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.

Welcome to Hialeah. Gus Machado is just down the street, and ¡Ño Que Barato! is a mere stone's throw away, but you're not in the mood for car or consignment shopping. You're in the mood for food. A Cuban sandwich, perhaps? Look no further than Yoyito Restaurant y Café. For the past 12 years, this classically Cuban cafeteria has consistently been filled with good people and delicious eats, making sure every customer experiences what the café's straightforward slogan is all about: "'pa comer rico" — a perfectly Cuban saying that simply means "to eat well." The prices here are low, but don't be fooled: The sandwiches are immense and made right. The palomilla in the pan con bistec ($4.70) is cooked like an honest steak rather than the leathery strip of overdone flesh you get in all too many cafeterias. The medianoche — a sweeter iteration of the Cuban sandwich served between two halves of a soft egg bun that adds a subtle hint of dulce to your savory meal ($4) — is fresh and sumptuous. And the croqueta preparada is a perfect marriage of ham, Swiss cheese, lechón, croquetas, and the perennial flavor accent of sliced pickles. Pass by any day of the week from 5:30 in the morning to 10 at night 'pa comer rico.

Bread + Butter
Jessica Daly / Miami New Times

Miamians know it's not a party unless there's some roast pork on a plate somewhere. And everybody knows it's not an afterparty unless there's leftover lechón asado the next morning, sitting in the fridge, waiting to be eaten. The pan con lechón at Bread and Butter is not authentic. The shredded pork comes encased in a steamed Chinese bao bun. To someone who loves Latin comfort food, that stuff would be a heresy. Except it totally works, and the reason it's so great is because we really want to hate it. But we can't. El sigh. Nestled in the heart of Coral Gables, Bread and Butter boasts a menu of small Latin-style tapas. Think bacon-wrapped plantains and baby-back rib empanadas — eclectic spins on well-known staples in a Latin kitchen. The fist-size bao bun comes stuffed with slow-roasted, marinated pork shoulder. The fluffy, chewy bun is topped with piquant mojo sauce and pickled garlic. The bun is the optimal vessel for sopping up the sauce that comes with this $6 dish. It's a little oily and plenty sour, and after noticing all of its characteristics, you'll have to remind yourself this is the most unconventional pan con lechón you've ever had — and you're completely consumed by it. Remember this phrase: "Sorry, I'm not sorry."

Jamón, pollo o pescado — chicken, ham, or fish: Your waiter wants you to know these are the three choices of croquetas ($1.15) at Islas Canarias restaurant. The decision sounds simple, but it's also surprisingly difficult. Order the chicken, and nibble on a plump fried croquette filled with flecks of poultry and sprinkled with minced herbs. Order the ham, and crunch on a brown exterior stuffed with smoky specks of pink ham. Order the fish, and savor delectable, briny bits cooked to perfection. Each bite begins crisply, the result of a golden bread-crumb coating. Each morsel ends creamily, the product of an ivory béchamel-like core — tender, smooth, and rich. Jamón, pollo o pescado: At Islas Canarias, really, simply order them all.

Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine
Las Vegas website

When you order a dish of plátanos maduros, you want just the right mix of burnt and sweet. At Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine, the sweet plantains are always at that perfect equilibrium of ripe and substantial. The menu is consistent. Tostones are served fresh every single time — crisp on the edges but soft in the center — with garlic mojo sauce. Boiled yuca is topped with an equally pungent blend of onions and mojo worth every cent of that $3.75. And the entrées are just as savory as the sides. In addition to essentials such as vaca frita and churrasco steak with chimichurri sauce, one of the most original dishes is fillet of grouper encrusted with a breading of crisp plantain bits. At $14.95, camarones enchilados — seven jumbo shrimp sautéed in a creole sauce of olive oil, garlic, wine, green and red bell peppers, and onion — are the best bang for the buck. The red creole sauce also goes well with the accompanying rice and black beans and those sweet plantains. On top of such fair prices, the Spanish-speaking waiters provide exceptional and friendly service.

Zila Cafeteria
Zila Cafeteria facebook

Haitians have a saying: "Sel pa vante tèt li di li sale," or "Salt doesn't boast that it is salted." In other words, good food doesn't need advertising. The proverb was practically made for Zila Cafeteria, a tiny but tasty joint that is harder to get hold of than Heat point guard Norris Cole on a fast break. You've probably never heard of the Little Haiti eatery. And if you have, chances are you've called for delivery, only to get an out-of-service message. The truth is, we have no idea who owns Zila Cafeteria or if the place delivers. But that's beside the point. Park your car on NW Second Avenue near 59th Street and follow the smell of roast chicken and the sound of Haitian compas to the door. Then sit at the checkered tables, order an absurdly cheap beer or two, and stuff your face with simple but delicious food. This hole in the wall offers Haitian staples such as griot (fried pork chunks) and mais moulu (cornmeal) as well as daily specials like succulent chicken with beans and rice for just $4.99. With beer as cheap as $1 for a Bud Light or $2 for a Prestige, you'll never want to leave. When you finally do, you'll agree: Sel pa vante tèt li di li sale.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®