We all need a little romance in our increasingly hectic, electronic, and plastic lives. To escape the constant rush of the world, try an evening under the fairy lights of Cecconi's, located in the enchanting courtyard of the Soho Beach House. It begins at the bar over a champagne cocktail or a barrel-aged rum old-fashioned ($14). There's no hurry, so linger, laugh, and look into each other's eyes as the balmy breezes blow in from the ocean so close you can hear the rush of the waves in the distance. When it's time to move on to dinner, ask for a seat as far back as possible — away from the crowds. Sheltered by a canopy of trees, you toast to love with a glass of prosecco ($62 per bottle) as a light starter of beef tartare ($18) and grilled octopus ($18) arrives. A hint of salt air tickles your nose as your eyes turn to your beloved, softly lit by candles and moonlight. "Will it be the branzino [$36] or the New York strip [$38]?" you ask. "Let's just order another bottle of prosecco and enjoy the evening before we eat — and maybe see if there are any rooms available upstairs," is the reply — and the fairy lights in the trees twinkle as if nodding in agreement.

Jumbo's
Adrianne D'Angelo

It's 4 o'clock Sunday morning. You awake on a bench in Liberty City. You are confused, haggard, alone. You smell like booze. In the distance, you spot a restaurant. The light is on. People are inside. You check your watch. It reads 4:05 a.m. Could it be? You move closer and read the sign: "Jumbo's." The pinguid aromas of fried conch and shrimp waft from the inside. