Latin American Cafeteria
BEST SMOOTHIE Latin America Cafeteria Various locations in Miami-Dade County What's not to like about a smoothie? For one thing the word itself, which to pronounce in public is almost as embarrassing as admitting to being a "foodie" or "Trekkie." Then there's the tendency of smoothie joints (do you really want to be seen entering a "smoothie joint"?) to throw incongruous ingredients together into the blender: Peanut butter, tofu, and spinach may be healthful, but they don't make for a particularly attractive beverage. Anyway, now you know what's not to like about a smoothie. What there is to like about it is that it can be refreshing, salubrious, and, on a hot afternoon, heavenly. At Latin America Cafeteria the shakes are called by their older, Cuban name, batidos -- an improvement right off the bat. Try the frothy foursome of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and mamey; it's so deliriously delicious you'll end up ordering it over and over again.

BEST SMOOTHIE Latin America Cafeteria Various locations in Miami-Dade County What's not to like about a smoothie? For one thing the word itself, which to pronounce in public is almost as embarrassing as admitting to being a "foodie" or "Trekkie." Then there's the tendency of smoothie joints (do you really want to be seen entering a "smoothie joint"?) to throw incongruous ingredients together into the blender: Peanut butter, tofu, and spinach may be healthful, but they don't make for a particularly attractive beverage. Anyway, now you know what's not to like about a smoothie. What there is to like about it is that it can be refreshing, salubrious, and, on a hot afternoon, heavenly. At Latin America Cafeteria the shakes are called by their older, Cuban name, batidos -- an improvement right off the bat. Try the frothy foursome of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and mamey; it's so deliriously delicious you'll end up ordering it over and over again.

Casa Lario's
BEST CUBAN RESTAURANT Casa Larios 7705 W. Flagler Street

Miami

305-266-5494

and

5859 SW 73rd Street

South Miami

305-662-5656 While its claim to celebrity fame may be that the Estefans used to frequent the place (and it's where Gloria's career was launched), the real draw at Casa Larios is the close-to-homemade Cuban staples that bring in everybody else. The classic dishes are actually better than many an abuelita's home cooking. (But don't tell her that!) The restaurant also boasts comfortable and attractive surroundings to chow down on the ample servings of fried pork, roast chicken, black beans and rice, and plantains.

Readers´ Choice: Versailles

BEST CUBAN RESTAURANT Casa Larios 7705 W. Flagler Street

Miami

305-266-5494

and

5859 SW 73rd Street

South Miami

305-662-5656 While its claim to celebrity fame may be that the Estefans used to frequent the place (and it's where Gloria's career was launched), the real draw at Casa Larios is the close-to-homemade Cuban staples that bring in everybody else. The classic dishes are actually better than many an abuelita's home cooking. (But don't tell her that!) The restaurant also boasts comfortable and attractive surroundings to chow down on the ample servings of fried pork, roast chicken, black beans and rice, and plantains.

Readers´ Choice: Versailles

Knaus Berry Farm
Photo by Laine Doss
BEST KEY LIME PIE Knaus Berry Farm 15980 SW 248th Street

Homestead

305-247-0668 Key lime pie inevitably involves a graham cracker crust, filling made of key lime juice and condensed milk, and topping of either whipped cream or meringue. So how can one be that much better than another? Cream cheese. That's right, the German Baptists at Homestead's half-century-old Knaus Berry Farm use cream cheese in their topping. The Baptists have long beards, but they are not Amish, as many think, nor are they ZZ Top, as some less-than-astute folks might believe. The key limes are fresh from the farm, the citrus custard not too sweet, the creamy-whipped cream cheese a distinctive icing on the cake. A small key lime pie that feeds five (perhaps fewer because most people demand seconds) costs $7.35, and that's really all you need to know, though we'd be remiss not to mention Knaus Berry Farm's freshly baked pecan rolls and legendary strawberry milkshakes. Don't run out for your key lime pie just yet, though: The stand is open only from mid-November through the last Saturday of April and is closed Sundays.

Readers´ Choice: Joe´s Stone Crab

BEST KEY LIME PIE Knaus Berry Farm 15980 SW 248th Street

Homestead

305-247-0668 Key lime pie inevitably involves a graham cracker crust, filling made of key lime juice and condensed milk, and topping of either whipped cream or meringue. So how can one be that much better than another? Cream cheese. That's right, the German Baptists at Homestead's half-century-old Knaus Berry Farm use cream cheese in their topping. The Baptists have long beards, but they are not Amish, as many think, nor are they ZZ Top, as some less-than-astute folks might believe. The key limes are fresh from the farm, the citrus custard not too sweet, the creamy-whipped cream cheese a distinctive icing on the cake. A small key lime pie that feeds five (perhaps fewer because most people demand seconds) costs $7.35, and that's really all you need to know, though we'd be remiss not to mention Knaus Berry Farm's freshly baked pecan rolls and legendary strawberry milkshakes. Don't run out for your key lime pie just yet, though: The stand is open only from mid-November through the last Saturday of April and is closed Sundays.

