A "flop" is a Southern drink that mixes lemonade and iced tea. At Miracle's, an extra-large cup is as big as a bucket, costs $1.75, and offers a sweet, ice-cold counterpoint to the item for which the place is most famous. Almost 40 years ago, Thomas Carr opened what has become a historical landmark in the heart of Liberty City and began selling conch fritters fried to order. They are crisp, disc-shaped, and — at just $1 — arguably the most affordable freshly cooked food we've ever met. Place your order at an outdoor counter on vibrant 15th Avenue. Then wait for your steaming-hot fritter alongside city workers, lawyers, cops, school kids, mamas, rappers, dancers, tourists, and the many other fans of this establishment. Whether you eat it straight or sauce it up, you'll likely order a second fritter before you finish the first.
Ceviche anconero
Rodrigo Moreno
Ceviche anconero
Ceviche, once a fabled dish of raw fish macerated in juices from an exotic, foreign land known as Peru, is now almost as common in Miami as chicken fingers. But only a few restaurants make it well, and few do it better than CVI.CHE 105 in downtown Miami. The moment you step in, you understand this place is meant to be a bright, boisterous destination. It buzzes with energy, and on any given night, you'll find a packed house with servers whizzing from corner to corner. Take a seat and grab a handful of corn kernels; then decide on one of the namesake dishes. The "red and white" ceviche ($12.95) is an homage to the Peruvian flag and chef Juan Chipoco's father, who hails from that country. The creamy pisco ceviche (12.95) adds the popular South American spirit to the mix, and after that boozy treat, you might end up diving into the "seafood orgy" ceviche ($13.95). Swimming in leche de tigre, or tiger's milk, it is known for being extra-spicy, creamy, and empowering Charlie Sheen to warlock status.
Tarpon Bend Raw Bar & Grill
Tarpon Bend's raw bar menu might not be the longest in Miami, but what it lacks in variety it makes up for with consistent quality, cheap drinks, and fun personality. The oyster shots, tuna sashimi, and various chilled seafood platters are among the simple raw favorites. The Mexican shrimp "margarita," though not raw, draws raves for its exciting flavor combination: shrimp, spicy tomato tequila-chili sauce, black beans, avocados, and warm tortilla chips. But most appealing about Tarpon Bend is its bustling, convivial atmosphere. Mojito Madness Thursdays mean all-day $3.50 mojitos, with flavors like watermelon, grapefruit, and pineapple. There's also 3 to 9 p.m. happy hour Monday through Thursday, till 10 p.m. Friday, and even till 7 p.m. Saturday. Word has gotten 'round and the crowds have swooped in, but the service hasn't skipped a beat. All of this makes Tarpon Bend hands down the best place to slurp an oyster, sip a cocktail, and scope a date almost any night of the week.
The Pit Bar-B-Q
Sometimes you have to ask yourself the important questions, like "Sauce or no sauce?" and "Ribs or chicken?" Your answer will likely depend on several factors, including ethnicity, geographic location, and your BBQ: bare-fisted barbecue quotient. Those who tip the scale at barbecue genius have been frequenting the Pit on Calle Ocho for eons. Whether you make a scheduled stop on your way to the Shark Valley entrance to Everglades National Park or just drive there on a whim, you won't be disappointed. Aside from standard American barbecue fare, you can also sate your inner carnivore by feasting on tender, perfectly cooked churrasco. Prices are reasonable too. Less than $10 will buy you a fine meal. Driving out to the Pit is a bit of a trek even for those who live in the southwest corner of Miami, but you and your loved ones will be treated to some of the meatiest sauceless barbecue ribs anyone has seen since The Flintstones. Even Fred would be jealous.
