Best Gourmet Market 2012 | Norman Brothers Produce | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Alex Broadwell

There's a whole lotta #trending going on in #Miami, like #gourmetmarkets for example. But sometimes you gotta go back to #whereitallstarted to get the real deal. Norman Brothers has been family-owned-and-operated for more than 40 years — way before #bacon, #honey, and #macaroons became cool and people knew what #umami was. Throughout the years, the faithful have stayed true to the original and picked up their #seafood, #fruits, #vegetables, #wines, #meats, #cheeses, and #oneofakind gourmet items at this Kendall mainstay. Besides all the grocery items available, you must try the #smoothies, #sandwiches, and #omgtheyaresoeffingdelicious duck dumplings. Norman Brothers is the real #OG.

Why is foodie synonymous with yuppie? No matter what our tax returns say, we all have taste buds, right? And weren't the original foodies those Italian grandmas who spent all day cooking delectable dishes with simple and inexpensive ingredients? But in Miami — a town with an epic shortage of farmers' markets and unpretentious specialty food stores — it's tough to buy good ingredients without cleaning out your bank account. So Mr. Pasta shimmers like an oasis. The little store in North Beach sells a variety of fresh noodles in varieties ranging from egg to tomato to black squid. It also offers masterfully handcrafted gnocchi and ravioli. Prices start at $4 for a pound of noodles — enough to serve you and your date — and are worlds better than that stiff stuff from a cardboard box. It is also a hell of a lot easier than mixing and rolling your own dough. Cheeses — such as a one-pound ball of fresh mozzarella for $4 — taste better and cost less than anything you can buy at a supermarket. Imported canned tomatoes and sauces sell at competitive prices. Forget those extortion artists at the gourmet chains, and stock up here instead. Nonna would be proud.

Café 46 is to Joe Allen what Rhoda was to Mary Tyler Moore, what The X Factor is to American Idol, what one Rolling Stones album is to the previous one: a spinoff of the same ideas and some of the same players, except with a different name and played on a new stage. The most noteworthy returning player at Café 46 is owner/host/manager Mario Rubeo, the former co-owner/host/manager at Joe Allen, which ended its ten-year run in Miami Beach last year. Mario is the star at this venue (as he was at JA), his energetic congeniality making former Joe Allen patrons feel right at home — while bringing in new fans as well. The menu has hardly changed; the same font announces identical homespun comfort foods: pan-roasted matzo chicken, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, sautéed calf's liver, a damn good hamburger, banana cream pie. Except for two steak offerings, main courses run $12 to $18. Beers and wines are equally budget-friendly. Like Joe Allen, Café 46 would be a great neighborhood restaurant regardless of what neighborhood you put it in. And that's no spin.

Once upon a time, a Mexi-California boy named Alex Cuevas found he had a gift: He was an animal whisperer. Here's the response he got from every quivering cow, pig, and fish he faced: "Please, don't eat me. And tell the others." He took his furry and slimy friends into his arms and promised to broadcast their message to his species. From coast to coast, Cuevas has honored that commitment, and Choices Vegan Café is his largest endeavor to date. He and his brother Jorge have assembled a menu that includes goodies such as delicious vegan pancakes (weekends only), supercharged "chili con kale," and "the Vegan Assassin's Insane Mexican Wrap," which mimic traditional American classics and ease recovering omnivores into the vegan world. Choices also offers nutritionally optimal raw options such as nori wraps, jícama salad, and organic green juices. The Cuevas brothers are convinced that a healthy, eco-friendly, and animal-cruelty-free world doesn't have to be a fairy tale, and they're making a delectable contribution toward bringing their vision to life.

Photo courtesy of Josh's Deli

Let's face it: Miami is no Queens. Nor is it Brooklyn. There is no such thing as a deli on every corner around here — but we sure wish there were. It would be the best of both worlds: sun year-round, white sandy beaches, and a house-cured pastrami sandwich on fresh rye with lots of mustard and a kosher dill. Can you feel it? Can you taste it? You can now. Head to Josh's Delicatessen & Appetizing in Surfside for a 'strami sammie, and then walk over to the beach — it's only a block away, for Pete's sake! Too sunburned for the beach? Or feeling a little chilly? Josh's Deli has a winning recipe for matzo ball soup ($5.95). Five words: duck schmaltz and ginger beer. Just what the docta ordered.

When you're too drunk to drink

(at say, 3:05)

And you're tired of eating at greasy old dives,

Then go to Chow Down for some wontons and chives.

It's inside a strip

That don't look too nice.

But just walk in the door, go ahead, roll the dice.

It's a chic, modern lounge that serves great Chinese rice.

Have a cocktail inside

(go ahead, just one more).

