Best Inexpensive Restaurant 2013 | Lemoni Café | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Natalia Molina

Some restaurants garnish plates with minced herbs or segmented citrus. Others, such as Lemoni Café — the tiny, casual Mediterranean restaurant in the Design District — adorn their dishes with something more substantial and much tastier. At the petite restaurant, the food features many vivid vegetables: roasted red bell peppers, black olives, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and red onions. At Lemoni, the cuisine is healthful and simple. There is tabbouleh, served alongside warm pita slices, house-made hummus, feta, and spicy Moroccan eggplant ($13). There are lush chicken salads, prosciutto sandwiches, and turkey wraps, all priced around $7 to $9. Sometimes the fare is dotted with bits of parsley or vibrant pesto. But that's only embellishment to what is already good-looking: Lemoni Café's resoundingly natural and fresh fare.

What follows are the requirements for the perfect barbecue restaurant. To start, the locale must be family-owned — preferably by kin who've been running the joint for 20 years or more. Smoke from burning hickory must waft through the air. If possible, its blazing aroma should reach beyond the parking lot and into the street. There must be peerless pulled pork, beef ribs, pork ribs, and brisket. Side orders should include collard greens, beans, and cornbread. The only permissible salad is coleslaw. All other greenery must be paired with fried chicken. It is preferable if paper towel rolls and squeeze bottles, holding house-made sauces, are the only furnishings atop the picnic tables. Last, and perhaps most important, the restaurant must be located in an off-center, peripheral spot that, ideally, requires a lengthy drive. The best barbecue is always worth driving for, and no place merits the travel more than Shiver's BBQ in Homestead — an old-school shrine to smoke and hogs that fulfills all of those requirements and so much more.

Natalia Molina

When New York got too expensive, the great delis moved to Pittsburgh. But Pittsburgh sucks, and Roasters' n Toasters is smart. The proprietors have been serving heaping helpings of goodness in Miami since 1984. A fresh bagel loaded with a large scoop of chopped liver, tuna, egg, or chicken salad is a beautiful tradition ($9.95). So are the smoked fish platters with nova, sable, and whitefish ($16.50). The brisket sandwich, Danny's Special, comes with coleslaw, horseradish, sweet roasted peppers, and Russian dressing — all on garlic bread — and it's unbelievable ($12.95). The beauty of a great deli is that it usually charges a bit more than you want to spend, but by the end of your meal, you feel like you got off cheap. For instance, the Carnegie Style sandwich costs $16.95 but offers more than a pound of perfectly hand-sliced, melt-in-your-mouth meat delivered New York-style. Breakfast, served all day, includes thick-cut challah French toast ($8.25) and a bagel with cream cheese ($2.95). There are deals too: Chicken soup with half of a hot pastrami sandwich is only $9.95. Wanna add a matzo ball? Only 95 cents. Top it all off with an éclair ($4.95) and you won't need to eat for a week. Now that's a deli.

Courtesy of Estiatorio Milos

Fish cannot usually fly across the Mediterranean. They can, however, board a plane from Greece to Miami and ride in a car from the airport to a South Beach restaurant. That's precisely how they arrive at Estiatorio Milos, an haute SoFi dining spot for pristine seafood that has locations in Montreal, Las Vegas, New York, and Athens. At Milos, there are rare species such as fagri, skorpina, and tsipoura — sold for about $50 a pound. There are also sashimis of bigeye tuna and salmon, as well as Maryland blue crab cakes. Savvy seafood lovers know that Milos offers a $24.07 three-course lunch special that includes choices such as diver scallop skewers, grilled Mediterranean bass, shrimp saganaki, and Greek yogurt with thyme honey. So, because most fish don't have wings for a transatlantic flight, simply head to Estiatorio Milos.

Few things in life are guaranteed. However, choosing Mandolin Aegean Bistro for an intimate dinner almost guarantees you'll get laid. If you schedule a business lunch, you'll close that deal or make that big sale. You'll head to the nearby Louis Vuitton boutique to celebrate because that's how you roll. The magic happens on a red-and-brown cobblestone patio where sprawling off-white canvas umbrellas cast glorious cool shade during the day. Sandals and mirrored aviator sunglasses are the accessories of choice. White wine is poured happily, and there's no such thing as a superfast lunch. At night, candles in tall skinny glass jars give off a warm golden glow. Ground lights pointed skyward bring the emerald-green shrubs and flowers that wrap the patio back to daytime vibrancy. No one looks bad in that kind of light.

