Le Bouchon du Grove
BEST RESTAURANT IN COCONUT GROVE Le Bouchon du Grove 3430 Main Highway

Coconut Grove

305-448-6060 This relaxed bistro has been around since only 1994 but nevertheless stands as one of the last vestiges-in-spirit to the bohemian Grove of the Seventies. The Parisian street-corner ambiance, with open floor-to-ceiling French doors, encourages patrons to casually sip glasses of Beaujolais or Burgundy at the bar and stare at soccer matches on TV screens, or sit at tables with bottles of red or white and gaze at the goldenrod walls covered with Pastis posters, license plates, soccer jerseys, flags, and all manner of Gallic wall garnish. Managers, owners, and personable chef/partner Georges Eric Farge mingle freely with the diners, while waiters lean on chairs and recite daily specials, some speaking in a hybrid French-English dialect that is nearly indecipherable -- sort of what a very stoned Grove café waiter 30 years ago must have sounded like. The cuisine dates back further than that, the menu reflecting traditional French bistro fare, starting, where else, with a gratinée lyonnaise thickly crusted with Gruyre (which you know as onion soup). Pâté de campagne on freshly sliced baguette, and a humongous heap of steamed mussels are other great beginnings, but save room for knockout main courses like duck confit, chicken fricassee, and roasted rack of lamb imbued with "herbs de Provence" -- and more room still for tarte Tatin pooled in cream, raspberry tart, and pear mille-feuilles. Le Bouchon du Grove is a warm anachronism in cold CocoWalk land, and we profoundly thank them for being so.

Readers´ Choice: Caf´ Tu Tu Tango and Greenstreet Caf´ (tie)

BEST RESTAURANT IN COCONUT GROVE Le Bouchon du Grove 3430 Main Highway

Coconut Grove

305-448-6060 This relaxed bistro has been around since only 1994 but nevertheless stands as one of the last vestiges-in-spirit to the bohemian Grove of the Seventies. The Parisian street-corner ambiance, with open floor-to-ceiling French doors, encourages patrons to casually sip glasses of Beaujolais or Burgundy at the bar and stare at soccer matches on TV screens, or sit at tables with bottles of red or white and gaze at the goldenrod walls covered with Pastis posters, license plates, soccer jerseys, flags, and all manner of Gallic wall garnish. Managers, owners, and personable chef/partner Georges Eric Farge mingle freely with the diners, while waiters lean on chairs and recite daily specials, some speaking in a hybrid French-English dialect that is nearly indecipherable -- sort of what a very stoned Grove café waiter 30 years ago must have sounded like. The cuisine dates back further than that, the menu reflecting traditional French bistro fare, starting, where else, with a gratinée lyonnaise thickly crusted with Gruyre (which you know as onion soup). Pâté de campagne on freshly sliced baguette, and a humongous heap of steamed mussels are other great beginnings, but save room for knockout main courses like duck confit, chicken fricassee, and roasted rack of lamb imbued with "herbs de Provence" -- and more room still for tarte Tatin pooled in cream, raspberry tart, and pear mille-feuilles. Le Bouchon du Grove is a warm anachronism in cold CocoWalk land, and we profoundly thank them for being so.

Readers´ Choice: Caf´ Tu Tu Tango and Greenstreet Caf´ (tie)

BEST NICARAGUAN RESTAURANT El Chalesito 2115 W. Flagler Street

Miami

305-541-8171 You won't find statues or paintings honoring Anastasio Somoza or Augusto Sandino at El Chalesito, but you will encounter Nicaraguan folklore to full effect. Miami's many transplanted Nicaraguans find refuge in this storefront cantina in the heart of Little Havana. Dressed in their best ranchero regalia, beer-guzzling, rum-swigging Nicas fill dining tables fronting a karaoke stage, where a house singer leads patrons through Nicaragua's most popular tunes. Waitresses are a blur as they deliver piping-hot plates of antojitos -- churrasco, green and sweet plantains, tacos, blood sausage, cheese-filled tortillas, frijoles con crema. El Chalecito also offers Miami's freshest pescado a la tipitapa -- whole grouper baked in salsa, cornmeal, and rice.

