BEST RISING CHEF Jordi Vallés The first wave of boisterous Basque cuisine came ashore a couple of years ago by way of La Broche, which was quickly swept back out to sea before most people even had a chance to dip their toes in. The second wave was Mosaico, with executive chef Jordi Vallés riding atop the cresting foams and making a very big splash in the Brickell area. Born and raised in Barcelona, Vallés is no newcomer to the brash, cutting-edge Spanish cooking that has garnered gastronomic gasps around the globe. He trained with three of Spain's most renowned Michelin-starred chefs, including a tenure as chef poissonnier under Ferran Adrià at El Bulli. After his apprenticeships and experimentations in juxtaposing the tastes and textures of classic and contemporary Spanish cuisine, Vallés spent another five years adding to his repertoire at Ritz-Carlton properties. One taste of his tantalizing, langoustine-laden gazpacho Andaluz or Gulf Stream grouper in sumptuous pork and garbanzo stew and you'll realize just how much experience does count. Even when conjuring up savory sorbets, tropical fruit gels, and other avant-garde whimsies, Vallés's cooking never veers away from diner accessibility. His ascendant talent makes him the cream of the crop (or shall we say foam at the top) among our young local chefs.

BEST RISING CHEF Jordi Vallés The first wave of boisterous Basque cuisine came ashore a couple of years ago by way of La Broche, which was quickly swept back out to sea before most people even had a chance to dip their toes in. The second wave was Mosaico, with executive chef Jordi Vallés riding atop the cresting foams and making a very big splash in the Brickell area. Born and raised in Barcelona, Vallés is no newcomer to the brash, cutting-edge Spanish cooking that has garnered gastronomic gasps around the globe. He trained with three of Spain's most renowned Michelin-starred chefs, including a tenure as chef poissonnier under Ferran Adrià at El Bulli. After his apprenticeships and experimentations in juxtaposing the tastes and textures of classic and contemporary Spanish cuisine, Vallés spent another five years adding to his repertoire at Ritz-Carlton properties. One taste of his tantalizing, langoustine-laden gazpacho Andaluz or Gulf Stream grouper in sumptuous pork and garbanzo stew and you'll realize just how much experience does count. Even when conjuring up savory sorbets, tropical fruit gels, and other avant-garde whimsies, Vallés's cooking never veers away from diner accessibility. His ascendant talent makes him the cream of the crop (or shall we say foam at the top) among our young local chefs.

BEST FRESH SEAFOOD Casablanca Seafood Market 404 NW North River Drive

Miami

305-371-4107 To get the freshest seafood, you've got to go to the source. No, not the local commercial fishing boats, they'll just shoo you away like the pelicans. We mean Casablanca Seafood Market, which is among the first stops for those boats. Once you're inside the store, grab a number, grab a plastic bus tub, and then walk up the line of fresh fish piled shiny upon glistening crushed ice: grouper, snapper, salmon, jumbo shrimp, live lobsters, soft-shell crabs -- all pristine and far less expensive than supermarket prices. Let's say you choose yellowtail snapper (recently at $4.99 a pound). You put the whole fish (gently) into your tub, and at the cash register they weigh, you pay, and one in a long lineup of fishmongers will fillet. Most days this is a quick process, but watch out on weekends -- the place gets mobbed and the wait is decidedly longer. That's all right; you can hang outside with all the others, purchase little plastic containers of conch ceviche or shrimp cocktail, and enjoy the fresh air along the river.

BEST FRESH SEAFOOD Casablanca Seafood Market 404 NW North River Drive

Miami

305-371-4107 To get the freshest seafood, you've got to go to the source. No, not the local commercial fishing boats, they'll just shoo you away like the pelicans. We mean Casablanca Seafood Market, which is among the first stops for those boats. Once you're inside the store, grab a number, grab a plastic bus tub, and then walk up the line of fresh fish piled shiny upon glistening crushed ice: grouper, snapper, salmon, jumbo shrimp, live lobsters, soft-shell crabs -- all pristine and far less expensive than supermarket prices. Let's say you choose yellowtail snapper (recently at $4.99 a pound). You put the whole fish (gently) into your tub, and at the cash register they weigh, you pay, and one in a long lineup of fishmongers will fillet. Most days this is a quick process, but watch out on weekends -- the place gets mobbed and the wait is decidedly longer. That's all right; you can hang outside with all the others, purchase little plastic containers of conch ceviche or shrimp cocktail, and enjoy the fresh air along the river.

BEST SPANISH RESTAURANT Mosaico 1000 S. Miami Avenue

Miami

305-371-3473

www.mosaicorestaurant.com Top ten reasons why Mosaico is better than your favorite Spanish restaurant: (10) Executive chef Jordi Vallés, from Barcelona, trained with three of Spain's Michelin-starred chefs, including a stint at the revolutionary El Bulli. (9) Maine lobster in golden tomato consommé, with avocado sorbet and a sprinkling of olive powder. (8) Lodged in the historic Firehouse Four building, erected in 1923, with arcaded porch and balconies, ornate quoins and cornice. (Does your favorite have ornate quoins and cornice?) (7) More challenging than other Spanish restaurants, more accessible than La Broche. (6) Roasted turbot with sea urchin cream; or seared yellowtail snapper with asparagus, creamy smoked Idiazabal rice, and baby squid imported from Spain. (5) Urban-tropical rooftop terrace. (4) Lamb shoulder braised with strawberry-rhubarb marmalade and dappled with potato foam. (3) Service as sharp as Manchego cheese, and well-priced, well-chosen wines from Spain. (2) Perky desserts such as fresh fruit with tea-mint granité and pineapple sorbet, followed by a complimentary tray of traditional pastries, homemade ice creams, and, um, more foams. (1) Mosaico is better than your favorite Spanish restaurant because we say so -- and aren't we the so-called experts?