Pega Grill
What characteristics make a salad great? A refreshing taste. A bit of a kick, usually from the acid in the dressing. Contrasting textures. Crunch. Sass. Wetness. Freshness. A solid salad is salubrious — it sates the appetite, awakens a tired soul, and braces the spirit like a breeze of fresh air on a plate. Pega Grill's Greek salad is all that — and more, if you get it with a chicken gyro add-on. The tomato wedges are ripe and red as fire engines; cucumbers, green peppers, and red onions add crispness and color; tart, soft feta cheese is crumbled on top, and the olive oil/red wine vinegar/oregano dressing binds it. Morsels of moist, well-seasoned gyro chicken pump protein and a whole lot of taste into the medley. Wedges of baguette come on the side. A small salad, which really is regular size, is $5.95; the large, which really is large, is $9.95. Chicken gyro meat is $2.95 extra.
Tratoria Rosalia's
Aran S Graham
Bruschetta originated as a way of salvaging bread that was going stale. Americans have come to think of this central Italian snack as toast topped with tomato salad, but at its very heart, the stuff is simply grilled or roasted bread rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. At Trattoria Rosalia (sister to Carpaccio in Bal Harbour and other Italian restaurants around South Florida), slices of the toasted Tuscan bread are capped with chopped ripe tomatoes dressed with garlic, basil, olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar — plus lush additions of mozzarella cheese and razor-thin prosciutto. It's all piled high and makes a great appetizer ($9.25). Let's be real: When it comes to using old bread, Rosalia's bruschetta kicks any crouton's ass.
The duet of fried tetrahedrons plated at Thali Indian & Thai is only one reason to visit this South Beach newcomer. Owner Denis Nazareth of Mumbai offers a menu filled with a plethora of cuisine from the headlining countries, including the namesake thali plates: a traditional Hindu compilation of small bowls filled with vegetables, dal, chutney, and other bites served with rice or bread ($10.99 to $14.99). But the samosas are emblematic of the exuberant freshness of fare here. Plus they are more than generous. The $4.99 pair is packed with mashed, spiced potato and flecked with onions, peas, coriander, and tidbits of boiled potato. Tamarind and mint dips add to the joy, as do the Asian music and ambiance — a real Thali high!
Soi Asian Bistro
Michael McElroy
Four things you might not know about curry: (1) The origin of the word is traced to the Tamil term kari. (2) The first commercial curry powder appeared around 1780. (3) There are more Indian restaurants in London than in Mumbai and Delhi combined. (4) Massaman curry at Soi Asian Bistro has no equal in Miami. The meltingly soft beef sops up the rich, mildly spicy, coconut-based curry sauce and absorbs the aromatics of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Cashews and luscious lumps of potato add texture, steamed rice comes on the side, and slices of ripe avocado fan across the top. There are plenty of other winsome dishes at this spry little 30-seater, but none will curry your favor like the Massaman ($10.75 ).
Yuga
Yuga, which debuted in Coral Gables in 2006, translates to "elegance" — a perfect word to describe the food and décor. Owned and operated by the same family behind the wonderful Lan Pan Asian Café in Kendall's Dadeland Station, it specializes in East and Southeast Asian cuisine. Specifically, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and an occasional traipse into the Philippines. More specifically, pristine sushi/sashimi selections; potstickers and spring rolls ($5.50 each); kimchi ($3.75); spicy tom yum goong soup with shrimp and lemongrass ($4.95); crispy lamb ribs ($10.95); and smoky octopus salad ($10.95). Plus noodles, rice dishes, curries, and a compact selection of California wines, Japanese beers, and premium sakes from microbreweries. Yuga, along with its talented chef/partner Johnson Teh, is one of Miami's best-kept secrets. So how come you haven't eaten here yet?
El Exquisito
Photo by Adrianne D'Angelo
According to some expert, somewhere, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. According to us, it's the cheapest. Because this is Miami, you might or might not have a Cuban abuela, but in this town you can always enjoy a full Cuban breakfast for a few bucks. At Exquisito you'll get it for $3.75 before 10:30 a.m. And that includes pan tostada, café, dos huevos, y jamón o croquetas. Or splurge and pay a buck more for an extra side dish. Or plunk down $6.75 for eggs, steak, fries, tostadas, and café con leche. It's just like eating with abuela except without all the questions and the guilt that come from not visiting often enough.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®