Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee
George Martinez

There are many ways to eat a cupcake from Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee in Coral Gables. You can peel away the chocolate Oreo's baking cup ($2.75 each, $33 per baker's dozen) and then devour its butter-filled frosting one nibble at a time. You can tear off the top of an orange cupcake and then lick the orange-zest-speckled buttercream bit by bit. You could try a myriad of methods with the shop's 18 other flavors, which include chocolate-peanut butter, lime, mocha, and red velvet. Those are all very good trials. But after sampling all of Buttercream's moist, fluffy cakes, you should really try this: Remove the cupcake's wrapping, pull off its spongy bottom, plop it atop the frosting, and eat. Enjoy the beauty of a self-made, sweet Buttercream cupcake sandwich.

Pride and Joy

There's a warm feeling you get when something reaches your palate and nostalgia strikes. Sometimes it makes you smirk about your childhood or laugh about all the mischief you got into. Like a familiar smell, memories come flooding in from the past. Suddenly, you're 9 years old again, sitting on your grandma's counter, salivating over a bowl of fresh peach slices dusted with brown sugar and cinnamon. The homemade crumble nearby just came out of the oven, and now it and the peaches will go back into the oven until Grandma can spoon it steaming-hot into a bowl with a cold scoop of ice cream. That's the feeling — the memory — evoked by Pride & Joy's cobbler. A piping-hot peach cobbler arrives in the bowl it was baked in — fresh from the oven — with a creamy scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream ($6.95). This sweet treat almost seems like trickery. Who at this Wynwood barbecue joint stole Gram's recipe book? But after about a half-dozen visits (just for the cobbler), you begin to accept that it's simply a coincidence. And a damn great one.

Cuban Guys
Courtesy of Cuban Guys

El Tío Loco walks around aimlessly during family gatherings. He's always mumbling something about the old days in Havana, taking deep drags off his "legal" cigarros, and carrying that aluminum flask of amazing mystery rum in his pocket. See, El Tío Loco might stumble when he walks and slur his speech when he talks, but the man knows what he's slurring about. Tío Loco takes us to only one place in Miami-Dade for flan. It's the only place he says makes a better flan than he. It's not anywhere on Calle Ocho or in Little Havana. It's not in Hialeah or in Westchester (pronounced WEH-cheh-tehr). The original Cuban Guys location stands adjacent to a Sedano's Supermarket and a Payless Shoesource in a Hialeah Gardens shopping center. "M'ija," Tío Loco says, "Los Cuban Guys tienen el mejor flan. ¿Oiste? ¡El mejor!" Consider the velvety-smooth Cuban custard a French crème caramel with an identity crisis — a damn good identity crisis. It's the creamiest flan in town, and its almíbar — dark caramel syrup — makes you wish you grew up with Tío Loco taking you on flan runs every Saturday. At $2.99 a pop, the price is unbeatable. And because this is Miami, where one option is simply unthinkable, there are also other varieties: cappuccino, guava with cheese, and dulce de leche. But nothing beats the original. Unlike wobbly Tío Loco — who probably loves it so much because it embodies everything he aspires to be — Cuban Guys' flan is smooth, creamy, and supple. Go see what you've been missing.

Gelato-Go
Alex Rodriguez

Antonio Arminio barely speaks English. Growing up in a town near Naples, Italy, there really wasn't a need to learn it. But now he's in Miami, and along with two buddies, Alessandro Alvino and Domenico D'Addio, he's opened a gelateria on Ocean Drive. Gee, that's exciting: a gelateria. Miami has only a thousand of them. Perhaps that's the case, but Gelato-Go implores you to understand how Italians enjoy gelato — the way it's meant to be enjoyed. None of that powdered product and franchise crap. Small business. Small batches. Big difference. Because Arminio has an actual degree from a gelato-making school in Italy (yes, those exist), you can be sure he knows what he's doing. The gelato machine in the backroom is tiny, which can mean only one thing: Everything must be made in small batches. The brains behind the South Beach establishment are not trying to be trendy by saying their stuff is "artisanal" or "handcrafted." Arminio argues that French is the best kind of vanilla to use for gelato, and that's why he doesn't employ the Mexican or Madagascan stuff. Don't argue. Pistachio gelato here is made with pistachios from a specific farm in Sicily — because those are the best and purest and certified by Italy. It's safest not to argue about that either. A small cup with two flavors costs $4.40. Medium and large increase by just a buck per size (but you can fit more flavors in). Ultimately, the quality of Gelato-Go's flavors are topnotch, but there are also funky twists on the menu, including strawberry spaghetti (spaghetti-shaped vanilla gelato served with fresh strawberries). That's unlike anything Miami has ever seen. Go get acquainted.

Icebox Cafe

Icebox Café, which recently relocated a short distance from its space off Lincoln Road to the new restaurant mecca of Sunset Harbour, offers a creamy, tart, deep-dish beauty of a key lime pie. Made with a robust and sturdy graham-cracker crust, this Conch Republic treat is made with a rich custard-like filling that strikes the right balance between sweet and tart. The bakers at Icebox also put in a considerable amount of time to get this key lime pie right: 40 minutes of prep, 12 to 14 minutes in the oven, followed by three hours in the fridge. To make this delicious confection, Icebox uses eight whole graham crackers, two tablespoons of sugar, five tablespoons of melted unsalted butter, a half cup of sugar, one tablespoon of grated lime zest, eight ounces of softened cream cheese, a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, a third cup of vanilla instant pudding mix, one and a quarter teaspoons of unflavored gelatin, one cup of fresh lime juice from six to eight limes, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. At $7.50 a slice, it's a sinful steal.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®