Toro Toro
Laine Doss

At Toro Toro, the restaurant located off the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel, arepas are served without stuffing. This doesn't mean the crisp corn cakes are served without fixings. Toro Toro's arepas, rather, come whole — with rich, shredded short rib right on top. The three mini arepas ($8 lunch, $10 dinner) are dotted with fresh guacamole and finished with a hint of crema. Think of them as the open-faced sandwiches of Venezuela or Colombia — except these come from a restaurant owned by chef Richard Sandoval, a prominent restaurateur and pioneer of pan-Latin cuisine. That might explain why these fancy corn cakes require a knife and fork. Cutlery-required dining is a good thing.

At this Brickell-area surprise, you can get freekeh, rose water, pomegranate molasses, and colossal tubs of strained yogurt like labneh. Past the store's corridors, which are stacked high with dried herbs and grains, you will also find a petite lunch counter. In the nooks beyond its display case, there are beef-stuffed grape leaves known as dolma, hummus and baba ghannouj, and stewed chickpeas with tomatoes. And there is falafel — mashed chickpea fritters, speckled with sesame seeds and spiced intensely with fresh herbs and cumin. At this mecca for Syrian, Greek, and Armenian foods, the falafel sandwich ($4.50) pairs these fried balls with tahini, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The pita bread is baked fresh daily. And there's more good news: While you wait for your delectable falafel, there are always complimentary pita chips on the counter for snacking.

Lucali
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

In the eerie room

wood-oven burns, candles glow

pizza chefs wear white

green basil bouquetscrown sauce of red tomato

"plain pie" ($24), no menu

blistered Brooklyn crusts

gooey cheese, craft beer, good eats

Lucali South Beach.

Viva Mexico

Some folks visit Con Sabor a México Carnitas Estilo Michoacán for a chicken or steak taco. Others stop by the tiny Little Havana taquería for tacos de buche, slender corn tortillas stuffed with tender, rich pork stomach ($1.75), or tacos de oreja — with a filling of thinly sliced pig ears — and tacos de lengua, pork tongue. The specialty at this taco joint is carnitas, which are prepared with a process that's popular in the central Mexican state of Michoacán and resembles the French technique of confit. Pork offal — ham, tongue, stomach, ears, ribs, and rind — is first browned in lard and then layered in a pot according to cooking time. The meats are covered with pork fat and slow-cooked for two hours. Pig part flavors mingle and marry. The result is a delectable taco con mucho sabor.

Pasadita
Ily Goyanes

Pasadita, my dear,

How thou woo me with thy drive-thru

And your inexpensive eats

But I fear

Not one of your qualities, not two

Can in any way beat

Your fresh, tasty, succulent, bean, cheese, tomato, cilantro, and onion-stuffed $5.99 burritos

(with choice of meat and rice)

The end.

Benny's Seafood
Natalia Molina

Benny's Mofongo (BEHN-eez moh-FOHN-goh) (n.): A delicious Puerto Rican dish made of deep-fried plantains mashed together with garlic and pork rinds in a mortar with a pestle. (Also see: ¡Ay, m'ija, qué rico!)

The rest of Benny's menu is a Puerto Rican nostalgia trip, just like our tía abuela from Loiza used to make it, but the mofongo is porkily sublime, earning the place a visit from Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a few years ago. Served in a small mortar (or a large one for sharing with the rest of the table) with a side of chicken consommé (or caldo), mofongo comes plain or topped with fried pork, shrimp, chicken, steak, or lobster, for the truly indulgent. The mortars are cast with some sort of spell that leaves them incapable of emptying, no matter how much you fanatically shovel into your empanada-hole, but you won't mind taking your abundant leftovers with you while singing "La Borinqueña" the entire ride home. Get your mofongo on for lunch or dinner till 9 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. on weekends. The original location is open Tuesday through Sunday, but the newest location, on NW 82nd Ave., is open seven days a week.

1909 Cafe

A good sandwich is filling and tasty. A great sandwich takes risks, overwhelms with flavor, and is worth every last cent. This is the case at 1909 Café, a quaint but bold shop tucked into a strip mall on Bird Road. It offers patrons a selection of truly inventive combinations, including vegetarian and Paleo (the CrossFit diet) options, all served on white or wheat French baguette, crisped to perfection. A colorful chalkboard menu hangs on one wall of the small dining room and is updated periodically with specials and new creations. But customer favorites such as the French vegetarian ($6.50) are listed on permanent menus that decorate the café's countertops. For courageous eaters, 1909 specializes in ambitious sandwich-making — that is, you will be posed with the challenge of fitting a bite into your mouth, especially if you opt for a 12-inch "Monster Portion." The Godfather sandwich, for example, overflows with mozzarella, ham, capicola, salami, tomatoes, onions, pickles, banana peppers, and lettuce — and for $7.25, that's an offer a hungry customer can't refuse. The café also serves salads, smoothies, and a good cup o' joe — all reasonably priced and always served with a smile.

Pubbelly Sushi

The sashimi dish hamachi jalapeño typically includes slivered strips of fresh yellowtail, which are smothered in yuzu juice, sprinkled with cilantro leaves, and topped with piquant pepper slices. At Pubbelly Sushi, the Japanese-fusion restaurant owned by the Pubbelly boys — José Mendín, Andreas Schreiner, and Sergio Navarro — in Sunset Harbour, the hamachi jalapeño ($13) is slightly different. It combines the peerless white fish with a lemon soy sauce and roasted poblano peppers. Garnished with cilantro and onions, the chilies crown the fillet's raw flesh. The pub-like joint offers other sushi classics, and they always include some sort of novel touch. For example, signature Pubbelly rolls feature snow crab wrapped in soy paper and are served with a decadent ponzu-clarified butter sauce ($9). Playful with its raw fish, Pubbelly Sushi adds creative touches even to fusion cuisine.

Jaguar Restaurant
Jaguar Latin-American Kitchen

Food ADHD strikes us when we get one large portion. No matter how delicious, experiencing the same taste bite after bite can be cumbersome. That's why Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill is perfect for mouths with short attention spans. Nine ceviches are offered in several sizes ($2 to $14). But what we love is the spoon sampler. For $14, six ceviches are served in Asian soup spoons. They arrive on a plate, arranged to look like a wheel of fortune — 'round and 'round the spoons go. Maybe they'll stop on the ceviche Los Cabos, a blend of Pacific swordfish, red onions, and jalapeños. Maybe you'll be rewarded with a taste of tiradito Lima, a mix of tuna, ají amarillo, and salsa criolla. Or your seafood adventures could take you to the Black Market, a ceviche made with white fish, shrimp, calamari, ají amarillo, red onion, and corn. Whatever ceviches you choose for your spoon game, know this: It's a sure bet you'll be rewarded with the freshest, brightest, and least boring meal in a long time.

Good tapas do more than combine the robust Spanish flavors of extra-virgin olive oil and paprika into bite-size dishes. The best ones, like those at Brisa de España, transport you to the streets of Spain. As the name implies, the restaurant brings a little Iberian breeze to Doral. Spanish products — from paella pans to alpargatas (espadrilles) to tabloids — adorn the "tienda: la española." There's FC Barcelona and Real Madrid soccer memorabilia, decorative plates with images of Spain, and Spanish flags that separate the store from the restaurant. Although the menu changes daily, the real Spanish vibe lies with the tapas, including roasted red peppers smothered in olive oil, tortilla española, piquillo peppers stuffed with codfish, and chistorras (thinly cut Spanish sausage) cooked in wine sauce. Most of them cost less than $10. A bottle of wine and a tarta turrón (nougat cake) complete your tapas experience.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®