Best Restaurant for Gluttons 2009 | Red the Steakhouse | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Photo courtesy of Red the Steakhouse

Let's start with a frutti di mare platter of oysters, clams, shrimp, mussels, and calamari and then segue into a house salad of greens, candied walnuts, goat cheese, and raspberry vinaigrette. Pasta course? Of course — a plate of meatballs and bucatini with "red lead" sauce that's so enormous it would have made the late Dom DeLuise demur. Next, a 16-ounce rib eye Oscar-style — meaning topped with asparagus, béarnaise sauce, and a quarter pound of king crab meat. Or, instead, try a 48-ounce Porterhouse that's meant for two but is so gargantuan that a tiger would choose it over Roy. Order it with truffled mashed potatoes and creamed spinach on the side. Pair it all with a nice round red wine from the 700-bottle list and finish with molten chocolate cake for dessert. Gluttonous? Gloriously so, although such sinning does extract a price — in this case, appetizers $14 to $16, steaks $38 to $49 (more for Oscar and that mammoth Porterhouse), and, well, let's just say it will add up. Red stays heady until 1 a.m. weekends.

The pre-dinner cocktail once had cachet in the restaurant world, but then came hard times. Diners began looking at it, meal-wise, as something of a gauche cousin to wine. But the cocktail is back in a big way as folks rediscover its role as stimulating foreplay to a sensual dining experience. These days, you're liable to find behind your favorite bar a master mixologist — part scientist, part artist, part spirit sommelier. At Area 31, you can enjoy a professionally muddled "St. Rosemary," made from Plymouth gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, apple juice, and rosemary. Meat Market offers a "Martini de Chèvre," goat cheese-infused vodka shaken with lemongrass, pink and black peppercorns, fennel, and Martini & Rossi dry vermouth — plus a blue-cheese-stuffed olive as garnish. Sra. Martinez serves a "Matador" of Skyy vodka, fresh strawberries, basil, jalapeño syrup, and a twist of lime. Old classics such as the sidecar and Tom Collins are also enjoying a resurgent popularity. These are the same elixirs that ushered in the cocktail lounges of the 1930s — not coincidentally, the last time we all needed a drink this badly.

With its mahogany floors, dark leather banquettes, horseshoe bar, and brass green-shade lamps, the Grill on the Alley seems as though it's been here cooking chops and stirring martinis since the days of film noir. Executive chef Arnold Dion's menu of traditional American grill items likewise satisfies a yen for yesteryear. When it comes to cuisine and design, one can debate whether modern or classic sensibilities are preferable; when it comes to service, the greeting from an amiable and mature maitre d' beats a chipper host saying "Howdy, y'all" every time. After being escorted to their seats, guests at the Grill are greeted with menus, wine lists, water, rustic sourdough bread, and a dish of marinated peppers and onions — one after the other in rhythmically efficient manner. Specials are recited, specialties noted, and a manager stops by the table to check on things. Cocktails are blended by a professional mixologist, and a wine steward is on hand to aid in selecting from the extensive list of labels. All told, service is so elegantly old-fashioned that you might find yourself surprised that the Grill isn't in black-and-white.

Elie's opened on the ground level of downtown's Galeria Internacional mall in 2006 and a year later moved to roomier quarters one flight up. It remains a relatively undiscovered gem, although if you ask around, you'll find that plenty of folks know about the place's unparalleled falafel — bronzed spheres with greaseless, crisp exteriors and herb- and spice-flecked interiors. Deep-fried triangles of eggplant are likewise seasoned in a sensational manner ($2) and accompany the falafel, along with hummus, tahini, cabbage slaw, Israeli salad, and pita bread on one glorious plate — price: only $7.95. Elie, who hails from Morocco, also dishes out merguez sausages, kebab plates, roast baby chicken (pargiot), and, on Thursdays, authentic couscous. Main courses such as those cost about $12; come with choice of fries, salad, or rice and beans; and are available for lunch from noon until 5 p.m. Food is sanctioned by the Vaad Hakashrus of Miami-Dade, so all is kosher. And very good.

George Wilensky started the New Deal Market in 1957. These days, his son Heshey runs it, which makes it — to our knowledge — the only butcher shop in South Florida that has operated under the same ownership and in the same location for more than 50 years. The formula hasn't changed much through the decades: fresh, custom-cut kosher meats and poultry along with old-school, personalized service that links the Wilenskys with their customers through generations. The Deal also dishes deli items, as well as homemade prepared foods such as kreplach, knishes, kugel, kishkas, and kasha varnishkes (if you don't know what these are, all the more reason to visit). The market is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday until 3 p.m. Delivery is free of charge. New Deal is the real deal, and there aren't too many left.

