Sosta
Dessert menus at pizzerias are usually predictable and snore-worthy, so the folks at Sosta are probably damn happy that award-winning pastry chef Antonio Bachour is in charge of theirs. Let the competition serve stale cannoli from the neighborhood bakery, slightly defrosted cheesecake from a big-box store, and icky spumoni with candied cherry chunks. We'll be digging into Bachour's creamy vanilla panna cotta, decadent torta di cioccolato with pistachio gelato, and tiramisu made with Gianduja, sweet chocolate with hazelnut paste. Speaking of which, don't even get us started on the eight-inch Nutella pizza pie. Pizza dough spread with chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar? OMG. Bachour can always be counted on to come up with confection wizardry, wowing with prismatic color combinations and meal-enders that are never too sweet or too savory. La dolce vita, indeed.
Manolo
The first restaurant of Manuel Benito and his family debuted in Burgos, Spain, in 1930. The clan immigrated to Uruguay during the Franco days, and Manolo became their trademark name for eateries in Costa Rica, Peru, Panama, Argentina, and the good old USA. Churros have a longer history than that. The fried, fluted, sugar-sprinkled sticks are said to be named after the churro, a breed of Spanish sheep, and first made by shepherds centuries ago. Then again, Sephardic Jews and Arab Moors each arrived in Spain with sweet, fried-batter treats, so it's possible one of those groups can take credit (let them fight it out). We do know that churros spread from Spain to Central and South America, and that Manolo serves them the same way as churrerías in those places: either plain (55 cents each) or churros rellenos, meaning filled with chocolate, vanilla custard, or dulce de leche (75 cents). It's a cheap thrill.
Otentic Fresh Food Restaurant
Photo by John Zur
The history of the crêpe is fodder for debate. Some contend the name is French for "pancake" and thus conclude the person who prepared the first flapjack in France simply forgot to add baking powder. This theory is vigorously disputed by the Crespelle Conspiracists, who believe the crêpe recipe was stolen from Italy by French nationalists in retaliation for Pope Clement VII's actions against Charles V in 1526. Who knew? One thing not debatable is that the owners of Otentic Restaurant prepare the sort of authentically delectable dessert crêpes one might find proffered by a Parisian street vendor. For $6.50 each, the ethereal circles are delicately filled with choice of ice cream, banana, strawberries, chocolate mousse, honey, sugar, jam, Chantilly cream, or, our favorite, the classic Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread. The French chef pours the batter on a specialized turntable-shaped griddle, waits for those caramel-colored dots to appear, flips the crêpe, slathers on the sweetness, folds it, and delivers it still steaming to the table. Otentic likewise spins savory crêpes ($7 to $8) for patrons with less of a sweet outlook on life.
Todo Frio Ice Cream n More
Leah Gabriel
Forget checking Yelp to find the latest fancy, overpriced yogurt shop. Sure, that spot has a cutesy name, Ikea décor, UM girls who think your facial scruff is way cool, and other temptations such as 1,000 self-serve toppings charged by weight. Keep it simple and opt for ice cream. Todo Frio does it old-school with good, traditional, calorie-laden, scooped-up, no-soy-substitutes frosty stuff. The sweetest part: old-timey prices. An ice-cream cone will set you back $1.50. Flavors include tropical mango, coconut, pineapple, conventional vanilla and chocolate, and even hyperactive-kindergartener-tamer Spider-Man, AKA vanilla with food coloring. Mostly, though, it's a nice throwback to yesteryear — neither too shiny nor too perfect. You can stop here when you're not in the mood for the barely legal set swooning about the latest RPattz movie and his Us Weekly cover.
Coffee Zone
America might run on Dunkin' Donuts, but Miami sprints on café con leche. Basically, as soon as you're weaned off the bottle, you're given this stuff — one part superstrong coffee, 20 parts warm, sweet, comforting milk — thus conditioning an addiction that eventually becomes a dietary staple for most of the 305. Serving it dulce y clarito is Coffee Zone in Brickell. The secret to its café con leche's beautiful flavor and wonderfully creamy, frothy texture might be the fact that the restaurant is hidden inside the same building that houses the Venezuelan and Colombian embassies. You have your choice of three sizes, with prices that range from $1.87 to $3.27.
