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
El Pub
The container is always the same: a small styrofoam cup with tight-fitting white plastic lid. The recipe doesn't vary much either: generally Bustelo-brand espresso in a 50/50 mix with steamed milk. Plus lots of sugar. It will come as sweet as candy unless you plead, over and over again, for no sugar. And then it will still come sweetened. Try saying it in Spanish: café con leche SIN AZUCAR, por favor. Three or four times. That usually works. But we digress. Point is, once you've seen and tasted one café con leche in Miami, it seems as though you have seen and tasted them all. So in attempting to discern the best, other circumstantial factors must be weighed. Can you get the coffee at a ventanita without having to enter the restaurant? At El Pub you sure can, and the window here opens onto Calle Ocho and all the color that entails. Not only can you lean nonchalantly at the outdoor counter and take part in the cafecito ritual with other casual locals, but you can also get a glass of fresh sugar cane juice, or order some solid Cuban fare. Just want a little cup of ice water with your coffeeç A thermos of it, with paper cones, is in its traditional spot at the corner of the counter. So you can nab a similar café con leche around town, at about the same price ($1.50). You just won't find a better spot in which to drink it.

Best Restaurant for Intimate Conversation

Creek 28

The Indian Creek Hotel
The outdoor patio is where you want to sit — it's so sexy and serene, and has those tiny twinkling lights strung through the air like on some Venetian veranda. Warm your mate up with some small talk while perusing chef Kira Volz's Mediterranean menu. Make yourself appear hip to gastronomic goings-on by commenting on how much you enjoyed Ms. Volz's cuisine at the late great Abbey Dining Room (lamenting its demise will help you look sensitive). Inhale the aromas of the Spanish, Greek, and Moroccan-influenced foods while silently dreaming of walking through these places, hand in hand, with the person across the table. Confess your admiration over hominy-pooled chicken posole ($18). Regain your cool via scallops grilled Sicilian style, with saffron tomato sauce ($15). Be daring, and don't even think about the cost of intimacy — entrees run a reasonable $15 to $25. For heaven's sake, don't forget the wine — something bold and spicy perhapsç A Rozaleme Tempranillo from Spain (just $29) should suffice, though if you really want intimate conversation, it might be worthwhile to spring for a more complex Napa Valley Syrah ($65). Whisper sweet nothings over warm baklava with poached apricots and honeyed yogurt. Mmmmmm...
Che Tano
The American butcher is dead. He was flattened by a cross-country truck packed with Boar's Head lunchmeat and buried under a pile of supermarket killhouse fare. And while you can brave the obnoxious foodie crowd at Whole Foods for a $9 organic porkchop, that's not what red meat is about. At Che, Tano, they know this. Swim through the sea of hard-to-find Italian coffees, fresh bread, empanadas, cheeses, pastries, and sandwiches to get to the monolithic meat section. There you'll find spirals of fresh salchicha, whole sides of prime churrasco, and piles of blood sausage. A friendly staff will assist you with gauging your needs ("Twelve peopleç" "Eight-and-a-half pounds."). They'll give you tips on preparation too. Grab a bag of hardwood charcoal and you're ready to mess with Texas.The Argentine carniceria has been in business for more than ten years, hidden in a little West Kendall shopping mall behind a Dunkin' Donuts. Prices are reasonable, if not cheap, with sausage and beef usually costing between $5 and $6 per pound.

Best Restaurant for Dining During a Hurricane

Timo

Timo Restaurant & Bar
George Martinez
We could mention the huge mondo-condo skyscraping towers across the street from Timo, and how, if the hurricane cooperated and blew its gales from east to west, they would buffet the friendly neighborhood restaurant in highly effective fashion. Or we could point to the brick wall in the back of the 120-seat eatery, by the open hearth that shoots out the crispest of wood-fired pizzas, and say "Solid as a rock — let's see a storm try to blow this baby down." But we know better than that. The real reason we'd like to dine at Timo during a hurricane is that we'd like to dine here any time. Plus if you're gonna get stuck someplace, why not in a cozy room with chef/partner Tim Andriola's comforting Italian-Mediterranean cuisineç Let the winds howl as you indulge in crisp oyster salad with white beans and pancetta, or confit of duck with roasted pear, red wine, and goat cheese. Laugh at the sheets of rain while filling your gullet with pappardelle, chicken livers, wild mushrooms, pancetta, and rosemary. Mock the cruelty of Mother Nature while munching on rustic meat dishes and grilled seafoods, and thank the lord for your good fortune while joyously clicking together glasses of Rustenberg Chardonnay, or any of the wondrously eclectic wines overseen by partner Rodrigo Martinez. Such scrumptious meals, with shelter included, won't cost much, either — small plates are all under $20, bigger main courses under $30. The cheese selection here is unusually extensive, desserts are peerless, and, for once, waiting around fifteen minutes for your soufflé shouldn't be a problem.
Your average Yucatecan wouldn't know a taco from a meatball parmigiana sandwich, but don't tell that to the owners of this neat and petite 40-seat restaurant, which specializes in cuisine from the Mayan peninsula. After all, if they want to sneak some fetching Mexican and Tex-Mex items onto their menu, it would be wrong of us to spoil things with regional quibbling — especially when among the non-Yucatecan delights are the most kickass tacos al pastor in town.The trio of corn tortillas come sumptuously plumped with nothing but pork, the smoky nubs of meat softly grilled and subtly sweetened with pineapples and onions. Refried beans, salsa verde, and guacamole are served on the side, which is downright generous for a plate costing just $8.49. Plus it leaves plenty of pesos for glasses of Dos XX on tap.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®