Sun Wah Chinese Restaurant
One thing about Chinese cuisine in the City of Progress: You can always count on dishes with a touch of Latin flavor. Sun Wah knows what we are talking about. The family-owned restaurant serves "sunny fried rice," the traditional Chinese dish modified with pineapple chunks for a sweet kicker. It is by far the most popular item on the menu of 75 dishes. Of course, Sun Wah is all about home-style Chinese cooking with Mandarin, Hong Kong, and South Asian influences. Your mouth will water at the sight of the "Sun Wah happy family," a smorgasbord of shrimp, crab meat, chicken, beef, and mixed vegetables sautéed in a brown sauce. The prices are reasonable too. The most expensive item costs $12. Lunch and dinner combo specials are available for $4 to $8. And if you have a hungry brood waiting at home, take advantage of the family combo specials that range from $12.99 to $31.99. They are large enough to feed six to nine people. Sun Wah is conveniently located about a half-mile west of the NW 122nd Street exit off the Palmetto Expressway, just past Palmetto General Hospital, in the Gran Lago Plaza. It is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; on Fridays and Saturdays, the joint closes a half-hour later; and on Sundays, it's open from noon to 9:30 p.m.
LT Steak & Seafood
Photo courtesy of LT Steak & Seafood

Rapper BLT Stake, keepin' it real:

The popoveralone makes this a worthy stopover.

The size of a baseball mitt

eggy steam escapes from it

when open — no dope'n.

Chef Gorenstein's a Beard nominee

You don't like meat, try yuzu with hamachi

but it's the seared sizzling steaks

like porterhouse and rib eye, for God's sakes!

Angus or Wagyu, 30 or 40 Georges per slab

Jalapeño mashed potatoes?

I'll take that jab

Artisanal cheeses, lemon-blueberry pie

Makes drugs seem a dumb-ass way to get high

Seize a seat and take a pause

in beautiful Betsy or the patio outdoors

BLT Steak — it don't stand for bacon

Bistro Laurent Tourondel ain't fakin'.