And just when you're 'bout to fall down on the floor,

To the rescue — chow fun with fresh veggies galore!

Tomorrow you'll care

(though tonight you're carefree)

That the food you chowed down on had no MSG.

You ate kale and tofu at the end of your spree!

Come back when you're sober

And peep the menu.

Duck bao, organic chicken wings, scallion-herb pancakes too!

If you don't dig Chow Down, what the hell's wrong with you?

Best Restaurant for Out-of-Towners


So your Aunt Harriet and Uncle Sid are in town for the weekend and you get to show them the best of Miami. Do you really think they want to spend two hours of their rapidly depleting lifespan at some swankadelic restaurant eating foie gras tater tots? Nope! These folks are itching to see the real Miami, not über-trendy cafés filled with overinflated menus and boobs. They want Coopertown: population eight (humans) and about 1,000 gators. For more than 60 years, this little town/complex/tourist attraction/restaurant has been serving heaps of frogs' legs and gator tail, along with beer and sweet tea to wash it down. Auntie will jump for joy at the jumper platter: a half-pound of legs from frogs freshly gigged from the Everglades, and Sid will be pleased to chomp on some fried gator tail — all at an early-bird-friendly meal (Coopertown closes at 6 p.m. daily). Afterward, take them for an airboat ride and let them see what they just ingested. This is the real Miami — where man eats ancient predator (and Kermit's cousin).

Photo by Jordan Braun

Eating House just popped up one February night in the unassuming luncheonette-by-day Café Ponce. Giorgio Rapicavoli and Alex Casanova handed out menus of 12 to 15 foods (most $7 to $15, a few larger composed plates $20 to $25), three to five desserts, and a shortlist of craft beers ($6 or $7 per bottle) and boutique wines ($35 to $52 per bottle, $8 to $13 per glass). That's what pop-ups do. Miami hasn't experienced this impermanent dining phenomenon the way other American cities have, but what we lack in quantity (Eating House is at the moment our only entry) we make up for in quality (the food is unbelievably good). There is no defining gastronomic motif at work here; chef Rapicavoli, winner of Food Network's Chopped competition, simply showcases his innovative takes on everything from Korean barbecue to fried chicken to what is surely the best fettuccine carbonara in Miami. And by "innovative takes" we mean items such as a Homestead tomato salad with ginger, lime, and nuoc cham accents and a sprinkling of peanuts, microherbs, and basil, all interspersed with quenelles of frozen coconut milk. There's a kick-ass brunch too. Plans are to close up shop in August. That's what pop-ups do. Still, there's plenty of time to relish some of the best cuisine in town. Plus we're hoping that come autumn, Rapicavoli and Casanova will pop up somewhere else.

Courtesy of Rosa Mexicano

Rosa's outdoor tables sit by lily-pad ponds on the black-and-white stone mosaic of Lincoln Road's trendiest block — right at the base of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed building, SoBe's newest landmark. The soaring 3,500-square-foot indoor space (with 108 seats inside) is a dazzling realm melding the spirits of Mexico and South Beach. Both cultures, after all, exude a fondness for bright colors and a live-free-or-die attitude. No, wait, that's not Mexico, but New Hampshire in the fall. Take that, Zapata. The décor is actually inspired by Mexico's acclaimed architect Ricardo Legorreta, and it practically shouts its effulgent glee. During the day, natural light streaming luminously through floor-to-ceiling windows reflects off tall blue-glass columns and a spectacular travertine bar. At night, the room glows with vivid lighting and backlighting of various hues, as well as textured stone waterfalls displaying video of Acapulco cliff divers midflight — or sometimes of butterflies. Yet the potpourri of tinctures doesn't lapse into gaudiness, but is balanced by dark wood floors and a sleek, seriously handsome design. Kudos to Seed Design Studio in New York for understanding Mexico and South Beach so well.

You can win this hall-of-fame type of award only once, and being a great chef won't get you a ticket; you must prove your greatness over time. Past winners are Norman Van Aken, Mark Militello, Allen Susser, Pascal Oudin, Philippe Ruiz, Michelle Bernstein, Michael Schwartz, Douglas Rodriguez, Cindy Hutson, Jonathan Eismann, Dewey LoSasso, Jan Jorgensen, and Kris Wessel. Hedy Goldsmith is the first pastry chef to be inducted, and her dominance in this field has been so complete that the only surprise here is how long it took. After all, Goldsmith first dazzled us with her outrageous dessert buffets at Nemo beginning in 1995. She left that spot to join forces with the former Nemo chef at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. This was the ideal platform to launch her honest, whimsical, highly creative desserts. Her career took off, and the rest is patisse. Now Ms. Goldsmith's creations are lauded on a national level. We add our humble kudos.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®