B.O.'s Fish Wagon
"No shirt, no shoes, no problem," reads one sign in this open-air fish shack. The lack of strict dress code might have to do with B.O. having started out as a wagon on Duval Street some 25 years ago. "Cold beer sold here," reads another, and it's true — the bottles are kept in ice-filled coolers. Right there you've got two-thirds of B.O.'s allure. The final and most definitive reason for heading here is the food: fresh, simple, delicious, and relatively cheap, as a fish wagon should be. The house signature is the cracked conch sandwich: thin strips fried and, like all sandwiches here, dressed in key lime dressing and slipped into soft Cuban bread with lettuce, tomato, and sliced onion ($12.50). Fried grouper, shrimp, and fish du jour sandwiches are equally satisfying ($9.50 to $12.50, a dollar extra if grilled). Dinners, served 4 to 9 p.m., showcase same seafood selections but with choice of two sides; select the fresh-cut fries, which just might be worth the drive alone. Although we recommend the fish here, many fans swear by BOMF's half-pound burger ($9) — BOMF standing for "Buddy Owen's Mother's Finest." Buddy is the owner. Next time you're in Key West, head to the corner of Caroline and William streets and say hello to him at his very excellent little restaurant.
Prime 112
Photo by Gary James / Courtesy of Carma PR
In 1915, the year Miami Beach became a city, the Browns Hotel was the number one hot spot — the only place to be. In fact, excepting a nearby bungalow (since demolished) called Joe's Stone Crab, it was literally the only place to be, hot or otherwise. A "modernization" in the '30s buried the Browns under yucky stucco, but the original pine was still sturdy. A challenging restoration by architect Allan Shulman (the house was moved back 13 feet from the sidewalk so the original porch could be returned) was followed by a gorgeous, contemporary saloon-like renovation by interior designer Alison Antrobus — and the Browns reopened in January 2004 as Prime One Twelve, a modern, upscale steak house by Myles Chefetz. The restaurant's lush steaks and flush financial stakes have since become stuff of legend. But part of the success no doubt lies in the warm, intimate, yet invigorating ambiance. Wooden plank floors, exposed brick columns, and champagne leather-upholstered chairs add charm to the two-story, multiroom dining house. And nearly a century after the debut of the Browns, D-Wade chose Prime One Twelve as the place to watch LeBron's nationally televised "Decision." This is still the number one hot spot.
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Photo courtesy of Genuine Hospitality Group
"It sells pretty good," says Todd Webster, the man who butchers much of the meat at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. "We braise them for about four to six hours, cut them into thin pieces, and fry them until they're nice and crispy on the outside." "They're a pretty popular bar snack," echoes Travis Starwalt, sous chef at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. We braise them... slice them thin, dust them in flour, fry them, and toss them in our house-made barbecue spice." Michael's began serving them about a year ago, offering the crunchy bites as a snack seasoned with spice mix ($6) or atop an arugula salad with shaved radish and red onion, dressed in sweet lime vinaigrette ($8). Sugarcane offers them with a wedge of lemon ($4). "People will order one, and then they'll order another one. It's perfect for people hanging out at the bar and having a beer or cocktail," Travis concludes, and at this point we're all ears.
Quattro Gastronomia Italiana
It was August 2006 when chefs Nicola and Fabrizio Carro, identical twins from the Piedmont region, introduced their exquisite Northern Italian fare at Quattro in Miami Beach. One can never have too many chefs imported from Italy. On the other hand, a saturation point exists for restaurants imported from New York — especially when said restaurant's big-name chef lets his name do more work here than his body. More to the point: The Manhattan-to-Miami restaurant exchange has been one-sided for too long. So when our own hometown Quattro opened a sister establishment in New York (in the Trump SoHo no less!), it made a statement of sorts: Miami's dining scene is growing up fast, and it might not be fitting into the Big Apple's hand-me-downs for long.