BEST NICARAGUAN RESTAURANT El Chalesito 2115 W. Flagler Street

Miami

305-541-8171 You won't find statues or paintings honoring Anastasio Somoza or Augusto Sandino at El Chalesito, but you will encounter Nicaraguan folklore to full effect. Miami's many transplanted Nicaraguans find refuge in this storefront cantina in the heart of Little Havana. Dressed in their best ranchero regalia, beer-guzzling, rum-swigging Nicas fill dining tables fronting a karaoke stage, where a house singer leads patrons through Nicaragua's most popular tunes. Waitresses are a blur as they deliver piping-hot plates of antojitos -- churrasco, green and sweet plantains, tacos, blood sausage, cheese-filled tortillas, frijoles con crema. El Chalecito also offers Miami's freshest pescado a la tipitapa -- whole grouper baked in salsa, cornmeal, and rice.

The River Seafood & Oyster Bar
BEST RAW BAR The River Oyster Bar 650 S. Miami Avenue

Miami

305-530-1915

www.therivermiami.com The oyster selections at this urban-chic downtown seafood house vary seasonally, but their descriptions consistently read as though lifted from Wine Spectator. "Coromandel," from New Zealand, is "mildly salty from mineral-rich cold waters, smooth and sweet melon finish." "Deer Creek," from Puget Sound in Washington, is "a perfect little oyster with briny and crisp flavor." The Kitsap Peninsula's "Snow Creek" oysters are "farmed in cold, clear waters which open wide to the Straits of Juan De Fuca; firm meats with a mildly salty flavor." (All oysters are nineteen dollars per dozen, ten dollars for half.) Chilled littleneck clams, Florida stone crabs, jumbo shrimp cocktail, and a lively variety of ceviches are also dished at the raw bar. Wine selections, interestingly enough, read like an oyster menu -- well, no, we're kidding, but there are plenty of Chardonnays, sparkling wines, and other bivalve-friendly whites listed under the heading of "Lean ... Racy ... Zingy." The River's chef/partner David Bracha takes his oysters and wines very seriously, making this raw bar "crisp and refreshing, exhibiting strong notes of briny succulence and an unparalleled nose for satisfying shellfish aficionados."

BEST RAW BAR The River Oyster Bar 650 S. Miami Avenue

Miami

305-530-1915

www.therivermiami.com The oyster selections at this urban-chic downtown seafood house vary seasonally, but their descriptions consistently read as though lifted from Wine Spectator. "Coromandel," from New Zealand, is "mildly salty from mineral-rich cold waters, smooth and sweet melon finish." "Deer Creek," from Puget Sound in Washington, is "a perfect little oyster with briny and crisp flavor." The Kitsap Peninsula's "Snow Creek" oysters are "farmed in cold, clear waters which open wide to the Straits of Juan De Fuca; firm meats with a mildly salty flavor." (All oysters are nineteen dollars per dozen, ten dollars for half.) Chilled littleneck clams, Florida stone crabs, jumbo shrimp cocktail, and a lively variety of ceviches are also dished at the raw bar. Wine selections, interestingly enough, read like an oyster menu -- well, no, we're kidding, but there are plenty of Chardonnays, sparkling wines, and other bivalve-friendly whites listed under the heading of "Lean ... Racy ... Zingy." The River's chef/partner David Bracha takes his oysters and wines very seriously, making this raw bar "crisp and refreshing, exhibiting strong notes of briny succulence and an unparalleled nose for satisfying shellfish aficionados."

BEST DOUGHNUTS Krispy Kreme 6290 S. Dixie Highway

South Miami

305-669-1311

www.krispykreme.com Krispy Kreme has won this title a few times over the years, but when you are stoned at 3:00 a.m., is that mom-and-pop joint going to bake you fresh and HOT doughnuts to satisfy your munchies? The South Miami shop is the newest one to open in the Miami-Dade area (check www.krispykreme.com for additional locations), and it has 24-hour drive-through service, great coffee, a viewing area for you to gaze at the glazing process, and a clean, well-lighted place to savor Homer Simpson's favorite snack. Yeah, Krispy Kreme is being investigated by the SEC and the U.S. Attorney's Office for matters regarding its franchises, and the company's being sued by stock-owning employees who claim they didn't know that stocks are a risky investment, but we're just talking doughnuts here. Tasty, hot doughnuts. And Krispy Kreme is still doing that right.

