Everyone in this neighborhood knows the Jamaican-born Cliff, who has been cooking up a storm in his ramshackle roadside restaurant since 1986. It's difficult to find anybody around here, in fact, who hasn't sat down at one of the stools lined along a counter and dug into curried shrimp, stew peas, pork chops, cow feet, or other West Indian specialties that Cliff's crew does just right. Lunch specials include any of the aforementioned, with pigeon rice, steamed cabbage, fried plantains, and fruit punch or lemonade — for a downright neighborly sum of $5.50. The same price brings a breakfast of yam, banana dumpling, and callaloo, but we haven't even mentioned the really lip-smacking stuff found at Cliff's: curried goat with a devilish ginger-masala kick, and barbecued and/or jerked chicken and pork ribs that get slow-cooked in a black barbecue smoker outside. Ask for the hotter barbecue sauce, which is perked with piquant Scotch bonnet chilies, and request a Red Stripe Beer to chug along. You are set. Cliff's roots, rocks, and reggaes on weekend nights, when giant speakers gush island music until 3:00 a.m
Nikki Beach Miami
Courtesy of Nikki Beach
All-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffets aren't about precision-cooked food; they're about luxuriating in horn of plenty-type decadence for a few hours before the weekly grind begins again. And Nikki Beach — with its bed tables and private dining (or whatever) teepees in the oceanfront dunes, not to mention its famously hard-partying patrons and equally famous mojitos — so defines decadence that it's hard to believe the word existed before the place did. So it's good to know that after about a year's experiment with a normal, choose-one brunch menu, the more fitting too-much-ain't-enough beachfront buffet is back. You've got your sweets: mini croissants, Danish, muffins, bagels, and so on, plus a full array of desserts, including lovely fruit tarts, flan, and cr?me brûlée. You've got your salad station, featuring fruit and Caprese salads (both the fruit and the mozzarella fresh), several prepared mixed salads, crudités or greens with a choice of dressings, and a selection of cold cuts and cheeses. There's sushi — tuna, salmon, and vegetable makis, and good seaweed salad and edamame to go with it. There's even breakfast food — scrambled eggs, French toast, and omelettes that are custom-prepared, with diners' choice of smoked salmon, cheese, ham, mushrooms, and much more. There are bigger brunch buffets in town, but at $29.95, this one's less than half the price of the biggest ... and, considering the setting, more than twice as suitable for a self-indulgent Sunday.
Francisco Cabrera came to Miami from Havana in 1980. "I am a licensed food vendor, living the American dream!" he proclaims, smiling. You might see Francisco speeding up and down Biscayne Boulevard in his bright-orange mobile hot dog stand. It looks like a large golf cart with a small cooking grill on the back. "I like to call it the snow cone mobile," he says. A jumbo hot dog with French fries and a snow cone goes for $3.50. Free condiments include sauerkraut, sweet onions, relish, and of course ketchup, mayo, and mustard. Super Franizado is the antithesis of a drive-through, since cars can wave him down to pull over. Which he always does.
Francesco Restaurant
Other dining establishments might pop to mind when dwelling upon Coral Gables' finest, for the "City Beautiful" boasts an enviable array of worthwhile dinner spots. But this Peruvian gem, tucked away on a quiet, nondescript street, is suffused with the sort of across-the-board excellence and attention to detail that would make a Michelin writer swoon; especially considering that entrées are so very reasonably priced, in the mid-twenty-dollar range (although some go up to $44). The room is warm with woods and wines (an exceptional list, natch). Fresh-cut flowers grace the tables. Service is personable and refined. Owner Franco Danovaro keeps a close eye on the operation, while his father Aldo runs the original Francesco in Peru — one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Lima for two decades now. Aldo brought a few chefs from that city to help him re-create great Peruvian cuisine here, and it is evident from the first bite of bracing ceviche just how fully they have succeeded. Tiraditos are top shelf too, as are the rest of a slew of seafood dishes — none better than stewed octopus on Peruvian white bean risotto (seco de pulpo). Come Tuesday and Wednesday evenings there is even live cello music. Now how are you going to beat that?
Taste of Bombay
This little downtown spot is a favorite of lawyers and bankers in the know — leave it to affluent powerbrokers to find the best deals. For $9.95, you get a beautiful feast of chicken, beef, and lamb vindaloos and tandoris, piles of flaky samosas, pools of creamy dal, and addictive vegetable dishes such as aloo gobi, an aromatic blend of cauliflower, potatoes and green peas. Okay, you're thinking, but I don't want to eat in some grungy joint. Far from it: linen table cloths, nice silver, and prompt service make Taste of Bombay an all-around sensory treat. If for some reason one of your party can't handle the Indian delicacies, they can check out the smaller Chinese buffet and pizza selection at Taste of Bombay's next-door annex.
When prehistoric man cooked the first piece of chicken, he dreamed of a succulent piece of meat encased by a jacket of crispy, perfectly seasoned skin. And that hunch-backed, big-foreheaded man dreamed of said chicken being juicy, and with a hint of thyme and rosemary that would dance on his tongue. And he thought, "Maybe it would be good propped up on a pillow of horseradish mashed potatoes!" Sadly, bro-Magnon's chicken probably didn't come out the way he imagined it back then, but thanks to his reincarnation as a Geico spokesperson he does have another chance to fulfill his dream with the "Crispy Chicken Madison" at 510 Ocean. For $22 you get a hunka-hunka chicken and a mound of perfectly spicy mashed potatoes. The words to describe this dish go something like mouthwatering, scrumptious, divine, et cetera, et cetera. It's so delicious, even a caveman can tell.

Best Restaurant in North Miami-Dade

Michy's

Michy's
A decade ago, New Times's "Best of Miami" issue awarded Best Chef to Susan Ferry; we had singled out Scott Howard for that distinction the year before. Who are these people? Exactly. We've come a long way baby, and so has Michelle Bernstein. In a town now well illuminated by star chefs, none shines brighter than our local girl made good. And whether we're talking South Beach or South Florida as a whole, no dining establishment currently carries more cachet than Michy's. The room is cute and funky, the service supreme. The wine list is creatively categorized and flush with bottles for less than $50. The raw bar sparkles. But the main reason it is near impossible to secure a table for dinner here is that the food is so flippin' fantastic. The seasonally sensitive menu selections are forged from the finest locally grown comestibles, many organic and all farm-fresh. And Ms. Bernstein remains a hands-on practitioner of her craft who can regularly be found cooking away in the kitchen. Michy's winning formula isn't difficult to grasp: Great ingredients plus great chef equals great cuisine. Sharing half-course portions, ranging in price from $6 to $15, is an ideal way to sample the wide spectrum of eclectic fare. There are way too many recommendable dishes to tally here, but we'd be remiss not to mention the jamon croquettes with fig jam; beef short ribs with mashed potatoes; polenta with runny poached egg, bacon, pecorino Romano cheese, and shaved truffles; and baked Alaska with dulce de leche ice cream. Trust us: A decade from now, when you read the name Michelle Bernstein, you won't be asking who she is. In fact you'll most likely have a clear recollection of every morsel of food you sampled at the very memorable Michy's.
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.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®