The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
Photo courtesy of the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

Vanilla ice cream atop warm apple pie? That's not Antonio Bachour's style. The executive pastry chef at St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort pairs perfect quenelles of mango, raspberry, or passionfruit sorbet with treats such as piña colada mousseline and chocolate-hazelnut bars. What about whipped cream atop a chocolate tart? Nope. That's not his MO either. Bachour pipes precise lines of coconut or milk chocolate cremeux next to tropical fruit foams and yogurt snow. He combines creamy lychee-rose water panna cotta with ephemeral raspberry fizzy. He garnishes desserts with vibrant edible flowers, and his chocolate bonbons are spattered with the textures of a Jackson Pollock painting and the vivacious colors of a Mark Rothko piece. Is Antonio Bachour simply a pastry chef? Uh-uh. He's more like an artist of all things frozen, beautiful, and sweet.

My Ceviche
billwisserphoto.com

Ma! Pa! I've got some big news. Sit down, sit down. No, Mom, relax. It's not what you think. Listen, you remember my friend Roger Duarte?

Claro, the one who sells stone crabs?

Yup, that's the one. Well, I've decided to quit my job as executive chef of the Raleigh Hotel in South Beach. Roger and I are going to open a take-away seafood shack next to a hostel in SoFi. Isn't that an amazing idea?

Papi, you handle this one.

Son, are you saying that after moving to Miami from Colombia, graduating from Johnson & Wales University, working under famous chefs such as Laurent Tourondel in New York and Michael Schwartz in Miami, making Forbes' "30 Under 30" list, and receiving a nomination as Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation, you're going to give it all up to sell ceviche and taquitos next to some hostel?

That's right, Pop. Forget haute cuisine. I'm almost 30 years old. Now is the time to do what I love: approachable, ultra-fresh seafood at a place we'll call My Ceviche. Don't you see? I'm more than just talent. I'm a trailblazer. I'm going to bring delicious and affordable fish to all of Miami.

Ay dios mio. I need to sit down.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®