BEST DOUGHNUTS Krispy Kreme 6290 S. Dixie Highway

South Miami

305-669-1311

www.krispykreme.com Krispy Kreme has won this title a few times over the years, but when you are stoned at 3:00 a.m., is that mom-and-pop joint going to bake you fresh and HOT doughnuts to satisfy your munchies? The South Miami shop is the newest one to open in the Miami-Dade area (check www.krispykreme.com for additional locations), and it has 24-hour drive-through service, great coffee, a viewing area for you to gaze at the glazing process, and a clean, well-lighted place to savor Homer Simpson's favorite snack. Yeah, Krispy Kreme is being investigated by the SEC and the U.S. Attorney's Office for matters regarding its franchises, and the company's being sued by stock-owning employees who claim they didn't know that stocks are a risky investment, but we're just talking doughnuts here. Tasty, hot doughnuts. And Krispy Kreme is still doing that right.

BEST UPSCALE MOM-AND-POP RESTAURANT

Talula

Talula
BEST UPSCALE MOM-AND-POP RESTAURANT Talula 210 23rd Street

Miami Beach

305-672-0778

www.talulaonline.com Okay, we admit it: The mom-and-pop thing is just a cute way of recognizing Talula -- because how could we not acknowledge one of our very best restaurants? The matrimonial proprietor/chef team of Andrea Curto-Randazzo and Frank Randazzo (formerly and respectively of Wish and Gaucho Room) have received plenty of press mileage on their parenting both child and highly successful South Beach dining establishment, but once customers take a seat in Talula (or the lushly landscaped garden patio in back), the smartly innovative, contemporary American cuisine is all they'll care about. Grilled Sonoma Valley foie gras with blue corn cakes, caramelized pears, candied walnuts, and a drizzle of chili syrup exemplifies the solid concepts and exquisitely delicious cooking that comes from the kitchen. So does the cascabel chili-crusted barbecued quail with heavenly puffs of sweet-potato agnolotti pasta. Ditto the lavender-crusted lamb loin with truffled goat-cheese potato croquette and cold smoked grape vinaigrette. The whole menu sings with brash, fresh flavors; the wine list hums along; and Talula is an unqualified hit. Mommy and Daddy, take your bows. Then, if you can, take a nap.

BEST UPSCALE MOM-AND-POP RESTAURANT

Talula

BEST UPSCALE MOM-AND-POP RESTAURANT Talula 210 23rd Street

Miami Beach

305-672-0778

www.talulaonline.com Okay, we admit it: The mom-and-pop thing is just a cute way of recognizing Talula -- because how could we not acknowledge one of our very best restaurants? The matrimonial proprietor/chef team of Andrea Curto-Randazzo and Frank Randazzo (formerly and respectively of Wish and Gaucho Room) have received plenty of press mileage on their parenting both child and highly successful South Beach dining establishment, but once customers take a seat in Talula (or the lushly landscaped garden patio in back), the smartly innovative, contemporary American cuisine is all they'll care about. Grilled Sonoma Valley foie gras with blue corn cakes, caramelized pears, candied walnuts, and a drizzle of chili syrup exemplifies the solid concepts and exquisitely delicious cooking that comes from the kitchen. So does the cascabel chili-crusted barbecued quail with heavenly puffs of sweet-potato agnolotti pasta. Ditto the lavender-crusted lamb loin with truffled goat-cheese potato croquette and cold smoked grape vinaigrette. The whole menu sings with brash, fresh flavors; the wine list hums along; and Talula is an unqualified hit. Mommy and Daddy, take your bows. Then, if you can, take a nap.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®