DB Bistro Moderne
billwisserphoto.com

Culinary legend Daniel Boulud plans to bring a second branch of his DB Bistro Moderne from Times Square to downtown Miami's Met 2 Tower later this year. Think casual Parisian cafe with a market-driven menu. Think, more specifically, of a plat du jour of pork belly, lentils, and shavings of black truffle; of an amazingly aromatic bouillabaisse; and of the famous (and infamous) DB Burger: ground prime rib with a center of foie gras, black truffle, and short ribs braised in red wine — plumped into a Parmesan bun with tomato compote, frisée, and homemade mayonnaise, and sided by a silver cup of puffy pommes soufflés. The burger costs $32 at the NYC venue, which is another way of saying food this great doesn't come cheap. Start saving your pennies now.

Best Non-Vegetarian Restaurant for Vegetarians

Canyon Ranch Grill

Canyon Ranch Grill

In meat-friendly Miami-Dade, only a few places can assemble a plate of savory scrambled tofu or add clever toppings to a tempeh burger. But for vegetarian fare that highlights distinctive, farm-fresh, nutritionally balanced ingredients melded into real, delicious meals, you need to find an establishment that understands not only gardening and Zen, but also cooking — a place like Canyon Ranch Grill. The restaurant serves up light, sophisticated dishes such as a salad of seared watermelon and heirloom tomatoes (from local Paradise Farms) dappled with red wine vinegar syrup and basil seed; spinach-and-Napa cabbage rolls with garbanzos and fennel pollen in smoked paprika broth; and ribbons of vegetables tossed with minted mushroom "Bolognese" sauce. Vegetarian entrées run $9 to $13 (meat mains range from $22 to $30) and can be accompanied by a bottle of organic/bio-dynamic wine. Only thing is, sitting tableside by the ocean and indulging in this heavenly vegetarian cuisine might get you feeling a little sorry for carnivores.

The Restaurant at the Setai

Screw the world. I mean, what a mess. Every single rotten human being on the planet is irredeemably greedy and corrupt — except me and you, that is. Which is why we dine alone. Who wants to break bread with these bastards anyway? And more to the point, fewer and fewer of them want to dine with us. That's all right. Pull up a plush leather chair at the Grill at the Setai's marble dining bar and sit your disgruntled bottom down; there is no restaurant in the city more soothingly decorated than this one. Start with a half-dozen Pickle Point oysters ($18), jamón Ibérico de bellota ($35), or three of the juiciest jumbo wild shrimp you have ever seen ($24). Take a second or two to look down the bar while exuding an air of superiority at your savvy selection. Then dig into your second course — perhaps caramelized onion tart with seared tuna belly and smoked shallot cream ($12)? Loudly order one of the dozen or so haute steaks. As in: "I'd like a certified Hereford rib eye" ($48) or "The Japanese A5 New York strip sounds good" ($30 per ounce). Of course, you can always go with one of chef Jonathan Wright's signature seafood entrées, such as Alaskan halibut or miso-roasted black cod (each $48), but it just doesn't have the same ring. Oh, and by the way: If you see someone at the other end of the bar wolfing down duck-fat fries with truffle salt and glaring back at you, it's probably me.

Pacific Time Restaurant

Jonathan Eismann's two biggest fans — daughters Landon, age 3, and Morgan, age 8 — were inspiration for the kids' tasting menu now offered at Pacific Time (Morgan created the menu's art design). Forget mac and cheese or PB&J sandwiches. We're talking tuna tartare with Idaho chips, braised short rib with white beans, butter-grilled salmon, and grilled lamb chop. Those come from the four-course menu geared toward children over the age of 7 ($30 each); a three-course meal for those ages 4 to 8 includes Thai-style popcorn shrimp, heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella and basil, and organic chicken satay with soy ginger dipping sauce ($20 apiece). This cuisine is obviously for the adventuresome, sophisticated young palate — even if it is served on polka-dot plates. Dessert is the "Big Cookie," which the kiddies may decorate with chocolate chips and sprinkles at the beginning of their meal and then receive in baked form just in time for their coffee — um, hot cocoa. And by the way: Pacific Time's menu for adults has received a fair amount of critical praise as well.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante

It seems as though every restaurant and its sister café has a wood-burning oven. Most places use them to produce blistery thin-crust pizzas, but Sardinia's chefs employ their ovens the way folks in, um, Sardinia do. This translates to whole chickens, quail, rabbits, suckling pigs, fish, octopi, steaks — the theory evidently being anything that once walked or swam will taste good smoked. And it does. Then again, so do the beets and other vegetables tossed into the oven. If you want to get technical, everything at Sardinia ends up tasting fine, from antipasti to pastas, breads, wines, and desserts (entrées range from $26 to $36). This gem of a restaurant — open noon to midnight seven days — makes the hearth proud.

