BEST RESTAURANT FOR SOUTH MIAMI-DADE CHATTER

Capri Restaurant

BEST RESTAURANT FOR SOUTH MIAMI-DADE CHATTER Capri Restaurant 935 N. Krome Avenue

Florida City

305-247-1542

www.the-capri.com Capri, opened by Richard Accursio and family in 1958, offers good, solid Italian-American fare, including various pastas, steak and prime rib, and a number of seafood dishes. Now run by son James, it's also a great listening post for the current affairs and intrigues of life in Florida City and Homestead. Crowds from the racetrack sit elbow to elbow with the farmers, bankers, real estate agents, and politicians who make up the regular clientele. For instance, the current mayor of Florida City, Otis Wallace, worked at Capri as a dishwasher when he was a boy, and he can still be found there hobnobbing with the locals. Lunch 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; dinner 4:00 p.m. till closing. Closed Sundays.

BEST U-PICK Grandma's Garden 18001 Krome Avenue

South Miami-Dade

305-232-2823 Forty minutes southwest of Miami is the Redland, where secrets of the Tequesta and their Paleolithic forebears lie below massive layers of ancient oolitic rock, which itself is covered in red clay (thus the name). The diverse agricultural district was developed in anticipation of Henry Flagler's railroad, which never came, but that didn't stop the lush vegetation from continuing to sprout upward. Play farmer for a day at Grandma's Garden, a verdant 80-acre farm formerly associated with Norman Brothers but operated by Linda Whitley since 2000. Fill your baskets, depending on the season, with strawberries, tomatoes, peppers (including jalapeños), eggplants, collards, cabbage, corn, and other produce whose equivalents in Publix are but pallid impersonators. U-pick and U-pay but a pittance: Most vegetables run sixty cents to a dollar a pound, explosively juicy strawberries are two-fifty. Afterward head to the stand in front and knock back a milkshake made from those berries, or from pineapple, mango, papaya, mamey, and other exotic fruits grown in the neighborhood. Hours vary year round.

BEST U-PICK Grandma's Garden 18001 Krome Avenue

South Miami-Dade

305-232-2823 Forty minutes southwest of Miami is the Redland, where secrets of the Tequesta and their Paleolithic forebears lie below massive layers of ancient oolitic rock, which itself is covered in red clay (thus the name). The diverse agricultural district was developed in anticipation of Henry Flagler's railroad, which never came, but that didn't stop the lush vegetation from continuing to sprout upward. Play farmer for a day at Grandma's Garden, a verdant 80-acre farm formerly associated with Norman Brothers but operated by Linda Whitley since 2000. Fill your baskets, depending on the season, with strawberries, tomatoes, peppers (including jalapeños), eggplants, collards, cabbage, corn, and other produce whose equivalents in Publix are but pallid impersonators. U-pick and U-pay but a pittance: Most vegetables run sixty cents to a dollar a pound, explosively juicy strawberries are two-fifty. Afterward head to the stand in front and knock back a milkshake made from those berries, or from pineapple, mango, papaya, mamey, and other exotic fruits grown in the neighborhood. Hours vary year round.

BEST BAGELS Mo's Bagel & Delicatessen 2772 NE 187th Street

Aventura

305-936-8555 If you're looking for authentic hand-rolled bagels New Yorkers are always raving about -- we're talking real bagels and not those dense, giant softball-like beasts other places sell -- then Mo's is the place to be. They've got fourteen golden-crusted and chewy varieties, with a nice mix of the salty and the sweet to serve up with your favorite smears. Mo's Bagels is open Monday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

BEST BAGELS Mo's Bagel & Delicatessen 2772 NE 187th Street

Aventura

305-936-8555 If you're looking for authentic hand-rolled bagels New Yorkers are always raving about -- we're talking real bagels and not those dense, giant softball-like beasts other places sell -- then Mo's is the place to be. They've got fourteen golden-crusted and chewy varieties, with a nice mix of the salty and the sweet to serve up with your favorite smears. Mo's Bagels is open Monday 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Captain's Tavern
BEST WINE SELECTION IN A RESTAURANT The Captain's Tavern 9621 S. Dixie Highway

Pinecrest

305-666-5979 For very old and very expensive Bordeaux, you can go to The Forge. For big names from Old World and New, visit Norman's or Mark's South Beach. For an eclectic and sophisticated inventory arranged by taste, try North One 10. In fact at any of South Florida's top restaurants you can expect to find a first-rate wine list, often with interesting geographic concentrations -- California, Europe, South America. But this year as last we must bestow our award on Bill "the Captain" Bowers, owner of Captain's Tavern. This 33-year-old fish shack is not the sort of place you'd expect to encounter a list offering more than 500 wines, much less at prices guaranteed to be lower than any other restaurant in the area. Simply put, Bowers loves wine, a passion he wants to share with his customers. Unlike nearly every other restaurant on the planet, the sale of wine at Captain's Tavern is not expected to be a principal revenue source. Historically Bowers has never charged more than twice wholesale price for any bottle, and the more expensive the wine, the less the markup. Plus he regularly features specials that are sometimes priced at or below his cost. Couple that with the freshest seafood in town and you have a winner. Again.