Readers´ Choice: Casa Juancho

BEST SPANISH RESTAURANT Mosaico 1000 S. Miami Avenue

Miami

305-371-3473

www.mosaicorestaurant.com Top ten reasons why Mosaico is better than your favorite Spanish restaurant: (10) Executive chef Jordi Vallés, from Barcelona, trained with three of Spain's Michelin-starred chefs, including a stint at the revolutionary El Bulli. (9) Maine lobster in golden tomato consommé, with avocado sorbet and a sprinkling of olive powder. (8) Lodged in the historic Firehouse Four building, erected in 1923, with arcaded porch and balconies, ornate quoins and cornice. (Does your favorite have ornate quoins and cornice?) (7) More challenging than other Spanish restaurants, more accessible than La Broche. (6) Roasted turbot with sea urchin cream; or seared yellowtail snapper with asparagus, creamy smoked Idiazabal rice, and baby squid imported from Spain. (5) Urban-tropical rooftop terrace. (4) Lamb shoulder braised with strawberry-rhubarb marmalade and dappled with potato foam. (3) Service as sharp as Manchego cheese, and well-priced, well-chosen wines from Spain. (2) Perky desserts such as fresh fruit with tea-mint granité and pineapple sorbet, followed by a complimentary tray of traditional pastries, homemade ice creams, and, um, more foams. (1) Mosaico is better than your favorite Spanish restaurant because we say so -- and aren't we the so-called experts?

Readers´ Choice: Casa Juancho

BEST BARBECUE Kyung Ju Restaurant 400 NE 167th Street

North Miami Beach

305-947-3838 People began barbecuing large pieces of meat over open fires some 27,000 years ago, which strongly suggests that Americans didn't invent the practice. (Warning: Do not repeat this in the presence of any Texan who is bigger than you.) Tip o' the cowboy hat to the Pit, Peoples, Bar-B-Q Barn, and Shorty's, all of which serve satisfying portions of wood-smoked chicken and ribs, plates of steaming baked beans, and bowls of creamy coleslaw in their own inimitable ways. But Kyung Ju offers Korean-style barbecue called bulgogi, which won't wean you off your hunger for hickory but might just turn you on to a whole new concept of what can be done with a grill. In fact you'll become quite acquainted with the cooking process itself, as an order of, say, sweet-and-sesame marinated short ribs comes to the table accompanied by a small hibachi-style grill. It's a charming way to get you to prepare your own dinner, and if your sliced rib-eye beef or chicken thigh comes out overdone, you've no one to blame but yourself. It's fun, it's different, it's as inexpensive as regular barbecue, and it's delicious. Plus instead of beans on the side, you can try some spicy pickled kimchi, a scallion-studded egg pancake called pa jun, or any number of adeptly prepared Korean specialties.

BEST BARBECUE Kyung Ju Restaurant 400 NE 167th Street

North Miami Beach

305-947-3838 People began barbecuing large pieces of meat over open fires some 27,000 years ago, which strongly suggests that Americans didn't invent the practice. (Warning: Do not repeat this in the presence of any Texan who is bigger than you.) Tip o' the cowboy hat to the Pit, Peoples, Bar-B-Q Barn, and Shorty's, all of which serve satisfying portions of wood-smoked chicken and ribs, plates of steaming baked beans, and bowls of creamy coleslaw in their own inimitable ways. But Kyung Ju offers Korean-style barbecue called bulgogi, which won't wean you off your hunger for hickory but might just turn you on to a whole new concept of what can be done with a grill. In fact you'll become quite acquainted with the cooking process itself, as an order of, say, sweet-and-sesame marinated short ribs comes to the table accompanied by a small hibachi-style grill. It's a charming way to get you to prepare your own dinner, and if your sliced rib-eye beef or chicken thigh comes out overdone, you've no one to blame but yourself. It's fun, it's different, it's as inexpensive as regular barbecue, and it's delicious. Plus instead of beans on the side, you can try some spicy pickled kimchi, a scallion-studded egg pancake called pa jun, or any number of adeptly prepared Korean specialties.

The thing about croquetas is that every one is different. It's impossible to know exactly what you're biting into. They come in different colors, sizes, and stuffing. Some are crisp and others chewy. Admittedly we bit into some really nasty shit before we found a winner, but Islas Canarias's croquetas takes the prize because they are the plumpest and most delicate of all. They fall apart in your mouth, and they're so good you can't stop at just one. Unlike most, there's no need to worry about heartburn, because they are not overdone in a deep fryer, creating that crisp shell with the raw middle that leads to many a sleepless night. A dab of ketchup creates an interesting, zestful flavor.

BEST CROQUETAS Islas Canarias Restaurant 285 NW 27th Avenue

Miami

305-649-0440

and

13695 SW 26th Street

West Miami-Dade

305-559-6666 The thing about croquetas is that every one is different. It's impossible to know exactly what you're biting into. They come in different colors, sizes, and stuffing. Some are crisp and others chewy. Admittedly we bit into some really nasty shit before we found a winner, but Islas Canarias's croquetas takes the prize because they are the plumpest and most delicate of all. They fall apart in your mouth, and they're so good you can't stop at just one. Unlike most, there's no need to worry about heartburn, because they are not overdone in a deep fryer, creating that crisp shell with the raw middle that leads to many a sleepless night. A dab of ketchup creates an interesting, zestful flavor.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®