Pack Supermarket and Cafeteria
Photo by Kristin Bjørnsen
This hole-in-the-wall Haitian joint pretends to be a store, but the people lined up at the window and two-deep at the counter just want one thing: fried chicken. Or, as the Haitian cooks and customers say, poulet frite. The batter is crispy and delightful, not too oily. You could belly up to the counter in the somewhat dingy "supermarket" (basically a few aisles of moldering produce and dry goods) or you could do takeout. A recent trip to the sidewalk window netted three fat drumsticks, a heaving helping of rice and beans, fried plantains, and an iceberg lettuce salad with tomato and pepper. All that for $7, no tax, no fuss.
Lakeside Cafe
There can be no more charming a setting for an informal alfresco lunch than smack dab in the middle of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Right by the conservatory, to be precise. A stone's throw from the rare plant section, but remember: People who dine by glass houses shouldn't throw stones. There is seating for 150 to 200 people, and a concise selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches to soothe nature lovers of all stripes. We like the feature sandwiches (each $7.95), especially panini Caprese, a baguette rife with ripe Redland tomatoes (seasonal), fresh mozzarella, and basil aioli. We are also partial to black forest ham wrapped in a pesto tortilla with dilled havarti cheese, cucumbers, and tomato. Another favorite is mango chicken salad, which lends itself to the environment in a very natural manner. So do cool "hand-crafted" tropical sodas in flavors such as tangerine, watermelon, and kiwi. These are made on-premises using real fruit concentrates and pure cane sugar, and provide a kick as effervescent as any Chihuly sculpture.
(Sung to the tune of "Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard")

Mama Pajama roll out of work and she run to the Sky Lakes Mall, man
I say, "Oy, if she beats us there, boy
There'll be no more wraps or sandwiches left there.
"So I'm on my way
I'm thirsting for a smoothie
Maybe one of 100-plus juices,
Or a salubrious protein shake
Goodbye, Mickey-Dee
The scourge of America
Me at Julio's Natural Food Store
I say me at Julio's Natural Food Store.

Damn — too short a song to get all the details in (knew we should have gone with "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"!): the clean, white walls with green leaf motif. The complimentary tray of cucumber wedges and carrot sticks. The assortment of soups, the steamed veggie plate, the grilled tofu with nutty brown rice, tuna fish salad heated with Serrano chiles, fish dishes, and a flock of chicken dishes too. Huevos rancheros is one of a number of breakfast treats — and good coffee drinks! Julio's stays open for dinner as well. Juices and smoothies are $3 to $9, breakfast $6 to $9, and all entrees are less than $10 ($12 for fish). Come to think of it, with prices this low, we should have chosen a 50 Cent tune.

