Bombay Darbar
Photo courtesy of Bombay Darbar
Fans of burn-your-face-off Indian cuisine might not head to Bombay Darbar first, but the average connoisseur of Indian food in Florida knows there are good eats at this relatively new eatery, which took over the site where Anokha, another Indian restaurant, was located. Those who appreciate freedom of choice will be thankful the menu includes everything from savory lamb biryani (a rice dish, $16.95) to scorching vindaloos ($14.95 to $17.95), moist and vibrant tandoori meats, popular butter chicken ($16.95), and more vegetarian dishes than you can shake a papadam at. Spice profiles range from tame to smack-my-ass-and-call-me-Sally! Then there's nothing like an order of Darbar's gulab jamun — doughnuts drenched in sweet rose syrup — which is worth every cavity. We also love the restaurant's petite size, the bejeweled wall décor, and the coveted outdoor tables. All around, Bombay Darbar is a sweet and spicy addition to Miami's ethnic food scene.

Best Expensive Italian Restaurant

Cioppino

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Jonathan++Postal
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Listen, we Miami gals aren't interested in your dumb let's-hit-a-pizza-stand-and-eat-dinner-on-the-curb idea. We didn't spend a few thou on these Cavalli dresses and snakeskin Louboutins to be dining like the help. Take us to Cioppino if you really want to impress us. How 'bout we start with the burrata ($20) and then maybe a calamari steak ($36)? Or maybe the organic chicken entrée ($40) will be easier for you to digest. Craving some pasta? Us too. The foiade, pappardelle, and gnocchi are only $24, but let's go for the risotto with shrimp and saffron ($28). You do know quality saffron can cost about $80 an ounce, right? But that's not enough food for us, honey, so let's keep ordering. Hmm. How about the signature dish ($38) or the osso buco? It's only $45. Wine? Of course! And we'll have to celebrate our union with some champagne. Shall we have them pop a cork of Dom rosé, or do we go for the Krug? All of these decisions are making us dizzy, darling. Perhaps you should get that AmEx Centurion card out, 'cause this meal is gonna cost you, and we have to go powder my nose. Don't balk at the bill, Daddy. We'll make it up to you after dessert.
Ristorante Fratelli Milano
George Martinez
Your knowledge of Italian-American culture is way extensive thanks to Jersey Shore, The Godfather, and The Sopranos, but do you really know good food of this persuasion? Prepare to bow down and scream, "We're not worthy!" as soon as you taste the food at downtown's Fratelli Milano. This small bistro is simply decorated with classic dark wood styling and banquettes. Milano serves fresh, homemade pastas such as fiocchi di pera e taleggio ($16) — pear-and-taleggio-cheese-stuffed pasta that is creamy with a hint of soft sweetness and panna cotta good enough to make you fist-pump. If you're watching carb intake, opt for the soup of the day ($6) or signature salad ($8), which is the only salad on the menu. But you won't be complaining once you've tasted the balsamic dressing. You can also opt to add prosciutto because, like its American cousin bacon, pig meat makes everything better. The most expensive dish on the menu, filetto con speck — pan-roasted filet mignon wrapped in speck and pooled in wine sauce — comes in at just $20. After your pilgrimage to this minor Miami mecca of Italian cuisine, you will be one step closer to becoming as authentically Italian as Snooki herself.
DB Bistro Moderne
billwisserphoto.com
It shouldn't surprise anyone that the bistro fare at Daniel Boulud's Miami restaurant is exquisitely delicious. After all, Mr. Boulud is acknowledged as one of the finest — if not the finest — French chefs working in America today. Still, without an executive chef like Jarrod Verbiak to translate Boulud's culinary magic, all we'd be talking about is an eatery with a famous name on the sign. Dining here is a class act from start to finish. The décor is sophisticated in an understated manner. Service is smooth, polished, and professional. The sommelier is one of Miami's most knowledgeable — which helps when diners have to deal with a 30-plus page wine list. And the cuisine is flawlessly French: towering displays of shellfish; charcuterie platters themed on Lyon; a peerless pâté de campagne; and soigné entrées such as duck confit and the famous $32 DB burger of sirloin beef, short ribs, and foie gras. Desserts range from cheese plates to madeleines to delicate treats composed of petite components. Prices are high for a "bistro" but reasonable for the dining experience proffered.
