Best Conch Salad 2008 | Goldie's Conch House | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Admit it: When you first heard about B.E.D.'s concept of high-end dining on oversize mattresses, you figured it would last about as long as the first shipment of sheets. That was more than 10 years ago. Yet after a recent resprucing, the restaurant is still attracting those who enjoy pillow talk over small-plate selections of global-fusion cuisine. The new menu includes goat-cheese-and-fig fritters, fried calamari, Peruvian lomo saltado, and rigatoni rigged with four cheeses. Most items are less than $20, all under $25, for profits are culled from booze and bottle service —which brings us to the other dreamy aspect of the place: After dining, you can roll right out of bed and into a boisterous club scene.

Emeril Lagasse actually hails from Fall River, Massachusetts, but he's an honorary Southerner because of his heavy ties to New Orleans, where he's been opening restaurants since 1990. And nobody makes a good homemade pie better than a Southerner. So check out the selection at his eponymous place at the St. Moritz Hotel in Miami Beach, where desserts go for $8 to $10. There's banana cream with caramel sauce and dark chocolate shavings, or mango key lime kicked up a notch with sugared fried plantains, or the classic pecan ... Bam! And other desserts — such as caramel-apple cobbler with cinnamon ice cream, or a skillet-baked brownie with chocolate ganache, caramel, and vanilla bean ice cream — aren't quintessentially Southern, but they are damn good, especially as a means of closing out a New Orleans lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch.

The door of the S&S Diner opened and two men walked in. They sat down at the counter. There were no tables.

"What's yours?" the waitress asked them.

"I don't know," one of the men said. "What do you want to eat, Al?"

"I don't know," said Al. "I don't know what I want to eat."

Outside it was getting hot. The traffic slowed down on Second Avenue. The two men at the counter read the menu.

"I'll take ham and eggs," said the man called Al. He wore a fedora. His face was small.

"Give me bacon and eggs," said the other man. He was about the same size as Al. Their faces were different, but they were dressed like twins. They sat leaning forward, their elbows on the counter.

"This is a hot town," said Al. "What do they call it?"


"Ever hear of it?" Al asked his friend.

"No," said the friend.

"What do they do here midday?" Al asked.

"They eat the big lunch," his friend said. "They all come here and eat the big lunch."

"So you think that's right?" Al asked the kid sitting next to them.

"Sure," the kid said.

"You're a pretty bright boy, aren't you?"


"Ain't he a bright boy, Max?" Al said.

"The town's full of bright boys," Max said.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®