Snappers Fish & Chicken
It is difficult to come across a real conch fritter in Miami — one loaded with the most delectable shellfish in the Caribbean. Rest assured, Snappers has you covered. The mom-and-pop-ish fast-seafood eatery makes Bahamian-style fritter balls loaded with conch and chili pepper pieces that will — to borrow a phrase from another nearby island — make you feel irie all day. For an airy texture, the batter is fried like a Spanish churro or a county-fair elephant ear. The oil is almost as fresh as the fish. And that is saying something. There are jalapeños for heat, as well as sweet green peppers for crunch, but never enough to overwhelm each fritter's generous haul of big, chewy, yet tender conch chunks. Each order brings eight balls for $5.84, a price that can't be beat. It's perfect as a standalone meal or an appetizer. Snappers is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Fish Shack & Market
We're talking with Bimini Baja Bob, self-proclaimed "fish taco expert extraordinaire." He is apparently a little upset with us for claiming the finest fish taco can be found at Fish Shack & Market. "They use juicy chunks of fresh-from-the-water mahi-mahi that's been spiced and grilled to perfection," he says loudly, his face getting red. "Then they plump the fish into three softly griddled corn tortillas and add thinly sliced cabbage, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeño." We ask Bob what's not nice about that, to which the slightly hard-of-hearing expert responds he doesn't quibble with the price. "Ten ninety-five is more than fair," he says and adds he adores the red and green (tomatillo) salsas on the side as well. Then he sobs and his body begins to twitch uncontrollably. "But everyone knows that for a great fish taco, you have to use gefilte fish!" he blurts out just as a couple of men in white suits come to escort him away.
Doug Rodriguez isn't the daddy of ceviche; the practice of macerating seafood in citrus juice precedes him by quite a few years. One can say, however, that the renditions he has created locally first at Yuca, then OLA, and now at D. Rodriguez Cuba are the mother of all ceviches: snapper marinated with sour orange and topped with a dice of conch, tomato, red pepper, crisp onions, and garlic ($15); salmon with lemon, chives, jalapeño, and dill over yogurt and cucumber granita ($15); shrimp, lobster, clams, octopus, and crab with celery, cilantro, tarragon, grapefruit, and lime juice ($18). These kooky, creative, and ultimately delectable concoctions are to lime juice/onion/cilantro ceviche what Lady Gaga is to Joan Baez. Macerate on that for a while.
Golden Rule Seafood Market
Once upon a time, a Miami girl with Louisiana ties wanted to make gumbo for her friends. She searched and searched for fresh crawfish to no avail, so she had no choice but to settle for the frozen variety, which she found somewhere in Homestead. If only our girl had known about Golden Rule Seafood Market. Established in 1943 and family-owned since 1969, this place in Palmetto Bay has a large variety at reasonable prices, including live crawfish when available. The seafood here comes from all over. You'll find local stuff, including stone crab, Key West shrimp, and Florida lobster, but you'll also discover scrumptious goods from South America, Mexico, Florida's west coast, and other locales. Shelves are stocked with every imaginable seasoning and sauce. And periodically, you can attend a cooking demo to learn how to prepare your dinner. Call ahead to find out what's available.
Bonsai
The $38 "lobster bomb" (lobster tail tempura, crab salad, avocado, lettuce, red tobigo, spicy mayo, and eel sauce with a side of sautéed lobster, scallops, and sautéed mushrooms) is simply to die for at this western outpost. There are also specialty rolls such as the "Bonsai G," with deep-fried salmon, crab, shrimp, and masago. You won't find rolls with Rice Krispies or gummy bears inside — Bonsai's chefs tend to stick to traditional ingredients — but you will discover fresh selections with generous protein-to-rice ratios at a cost that won't break the bank. Unless, of course, your date becomes a lobster bomb buff.
