BEST RESTAURANT TO DIE IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS

BEST RESTAURANT TO DIE IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS One Ninety Restaurants are like soldiers -- we often mourn their passing but are rarely surprised to hear about it. Soldiers, though, have a far better survival rate than restaurants. But One Ninety wasn't just another faceless statistic in the loss column. This bohemian bistro at NE Second Avenue and 46th Street could be deemed heroic in its bid to be a true community gathering ground, with local artists on the walls, local music on the stage, and fresh, tasty, affordable American fare on the plates. Sunday brunch here was the bomb. Alas, owners Alan and Donna Lee Hughes were unable to negotiate a reasonable rent increase with their evildoer landlord, and the neighborhood lost a gem. Some glass-half-full types might proclaim that One Ninety isn't a total goner -- chef Hughes will soldier on and we hope will get life support from South Beach when he brings a new One Ninety to the Albion Hotel. For residents of Miami, though, the old One Ninety will be sorely missed. In these parts, such places are harder to find than weapons of mass destruction.

BEST RESTAURANT TO DIE IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS

BEST RESTAURANT TO DIE IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS One Ninety Restaurants are like soldiers -- we often mourn their passing but are rarely surprised to hear about it. Soldiers, though, have a far better survival rate than restaurants. But One Ninety wasn't just another faceless statistic in the loss column. This bohemian bistro at NE Second Avenue and 46th Street could be deemed heroic in its bid to be a true community gathering ground, with local artists on the walls, local music on the stage, and fresh, tasty, affordable American fare on the plates. Sunday brunch here was the bomb. Alas, owners Alan and Donna Lee Hughes were unable to negotiate a reasonable rent increase with their evildoer landlord, and the neighborhood lost a gem. Some glass-half-full types might proclaim that One Ninety isn't a total goner -- chef Hughes will soldier on and we hope will get life support from South Beach when he brings a new One Ninety to the Albion Hotel. For residents of Miami, though, the old One Ninety will be sorely missed. In these parts, such places are harder to find than weapons of mass destruction.

Everything you could want from a Mexican market -- dried and fresh peppers by the handful, salsa picante, cheap fresh produce, even mortar and pestle sets -- is for sale here. If you're English-only, bring a Spanish phrasebook in case you plan on any complicated transactions. Bring your appetite as well: Contemplating the salsa that could be produced by any combination of the market's produce (a little lime, some cilantro, a few jalapeños, and a tomato or two) or the simple feast resulting from combining some chicken with one of Azteca de Oro's moles is mouthwatering.

Everything you could want from a Mexican market -- dried and fresh peppers by the handful, salsa picante, cheap fresh produce, even mortar and pestle sets -- is for sale here. If you're English-only, bring a Spanish phrasebook in case you plan on any complicated transactions. Bring your appetite as well: Contemplating the salsa that could be produced by any combination of the market's produce (a little lime, some cilantro, a few jalapeños, and a tomato or two) or the simple feast resulting from combining some chicken with one of Azteca de Oro's moles is mouthwatering.

Carmen the Restaurant
BEST PUERTO RICAN RESTAURANT Carmen the Restaurant The David William Hotel

700 Biltmore Way

Coral Gables

305-913-1944 Miami's better ethnic dining establishments present solid renditions of fan favorites, whether egg rolls, thin-crust pizza, Middle Eastern combos, or arroz con pollo. Rarely, however, do these places think outside the box. Carmen Gonzalez takes her native Puerto Rican cuisine out of its box, disassembles it, adds New American and Nuevo Latino ideas, puts everything back together, and then gives it a shake. Boom! Out comes an original menu of fresh, brash, expertly prepared food peppered with Puerto Rican ingredients and pride. Lobster/avocado terrine teams with crisp plantain fritters; adobo-rubbed pork plumps up mini-designer sandwiches; and whole grilled pompano marries a modernized mojito. Mofongo looks like the old mofongo's better-looking kid sister. Chocolate soufflé -- well, not very island-oriented, but it's a dandy nonetheless. The real link between chef Gonzalez's cooking and that found in a typical Puerto Rican household is this: Everything at Carmen's is made from scratch, even the ketchup and pickles. It's safe to say you won't find finer cuisine, better service, a more elegant dining room, or a savvier wine list at any Puerto Rican restaurant this side of San Juan.

