Best Taco 2012 | Salsa Fiesta | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Salsa Fiesta likes to bill itself as healthful and eco-friendly, but honestly, when tacos are on your mind, concerns about the next doctor's visit or the plight of our natural resources aren't really important. It's time to chow down. Luckily, the tacos at Salsa Fiesta deliver. The Venezuelan import offers four types of shells that range from whole wheat to crisp corn. From there, you can choose five types of flesh, including fish and carnitas, or the veggie option. Most taco joints would stop at this juncture, but Salsa Fiesta offers ultimate taco customization with four mixes. Try the Macho Taco, which comes with black beans, or the Guerrero Taco, which features mango salad topped with creamy cilantro. The homemade salsa bar offers many finishing touches. The fact that Salsa Fiesta uses fresh and nutritious ingredients and green practices will make you feel a bit better after gorging yourself.

For a tasty burrito that's the size of an NFL football and is made with only the freshest ingredients, this Doral hot spot can't be beat. These Mexi-behemoths are all priced at under $8, and the choices are seemingly endless. You got your three kinds of beef — shredded, ground, and grilled. Then you got your pork and chicken. Now add your choice of cheese, beans, lettuce, peppers, sour cream, cilantro, onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, salsa, perfectly ripened avocado slices, and of course, the best guacamole outside of Homestead. There are some other ingredients available, but we got hungry before we could finish reading the menu and ordered a burrito. Our bad.

The other stuff this produce stand sells is also awesome. Its milkshakes look pretty otherworldly. But we don't trek to the Redland that often. And when we do, our brain fixates on only one thing: the ridiculous glory of the strawberry sundaes of Burr's Berry Farm. Priced at $5.35, they are roughly the size of your head, but to share one is sacrilege. Smooth vanilla ice cream comes covered in freshly picked strawberries in a concentrated syrup. How to describe the flavor and potency of this syrup? If Mike Tyson were a strawberry, this is what his punches would feel like. You'll get several brain freezes. There will be a moment when you envision the disapproving frown of your cardiologist. But in the end, you will scrape your plastic bowl clean. And then you'll think about this sundae for weeks, until the next time you swerve into the dirt parking lot of Burr's Berry Farm. (Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily from December to early May.)

Anybody can scoop good gelato from a tub, but it takes a master to produce the stuff. Ritchie Espejo has more than 20 years of experience making fine ice cream, and for a good deal of that time he has been supplying Perricone's Marketplace & Café. At Amore Gelato, his storefront operation next door to the legendary restaurant, he tests new flavors and makes daily batches of proven hits. Though many of his varieties are listed on the menus of other shops, the gelato's boldness of flavor and texture is all Ritchie's own. Not long ago, he created a passionfruit and rose-hip version for a wedding. Area chefs regularly ask him to come up with something special; they even go so far as to build dishes around his olive oil gelato. Waffle cones start at $4.50, a dollar more than cups, but it's worth it to do your part for the environment and to have a hand free for gelato-inspired gesticulation. Of the daily flavors, it's tough to beat the dulce de leche, but a combination of the salted caramel and fior de latte has a nice interplay of savory and sweet and will make you feel more like a gourmand than anyone licking something in public ought to have the right to.

If you want a way to satisfy your sweet tooth, look no further. LA Sweets' owners, Letty Alvarez and Eddie Dominguez, have just the thing to send you over the edge. This isn't your average cupcake shop. The pair bakes every type of cupcake imaginable. There are 114 flavors, so you'll find what you're craving — at a price of just $1.25 each. And they can custom-make everything from regular mini-cupcakes to cupcake towers. Two of the more popular ones are the Southern red velvet — which is finished off with delicious cream-cheese buttercream frosting — and the guava, also topped with cream-cheese buttercream frosting. And if there's something you'd like to see on the menu, they're open to suggestions.

First you start with that bread, all fresh and soft. Doesn't matter if it's Italian or ciabatta. Then you get that deli meat — big, generous piles. Yeah, that's the stuff. Now, just a bit of cheese. Uh-huh. OK, now it's time for the vegetables. Everything you could imagine. Pile 'em on. You know, I like those ruby-red tomatoes. Fantastic. Go ahead and put the sauces on too. A little creamy mayo, mustard. Sure, squirt some oil and vinegar on there. Now grill it. Make it all hot and panini-like for me. Yeah, Café Bonjour, that's a sandwich. Here's your $8.95 and a tip. No, I don't think I'll need chips on the side. This sandwich is all I desire. Where are the napkins?

