Two Chefs
Qualifications for this annual lifetime achievement type of award include talent, passion, creativity, and most important, a track record of having produced fantastic food for a long time. Past winners are Norman Van Aken, Mark Militello, Allen Susser, Pascal Oudin, Philippe Ruiz, Michelle Bernstein, Michael Schwartz, Doug Rodriguez, Cindy Hutson, Jonathan Eismann, and Dewey LoSasso. This year's inductees have been working their culinary magic for as long as anyone. Kris Wessel worked under Militello in the mid-'90s, and in 1999 opened his own Liaison restaurant to critical and popular acclaim. Alas, it was conceptually ahead of its time and physically behind construction barricades. Almost a decade later, the James Beard-nominated chef returned and hit big with Red Light Little River. It took awhile, but the public has caught up with Wessel's simple, home-style, regional American fare. Jorgensen found success with South Miami diners almost immediately upon opening his Two Chefs restaurant in 1994 — and it is still going strong. Although he comes from a stricter European culinary background than Wessel, Jorgensen shares a cooking style that comes down to using fresh ingredients and doing the basics right: no frills, no hype, no tricks up their sleeves — just food that is undeniably good.
Nemo Restaurant
First he opened the eclectic Nemo at Collins Avenue and First Street in South Beach. Then came the hip Big Pink diner across the street and up the block. Both were huge hits, but Myles Chefetz was just getting started. Next was Shoji Sushi, next door to Nemo, and then, just more than a dozen years ago, he hit the gastronomic grand slam with Prime One Twelve on Ocean Drive, which not only redefined the modern steak house but also has been one of the top-grossing restaurants in the nation for years. To keep the good times flowing, Myles moseyed across the street and premiered Prime Italian — another big, crowded, exciting, expensive restaurant, and another huge success. This year, the restaurant mogul will convert Nemo into Prime Fish, which figures to keep the winning streak going. All of these restaurants are within a block of each other, and all are south of Fifth Street. Chefetz reigns over this neighborhood, but his influence stretches across the entire city. That's likely why he was nominated last year for James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Restaurateur Award. He didn't win, but he gets this Best of Miami award as consolation.
Metro Organic Bistro
America is an amazing place. In what other country can you enjoy an organic arugula and goat cheese croquette salad while you watch your car get washed next door? Yes, Metro Organic Bistro's location is remarkable, but that little quirk does nothing to diminish its status as the best example of a natural foods restaurant our sunny city has to offer (the car wash, by the way, is fittingly eco-friendly and called Karma). The sprouted chickpea cakes, layered with organic butter beans, avocado, and tomato, are perfectly flavorful and hearty; the seasonal vegetable ratatouille and organic couscous are rich in color and nutrients while pleasantly light in the belly. But there's plenty here for lovers of high-quality meats as well. Grass-fed filet mignon, free-range chicken, and sashimi-grade tuna are just a few of the choices for the discerning omnivore. The building has a sleek, clean, modern look, with lots of glass, steel, and wood; outdoor seating is plentiful; and on occasion you'll find live entertainment to serenade you while you marvel at the fresh creations on your plate.
Go-Go Fresh Food Cafe
Leah Gabriel
If you're looking for scantily clad dancers wearing high vinyl boots and white lipstick, you've come to the wrong place. If, however, you're in search of fresh, healthful, and delicious food on the "go-go," you have arrived. Wedged between a laundromat and a gym, Go-Go Fresh Food Café isn't supereasy to find, but what good things are? Baked-to-order Go-Go pies (AKA empanadas) come in 18 varieties, including spicy Thai peanut chicken, spinach and feta, eggplant parmigiana, and dulce de leche and blackberries — and each costs a measly $2.25. Different homemade soups du jour — such as red potato and broccoli — and "mini" or "big" salads are available to fit your appetite. The "superfoods max" consists of baby spinach, a scoop of quinoa, tomatoes, broccoli, toasted pumpkin seeds, edamame, carrots, chickpeas, and golden raisins, all for less than $9. Go-Go also proffers a reasonable "build your own" salad option if the ten-plus house salads don't light your lettuce leaf. As if all of that weren't enough, there's a full coffee bar as well as a selection of beer and wine. One more perk: Parking is free in the neighboring lot, or you can call ahead for fast pick-up. One of the few SoBe spots where you can score a nutritious, delicious meal for around $10, Go-Go is much cheaper and more nourishing than shoving dollar bills in a mod dancer's geometric-patterned underwear.