Devin Peppler

It's about time Miami had a seriously classy joint for kosher denizens to take their significant others for a night of respectable service and even more respectable steaks. Rare Steakhouse, down the street from the Forge but undeniably ensconced in the power hub of Miami Beach's Orthodox Jewish life, is just such a place. A polished wooden bar, handsome gray banquettes, and tasteful black-and-white photographs set the stage for this upscale meatery's offerings of all the fixings of a typical steak house — New York strip, rib eye, creamed spinach — but without the dairy or shellfish accouterments. A 14-ounce rib eye will set you back $34. A private glass-enclosed dining room on the second-floor loft offers additional privacy, in case you don't want the entire neighborhood yenta-ing about your latest squeeze.

It takes some searching to locate New York New York. It's not nearly as obvious as the Big Apple itself. But once found, this delicatessen hides nothing. From the massive mural of a pre-9/11 NYC skyline to the Statue of Liberty mini-replica standing guard over the salad bar, the whole setup pays homage to classic Manhattan. It's open seven days a week from sunrise to 11 p.m., and there are no bad menu choices. Start with the all-day breakfast staples. There's a straightforward two-egg platter or maybe cream cheese and lox on a warm bagel. Check out the mashed potato omelet. Then come back for lunch and suck down a $5.95 bowl of matzo ball soup before tackling a fist-thick sandwich of fatty brisket, pastrami, or corned beef slammed between two slices of grilled rye. Finally, at dinnertime, go with the kosher franks on a bed of beans. And dessert should be nothing but a big wedge of cherry cheesecake. It's all here, including $1.65 unlimited coffee to keep you awake while catching up on the day's Times and joking loudly with friends until closing.

Pita Plus is not a hut or concession stand or shoebox-size take-out joint. With its spacious quarters and 60 seats, it is more like a falafel arena. It needs to be this large because so many folks flock here for the signature Middle Eastern sandwich. Four cleanly fried falafel bombs go poof into the warmed pita pocket, followed rapid-fire by fire-red tomatoes, cucumbers, shrapnel-like scraps of cabbage, eggplant, pickles — anything you want from the counterperson's arsenal of salads — along with hummus, tahini, and a flash of hot sauce if desired. It all adds up to a disproportionate amount of flavor for the dollar: $6.40, tax included.

Like the Constitution, the Incredible Hulk, and a baseball pitcher working a no-hitter, there are some things in this world that you just shouldn't mess around with. Old-school bagel making obviously should have a place on that list, yet the world is bafflingly full of frozen, bagged, pre-made holes of dough stomping all over the good name of this traditional Jewish delicacy. Fortunately for us, Miami has Bagels and Co., the best little deli on Biscayne Boulevard and a safe haven for the way bagels should be made: hand-rolled, boiled, and then baked to a golden finish. They aren't cheap — $9.75 — and they come in all the traditional flavors: poppy, sesame, raisin, garlic, etc. The payoff from this old-fashioned methodology is obvious and delicious: bagels as fat and plump as a grapefruit, the skin crisp, and the innards soft and chewy. So don't mess with bagels from anywhere else or we'll go all Bruce Banner on your ass. Keep it old-school at Bagels and Co.

The Spanish cuisine that chef Marc Vidal plates at Por Fin is so attention-grabbing one can be forgiven for not properly appreciating the dark woods, framed mirrors, arched windows, and wrought-iron accents that conjure the coziness of a comely Catalonian country inn. The firm grains of Calasparra rice that buttress clams, mussels, calamari, and shrimp can make anyone forget having passed a glistening open kitchen upon entering the restaurant. And there is no stopping pear-plumped pasta purses pooled in Cabrales sauce with honey, truffle, and cream from dominating post-dinner chatter. Diners may choose a table upstairs, where a U-shaped bar and couch-appointed lounge lend the ambiance a certain liveliness; downstairs in the more subdued dining room; or outdoors on either level, the verandah above being the more romantic choice. Regardless of where you sit, the décor will play its quiet part in what is a seamless dining experience of fine food, wine, service, prices (half-portions make Por Fin extremely affordable), and unbeatable ambiance for lunch or dinner (open until midnight on weekends).

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®