BEST PUERTO RICAN RESTAURANT Carmen the Restaurant The David William Hotel

700 Biltmore Way

Coral Gables

305-913-1944 Miami's better ethnic dining establishments present solid renditions of fan favorites, whether egg rolls, thin-crust pizza, Middle Eastern combos, or arroz con pollo. Rarely, however, do these places think outside the box. Carmen Gonzalez takes her native Puerto Rican cuisine out of its box, disassembles it, adds New American and Nuevo Latino ideas, puts everything back together, and then gives it a shake. Boom! Out comes an original menu of fresh, brash, expertly prepared food peppered with Puerto Rican ingredients and pride. Lobster/avocado terrine teams with crisp plantain fritters; adobo-rubbed pork plumps up mini-designer sandwiches; and whole grilled pompano marries a modernized mojito. Mofongo looks like the old mofongo's better-looking kid sister. Chocolate soufflé -- well, not very island-oriented, but it's a dandy nonetheless. The real link between chef Gonzalez's cooking and that found in a typical Puerto Rican household is this: Everything at Carmen's is made from scratch, even the ketchup and pickles. It's safe to say you won't find finer cuisine, better service, a more elegant dining room, or a savvier wine list at any Puerto Rican restaurant this side of San Juan.

Epicure Gourmet Market & Cafe
Alejandra Cicilia
A 1400-pound portion of cheese was delivered to President Andrew Jackson's inaugural reception in 1837. When the party was over, the 10,000 guests left the White House in shambles, and the cheese left an aroma that lingered for some time. Modern presidents have pursued a different brand of cheesiness, but thanks in part to the burgeoning popularity of wine, appreciation of this cultured dairy product has gone whey up. Epicure Market's wine and cheese sections are adjacent to one another (with olive selections within reach), which makes pairing the two simple -- well, maybe not simple, because the cheeses here aren't exactly familiar to all, but relatively easy with the aid of wine experts on hand. Artisan cheeses from all over the globe include rarities from Chantal Plasse; farmhouse cheddars from English, Irish, and American (Vermont) pastures; Bries, blues, and appellation-controlled cheeses from France; raw-milk cheeses; kosher cheeses; Greek yogurt; Epicure's own creations such as pesto-dressed string cheese; cheeses from goats; cheeses from sheep. Take a few of these pricey curds home with a suitable wine and a loaf of bread (available just around the bend) and maybe you'll discover what author Clifton Fadiman meant when he described cheese as "milk's leap toward immortality."

Readers´ Choice: Epicure Market

A 1400-pound portion of cheese was delivered to President Andrew Jackson's inaugural reception in 1837. When the party was over, the 10,000 guests left the White House in shambles, and the cheese left an aroma that lingered for some time. Modern presidents have pursued a different brand of cheesiness, but thanks in part to the burgeoning popularity of wine, appreciation of this cultured dairy product has gone whey up. Epicure Market's wine and cheese sections are adjacent to one another (with olive selections within reach), which makes pairing the two simple -- well, maybe not simple, because the cheeses here aren't exactly familiar to all, but relatively easy with the aid of wine experts on hand. Artisan cheeses from all over the globe include rarities from Chantal Plasse; farmhouse cheddars from English, Irish, and American (Vermont) pastures; Bries, blues, and appellation-controlled cheeses from France; raw-milk cheeses; kosher cheeses; Greek yogurt; Epicure's own creations such as pesto-dressed string cheese; cheeses from goats; cheeses from sheep. Take a few of these pricey curds home with a suitable wine and a loaf of bread (available just around the bend) and maybe you'll discover what author Clifton Fadiman meant when he described cheese as "milk's leap toward immortality."

Readers´ Choice: Epicure Market

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 Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®