Red South Beach
It has become somewhat common for fine-dining restaurants to serve traditionally low-end comfort foods such as pizza and chicken wings — at fine-dining prices. But you won't find them at Red the Steakhouse. Why wouldn't chef Peter Vauthy finally quiet the chorus of customers who've been requesting burgers? Why wouldn't owner Brad Friedlander insist the high-profit item be part of the bill of fare (both here and in the original Cleveland branch)? "I have a hard time justifying putting a hamburger on the menu for $30 or whatever the price point might be," Vauthy explains. Plus he just doesn't think it belongs in Red's fine-dining format. Period. In other words, their refusal to join the herd of haute establishments is based on principle. Superior steaks, an award-winning wine list, and a stunning dining room are reasons enough to frequent Red. Still, it's nice to know there's integrity behind the stellar dining experience.
Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa
The hamburger was named for the German city of Hamburg — although residents of Hamburg, New York, claim it was created in 1885 at the Erie County Fair when vendors Charles and Frank Menches ran out of pork for their sandwiches. It wasn't until 1912 when ground meat patties were actually called "hamburgers," and it didn't occur to folks to throw stuff like lettuce, onions, pickles, and tomatoes on top until the 1930s (1938 is believed to be the year when the first cheeseburgers came about). Nowadays, hamburgers make up about 60 percent of all sandwiches eaten in America — and that doesn't even include the dozens of tofu patties sold. Hamburger joints also seemingly compose 60 percent of the restaurants that have opened in Miami over the past year. This explosion of chopped-beef consciousness has yielded a Burger Bash, a Burger Beast, and all sorts of people proclaiming that the best hamburger is this or that. But we're here to dish the truth: Bourbon Steak's wood-grilled USDA Prime/American Kobe beef hamburger just can't be beat. The charred beauty gets plunked into a sturdy house-baked bun — with a homemade pickle and Tuscan pepper speared through it — along with either house topping of melted farmhouse Cheddar, shredded lettuce, and balsamic-glazed onions, or your choice among six really cool toppings (such as truffle aioli or poached organic egg). That's a lot of bang for $14, and complimentary truffled popcorn precedes the meal. Five bucks more will get you Michael Mina's famous duck-fat fries, and you can wash it all down with a Jim Beam milkshake. Residents of both Hamburgs can eat their hearts out.
According to owner and operator Notorious Nastie (AKA Nassie Shahoulian), Nassie's Famous Franks were conceived to "end world hunger by putting delish dogs inside the mouths of hungry, hungry hipsters." Translation: These wieners are drunk food for cool kids. They include footlong, kosher, all-beef, and veggie varieties. And even though you're free to top your dog with pretty much whatever the hell you want, Nastie suggests you try one of his $6 custom creations. There's the Maui Wowi, a whacked-out snack swamped in pineapple, cheese, and relish. Then you've got the Havanarama, a quintessentially Cuban perro covered in potato sticks, chipotle mayo, and cheese. Or, finally, if you're an anti-meat freak, there's the San Frantastic, a hippie-dippie orgy of tofu, spicy mayo, cheese, and cucumber tomato salsa. For the past year, the best place to get your fill of Nassie's Famous Franks is any number of too-cool-for-school club nights such as Poplife at Grand Central. But soon Nassie's Famous Franks will get their very own storefront. "Yeah, I'm gonna open a spot," Nastie croaks. "This is just work experience like they used to have in junior high. Hot dog work experience."
Asia De Cuba
The white-on-white décor inside this restaurant is reminiscent of fairy tales, while the hotties for which South Beach is famous congregate here for late-night supper and drinks. There are dinner, lunch, and breakfast, brunch, and poolside menus. One favorite option on the lunch and poolside versions: a side of mojito fries. They come with several dishes or à la carte for $7. They're flavored with lime juice, cilantro, parsley, salt, and garlic, which is actually more mojo than mojito. But if you can get past the name, they are both tangy and delicious.
Prime Italian
While bread baskets are de rigueur at almost any restaurant, none are as anticipated as the warm garlic loaf that arrives at the beginning of each Prime Italian meal. The first time we tasted the luxurious slab of bread, we were in love. The tasty, tantalizing stuff is served with a saucer of hot and rich tomato sauce for dipping. The bread is crusty and crunchy on the outside and oozing with garlicky oil and Parmesan cheese on the inside. There's no mushiness within. Did we mention that in addition to olive oil, there is also butter and Parmesan cheese? There's no doubting that this is the Italian-American version of garlic bread. No one in Italy would ever serve anything this filling or decadent before dinner. Consider it the Jersey Shore of bread: a high-caloric guilty pleasure. While Atkins devotees and other dieters may frown, your only option is to dive into the garlicky goodness. You might be too full to finish your meal, but hey, Prime Italian packs up leftovers like nobody's business.
The French Bakery Cafe
Aran S Graham
Bay Harbor might not be on your regular destination list. Perhaps you live in Kendall, Hialeah, or Homestead. But there's one reason you'll want to cross Broad Causeway to this community that stands on what once was a sandbar. It's the golden, flaky croissants served at a small French café owned by Argentine Maria Frumkin. Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for breakfast and lunch, the French Bakery boasts cases filled with delicious pastries and breads. The fruit tarts and the truffles will tempt you, but go for the buttery croissants. We like them plain ($1.95), but there are also almond ($3.25) and chocolate ($2.50) varieties. To get the full effect, order your croissant with a latté and sit outside at one of the sidewalk tables.
El Brazo Fuerte Bakery
George Martinez
Picture it. Cuban women with pens in their hair running back and forth behind windows filled with pastelitos and bocadito party trays that make you salivate. As you attempt to push through the crowd of hungry patrons, you rip a ticket from a number machine on the counter, and then someone shouts, "¡Proximo!" (Next.) Your number is up, and all you can do is smile. Welcome to El Brazo Fuerte. This is the quintessential Cuban bakery. Open for more than 35 years, the place boasts customer service second only to the delicious pastries and always-fresh pan Cubano. There are Cuban pastelitos filled with your choice of guava, cream cheese, guava and cream cheese, beef, ham, tuna, or coconut. Also on deck are locally famous, crisp croquetas filled with ham, chicken, fish, or potato. El Brazo also bakes hourly a variety of fresh desserts, including eclairs, napoleons, key lime tarts, and capuchinos — conical sponge cakes dipped in sweet syrup. A single serving of all of the delectable treats offered at the bakery might put you in orbit. And don't forget the café con leche, which comes only second to your abuela's. Located in Little Havana, El Brazo Fuerte offers great service, a friendly staff, delectable food, and gorgeous cakes that will leave you wondering how other bakeries stay in business. It's open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Sunday 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Bagel Bar East
Aran S Graham
Miamians love to bemoan the lack of decent bagels here. "New York has the best ones," they whine. "It's all about the water." Well, forget about moving back to Manhattan (or Queens or Brooklyn or Staten Island). Try Bagel Bar East, which is one of the few places in Miami that still hand-rolls, boils, and bakes its dough. These homemade, flavored beauties are so fresh and tasty that no toasting is necessary. In fact, if you hit Bagel Bar East at the right time (6:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.), the bagels will be piping-hot. This North Miami spot boasts 17 types including plain, everything, pumpernickel, poppy, onion, cinnamon-raisin, sesame, garlic, oat bran, salt, egg, rye, honey whole wheat, marble, seven-grain, bialy, and blueberry. Eat them plain or with a shmear of cream cheese (smoked salmon, chive, or veggie) or salad (tuna, chicken, egg, white fish, or chopped herring). There's also freshly cut smoked salmon as well as a litany of cold cuts and fluffy eggs as garnish. These bagels are so in-demand that the place wholesales to hotels such as the W, Ritz-Carlton South Beach, and Setai as well as deli staple Roasters & Toasters in Miami Beach. For quality this superior, the prices are pretty decent: Bagels cost $9.50 for a baker's dozen or $1 each. Also freshly made on-site are onion pockets, onion flats, rugalach, black-and-white cookies, babka, cheese danishes, and muffins.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®