Don Toston & Dona Arepa
Like Valentine's Day mystery chocolates or great novels, it's what's on the inside that counts when it comes to arepas. Sure, a good one calls for a perfectly charred and crunchy corn shell. But any half-decent cook who has wandered through Caracas or Bogotá can get that right. No, it's the fillings that really make the arepa. And Doña Arepa, as her name suggests, knows how to stuff 'em. A storefront in a bustling strip mall just west of the Palmetto Expressway on Flagler Street, Don Toston y Doña Arepa is a cute little eatery with rubber banana leaves for napkin holders and tropically painted walls. The arepas, which cost less than $5 (except a $5.95 shrimp version), come with the usual cheese, chicken, and shredded beef, but there's also reina pepiada (chicken salad with avocado), perico (eggs, tomatoes, and onions), and the sinful huevo frito con jamón (yup, fried egg and ham). But beyond compare might be the simple lechón — the succulent pork juices soak perfectly into the arepa dough.
Dim Ssam A Gogo
Alex Broadwell
In the land of the food truck court, Dim Ssäm à GoGo is king. It also rules over the court of public opinion, as measured by the most scientific means possible: Lines are longer than those at any other truck. This speaks to the good taste of the masses. Peasants, royalty, serfs, and surfers alike queue up for Kurobuta pork belly bao buns with chili sauce; spicy tater tots; Korean fried chicken; kimchi egg rolls; and gingered Brussels sprouts. All items cost $8 or less."Munch and move on!" is the motto, and we dutifully do so. Richard Hales is the driving force behind Dim Ssäm. He also owns the restaurant Sakaya Kitchen and a second, monster Sakaya Kitchen food truck. We, the hungry masses, are grateful.
Ms. Cheezious Food Truck
Dear Ms. Cheezious:

We're a little embarrassed. It's been a really long time since we were crushing bad enough to write an anonymous love letter. But we just needed to tell you: You are freakin' sexy! And, like back in the day, when we were just a young teen trying to conceal ill-timed wood in math class, we can hardly (see what we did there?) conceal our true feelings. Sure, you roll around town, day after day, clad in your polka-dot bikini and heels, a tatted-up, blond bombshell on wheels. And that's hot. But that's not even it. It's the way you play with our emotions that really turns us on. Flaunting your crabby cheese melt on sourdough, with its freshly made crab salad and oozing sharp cheddar, for only $8. Teasing us with cheesy delights such as that grilled harvest with spiced apples and Havarti on multigrain ($7) or the grilled blue and bacon ($7). On top of all that, you let us have our way with you too. You give us our choice of bread and cheeses including cheddar, Swiss, Gruyère, Brie, or provolone, plus add-ons like prosciutto, tomato, and tavern ham. Oh, you saucy minx, you! You've been a very, very naughty girl.

With cheese wood, BOM
The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.
Einstein's makes a tasty roll with a hole in the center. New York Bagels and Brooklyn Bagels (no relation) are OK in a pinch. But the Original Brooklyn Water Co. bagels ($1.29 each) are the real deal: soft, malty, and yeasty inside, with a crisp, bronzed crust that comes from being preboiled. An in-house filtering system "Brooklynizes" the water — which as most folks from Brooklyn know, is kissed by angels (or is it rabbis?). The only part of the bagel that isn't a whole lot better than others is the hole. This new South Beach branch, the first in Miami-Dade, is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends (24 hours beginning this fall), makes all manner of bagel sandwiches, and like all OBWBCs, uses iced coffee cubes in its iced coffee. That's a Brooklyn thing.
Evolution (if you believe in it, and we'll pretend you do, because otherwise we'll point and laugh at you) is a beautiful thing. You might have heard of Garcia's on the River, but did you know that the Garcia family also owns La Camaronera? And last year La Camaronera gave birth to the latest Garcia baby, the Fish Box. Yes, just like mammals made the leap from sea to land, this family-owned business has spawned wheels. The Fish Box is part of the mega Miami food truck takeover covering the county in meetups from corner to corner and serving fantastic fried fish sandwiches. The $5 "minuta," as it is known by locals and other Fish Box devotees, is a traditional Cuban fried fish sandwich with the tail intact. A mere dollop of tartar sauce, ketchup, and onions add a subtle flavor to the butterflied bundle of fish fantastic-ness sitting atop a soft bun. Stay tuned for the next Garcia offspring.
BTTR Biscayne Triangle Truck Roundup
Restaurants and kids don't always go together. True, there are kid-friendly eateries, but they tend to have clowns walking around or pizza that tastes like it's made from cardboard and Silly Putty. If you're not into eating the concoctions most restaurant chains disguise as "kiddie meals," pack the little darlings into the car and head to the Biscayne Triangle Truck Roundup. Each Tuesday from 5:30 to 10 p.m., more than two dozen food trucks serve cheap and good family-worthy fare on the grounds of Johnson & Wales University. There are so many choices that both child and adult can find something they like. Junior gets his burger, little Starfire gets her grilled cheese, and Mom and Dad get peace for a change. Of course, there are also trucks that offer tacos, exotic Asian food, and sometimes gourmet cheese sandwiches. The selection changes every week. Added benefits: No glass to break, plenty of grass for spreading a blanket, and family-friendly pricing make BTTR the most kidtastic spot in Miami.
