Prime 112
Photo by Gary James / Courtesy of Carma PR

Fried chicken is one of those classic American comfort foods. The lingering scent of hot oil on a crunchy, well-seasoned exterior with bubbles of crisp skin and flour can be a culinary challenge. Some chefs brine the meat, others soak it, and still others forego any type of conditioning. Cooking temperatures differ across state lines. In fact, the methodology of making perfect fried poultry is highly debatable. Even trickier is this question: Do the fixings alter your chicken perception? Is bird served atop a steamy waffle better than a plate styled simply with grits and gravy? The truth is that all kinds of chicken dinners are welcome at our table, but when it comes to a seriously great meshing of chicken and accouterments, we'll steal a seat at Prime One Twelve's bar and order the fried "chicken n' waffles" with maple syrup ($30). This birdie is bathed in buttermilk and pounded out almost like a traditional Milanese, only thicker and juicier. The malt waffles are made from scratch, and warm maple syrup is the purest route to savory-sweet, which this dish does well. Plus, there is just the right ratio of waffle to bird, so you get a bite of each from beginning to end. Sure, it's not exactly the budget version of fried chicken, but we love it when a commoner gets elevated to royalty.

Shuckers Waterfront Bar & Grill
Photo courtesy of Shuckers Bar & Grill

Since 1789, the chicken wing has been part of the U.S. Constitution. (Read the fine print, people. It's all the way down at the bottom before you get to the part that says Americans are obliged to dress in cheesy outfits for patriotic holiday observations.) Flashy, sequined American-flag bras aside, we know when we come across a good wing. Shuckers Bar & Grill's grilled chicken wings ($9.95 a dozen) are a prime example of the meaty ala. It's crunchy on the outside, hot and tender on the inside. There's a symphony of seasonings playing on the crisp skin, but it's difficult to put your finger on exactly what they are. The flavor is part tangy, part spicy, part char-grilly, and a whole lot of awesome. The folks in the Shuckers kitchen are staying mum about the recipe. It's a secret, and it's delicious. Best combination ever.

Sanpocho Restaurant
Zachary Fagenson

You can get everything from traditional straw hats and baskets to Sparkies candies (Colombia's answer to Skittles) and two-liter bottles of Postobón soda at San Pocho, a one-stop shop and family restaurant serving Little Havana's Colombian community. The restaurant has developed a following beyond the neighborhood, thanks to flavorful renditions of Colombian comfort-food staples such as sancocho (meat-and-vegetable soup) and tasty arepas. Come early for the shredded chicken- and beef-filled varieties ($3 each) — they sell out every morning. But the basic arepa con queso ($2) — a curd of gooey white cheese melted over a single grilled corn pancake to create a perfect hybrid of crispiness — is the most addictive.

Salumeria 104

The Dimwitted Nitpickers Association (DNA) recently convened for its annual meeting at Salumeria 104, the new midtown Miami shop that specializes in cured meats and other prepared foods.

"First thing I don't like about this place is they spell salami wrong," said Ed "Crabby" Appleton, one of the group's veterans. "Whoever heard of a u in salami?""You know what bugs me?" groused Sharon "Shush!" Schwartz. "They've got speck, bresaola, guanciale, cacciatoriano, mortadella, and two types of prosciutto — but not a hint of olive loaf in sight!""And they slice the antipasti too thin and dainty. I prefer my ham cut like steaks," whined Jack "Huh?" Carlson. But then a new member spoke up. "This place may not have olive loaf, but it has bright-red Italma slicing machines that cut the imported charcuterie paper-thin. That's the way it's supposed to be, Jack. And all those salumi — by the way, Ed, all salami is salumi, but not all salumi is salami — are prettily placed upon wooden cheese boards for just $6 per choice (although the prosciutto di Parma and San Daniele are $10 and $12, which ain't bad for those precious pork products). Plus bottles of wine start at $20 and get poured in tumblers. Oh yeah, the bread is baked fresh daily by Spuntino Bakery. So there you have it: the salumeria trifecta of great cured meats, delicious breads, and affordable wines. And chef/partner Angelo Masarin makes a spinach noodle lasagna and other authentic regional dishes that are worth a trip here even if you don't like salumi. The room is casual, service is friendly — you have to love this place! As a matter of fact, I can't wait to try the other 103!" "Hey, Bud," said Ed. "You're with the wrong group. The Dimwitted Realists are meeting at that table up front."
Edge Steak & Bar
Photo courtesy of Edge Steak & Bar

You normally wouldn't think of food trucks when you think of Edge Steak & Bar at the tony Four Seasons. Think again, because that's the theme of the weekly Sunday brunch at Edge. In this imaginary food truck universe, there are no plastic forks. Your simple street fare is lovingly created by executive chef Aaron Brooks, and there are unlimited bloody marys, mimosas, and mojitos to round out your meal. Food stations are set up as different food trucks, serving Cuban roast suckling pig, Mexican tacos, Peruvian seafood, and desserts. Food trucks not your thing? A traditional carving station offers tomahawk steaks, and upscale brunch fare such as crab claws and snapper wrapped in banana leaves are available. Brunch is served Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. At $75 per adult, this meal doesn't come cheap, but it's really the only way Muffy and Chip can have a food truck experience with white-glove service.