Readers´ Choice: Joe´s Stone Crab

BEST SALADS Grass Restaurant & Lounge 28 NE 40th Street

Miami

305-573-3355

www.grasslounge.com The name of the restaurant, Grass, seems just right for eating salad. The tropical trappings reinforce the mood with French West Indian accents, Indonesian colonial slate floors, tiki hut booths, low-slung tables with flower petals strewn across them, and Buddha Bar and Stereo Sushi-like aural effects. The open-air venue, vaguely sheltered by a thatch roof, sometimes lets in a gentle rain. The organic surroundings practically scream for light, chic dining, but it's the menu descriptions of Chef Pedro Duarte's Pacific Rim salad compositions that will ultimately make you succumb to the lettuce. Try smoked salmon with diced avocados, teardrop tomatoes, crisp wontons, roasted almonds, frisée greens, and shoyu vinaigrette. Or maybe softly poached chicken with Fuji apples, carrots, delicate rice noodles, iceberg lettuce, and sesame dressing. Or the best of the best: a mismaloya salad of mesclun greens, red oak leaves, mango, nectarines, Korean pears, avocado, pine nuts, and vanilla-infused white balsamic vinaigrette. Tantalizing textures, flamboyant flavors, and portions big enough for two make the greens greener at Grass.

BEST SALADS Grass Restaurant & Lounge 28 NE 40th Street

Miami

305-573-3355

www.grasslounge.com The name of the restaurant, Grass, seems just right for eating salad. The tropical trappings reinforce the mood with French West Indian accents, Indonesian colonial slate floors, tiki hut booths, low-slung tables with flower petals strewn across them, and Buddha Bar and Stereo Sushi-like aural effects. The open-air venue, vaguely sheltered by a thatch roof, sometimes lets in a gentle rain. The organic surroundings practically scream for light, chic dining, but it's the menu descriptions of Chef Pedro Duarte's Pacific Rim salad compositions that will ultimately make you succumb to the lettuce. Try smoked salmon with diced avocados, teardrop tomatoes, crisp wontons, roasted almonds, frisée greens, and shoyu vinaigrette. Or maybe softly poached chicken with Fuji apples, carrots, delicate rice noodles, iceberg lettuce, and sesame dressing. Or the best of the best: a mismaloya salad of mesclun greens, red oak leaves, mango, nectarines, Korean pears, avocado, pine nuts, and vanilla-infused white balsamic vinaigrette. Tantalizing textures, flamboyant flavors, and portions big enough for two make the greens greener at Grass.

Prime 112
Photo by Gary James / Courtesy of Carma PR
BEST STEAK HOUSE Prime One Twelve 112 Ocean Drive

Miami Beach

305-532-8112

www.prime112.com Conventional wisdom suggests that when choosing a steak house, do so based on the quality of steak. We say throw conventional wisdom out the window along with the ketchup bottle. You can get a thick, juicy, dry-aged, inarguably delectable slab of meat at Capital Grille, Ruth's Chris, Palm, Morton's, Smith & Wollensky, or any such quality chain. Whatever subtle differences exist between the steaks at these places can be nullified by sheer dumb luck. The cut of sirloin you order may come from a well-marbled, tender animal -- or not. The grill cook might have a hangover and overcook it just enough to take away the edge. Or maybe he called in sick and his replacement possesses the perfect touch for seasoning that will make it taste a bit better. Prime One Twelve offers more than just prime meat. Housed in Miami Beach's original hotel, the two-story series of dining rooms are renovated gems of a bygone era, replete with a front porch for outdoor seating. Classic steak-house sides are upgrades over the competition, creamed spinach spiked with crispy shallots, the sweet-potato mash jazzed via vanilla bean. Non-carnivores can nibble on creative raw-bar selections, outlandishly large salads, and engaging entrées such as wild salmon in lemon nage. And after indulging in desserts like warm chocolate pudding cake with sweet cream and amarene cherries, or a bananas Foster cheesecake with Myers rum coffee sauce, you may have trouble remembering it was steak that brought you here in the first place.

BEST STEAK HOUSE Prime One Twelve 112 Ocean Drive

Miami Beach

305-532-8112

www.prime112.com Conventional wisdom suggests that when choosing a steak house, do so based on the quality of steak. We say throw conventional wisdom out the window along with the ketchup bottle. You can get a thick, juicy, dry-aged, inarguably delectable slab of meat at Capital Grille, Ruth's Chris, Palm, Morton's, Smith & Wollensky, or any such quality chain. Whatever subtle differences exist between the steaks at these places can be nullified by sheer dumb luck. The cut of sirloin you order may come from a well-marbled, tender animal -- or not. The grill cook might have a hangover and overcook it just enough to take away the edge. Or maybe he called in sick and his replacement possesses the perfect touch for seasoning that will make it taste a bit better. Prime One Twelve offers more than just prime meat. Housed in Miami Beach's original hotel, the two-story series of dining rooms are renovated gems of a bygone era, replete with a front porch for outdoor seating. Classic steak-house sides are upgrades over the competition, creamed spinach spiked with crispy shallots, the sweet-potato mash jazzed via vanilla bean. Non-carnivores can nibble on creative raw-bar selections, outlandishly large salads, and engaging entrées such as wild salmon in lemon nage. And after indulging in desserts like warm chocolate pudding cake with sweet cream and amarene cherries, or a bananas Foster cheesecake with Myers rum coffee sauce, you may have trouble remembering it was steak that brought you here in the first place.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®