Chinese food is probably one of the most amateur-attempted cuisines around; we've all tasted some variation of a beef Szechuan gone wrong. In addition to all of those wokky catastrophes you can create on your own, there are more take-out joints in town than bottles of soy sauce in Publix. Makes you wonder: Could that rumor about there not being any decent Chinese food options outside of New York be true? Wrong again, snowbirds! If a heaping helping of yummy traditionally prepared Chinese food is what you're craving, make South Beach your destination. For three years, Mr. Chu's has been serving up Cantonese-style dishes that you've tried before (but done right, this time), such as delicious dumplings (starting at $6 an order), a harmoniously sweet and spicy General Tso's chicken, tender beef with broccoli, and perfectly pan-fried noodles. But this traditional eatery also gives you the chance to try — with no trepidation — China's exotic fare. Dig into the Peking duck, head-on and carved tableside for $38 — we hear it's a favorite of Britain's former prime minister, Tony Blair. Or maybe you'd rather the aromatic chicken with basil (braised in three flavors of soy sauce) tickle your taste buds, or the pineapple fried rice ($16). From the sauces to the soups, all menu items are freshly prepared; you won't catch any of the chefs ripping open pouches of sweet-and-sour sauce to ladle over your chicken. And if you crave dim sum from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. any day, more than 58 fried, steamed, and baked items served from a typical push-cart will be sure to satisfy you, and dim sum.

Chef Chen Chinese Restaurant

The history of the won ton dates to ancient Chinese times, and since then, people have had to choose their soup: egg drop or won ton? Well, maybe it hasn't been that long — but it is a problem. Do you order the rich, thick egg drop or the savory won ton? If you go to Chef Chen's, you won't have to decide. Here they serve an egg drop/won ton combo with wispy threads of egg plus freshly made dumplings. And it's cheap: A quart costs $3.25, a pint just $1.80. Hours are Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday noon to 10 p.m.

Kron Chocolatier

Deep in the heart of darkest Aventura, the intrepid explorer can find a treasure so sublime that many people have ... gasp ... thrown caution to the wind to seek it. Yes, it always has to do with cocoa. Krön Chocolatier has long been the favorite of the area's high-end chocolate lovers. The place not only sells your typical treats and truffles but also specializes in crafting standout gifts that will impress the worldliest connoisseur, your girlfriend, and even your Jewish grandmother. They also cook up life-size ladies' torsos and legs, in chocolate, for the cannibal or bachelor in your life who deserves only the very best. Don't forget to try the scrumptious cookies while you're there!

Abraham's Bakery has an oversize snack cake that puts the d in decadent. Called a Yodek, it's rather like a Ho Ho that's bigger than your head. For $8.50, you get one of these meatloaf-size logs of supermoist chocolate wonderfulness. Stare in wonder at the thick squirt of sweet white buttercream dancing down the center of the cake from end to end. A curtain of rich dark chocolate covers the whole thing. You'll want to pick it up and eat it with your hands, but even a fairy would have enough manners to use a fork. No knife necessary.

Cafetto Coffee and Cocoa

Opened in 2006, Cafetto is a French-style coffee shop with a local flavor. On any given morning, owners Anne-Marie and Oliver can be found behind the counter serving freshly roasted java while chatting up the mostly local clientele. There are eight coffee flavors to choose from, including Jamaican rum, tiramisu, and cinnamon. There's also an ample selection of teas and natural freshly squeezed juices. The darkly lit main room gives the place the perfect vibe for sipping an espresso macchiato ($1.40) or a small cappuccino ($2.50), which comes with standard milk or organic lactose-free soy. To make things sweeter, Cafetto is one of the very few spots on the Beach offering free wi-fi, while the ample, comfortable seating makes it the ideal place to simply sit back and watch the world go by.

Grease, library paste, and pencil erasers. Yum! Well, these seem to be the ingredients in most conch fritters around here. But not at this cute little eatery that channels the funky Keys next door to haughty Coral Gables. The golf-ball-size beauties (costing eight bucks for six) boast remarkably light interiors and crisp, greaseless, fetchingly bronze exteriors. Subtly flavored with scallions and red pepper, the shards of Bahamian conch are pleasantly chewy but don't require hours of unpleasant mastication. No hair on your palms either!

Goldie's Conch House

Goldie's easily has the best conch salad in South Florida. It's the way they prepare it. They take diced raw conch, combine it with sweet and hot peppers, onions, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, and freshly squeezed juices from limes, lemons, and oranges. A guy cuts it all up while he stands outside at a table, and no matter how many times you've been there, you can't help but watch him do it. It's a chopping master class. Once it's all done, he dishes it up and folks pick up their orders. Business is so good on weekends that he usually handles eight to ten orders at once, and by the time he's done, he has built a mound of it that's at least a foot high. It's only 10 bucks for a huge, family-size bowl. There's live music Friday nights and DJs on Saturdays, and it's the gathering spot for Bahamians in Miami-Dade. Goldie's also serves breakfast, and it's never too early for conch salad. There's also a guy there who washes cars and someone who sets up a tent and sells bootleg CDs, knock-off purses (Coach, Gucci, you name it), and anything else ya need. It's where island and hood connect, and if you're in the mood for a place with good food and lot's of culture, Goldie's is the place.

Lost & Found Saloon

Gentrification stinks. Prices rise and longtime residents get pushed out. But let's look on the bright side of the hipsters' and artists' presence in Wynwood. Cookies! Big, yummy cookies! Three dollars will buy a chocolate chip, Reese's peanut butter cup, or vanilla macadamia nut cookie at the cozy and creative Lost & Found Saloon on NW 36th Street. Served warm on a small plate with a knife and fork, these treats are large enough to share. At least Wynwood's working class can enjoy some damn tasty cookies while they still live there.

There's something about crêpes that's unspeakably chic, like watching a Godard movie in some funky little art house in the Fifth Arrondissement while sipping a rough red wine and chain-smoking Gauloises. Well, a shopping mall on Key Biscayne is a long way from Paris, but the crêpes at Crêpe Lounge are still plenty chic. These little discs of milk, flour, and eggs are tender as a sweet nothing and delicate as fine lace. Fillings have great range too. There are fresh veggies, pesto, and mozzarella. And of course there are the combos — everything from deliciously elemental crêpes Suzettes to mildly spiced chicken curry and lusty beef Stroganoff. Prices range from $8 to $22. Of course, you can't smoke. But you don't have to watch Godard movies either.

Croissant D'Or
George Martinez

If there is one thing for which we have to thank the French, it's the croissant. Every breakfast aficionado knows the flaky pastry is the étoile de petit déjeuner. If you commute around downtown, you have probably missed Croissant D'or, which is nestled among a multitude of other shops. At first glance, the place seems like a normal, everyday bakery Américain. Hell, it has the word croissant right in the name, so I don't blame you for making the assumption. But the bistro-style restaurant serves salads, sandwiches, and other breakfast and lunch items. The place is claustrophobic; everything about downtown screams claustrophobia. But that doesn't mean this is a hole-in-the-wall operation serving day-old products. The restaurant prepares croissants daily and serves them warm. They're a tad expensive (around $4 a pop) but worth it. Don't be fooled by the shape of the chocolate croissant, which looks more like a Cuban pastry. It'll knock you into a diabetic coma.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®