Las Tapas de Rosa
Zachary Fagenson

The word tapas has taken on a slightly new meaning in America. It used to connote small bites culled from a lengthy playlist of traditional Spanish snacks. This was the exclusive domain of Spanish-style restaurants. Now, seemingly every restaurant trots out "tapas," which are really any comestible portioned in petite fashion. Las Tapas de Rosa adheres to the old interpretation, which means plates of Manchego cheese, chorizo, pork loin, and cured ham. Then there are boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar), beef tripe with cured ham and blood sausage, chorizo a la sidra (in cider), legendary ham croquetas, tortilla española, octopus with hot paprika, and much more, including a whole menu of homestyle Spanish specialties. Just about all the tapas are under $10. Rosa Rodríguez, from Spain, opened the shop on Calle Ocho in 2005, and her daughter Gloria now oversees things. As you sit back with your tapas and perhaps a bottle selected from the extensive Spanish wine list, or maybe a pitcher of refreshing sangria, you might come to believe that tradition is greatly underrated.

My Ceviche
billwisserphoto.com

Ceviche is the new sushi — to the rest of the country, that is. When sushi first appeared in Miami, it was probably considered the new ceviche, thanks to our vibrant Latin American community, which long ago introduced the Magic City to this refreshing macerated seafood specialty. It certainly isn't anything new to Sam Gorenstein, who fondly remembers the cevicherias of his native Colombia. That's what led him, along with partner Roger Duarte (of George Stone Crab), to open My Ceviche at the southern tip of South Beach last year. "Roger and I really felt the need for a good ceviche restaurant on Miami Beach," the James Beard Award-nominated chef says. Prior to this venture, Gorenstein amassed a local fan base during his years heading the kitchen at BLT Steak. This take-out/delivery seafood venue, which also serves stone crabs and fish tacos, features a pretty simple system: Select your choice of seafood (shrimp, octopus, local fish) and then choose from six styles of ceviche, such as the version flavored with aji amarillo, tomato, onions, and mint. Or try the coconut water, avocado, red onions, cilantro, and lime. Maybe check out the Asian-style one with soy-citrus, ginger, red onions, tomato, mango, and cilantro. Popcorn comes on the side. It's $11.75 for a generous "medium" size and $14.75 for a large portion. Sure, you've seen it all before. The question is whether you've seen it this good.

There really is no place like Sonia's. It's a neighborhood bar with live Latin music on weekends. It's a fish market with plastic bins of crushed ice filled with fresh red snapper, yellowtail, hogfish, mangrove, calamari, lobsters, langostinos, and whatever else the day's catch might bring. It's a funky, Cuban-style outdoor seafood shack located by a canal at the point where SW Eighth Street edges toward the Everglades. Diners can select the fish they want and have it simply fried or grilled, and the menu includes soups, croquetas, ceviche, all manner of seafood preparations, fried pork chunks, grilled chicken steak, black beans and rice, and so forth. It isn't nearly as cheap as the ambiance would suggest, but it's not expensive either. Except for lobster and some other high-end shellfish, main courses tend to stay below $30. The place is nearly always packed, and the bar bops with a party spirit that might include staff wearing feathered headgear and forming a conga line. Sonia's is like what you might find during happy hour in a beach shack in Latin America. Speaking of which: Sonia's boasts one of the happiest happy hours every Thursday and Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. Service is leisurely and spoken in Spanish, which only adds to the authentic Latin American vibe.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®