Dolci Peccati
Alex Broadwell
Dolci Peccati bills itself as the "sweetest truck on the road," and that's true in every sense of the word. Not only was it one of the first all-dessert trucks to hit the road in Miami, but also its 20-something twin co-owners are among the friendliest mobile proprietors around. The Yepes sisters are all smiles in Hello Kitty aprons as they serve small but satisfying portions of the creamy gelato they make in modest batches every day. Every flavor is creamy and dense, as gelato should be, with the underlying boldness of component ingredients. Mint-chocolate chip, for instance, explodes with spearmint flavor, while cookies and cream melts with a rich vanilla finish. Of course, there are all the usual gelato flavors, such as pistachio and hazelnut, but the sisters whip up new combinations, like chocolate-blood orange, to mark special occasions or simple changes in whimsy. Meanwhile, their signature garnish is a special sweet-savory balsamic sauce most popular over strawberry and other fruit flavors.A small, approximately three-quarter-cup serving ($3) packs a lot of flavor, so it's almost guilt-free, although a large ($4.50) won't set you up to go for caloric broke either. Larger take-out containers are available for $8 and up, but you'll want to hurry home with those — the frozen goodness, like so many other amazing things in life, doesn't hold up well over time.
Fritay Fried Pork & Chicken
Inside a cozy storefront on NW Seventh Avenue in North Miami, the fryers are snapping, crackling, and popping Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The family-owned Haitian restaurant serves deliciously sinful wings, drumsticks, and breasts that are fried to crisp perfection. The meat is juicy and tender every time, whether you request a $2.49 two-piece meal or a ten-piece family feast for $7.99. Every meal comes with sides of small rice, acras — fritters — and sweet plantains or fries. Fritay has been providing dine-in and take-out to North Miami's Haitian community since 2008. The restaurant is also big on community service, awarding a $6,000 scholarship to a minority student from the community every year. Fritay is conveniently located off I-95, just a few blocks from the NW 125th Street exit.
When he's not cooking meals for the guys at Miami Fire-Rescue Station 1, Derek Kaplan is baking pies: apple, coconut cream, peach, banana cream, pecan, chocolate pecan, and his signature key lime. It all started as an experiment to perfect his recipe, but friends liked what they tasted, and Fireman Derek's Key Lime Pies was born in 2008. The citrusy dessert has just the right balance of tartness and sweetness. Its filling, prepared with fresh-squeezed key lime juice, is creamy and delicious, and the graham cracker crust is homemade. Pies are available whole ($15) or in single-serving cups ($3 each or ten for $25), which are the perfect size to indulge with less guilt. Find them around town at places such as La Camaronera, Slice-N-Ice, and Bon Appétit Walk-A-Way Café (2600 NE Second Ave., Miami), where Kaplan bakes his wonders. Or simply call or email him to order.
2 Girls and a Cupcake
Got a secret fetish for sugar porn? There's no shame in getting off on sweet, moist treats. And 2 Girls and a Cupcake knows how to bring orgasmic bliss with aphrodisiacs such as Kiss Me I'm Cuban, a tropical coconut cupcake topped with mango buttercream and toasted coconut. Then there's the Ocean Drive, a blue vanilla cupcake topped with yellow buttercream and dusted with brown sugar. The 20-something-year-old bakers behind 2 Girls — Evelyn Dieppa and Lorena Castro — are always adding a sexy Miami swagger to their fluffy, sinful treasures. When the sisters competed on Food Network's Cupcake Wars earlier this year, they paid tribute to local hip-hop luminaries such as Pitbull and Mayday by creating Mr. 305 — a vanilla cupcake with mango filling and vanilla buttercream — as well as Stuck on a Cupcake, a vanilla-peanut butter chip version with grape jelly that's topped with peanut buttercream. Dieppa and Castro didn't win the show's $10,000 prize, but their cupcake operation, which launched on Valentine's Day 2008, is flourishing. The pair's online bakery features every single flavor available, including a special menu of alcohol-infused cupcakes for kiddie-themed adult parties. Prices range from $1 to $3 per cupcake.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®