At the table next to yours, the men are talking about the perfect salsa dance partner. Your friend knows Cuban slang, so he translates: "She's cool without being cold; firm with just a little bit of —" and he searches for the word before coming up with "jiggle." The men dance alone to their cars without getting dessert; if they had, they might have found what they were looking for in the flan. Casa Larios makes five types of it: flan de leche, flan de queso, flan de mamey, flan de coco, and flan de calabaza ($4.25 each, and the last two are made only at the South Miami location). All are drizzled with a house-made caramel sauce that pools on the flan's flat top and about its round base, just enough for a kick of sweetness. She's not saucy, the flan, because she doesn't need to be. The queso version has a savory earthiness that contrasts well with the caramel, and the mamey variety shifts on the tongue along with the complexities of the fruit. But the standard-bearing flan de leche deserves special mention for its mellow, yolky color and pliancy against the edge of a spoon without the shiny wobble that dooms many renditions. The flan at Casa Larios isn't much for dancing, but it's about as good a time as possible while sitting.

Michelle Bernstein's original baby in MiMo has established the chef as one of Florida's finest and most famous. Her "luxurious comfort food" appeals to hungry locals and Food Network fans alike with amazing savories such as sweetbreads, short ribs, and those Serrano ham and blue cheese croquetas with fig marmalade that have become almost as well-known as Bernstein. Although pastry chefs have come and gone at the restaurant, the sweetest surprise is that the desserts are always consistent and incredible — worth the calories no matter who is wearing the toque. For years we've been having a love affair with the fluffy bread pudding and baked Alaska, which have reached iconic status. The bread pudding is soaked in cognac and loaded with raisins and chunks of chocolate. A little orange rind cuts through the richness, and vanilla ice cream becomes a slowly melting puddle on top. Chocolate croquetas with a spicy pot de crème for dipping are long, thin, crisp cylinders, more refined than their counterpart churros at Bernstein's Sra. Martinez. Whether it's deep-fried fruit pie or coconut hibiscus panna cotta with citrus salad and shaved coconut, Michy's desserts ($9 apiece) are a sweet success. The pièce de résistance is the baked Alaska, a layered symphony of flavors beneath a fluffy canopy of lightly browned meringue. This treat's dense pistachio cake is not unlike banana bread, and dollops of tart passionfruit and mango salsa in the corners of the plate add color and tang. Dulce de leche ice cream surpasses any Neapolitan or vanilla filler we've come across, so expect a happy ending every time (the dessert-fairy-tale kind, not the other kind).

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A drinking establishment is the last place you would expect to find delicious key lime pie, but the Bar in Coral Gables has just that. For $6.50 (tax included) per slice, or $25 for a whole pie, the chef in back will whip up one with fresh ingredients. The result is a tangy, sweet, delicious, and fluffy confection that pairs well with an array of tasty appetizers, sandwiches, salads, burgers, and chicken wings. In true dive-bar fashion, shove a whole wedge in your mouth and wash it down with a beer from the Bar's good craft brew selection.

It's a small shop just off Lincoln Road. In fact, it's very easy to miss the Frieze. But that would be a real shame, because it makes the best ice cream in town. Everything is homemade using 16 percent buttercream. The Frieze produces it all without any artificial colors or preservatives, so there's no misleading sugar mischief; the sorbets are made with real fruit and purified water. What makes this "ice cream factory" our winner is the creative range of its inventions. Consider the Nuttiest Buddy (peanut butter ice cream loaded with chocolate chips, fudge, and nuts) or the Banana Wafer (a banana base with vanilla wafer cookies, inspired by Elvis's preferred snack). They also offer the basics such as vanilla, strawberry, and pistachio, but we usually go for more interesting options like green tea, key lime pie, and Jamaican Blue Mountain chip, a heady coffee ice cream. If you can resist the smell of fresh waffle cones, let one of the friendly employees make you a sundae topped with hot fudge, caramel, butterscotch, or cherry syrup. The Frieze also churns out fantastic malts, floats, and milkshakes. And if it's your birthday, there are specially designed ice-cream cakes to go.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®