Robert Is Here
Robert Is Here

Expand your horizons and your definition of "gourmet" at the Homestead staple Robert Is Here. No frills and no fuss, just excellent produce, freshly canned goods, and some of the best flavors South Florida and its farmers can offer. The fruit milkshakes ($5 to $5.50) are legendary, so grab one while you browse the unique sweet and savory dips, salsas, jams, and hot sauces. Oh, and out back there's a petting zoo and kids' splash area that transform this market into an attraction worthy of a day trip. The market is open daily except September and October, when the place is refurbished and prepared for winter produce. The motto here is "Come taste the unusual!" It's highly recommended you taste the unusual, unique, and absolutely delicious.

The Crab House

It's Friday and you're in no mood to cook, much less walk the dog. Grab Bruno by the leash and stroll over the causeway to the Crab House's parking lot — you'll be glad you did. First make the rounds and sample the goods, everything from pâté to the best homemade pickles you've ever wrapped your lips around. After you've whetted your appetite, head back to the pickle lady for some garlic pickles, marinated olives, or cucumber salad ($3 to $6); then return to the ceviche guy and hand over the dough for some of his mayo-free (how is it so good?) chicken salad. Check if the produce tent has any brown tomatoes (so good you might dream about them later) and toss a couple in your bag. Next, pick up some fresh pineapple juice for $3, and on your way to one of the plastic tables right by the bay, visit the tent that offers fresh, locally made, to-die-for burrata cheese. Once you and Bruno have finished off your waterfront meal, tie him to a table leg and enjoy a professional massage. How ya feeling now? The market is closed for the summer but reopens in the fall.

Hani Khouri's name is splashed on menus across town — at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, the Forge, Lee & Marie's Cakery, and other notable eateries. These restaurants all cook with his farmstead cheeses, which are made with goat's milk and prepared at his farm in the Redland. Khouri's most popular product is Hani's cheese, a fromage blanc-like goat's milk creation. But the goat herder also makes labneh by mixing milk with bacteria and then hanging it to drain. He prepares halloumi, feta, and goat's milk cheddar too. His cheeses, priced $22 to $24 a pound, can be purchased at farmers' markets and shops around the Magic City. Khouri, on the other hand, can be found on his farm, where he tends to his 17 goats.

Pattypan squash looks like a small flying saucer, has scalloped edges, and grows in colors such as white, green, and yellow. It's not the kind of squash you find in supermarkets, which is why the community supported agriculture (CSA) program at Redland Organics is much better than shopping in stores. Margie Pikarsky, the farmer behind Bee Heaven Farm, coordinates this CSA. It works a little like this: In the summer, you sign up for five months of produce ($33.50 a week for family shares, $20 for small shares). The season runs from mid-November through mid-April. Each week, you pick up a box full of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, such as caimitos, red mizuna, romanesco, watermelon radishes, beets, and strawberries. Everything is organic. Choices are determined entirely by nature, which means pattypan squash is only the start.

Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill
Devin Peppler

Your Spanish is weak, but your desire for fresh fish is strong. Worry not, seafood addict. You must learn only the following terms to shop at Casablanca Seafood, the family-owned fish market located on the Miami River:

"¿Quién sigue?" Fishmongers like to holler. They bellow and often ask who's next. Raise your hand.

"¿Qué quieres?" Fishmongers are impatient. A crowd is trickling in. A line is forming. Pristine yellowtail snapper, Spanish mackerel, and shell-on Gulf Coast shrimp can be distracting. What do you want? Make your decisions quickly.

"En filete?" Fishmongers weigh whole fish and then offer to fillet them. Unless you're better with a knife than you are with español, say . Or nod.

"Propina buena!" Fishmongers love good tips. Always provide them.

In a city where the catch of the day might mean fish netted in China or Maine, you now hold the power to walk out of Casablanca Seafood with two things: Miami fish linguistics and a baggie full of the freshest catch in town.

Oak Tavern

A freestanding wine cooler looms over the dining room at the Design District's Oak Tavern. But it holds no bottles. The refrigerator shelters "forcemeats" — minced meat emulsified with fatback and aged for weeks. There is Tuscan fennel salami, Calabrese salami, and soppressata. There is bresaola, made of beef, and even duck prosciutto. But these cured meats aren't imported or shipped from out of state. While some chefs in town are taking more and more shortcuts, David Bracha keeps one of the world's oldest crafts alive: the art of charcuterie. His meats are priced at $15 for lunch and $22 for dinner and come served atop a wooden plank alongside accompaniments, including sliced artisan bread, whole-grain mustard, pickled carrots, cucumber, green beans, mustard fruit, and marinated Cerignola olives. So his charcuterie is not only a good deal but also proof that some things — such as ground, salted pork — still improve with time.