A+very+appealing+duo%3A+Delicious+food+and+reasonably+priced+wines
Jonathan++Postal
A+very+appealing+duo%3A+Delicious+food+and+reasonably+priced+wines
Tower of Power refers to:A. A Seventies funk bandB. A massive solar energy collector in the Australian outbackC. The floor-to-ceiling wine racks at Duo, currently housing more than 1300 vintagesD. Duo's stacked mozzarella and tomato salad, with olive and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette ($11)The answer is all of the above, but it's the food and wine at Duo that make the Brickell-area spot perfect for power lunching. No need to try to discreetly discover your clients' or colleagues' food preferences. The menu of creative but unfussy contemporary American fare covers all bases, from elegant (the Duo tartare — diced tuna plus thin-sliced salmon, with wasabi ponzu sauce, $14) to meat-and-potatoes (a churrasco with chimichurri rivaling that of any Argentine steakhouse, $19). For the price of the latter entrée, there's also a full three-course business lunch that changes daily. And light eaters are also accommodated with imaginative salads and sandwiches, or a protein diet-friendly broiled whitefish that's basic but perfectly done. Whatever one eats, there's a wine to match (at prices ranging from $25 to $1400), from a list eclectic enough to impress even the most jaded aficionado — and the place's knowledgeable but unstuffy servers will make you look good making the choice. It's possible to eat outside, at sidewalk café tables raised several steps above street level, but the high-ceilinged, sleek yet comfortably informal interior space is a more relaxing retreat from business hustle and bustle.
Bin No. 18
Courtesy of Bin No. 18
Just because you're operating your business on a pauper's budget is no reason you can't be a power player in the business lunch game. It's all about one-upmanship. A 24-ounce porterhouse at an expensive steakhouse may be the obvious way to impress, but you can win points on insider info if you take your opponent — that is, your business colleague — to this new (and as yet largely undiscovered) European-style market/bistro. The decor, a mix of contemporary industrial (loftlike high ceilings, exposed pipes, concrete) and warm Old World (wine barrel tables), makes it clear that what you lack in big bucks you make up in cosmopolitan cool. The menu may seem like your basic food categories that begin with an "s" stuff— soups, sandwiches, salads, small plates, sides. But your colleague will notice that dishes like a crabcake with Dijon mustard cream and smoked cole slaw ($12), or an evocative Amalfi coast salad (with imported Italian tuna, olive tapenade, white boqueron anchovies, hard-boiled egg, cannelini beans, and fresh herbs; $12) are made with astonishingly high-quality ingredients and far more imagination than usual. Make sure to let it slip that chef/owner Alfredo Patino was formerly chef de cuisine at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove's Bizcaya (and, before that, at the Shore Club's Ago) before giving up all that luxe vulgarity to be his own boss. Admittedly the location, in the ground floor of a Biscayne Boulevard condo just north of the Performing Arts Center, is hardly business central. But driving from Brickell or the beach is easy when you know that the place has a hidden parking lot (in back of the building and across the street, on Northeast Second Avenue) that's fenced — and free, so it doesn't cut into your lunch budget.
Doraku Izakaya and Sushi
Courtesy of Doraku
Sally seeks Doraku for the sake of the sake, or sometimes simply to sip saketinis. She salivates over the sensational sushi, sashimi, and seafood specialties — salmon, scallops, snapper, shrimp, sea bass, surf clams, smelt fish roe, and so on. She sighs when skimming over the salad section — should she snare the seared salmon salad soaked with yuzu, seaweed salad with sesame vinaigrette, seasoned squid and spring greens squired with spicy peanut sauce, or seafood salad with salmon, snapper, whitefish, mango, and miso dressingç The price for the spectrum of salads is sort of the same: $6 to $13. Such scrumptious selections!
Christy's Restaurant
A great caesar salad is a dish of rare beauty. A great free caesar salad is so rare and beauteous you want to fall to your knees and thank Goddess (or Caesar Cardini, who invented the thing). Actually the caesar salad at this old-timey Coral Gables steakhouse isn't exactly free; it comes with the price of your entrée (which will range from $20 to $36), preferably a thick, juicy, blood-rare slab of aged Midwestern beef, as tender as a lover's caress and tasty as a lover's ... well, you get the idea. But back to the caesar. The lettuce is the requisite pale and crunchy inner leaves of romaine, the dressing creamy but not overly so, achieving the perfect tart-pungent balance that makes the caesar the emperor of salads.
Wish Restaurant
Most of the 120 seats in this Todd Oldham-designed restaurant are outdoors, amid lush foliage and shaded by oversize umbrellas. Chairs are swathed in vibrantly colored prints, and candlelights flicker upon each linen-draped table in this romantic, tropical garden setting. Ice cubes likewise flicker in the special electric cocktails. The cuisine produced by just about any chef in South Florida would have trouble competing with so scene-stealingly stunning an ambiance, but luckily for Wish, Michael Bloise is not just any chef. He is much, much better. There is, in fact, no restaurant terrace, patio, porch, or outdoor area of any sort in this county where finer food sits under starry skies. Tuna tartare with pickled ginger sorbet. Sesame-battered shrimp atop watermelon-tomato "kimchee." Strawberry shortcake in warm strawberry-vanilla soup with mascarpone cannoli and balsamic ice cream. Creative and exquisite American/haute Asian cuisine so blindingly scrumptious that you would be happy as hell eating it while seated in a cardboard box. But, of course, you are not. For lovers of fine dining and open air, Wish is a wish come true. Readers' Choice: Café Sambal
Mario's Latin Cafe
If you're traveling through South Florida, Homestead is a good place to stop to refuel your internally combusted steed. And Mario's classy, comfortable restaurant next to the Inn at Homestead is a fine place to refuel yourself as well, by sucking down a perfectly made café cubano, a.k.a. Cuban nitroglycerin. Whether in the good-looking, tile-floored dining room or outdoors on the expansive, awning-covered patio, your cubano comes with a properly foamy head atop a sweet, syrupy, wickedly caffeinated coffee. It's cheaper than unleaded regular and a lot better for you. For 55 cents, you can get it 24 hours a day at Mario's takeout window.
Hofbräu Beerhall Miami
Hofbräu M¨nchen beer on draft (lager, wheat, and dark). Eminently engaging Lincoln Road people-watching. Bavarian pretzels ($2.95), pork schnitzel ($16.95), the best w¨rst plates in town ($10-$15). Open until 1:00 a.m. Hofbräu M¨nchen beer on draft ($6.95 for 17 ounces; $11.95 for the 34-ounce mug).Who needs, or even wants, a dinner companionçReaders' Choice: Pizza Rustica

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®