This is our tribute to a toppled threesome: Tuscan Steak, longest-running of the trio (premiered in 1998), became a victim of the economy; it has since donned a sombrero as El Scorpion Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, whose specialties of tacos and tequila are more in line with today's restrained budgets. Still, we'll always be grateful for Tuscan's delectable namesake steak and its white truffle garlic oil — way before the truffle oil deluge that followed. North One 10 fell victim to cruel, thoughtless city construction that put holes in the street and holes in the fledgling restaurant's bottom line. The streets were eventually repaired, but North One 10 never fully recovered from the financial damage. We'll always remember Dewey LoSasso's intensely flavorful, wildly innovative, and thoughtfully sourced New American cuisine; his wacky theme nights; and the stellar service and wine selections orchestrated by wife Dale. Au Pied de Cochon — what can we say except we hardly got to know ye? Turned out this multimillion-dollar newcomer was a victim of not knowing its demographic — South Beach isn't Paris, it isn't Mexico City, and it isn't Atlanta. But that doesn't mean we won't miss the succulent pig trotters and classic French pastries. Sadly, this trio with brio is no more. OK — next group, step right up.
Area 31
They're just too good not to mention.
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Photo courtesy of Genuine Hospitality Group
Gastronomic pairings that will live on forever: Escoffier and Ritz. Batali and Bourdain. Schwartz and Goldsmith. Finkelstein and Frump. No, wait — sorry, we got confused: Finklestein and Frump is our legal team. But it was Michael Schwartz and Hedy Goldsmith who brought Nemo to everyone's attention in 1995, and as good as Michael's Genuine Food & Drink was when it opened, Goldsmith joining the team completed it — just the way one of her dazzling creations completes a meal there. Using local goat's milk and basil-infused strawberries, along with balsamic gelée and pine nut biscotti on the side, she reinvents the cheesecake. Her chocolate cremosos with sea salt, olive oil, sour dough crostini, and espresso parfait succeeds against all odds. A taste of tangerine pot de crème with orange confit and hot doughnuts would alone be enough to convert to Hedy's cause. These desserts are visually vivid and delicately constructed without being contrived and are surely Miami's most iconic postdinner treats — which makes the $9 price very easy to swallow. Schwartz and Goldsmith add up to a sterling dining experience from start to finish.
What's cuter than a cupcake? A puppy? A kitten? A puppy/kitten hybrid tangled in an adorable knot of yarn? No. The only thing cuter than a cupcake is a tiny cupcake, and InStyle Cupcakes — a local, virtual, cupcake-only bakery — has a fleet of sweet. These two-bite delights come in a handful of flavors: vanilla with gooey vanilla buttercream frosting; chocolate with either vanilla buttercream or rich, fudgy frosting; red velvet, dulce de leche, or our fave, the guava cupcake, topped with smile- (and, on occasion, rainbow-) inducing cream cheese frosting. Other than the single metallic ball (yes, it's edible) that dons the tippity-top of each lil' cake's Madagascar bourbon vanilla-spiked frosting swirl, each treat contains nothing but all-natural ingredients: organic eggs, milk, and butter. Orders come in quantities of 24 minis for $24 (also available are a dozen regular-size cupcakes for $21 and a half-dozen jumbos for $16.50) and are delivered in a box that could be a tad cuter if it were decorated with a pastel blue bunny/baby sea otter/cotton candy/sunflower hybrid atop a unicorn.
Mooie's
Aran S Graham
Miami Shores has a tradition of dropping marshmallows from the sky into a field for kids to pick up at Easter. What does that have to do with ice cream? Mooie's owner, Sean Saladino, says he got the idea to open an ice-cream shop after going to the marshmallow drop and realizing how many children live in the area. Open since January, Mooie's has brightly colored walls, games, sidewalk chalk, and fluffy beanbags. House accounts allow parents to deposit money for their kids to buy ice cream after school without having to bring cash. But the rich, creamy, dreamy Blue Bell ice cream served here knows no age boundaries. Try a large cup of double chocolate ($4) with choice of toppings — M&Ms, gummy bears, graham crackers, Famous Amos cookies, Heath Bar chips, and many others — mixed in on a cold stone. Not indulgent enough? Try the banana split ($5.95) or a milkshake ($4.50). You'll feel 5 all over again.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®