Latin House Grill
Alex Broadwell
If we're going to croak anyhow, we might as well eat the most fattening, sweet, savory, artery-clogging, gut-busting, sensory-overloading, greasy meal available at a place where we don't have to get dressed up, wait for a seat, or deal with a snotty server. Yep, we're hunting down Michell Sanchez in the Latin House Grill food truck for an embarrassment of riches. We'll sit cross-legged on the ground in our jeans and start with the "sneaky nachos," a meaty, cheesy taste-bud tantalizer decorated with crema. Then we'll move on to the coconut shrimp "flatton," perhaps the only coconut-encrusted shellfish we've tried that tastes more like fruit than a fryer. Next we'll scarf a chimi burrito with zesty carne asada, yellow "chuchi" rice, cheese, fried plantains, and a fried egg in a deep-fried tortilla. Finally, we'll wash it all down with a few bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola — you know, the kind with real sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup. For dessert, we'll savor the "teasers," fried tortillas with cinnamon sugar and a thick drizzle of sweetened, condensed milk. That and a few slices of guava-ricotta cake oughta seal the deal. Forget the Pepto — we're going down in a blaze of gluttonous glory.
Crumb on Parchment
Alexandra Rincon
The Design District is not exactly bargain central, unless you consider a $500 Y3 cardigan or a futuristic $2,000 two-legged chair to be a steal. The same goes for the up-and-coming area's culinary scene: Restaurants like Michael's Genuine and Sra. Martinez offer great food, but at significant prices. For those working in the neighborhood, finding an affordable meal means praying to the Twitter gods for a food truck to stop. But there is new hope hidden in the heart of the Design District. Step into the soaring atrium at 3930 NE Second Ave. and the first thing you notice is the sunlight. The second thing you sense is the smell of delicious baked goods. The source: Crumb on Parchment, the latest project by Sra. Martinez chef Michelle Bernstein. Crumb on Parchment, or COP for short, opened only in April, but it has already developed a steady following thanks to its tasty café cuisine and cheap prices. Modestly sized sandwiches ($5 to $10), soups ($4.50), and salads ($5 to $10) compose the bulk of the menu, but their low cost makes mixing and matching affordable. The homemade roast beef sandwich with creamy horseradish, sweet onions, and greens is light and delicious, as is the Southern tomato salad with arugula, blue cheese, and rare seared tuna. COP's real treat, however, is the chocolate brownies. According to the menu, they are made with "100 percent butter and lots of love." They sure taste like it.
Chopsticks House
There's an ancient Thai proverb that says those who serve noodles earliest stay around longest. OK, that's made up. But if it wasn't, Chopsticks House Thai & Chinese Restaurant in the Old Cutler Towne Center would be the proof. The restaurant opened in 1994 and was named Best Thai Restaurant by this publication in 1996. It continues to stand out from its nondescript surroundings by serving quality dishes at reasonable prices. But it's what Chopsticks does for early-birders that is a proverb waiting to be written. You're started with won ton or egg drop soup and the springiest spring roll in town. No need to grasp for napkins — these rolls are greaseless. In different hands, such an opening act could be heavy, but owners Noi and Sonny Pleesonti know how to prepare their dishes without weighing on the palate. You'll have plenty of room to choose among a dozen or so entrées from the Thai or Chinese menus (and each is true to the ethnicity; there's not much intermingling). The pad king (ginger chicken) or gai ma muong (cashew chicken), as well as the pad thai chicken are favorites from the Thai side, while honey-garlic and sweet-and-sour chicken and pepper steak are most popular on the Chinese end. The early-bird special finishes off with a choice of Thai doughnuts or Thai bananas. And don't forget the hot tea, included in the $10.95 price. The special is in effect every day from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., which, by the way, is when healthy diners know to eat dinner. Fifteen years after its first "Best of Miami" win, Chopsticks House still knows what it's doing.
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South Beach is known for tanned, perfect bodies and overpriced restaurants serving tiny portions (which is fine because who needs to eat a lot when you're trying to fit into your Brazilian bikini year-round). But what, pray tell, do tourists and regular people do for food? The portions at Nexxt are so large that a family of four could eat for almost a week on a single oversize meal. Salads look like the contents of an entire season's harvest, while the burgers and fries are super-duper-size. The menu is gigantic too — with pages upon pages of choices. Sandwiches. Check! Chocolate chip shake. Yup! Lobster dinner. That too at $25.95. If you're into consuming mass quantities, you've got yourself a pigfest right on Lincoln Road. Indulge — you can always buy a coverup for the beach.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®