Nube Coffee Bar
Adrianne D'Angelo
Nube, a quaint shop near Coral Gables City Hall, serves coffee hailing from small farms in places such as Brazil and Ethiopia, and roasted by Panther Coffee, a local independent. There are no venti white chocolate lattes or any drinks of that sort here. Nube's menu offers straightforward drinks — espresso, American, cappuccino, latte, frappe, and mocha — in eight-ounce and 12-ounce servings. All go for under $5. Nube also offers breakfast and lunch, supports local artists by featuring their work and hosting gallery night events, and has free Wi-Fi.
SpecialTEA Lounge
We love Miami, we really do. This world of pastel concrete and banal vanity rooted in artistic expression warms our hearts like year-round sunshine. But some days, when we're sunburned and hung over and can't locate a baby-pink house with baby-blue shutters because all the houses are baby pink with baby-blue shutters, we crave a respite. Maybe a little café with the worn, grandfatherly feel of an older city like New York or Seattle... a place full of dark wood shelves displaying obscure books and children's board games... a joint owned by a young couple that wears earth-friendly T-shirts and brings a big, sloppy dog to work... a teahouse where college kids pen bad novels on their laptops while taking advantage of free Wi-Fi and sipping organic, fair-trade loose-leaf teas with pretentious names like shade-grown African honeybush tisane. Those days, we don't head to busy downtown corridors, historic Gables alleyways, or funky Design District paths. We look to the belly of the pastel, suburban beast — West Dade — a couple of blocks from Florida International University. We tuck into a storefront humbly announcing "Miami's only tea lounge" and order a panini and small pot of one of the more than 60 teas offered. We sit back on a comfy couch, catch a poetry performance or two, and ponder all that Miami might become in time.
Sawa Restaurant & Lounge
Many Americans have smoked hookahs yet have never used tobacco in one. But Sawa Restaurant & Lounge is the spot to go if you wish to inhale any number of flavored tobaccos. Patrons puff while seated on soft leather sofas amid white curtains billowing under royal palms in the outdoor center of the Village of Merrick Park. The al fakher hookah selections ($20) include about a dozen fruit-based smokes, from strawberry to watermelon to double apple. But Sawa is also "home to the hookah on steroids!" ($33), which means the base of the water pipe is filled with choice of cocktail: cosmopolitan, mojito, strawberry margarita, and so forth. No, you definitely do not drink said cocktail after smoking, but it adds flavor and a slightly intoxicating inhalation. Before flaunting contemporary society's anti-smoking conventions, you might strongly consider partaking of chef Jovens Jean's modern Mediterranean small plates or creative sushi rolls in the same oasis-like outdoor setting.
Best Sub & Sandwich Shop
Considering the name, it's surprising we haven't given this shoebox-size grilled-sub shack a Best of Miami award before. This seems especially true when you find out it's been operating in the same location — on a quiet, hidden avenue that snakes along East Kendall's Greenery Mall and curves to the rear of Pinecrest's Tattoos by Lou — for 32 years, especially when you notice the one wall that faces the place's sole grill and sub-slinging counter is completely plastered in pictures of loyal customers, and especially-especially when you notice a sign that reads, "Prices Subject to Change According to _____'s Mood." (The blank is filled in with a piece of masking tape scribbled with the name of whoever mans the grill that day.) Sink your teeth into foot-longs like the hot pastrami and corned beef sub ($8.49), a gluttonous and Swiss-cheesy nod to an already ample deli standard. Or try the tasty honey mustard chicken, a Miami sub shop staple done right for $7.49; and the juicy bacon cheeseburger sub, which is equivalent in size to at least three Whoppers, two Quarter Pounders, and half a cow. Maybe that's hyperbole, but it's a lot of meat for just $7.49. Best Sub & Sandwich Shop, it might be three decades overdue, but welcome to the Best of Miami Club.
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop
Ghirardelli chocolate squares are tasty suckers. Individually wrapped in gold foil, they are culled from either white, milk, or dark cocoa and come filled with gooey additions such as caramel, raspberry, peanut butter, and mint. Best part: You get a free sample upon entering Ghirardelli Chocolate Company on Lincoln Road (bonus: the heavily air-conditioned ice cream/chocolate shop provides a restorative blast of chill for overheated Lincoln Road stragglers). Just seek out the worker with a tray of the sweet treats, and she or he will surely ask if you'd like one. They're so good you might consider sneaking back a short while later in a makeshift disguise, or perhaps you'll want to purchase some (that's sort of the idea). A 15-pack costs $7.95, so math whizzes can figure out the monetary value of this freebie.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®