Camila’s Restaurant
Zachary Fagenson

Want to gorge yourself but not with the same old Chinese buffet? Check out Camila's Restaurante Brasileiro in the heart of downtown Miami. Don't expect anything fancy, but it has the feel of a working-man's joint. What you should expect is a delicious, authentic Brazilian meal, buffet style of course, for $12.95 — with free coffee (other drinks cost extra). Parking is a bit of a hassle, but filling yourself to the brim with a Brazilian buffet is well worth it. Feijoada (black beans with pork), vaca atolada, passionfruit pudding, fried chicken and pork, and much more is sold here. Camila's is one of the better values in town and a refreshing change of pace.

Mr. Good Stuff

In Miami, there are almost 100 food trucks. Most serve the same three items — burgers, tacos, and cupcakes. Then there's Mr. Good Stuff, which offers the luna. If you're asking, "What the heck is a luna?" you're not alone. Contrary to popular belief, it is not lunch for moon men. We're talking about pork and brisket slow-cooked for hours until the meat is tender, juicy, and filled with the flavors of your childhood home. These meats are cradled inside an arepa, a Venezuelan corn cake freshly made on a griddle. They are then topped with house-made slaws or pickled onions until they're sloppy, messy, hot, and so satisfying you'll be rolling your eyes toward heaven as meat juice trickles to your elbows. For eight bucks, your view of food trucks and the world, along with your waistline, will expand.

Remember the ice-cream truck driving slowly down the street as the sun fell on the playground swing set? As a familiar little jingle played, hot girls in Daisy Dukes writhed against the rooftop stripper pole as a fudge ripple cone melted over their suntanned breasts. Well, if you don't have those exact childhood memories, the girls of Aphrodisiac Ice Cream invite you to make some new, sexier ones. The Aphrodisiac truck is the brainchild of Costa Rican model Jacqueline Suzanne, who can also be found grinding it low on the truck's stripper pole and inviting you to try her wares. Sex sells, and here it sells ice cream made with all-natural ingredients. Depending on the event, the creamy goodies can be typical vanilla, chocolate, and cookie dough, or they can be wild, booze-spiked frozen treats. Either way, we think the Good Humor Man is out of a job. As for Mister Softee, let's just say he'll have a hard time living up to his name.

Purple People Eatery Truck
Alex Broadwell

Everybody loves macaroni 'n' cheese, and everybody loves cute, cuddly monsters. Don't believe us? Ask any kid if he or she would rather have a five-course tasting dinner at (fill in the blank with any overpriced, stuffy restaurant) or eat some warm mac 'n' cheese while watching Monsters Inc. Because children are acutely aware of what's good in this world (their bullshit meters having not yet kicked in), we submit for your approval one purple food truck with a flying, single-horned cyclops as its mascot. The meal? Mac n' Jack — macaroni in a bubbling bath of jack, colby, smoked Gouda, and sharp cheddar, mixed with broccoli for added color and nutrients, and topped with bread crumbs for crunch and texture. At only six bucks, it'll make you think you're in some sci-fi movie. Though Purple People Eatery's mac 'n' cheese is real, alas, the monster is pure fiction. But make sure the closet door is closed — just in case.

Angelina's Coffee and Yogurt
Photo by Kat Bein

Grilled cheese is probably the food we loved first and best. But as the years passed, we outgrew those sandwiches, G.I. Joe, and Barbie and moved on to more lively playmates and sophisticated fare. While we mourned the passing of our childhood, we figured that was the price to pay for being a grownup. Angelina's Coffee & Yogurt says, "Screw that crap," with the adult grilled cheese. Riffing on the concept of our childhood favorite with elevated ingredients, the small midtown coffeehouse offers nine sandwiches — all using decidedly big-boy ingredients such as Brie, Gouda, red onion, and goat cheese. We love the simply named "Number Three," a salty and smoky blend of imported provolone, spicy chorizo, and arugula on oversize, fluffy country white bread. At $7.95 each, these are grilled cheese sandwiches to be paired with a good beer rather than chocolate milk. Now if someone would just invent bourbon-infused Goldfish.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®