Fifi's Seafood Restaurant

Nothing thrills dedicated foodies more than being able to "discover" a nifty restaurant they can boastfully tell friends about. Fifi's Place fits the bill. Owners Nelson and Mayneth "Fifi" Sanchez run a small, humble neighborhood spot, but the fish they cook up is some of the freshest in town. How fresh? Yunieski Gonzalez, a former Cuban free-diving champ, heads out to the ocean and spears hog snappers and groupers that are served hours later (and no, we are not making this up, although maybe Fifi is). Diners are also likely to find catches such as Alaskan black cod, bluefin tuna, and Nova Scotia scallops. The hog snapper? Turned into sashimi with yuzu and soy sauce. The cooking accents tilt from Latin to Asian, and dinner specials come with salad and either rice and black beans or mashed potatoes. Fifi's is festive every day from noon until midnight; lunch specials range from $7.99 to $10.99, dinner from $5.99 and up — most entrées in the $20 to $30 range. And don't fret: We won't tell anyone we told you about Fifi's, so you can brag about having discovered it.

Francesco Restaurant

Ceviche is not a complicated dish to prepare. At its simplest, it is a combination of fresh fish in lime juice and salt; cilantro and onions are almost always added. That's the basic rendition served at Francesco, whose seafood of choice is corvina ($16), shrimp ($17), or a combo of those two with scallops, octopus, and calamari ($16). But you can likewise request your ceviche prepared with mild aji amarillo sauce or Francesco's fantastically fiery rocoto — or try all three sauces with mixed seafood for $24 (the Peruvian Cristal or Cuzqueña beers pair with the fish and peppers like Cabernet with porterhouse). The fish is chunky and pristinely pleasurable because Francesco is a sterling Peruvian seafood restaurant that uses very fresh fish. Sibling owners Franco and Aldo Danovaro shuttle between the Gables venue (opened in 2001) and their original Lima locale to make certain all seafoods are properly chilled and that the reception is warm and personal. What we are saying, in effect, is that the stellar ceviche here is merely a dazzling opening act to an authentic Peruvian culinary experience.

The DiLido Beach Club

Ten reasons you should take out-of-towners to DiLido Beach for lunch:

1. It's less expensive than taking them to dinner at the Ritz.

2. Tourists are easily impressed by stars, so you can mention that chef Jeff McInnis is the good-looking guy who got eliminated from TV's Top Chef before the sangria sorbet in his ceviche even melted.

3. You can have the smug satisfaction of sitting on the veranda, mojito in hand, staring complacently at the cerulean Atlantic stretched before you and nonchalantly saying, "I take it you don't get to lunch like this much in Buffalo."

4. There's a fried green tomato "club sandwich" with eggplant, feta mousse, arugula, mayo, French fries, and harissa ketchup ($12/$21).

5. And there's cumin-and-za'atar-crusted tuna with lemon emulsion, grapefruit compote, and asparagus salad ($15/$28).

6. McInnis is a much better chef than #2 implies.

7. Did we mention hookah smoking Thursday through Saturday, after 5 p.m., in one of six cabanas facing the ocean?

8. How about watermelon-and-peach sangria — without gazpacho?

9. You'll get to say things like "yuzu-drenched scallop ceviche with shaved artichokes and a scoop of melon ice [$11] is to Miami what spicy chicken wings are to your hometown."

10. And last: the priceless memories of a leisurely lunch with loved ones.

Jaguar Restaurant
Jaguar Latin-American Kitchen

No bottled water is sold here. Instead, in-house filtered water is poured free of charge. Environmentally sound, sure, but more important is how it reflects the consumer-friendly approach taken by managing partner Eduardo "Lalo" Durazo regarding all aspects of his restaurant. Ceviches, for instance, are served in spoons that conveniently fit right into the mouth — no optional plates or silverware needed. That's pretty friendly. So are the flavor combos, such as a "ceviche nuevo" of shrimp or calamari with ginger, lime, and aji amarillo. Or there's the "Peruano" version, with white fish marinated in lime juice with red onion, fresh corn, and rocoto pepper — such vivid tastes that other ceviches around town might seem a bit, well, watered down by comparison. Jaguar also accommodates just about anybody via an extensive menu offering everything from seared yellowfin tuna to lomo saltado to "Latam Grill" steaks. The last includes a lip-smacking picanha cut that goes for $16 and comes with choice of sides such as salad, shoestring potatoes, or fried onion rings. Most other main courses are also $20 or less; spoons of ceviche are $2, "Amazon" spoons around $15. Jaguar is open for lunch (11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.), dinner (till about 11 p.m.), and weekend brunch (11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.).

Best Restaurant in the MiMo District

Red Light

Red Light Little River

Telegram from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council:

We need Americans to spend more money. (stop) I propose restaurateurs encouraged to drop prices will stimulate food/bev sector. (stop) Red Light in Miami for national model; chef/owner Kris Wessel's food simple seasonal straightforward and — symbolically beautiful part — New American. (stop) Diner-like ambiance inside Little River flows by outdoor tables BBQ shrimp with dip bread/organic burger/roasted quail/homemade ice cream. (stop) Every carefully home-cooked comestible under $20, many under $15. (stop) (BTW, you have Obama's BlackBerry number?) (stop) Larry, to tell truth, my own finances not so hot. (stop) Sitting in a booth now enjoying skillet of organic egg Morbier cheese tomato-toast apple-bacon for $11 at Red Light. (stop)

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®