Mty Smoothie
mty smoothie website
The choices here are overwhelming, the possibilities endless. You could spend days crafting a perfect smoothie — creamy, fruity, low-cal, herbally enhanced, or protein-boosted. Or you could start with a house specialty, such as the Yan & Jan (passion fruit, banana, strawberry, and raspberry) and build whatever elixir you crave. Need a little immune boost? Toss some echinacea into your drink. Are you a scrawny guy trying to tack on a few pounds of muscle? The creatine, weight gainer, and protein powders are for you. Need a natural multivitamin straight from the hive? Order a scoop of royal jelly, a honey bee secretion. Each addition costs about a dollar, so your health-enhancing cocktail shouldn't break the bank. Natural juices such as beet, carrot, celery, and apple are also available, as are wraps, sandwiches, and salads for those who like to chew. Bonus: You can order online or over the phone and have the stuff delivered right to your door. We suspect that service might be especially handy for the "hangover recover super smoothie," featuring blueberry, pineapple, strawberry, orange, gingko biloba, and royal jelly.
Doggi Style
George Martinez
Being a chicken head in a place called Doggi Style might make you feel like a slut. Especially when Doggi Style is a sweet, little Venezuelan hot dog stand that makes a chicken sandwich good enough to accept as payment for turning a trick. Tasty and tremendous enough to tame the taste buds of the freakiest of fowl fiends, this beast of a burger is a grilled chicken breast topped with ham, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, corn, and potato sticks ($5.50). Get it loaded (an additional $2) and add on a fried egg, strips of bacon, avocado, and possibly coronary arrest. And sure, it's a killer in calories, but it hurts so good.
South Miami Farmers' Market
Look for the green tent. That's where every week a selection of produce grown in what market organizers refer to as the Greater Everglades Foodshed is on display and for sale. Finds include oyster mushrooms, herbs, vegetables, honey, and eggs from small Florida farmers. So who cares if there aren't rows and rows of booths selling produce? All you need is one well-stocked tent. Outside the green shade provider, other local vendors sell pastries, juices, and candles. An added perk is that the market, which is organized by Earth Learning and has operated in front of South Miami City Hall since December, is slated to operate year-round. That might be tough when Miami enters summertime — one can't live on mangos and tropical fruit alone — but the organizers are up for the challenge, and for that they deserve praise. The market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Laurenzo's Itialian Market
Some people need special lighting, kitschy artwork, stuffy classical music, and sky-high prices to feel like they're buying gourmet. If that's you, skip Laurenzo's, where the focus is on awesome food at reasonable prices. The family has been in the food biz in South Florida since 1951, and many locals have been customers for decades. The store is huge, offering hard-to-find high-end and/or imported grocery products, gorgeous produce (from the farmers' market across the street), luscious seafood and meats, and what is most often described as an "interesting" wine selection — not immense, but inventive. There's an amazing collection of fresh pasta for just a few bucks a pound, along with more feta cheese than you can shake a Greek walking stick at. Olives, fresh fish, butchers who listen — this place is just short of perfect. The family recipes behind the prepared foods have gained fame far beyond Miami. In fact, the Food Network's Road Tasted recently popped by to sample Laurenzo's stone crab bisque, one of the family's best-loved, buttery, spicy delicacies. Like a good Italian son, though, David Laurenzo declined to reveal a few key ingredients on national television.
Blue Piano Music Lounge & Wine Bar
Paula Nio
Dear Blue Piano:To the naked eye, you look like any other modest neighborhood place: small with simple wood tables, some art on the walls, and a bar. Yet you're more than meets the eye. You're down-to-earth, and your staff has a way with guests, welcoming them into your cozy space and guiding them through your unique selection of wines. It's OK that you stay away from Cabernets and Chardonnays. Your selection of some 20 wines by the glass and 60 by the bottle aims to highlight other grapes like Sylvaner and Grüner Veltliner. A glass may be paired with one of your small bites. The boquerones with pickled shallots are most delicious. The cheese and charcuterie plates are good too. And you have that lovely piano, almost hidden from view in the back of the room, but played each evening by a local musician. All of this makes you special, Blue Piano. Cheers to that.
Futuro Supermarket Cafeteria
We live in a city that regularly sees temperatures above 90 degrees. Fortunately, Miami's climate is also ripe for growing awesome produce of all kinds. That means there is no reason to settle for a made-from-concentrate, prepackaged juice box when you can have the real thing. Futuro Supermarket is like a blast from the past with its antiquated cash register and small aisles. But way at the back of the store sits the perfect oasis. Mango, pineapple, orange, carrot — the list of fresh juices goes on and on. They're served in a 16-ounce Styrofoam cup ($2) or sold by the half-gallon ($6). Either way, they taste like you just bit into the fruit itself.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®