Macchialina
Photo by Liz Clayman

When three fellows named Andreas Schreiner, José Mendín, and Sergio Navarro launched a restaurant group in 2010, they named it Pubbelly. When the trio partnered with Michael Pirolo, the former chef of Scott Conant's Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau, they named their restaurant Macchialina. The four-person team debuted this Pubbelly Italian restaurant with the team's signature touches: laid-back vibe, reasonable prices, and tasty cuisine. At Macchialina, Pirolo's cooking includes homespun fresh pastas such as spaghetti con vongole ($18). There's a short yet well-curated beer and wine list. There's also a unique tiramisu ($9): a jar layered with chocolate crumbles and espresso granita — quite the cool touch. But the coolest thing here isn't dessert. It's Macchialina's sheer wonderfulness.

Best Restaurant in the Design District/Midtown

MC Kitchen

MC Kitchen
Photo by Andrew Meade/Courtesy of MC Kitchen

If you were to stumble upon MC Kitchen, maybe after a stroll through the Design District's shops or perhaps drawn by the wafting aromas of Italian fare, you would probably end up sipping a cocktail made with Dogfish Head beer. (Three of six drinks are, in fact, prepared with suds.) You will enjoy the sleek dining room and then ingest Niman Ranch meats, succulent fish, and fresh pastas such as cavatelli, fiocchi, and trofie. You will sample the excellent charred octopus ($18) and delectable tiramisu ($10). Yet you won't be most impressed by the peerless cuisine or tasteful setting. You'll be positively awed by the restaurant's chef, Dena Marino, who will likely be working in the open kitchen — baking pizettes, plating crudos, and searing fillets. She'll be smiling, probably. And after dining at MC Kitchen, you will be too.

Nemesis Urban Bistro

Ostrich carpaccio crowned with foccacia croutons and drizzled with rooibos-tea-smoked tomato oil. Chamomile-horseradish-glazed salmon coupled with cold quinoa salad and grilled green apple rings. Pot stickers plumped with pulled duck meat braised with figs and leeks ($8). These dishes might sound like the capricious ideas of a quixotic cook, but that could not be further from the truth. Micah Edelstein — South African native, Top Chef season three contestant, and chef of eclectic and imaginative eats — proffers these creations at her downtown restaurant, Nemesis Urban Bistro. Here, Edelstein experiments with a myriad of flavors from across the globe. The restaurant forgoes convention, which is why dining here is like a voyage. It's a globetrotting dinner, the kind where you sample smoked veal bobotie, Egyptian dukkah, and bison steaks with huckleberry/dark-chocolate chili sauce in just one seating.

Swine Southern Table & Bar
billwisserphoto.com

"Run, pig, run" is the motto of this pork-centric restaurant from 50 Eggs Inc. Though the opening of Swine Southern Table & Bar might be extremely bad news for the oinkers of the world, it's cause for celebration in the City Beautiful. After all, in a town once known for having more bridal shops than brides per capita, it's nice to know you can walk into a place and get a heaping portion of fall-off-the-bone pig flesh and a good, stiff drink. Swine is bathed in warm amber lighting — the kind that makes everything sepia-toned, like an old postcard. Try dining on the second floor, overlooking the communal table. The decibel level is high on a Friday evening, when every seat is filled with petite women in designer finery tearing into dry-rubbed and smoked Memphis-style ribs ($32) and devouring hunks of bovine goodness in the form of Black Angus burnt ends ($16) served on butcher paper to sop up the juices. The accompanying men gladly pick up the tab to watch their dates lose themselves in a feeding frenzy filled with such raw carnal pleasure. To wash down all of this meaty goodness, the bar program features plenty of good Kentucky bourbon, including the cultish Pappy Van Winkle collection. Don't think Swine is inelegant, however. Everything in this room has a pedigree — from the shelves, made of reclaimed barn wood, to the photographs depicting Mississippi blues culture by photojournalist Bill Steber, to the iron machinery parts hanging on the wall. Swine may be rough around the edges, but there's a diamond hiding inside — and it's made of bacon.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®