (bring 'em on!) to red (hold your horses!). The marker move stops roaming gauchos, who carry long skewers of fourteen types of meat, from swarming your table and cutting slabs from their carnivorous load and piling them upon your plate as if it were still the Fifties. For a set fee of $39.99, diners get to indulge in all the mesquite-smoked picanha (top of the top sirloin), pork loin, leg and rack of lamb, filet mignon, flank steak, beef and pork ribs, sausages, and chicken they want, along with garlic mashed potatoes, sweet fried plantains, a 40-item salad bar with a number of surprisingly upscale ingredients (and also soup, rice, beans, and other hot foods), and warm boules of rich Brazilian cheese bread. Huge wine list, too, and lavishly portioned desserts that are supplemental to the dinner menu. If, after partaking of all the above meats and sides, you decide to go for a bananas Foster pie or caramel cheesecake, we applaud your resolve. We also think it might be personally beneficial if you stand up in the middle of the room and proclaim, "My name is (say your full name), and I am a glutton." Acknowledgment is paramount for starting on the road to recovery.

BEST RESTAURANT FOR GLUTTONS Texas de Brazil Churrascaria Dolphin Mall

11401 NW Twelfth Street

West Miami-Dade

305-599-7729

www.texasdebrazil.com Everything about this churrascaria is grand in size. Cylindrical walls the color of bloody red meat rise to such lofty heights that an elevator brings patrons up and down. The 450 seats surround a salad bar in the room's center, with a gargantuan floral spray that nearly stretches to the second level. And there is such an insane amount of comestibles on display that even the most gluttonous of gluttons must occasionally flip the green marker (bring 'em on!) to red (hold your horses!). The marker move stops roaming gauchos, who carry long skewers of fourteen types of meat, from swarming your table and cutting slabs from their carnivorous load and piling them upon your plate as if it were still the Fifties. For a set fee of $39.99, diners get to indulge in all the mesquite-smoked picanha (top of the top sirloin), pork loin, leg and rack of lamb, filet mignon, flank steak, beef and pork ribs, sausages, and chicken they want, along with garlic mashed potatoes, sweet fried plantains, a 40-item salad bar with a number of surprisingly upscale ingredients (and also soup, rice, beans, and other hot foods), and warm boules of rich Brazilian cheese bread. Huge wine list, too, and lavishly portioned desserts that are supplemental to the dinner menu. If, after partaking of all the above meats and sides, you decide to go for a bananas Foster pie or caramel cheesecake, we applaud your resolve. We also think it might be personally beneficial if you stand up in the middle of the room and proclaim, "My name is (say your full name), and I am a glutton." Acknowledgment is paramount for starting on the road to recovery.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®