It's Spanish time at the former Pacific Time space in the Design District. The arrival of Andalus means the clock moves slower and the wines are perhaps imbibed a tad faster. It means small plates of food and big doses of flavor. It means dining with no fuss and much fun. It means a host of hot and cold tapas (most $7 to $15). In the former category are prawns gilded with garlic and Spanish chili, and white herrings (chanquetes) finessed with fried eggs; the latter includes all manner of regional cheeses and renowned hams at surprisingly fair prices ($15 excepting the pata negra offerings). Soups are also ladled hot or cold ($6 to $8) — from an ideal Andalusian gazpacho to a hearty sopa de mariscos stocked with five types of shellfish. Another specialty of the namesake region is hake andaluza, which comes fried, salted, and peppered. Hake is likewise plated in other classic ways, as is bacalao and sole ($18 to $23). Steaks, lamb or veal chops, and other meaty main courses run $16 to $28; a grand paella based on Calasparra rice is $40 for two. The prices are right; the ambiance is energetic. Andalus is on Spanish time, all right — and it's time you checked it out.
Los Magueye
Alexandra Rincon
This Hialeah-Miami Lakes hole-in-the-wall is hard to find but well worth the mission if only to try the enchiladas poblanas, which include exotic, spicy mole slathered onto three corn tortillas stuffed with chicken and crowned with Mexican cheese ($12.99). Vegetarians can substitute spinach for the chicken and top the whole thing off with sliced avocados. If there were a category for best quesadillas, the undisputed king would be Los Magueyes' quesadilla Michoacan ($7.95): a pan-seared flour tortilla stuffed with sautéed peppers, onions, and mushrooms swimming in a bubbling pool of jack and mozzarella cheeses. Hello, (gastronomical) orgasm.
Le Lambi
In the chain-restaurant-friendly, culinarily shy zone that is Kendall, there's a party going on near the parking lot of a Publix. Inside a nondescript, squat building, guitar music wafts, political debates sound in Kreyol, and the clink of silverware delving into platters of rich goat and fish stews fills the air. It's the area's only Haitian restaurant and a community hub, a ten-seater family joint where patrons usually know each other by name and have no qualms about entering the kitchen to greet staff or obtain extra sauce. The homemade dishes that make the rounds courtesy of owner Carine Baez, her husband, and sons: fresh lambí en sauce, conch stewed until soft and melded with spicy peppers, onions, and tomato; riz et pois, savory rice and beans cooked with diri ak djon-djon, imported Caribbean black mushrooms; and street food platters with neat arrangements of fried goat, pork chunks, and malanga fritters waiting to be dipped into searingly spicy sauces. Outside, it's strip-mall hell. But if you stay long enough in Le Lambí's warm embrace, you almost forget it.
The Middle East Best Food
Photos by Jacob Katel
No one has to tell Middle East Best's owner, Aziz Ali, that he makes the top pita bread in the region. He already knows. Actually, he'll tell anyone who's willing to listen that he makes the best pita in the whole damn nation. And if no one thinks to ask, it doesn't matter. He has signs hanging behind the register and near the front door announcing his claim. Ali won't tell his secrets, but we know he makes the dough by hand and bakes it on the premises. He claims to sell about 250 big-as-your-head pitas on an average day. So stop in and hand the man $2 for a bag of five pouches of joy and let him know your opinion. If you pick up a tub of Ali's hummus too, consider this your warning: You might not surface for days.
Maido Japanese Restaurant
Real Japanese food aficionados stuck in the United States live for the moment they find a local restaurant so good and so authentic that they can just hand the menu back to their server and exclaim, "Let the chef bring me whatever he'd like." Maido is that kind of place, except for one little detail: The extensive specials are written on marker boards so there's no need to do the paper swap. Bonus: Each time you dine here, the experience is entirely unique. Make a habit of surrendering to the chef/owners at Maido and you won't be let down, especially if words such as fermented, bitter, paste, roe, and pickled aren't offensive. Even the timid can find pleasure in items as basic as deep-fried rice cakes, while the entirely adventuresome may go hog wild for squid sashimi, silverfish tempura, and chicken gizzards with yuzu. Maido isn't big on atmosphere, but it more than makes up for it in flavor.
La Hormiga De Oro
Just off Miami Gardens Drive, inside a generic shopping center anchored by a Publix, you will find a golden opportunity to savor deliciously prepared Nicaraguan cuisine. A typical fritanga, La Hormiga de Oro offers cantina-style Nica dishes at moderate prices for dining in or taking out. Six dollars and 50 cents brings charbroiled steak and a choice of three sides that include gallo pinto (rice and beans), grilled corn on the cob, fried sweet plantains, tostones, fried yuca, fried cheese, and tortillas. Wash it down with a $3 glass of Nica fruit juice such as maracuya, cacao, or cebada. Folks looking for a twist on traditional breakfast fare can choose dishes such as huevos rancheros with white cheese, gallo pinto, and tortilla; or scrambled eggs with Spanish sausage, fried cheese, gallo pinto, and fried green plantains. Cost: $4.50 each. Family dinners are also available for $24 and $45. La Hormiga opens at 8 a.m. six days a week and 7 a.m. Saturdays, and closes at 10 p.m. daily.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®