Readers´ Choice: The Forge

BEST WINE SELECTION IN A RESTAURANT The Captain's Tavern 9621 S. Dixie Highway

Pinecrest

305-666-5979 For very old and very expensive Bordeaux, you can go to The Forge. For big names from Old World and New, visit Norman's or Mark's South Beach. For an eclectic and sophisticated inventory arranged by taste, try North One 10. In fact at any of South Florida's top restaurants you can expect to find a first-rate wine list, often with interesting geographic concentrations -- California, Europe, South America. But this year as last we must bestow our award on Bill "the Captain" Bowers, owner of Captain's Tavern. This 33-year-old fish shack is not the sort of place you'd expect to encounter a list offering more than 500 wines, much less at prices guaranteed to be lower than any other restaurant in the area. Simply put, Bowers loves wine, a passion he wants to share with his customers. Unlike nearly every other restaurant on the planet, the sale of wine at Captain's Tavern is not expected to be a principal revenue source. Historically Bowers has never charged more than twice wholesale price for any bottle, and the more expensive the wine, the less the markup. Plus he regularly features specials that are sometimes priced at or below his cost. Couple that with the freshest seafood in town and you have a winner. Again.

Readers´ Choice: The Forge

House of India
BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT House of India 22 Merrick Way

Coral Gables

305-444-2348 The décor may need updating and the place may be a bit too dark, but the air is redolent of fragrant spices, and the overall ambiance is pleasant. At lunchtime the first thing that catches your eye is the buffet table. Grab a warm plate and start off with a desi salad, exploding with red onions and chili and tart with lemon juice. Add a delicious chicken or paneer (cheese) pakora, and spoon yourself some tamarind, mint, or tomato onion chutney for dipping. Save room for the heavy stuff. Vindaloo, curry, korma, tikka masala, rogan josh, tandoori -- so many of the varied cooking styles of India are represented here. The beautiful thing about a lunch buffet is that curious and exotic food skeptics can try small pieces of the things they haven't had before. A small spoon of curried eggplant, a piece of vindaloo lamb, a scoop of dal gosht, and some warm, fresh nan bread make for a plate worth tackling. As soon as the tandoori chicken runs out, an employee heads off to refresh the supply. Vegetarians rejoice! House of India offers a lengthy list of dishes that feature vegetables, ranging from cauliflower and okra to black lentils and chickpeas.

Readers´ Choice: Raja´s Indian Cuisine

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT House of India 22 Merrick Way

Coral Gables

305-444-2348 The décor may need updating and the place may be a bit too dark, but the air is redolent of fragrant spices, and the overall ambiance is pleasant. At lunchtime the first thing that catches your eye is the buffet table. Grab a warm plate and start off with a desi salad, exploding with red onions and chili and tart with lemon juice. Add a delicious chicken or paneer (cheese) pakora, and spoon yourself some tamarind, mint, or tomato onion chutney for dipping. Save room for the heavy stuff. Vindaloo, curry, korma, tikka masala, rogan josh, tandoori -- so many of the varied cooking styles of India are represented here. The beautiful thing about a lunch buffet is that curious and exotic food skeptics can try small pieces of the things they haven't had before. A small spoon of curried eggplant, a piece of vindaloo lamb, a scoop of dal gosht, and some warm, fresh nan bread make for a plate worth tackling. As soon as the tandoori chicken runs out, an employee heads off to refresh the supply. Vegetarians rejoice! House of India offers a lengthy list of dishes that feature vegetables, ranging from cauliflower and okra to black lentils and chickpeas.

Readers´ Choice: Raja´s Indian Cuisine

BEST SMOKED FISH Captain Jim's Seafood 12950 W. Dixie Highway

North Miami

305-892-2812 Captain Jim's will leave your stomach and your wallet full. And what Jim's lacks in location (a homely strip of shops in North Miami) and décor (fish nets, rudders, shells, and other nautical accessories) it makes up for with the menu. Manager Ryan Harper says that he couldn't very well give away the secret recipe to their amazing smoked fish, or any of their award-winning seafood recipes for that matter, but he did offer a tease: "We put about 27 herbs and spices into a brine -- brown sugar, honey, A-1, parsley, to name a few -- and then slow-smoke the fish for eight to twelve hours." Grab a filet -- whatever the special of the day happens to be -- to take home from their fish market (the place used to be only a seafood wholesaler), or take a seat in the restaurant and put your package of plastic utensils to good use.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®