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.

Gilbert's Bakery
George Martinez

Only the French could think of deep-frying meat and béchamel and giving it a cute little name like croquette. Only the Cubans, however, could make it a mainstay of every gas station and coffee shop in a town of two million people.

Sadly the Miami croqueta is generally paltry: stale, artery-clogging torpedoes comprising boiled ham or dry chicken.

Thankfully Gilbert's Bakery, which has been in business in Miami for more than 30 years, has mastered the art. In addition to the old standbys, the place offers asparagus, cheese, and codfish selections. There's also chorizo, as well as the delectable Romesco — styled after the spicy Spanish sauce made with nuts and chilies. Wait a few seconds for these bad boys to take hold. They expand in your gut. By the way, they're 50 cents a pop.

Molina's Ranch Restaurant

So you're tired of all those Little Havana joints where the tourists go? Try Molina's, with branches in West Dade and Hialeah — the real Cuban Miami. This place feels like old Havana with a touch of Miami cool. The day we were there recently, nobody — including the waitress — spoke English. It was ungodly clean and perfect. The food was hot, the batidos cold, and the cafecitos clearly some mix of rocket jet fuel and bilge water — just the way we like it. A quarter chicken with plantains, fluffy rice, and hearty black beans goes for a mere $6.95. Picadillo, the ground-beef brilliance you must eat to get the full experience, is only $6.95. Flan fantástico costs just $3.95. But the reason you'll love Molina's isn't the food. It's how you'll feel after downing that last spoonful. Here, at the American version of la isla, is a cool out-of-country experience available nowhere else in the world. La Cuba de su alma — the Cuba of your soul.

Morro Castle

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night hankering for a good Cuban sandwich, one with tender ham and pork, melted Swiss cheese, crisp dill pickles, tangy mustard, and crunchy-soft Cuban bread? It's a horrible dilemma for two reasons: First, odds are you don't have the grill and fixings to make one. And second, most Cuban restaurants close by 8 p.m. But Morro Castle in Hialeah is open late — 1 a.m. late — and it serves some of the best Cuban comida this side of Havana. The sandwiches Cubanos come with so much meat you'll swear a pig was slaughtered just for you. If you're able to finish off one of these savory delectables, you might find yourself looking for a corner to nap in. Plus, Morro Castle is probably the only joint where you can see the juxtaposition of Elvis Presley and Cuba's presidential palace. Like the sandwich, the place is quite surreal.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®