Photo by Deyson Rodriguez

Water laps softly against bobbing boat hulls. A setting sun turns clouds into wide streaks of orange and red against a purple-blue sky. None of it matters once you hear the sandy, gritty crunch of pale-orange stone crab claws being crushed. The cool evening breeze whooshing in off Biscayne Bay doesn't matter when you learn that Monty's Raw Bar in Coconut Grove sells medium Jonah crab claws (or stone crab claws in season) for $4 during a 4 to 8 p.m. happy hour on weeknights. You'd trade the water views for a blighted warehouse as long as the claws remain cheap and the oysters, clams, and peel-and-eat shrimp are still a buck. Yet add the views, the half-priced cocktails and discounted beer, and the din of a hard-drinking happy-hour crowd (many of them UM students), and you'll swear off those chichi seafood towers forever.

When you tire of lomo saltado, pan con bistec, and ropa vieja; when your digestive system longs for a little roughage and your taste buds for a cleanse; and when your Levi's are getting tight around the midsection, sniff out the greener pastures of Govinda's Garden. Hidden behind downtown's fading flagship Macy's, it's too easy to miss. Its forest-colored décor and smattering of chairs and tables are a serene respite from the rest of South Miami Avenue. Order the rainbow-hued quinoa salad ($9.50). You'll be presented with an artfully overflowing bowl of bright-green spinach leaves, crimson peppers, mint-colored cucumbers, burnished brown raisins, purple cabbage, and taupe cashews topped with a sunny yellow lemon slice. For $2.50, add perfectly browned tofu as a topper. Dressing is optional. Quiet, friendly waitresses will shoot coy smiles your way as you chomp happily on your rabbit food. Your innards (and outards) will thank you.

Michael Stavaridis

Afternoon turns to dusk in South Beach. At Juvia, the penthouse restaurant at the Herzog & de Meuron-designed building at 1111 Lincoln Rd., golden rays brush against lush, vertical gardens. The foliage is a creation of French botanist Patrick Blanc. Amethyst-colored elements — cushions, cloth napkins, crystals — dot the glowing 10,000-square-foot eatery, which features a terrace covered by a trackless retractable roof and a rectangular fountain. Designed by Alejandro Barrios-Carrero, the setting fuses nature and open sky with urbanity and concrete. It pairs peerless architecture with landscape and design. The restaurant is a James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Restaurant Design, 76 Seats and Over. It's also a spectacular spot for cocktails and dinner at sunset.

Oh, hunger, you are an eternal beast. Always on the prowl. Always in search of the next meal. This could be why Palate Party has a giant mouth as its logo — teeth bared in a never-ending quest for interesting edibles. But while some food trucks exist only to feed your hunger, this truck, owned and operated by chef Robyn Almodovar, seeks to entertain the beast through comfort foods made from fresh ingredients such as local produce and sustainable seafood. No frozen Sysco stuff for Almodovar, who, by the way, might look waifish in her tight red pants and chef's coat but is tough as nails. She had a trial by fire at the hands of Gordon Ramsay himself. This lady can cook, sass, and break into a wild dance that resembles Snoopy's suppertime freestyle. After a few bites of her food, you and your mouth — finally free from hunger's shackles — will likely join in the celebration.

If culinary icon José Andrés were an actor in a Hollywood flick, he'd probably be Tom Hanks in Big. Andrés, who's based in Washington, D.C., is as energetic at cooking as Josh Baskin is at playing "Chopsticks" on the piano at FAO Schwartz — only Andrés plays less with big instruments and a bit more with mozzarella and olives. Andrés would be like Chuck in Castaway — except Spanish tapas-style cuisine would be the unopened FedEx package. (The chef, after all, is credited with bringing Spain's cuisine to the United States.) Andrés, who owns nearly a dozen restaurants nationwide, is business-savvy like the band manager in That Thing You Do! and he perseveres like the FBI agent in Catch Me If You Can. So when José Andrés debuted the Bazaar at the SLS Hotel in South Beach, the one thought on everybody's mind was: If I were Rita Wilson, would that mean I'd get Andrés' bagel and lox — an edible cone filled with salmon roe and dill cream cheese — for breakfast every day? Well, a fan can dream.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®