B.E.D. Miami

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's Miami Beach

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.

S&S Diner

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?"

"Miami."

"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?"

"Sure."

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

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

From the outside, the place resembles an old Masonic lodge. Although some folks consider Steak & Ale a chain restaurant, this one is a relic. Let's call it the "dinosaur of chain restaurants," since there are not many left. The interior ambiance is elegant and romantic, in a late-Seventies sort of way: dark, with candles burning on every table throughout the day. There are stained-glass windows, a fireplace, and dusty bookshelves. Sure the bathroom doors read, "Lords" and "Ladies," but near the salad bar, you can hear Black Sabbath blaring from inside the kitchen. The red vinyl seats and wooden tables are packed every afternoon between 3 and 6 p.m., when the early birds come out for the "Early Evening" menu; there is usually a wait, and here's why: Items such as grilled meat loaf ($9.99), Hawaiian chicken ($9.49), herb-roasted prime rib ($13.99), and top sirloin ($12.49) come with signature honey wheat bread, soup or salad, a dessert, and choice of tea, coffee, or a soft drink. We recommend the coffee, which is strong and comes in a gigantic porcelain mug with free refills, just like the good old days.

Delicias de España

Empanadas can be such a good thing. What could be better than an easy-to-carry pouch full of spiced meat? Sadly, more often then not, they are little pockets of disappointment: ancient, dry things that sit under heat lamps in gas stations. In the old-old country (Spain, not Cuba), they were heavenly. The tradition continues at this market, which churns out fat pies filled with cod, ham, tuna, chorizo, or chicken. Each slice is about the size of a DVD case and three times as thick — it's yours for $3.50. For $23 you can have the whole sheet. Be careful, though: This place has everything fine and Spanish. The chorizo is rich with the smoky flavors of authentic pimentón. The cheese is pricey and delicious. The Serrano is second to none. Even the women are pretty, frank, and funny. Get in, get your empanada, and get out, lest you wind up penniless and love-struck.

Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant

At the crossroads of Asia and Africa, Ethiopia took the best of what the old spice routes from the East had to offer and applied it to the local foodstuffs. The result was a hearty array of meats, legumes, and vegetables suffused with complex but delicate flavorings. And the unique injera bread doubles as a utensil, making dinner as fun as it is tasty. Sheba is a little more upscale than the average Ethiopian restaurant you might find in Washington, D.C. or Los Angeles, but it isn't a typical Ethiopian place, either. Several of its more "exotic" dishes work the flavors of the Mediterranean and West Africa into the mix, giving the restaurant a more extensive and interesting menu. The best introduction to the cuisine is one of the sampler platters for two ($46 to $56) or the doro wat ($21), the national dish of Ethiopia. Vegetarians have a number of delicious options that cost between $12 and $16. Meat platters are a little pricier ($20 to $25). Sheba is also more than just a restaurant: An adjoining gallery fits very well into the Design District's art appeal.

Escopazzo

If you're taking a health-conscious person to Escopazzo, by all means trumpet the rustic 90-seat restaurant's use of local, all-organic fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Definitely mention the beef is grass-fed as well as hormone-and-antibiotic-free, and point out raw selections on the menu such as golden flaxseed pappardelle with mushrooms and pine nut "Parmigiano." Order a bottle of organic wine.

But if you're taking someone who just wants delectable Italian fare, no need to make a fuss about Escopazzo's more salubrious aspects. Let your companion enjoy smoked beef carpaccio, tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce, beef short ribs braised in Barbera wine, or espresso-dusted, American Kurobuta pork tenderloin stuffed with scamorza cheese, without any explanations. A starter of asparagus flan with fontina and provola cheeses, shiitake mushrooms, and white truffle oil is so luxuriously rewarding that your friend won't even notice it's vegetarian. Chef/owners Giancarla and Pino Bodoni have been producing contemporary Italian food with flair since 1993 (dinner, not lunch), but a seat at the table doesn't come cheap — pastas are in the upper $20 range, fish and meat entrées $30 to $58. You get what you pay for, though, whether or not you know what you're getting.

Los Tres Amigos

Sometimes you have to venture into the hood to find true treasures in the Magic City. Mark Los Tres Amigos on your map. Located across the street from the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner's Office, in the heart of Allapattah's produce warehouse district, this authentic Mexican restaurant has been serving up scrumptious food for more than 20 years. Just look for the big sign on the roof of the eatery's sunshine-yellow storefront. When it comes to putting together a sizzling, filling plate of shrimp, beef, or chicken fajitas, Los Tres Amigos has you covered. The platter comes with your usual Mexican side fare of yellow rice, refried beans, and tortillas, but it's the details that make this place lo mejor. Try the shaved radishes, lettuce salad, plump jalapeño peppers, and refried beans alongside your tortilla chips. And all of it won't cost you more than seven bucks. Wash your hearty meal down with a cheleda — Modelo Negro with a splash of lime juice served in a frosty, salt-rimmed mug — while you sway to the authentic Mexican music playing from the jukebox. Mmmm, good. Los Tres Amigos is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. There's no parking lot, but you can snag a spot on the street behind the restaurant.

Host: Welcome to The Dating Game. Tonight Sally will choose her dream match from among our three charming and eager contestants. Go ahead, Sally, ask your first question.

Sally: Number one, if you were a sandwich, what type would you be?

Number one: A falafel.

Sally: And why is that?

Number one: It's ethnic and hot, just like me, baby.

Sally: Oh great. Number two, same question.

Number two: A falafel, because it's not full of baloney, and neither am I!

Sally: How original. Number three?

Number three: A falafel.

Sally: What are you, fucking triplets?

Host: Please, Sally, this is a family show.

Number three: But I'd be a falafel sandwich from Oriental Bakery & Grocery, with a fresh mix of diced tomato and cucumber, a slight smear of the smoothest hummus in town, and a frolicking splash of sesame tahini. I'd be nattily dressed in a laffa jacket baked on premises, and retain a lightness about me — not greasy like number one, or heavy like number two. Oriental has been around since 1939, so I'd be a falafel with maturity steeped in experience. As one who appreciates world culture, I'd be surrounded by olives from Persia to Palestine to Peru. And I'm a fair and reasonable guy, just like the pricing here: $4.50 for a sandwich guaranteed to please.

Sally: Wow — add a jolt of hot sauce and my knickers are all yours.

Host: Sally!

Upper Eastside Green Market

In the subtropics, most of the places called farmers' markets sell tchotchkes to tourists. But this new neighborhood-generated venture peddles the real thing: fresh produce and good, edible regional products. Although vendors vary somewhat, roughly 20 show up each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The selection has been impressive enough to lure shoppers such as chefs Michael Schwartz and Michelle Bernstein. We recently bought just-picked tomatoes for $1.99 per pound, bulb onions for a buck a bunch, humongous HoneyBell tangerines for 50 cents apiece, unusual white-and-lavender Sicilian eggplants for $1.69 a pound, and much more. There have also been many varieties of unprocessed regional honey and local seafood (stone crab claws and shrimp for $8 per pound and grouper fillets for $10). Additionally, many booths sell prepared foods, perfect for picnicking in Legion Park, which is behind the market. There's mouthwatering mozzarella and burrata; fresh-baked breads; more than half a dozen types of flavored hummus; empanadas; fresh-squeezed juices; and weekly changing entrées (including Indonesian chicken salad and shrimp ceviche) from Dewey and Dale LoSasso of North 110. Though the market will close for the summer, plans are to bring it back in November, and year-round operation is under discussion.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®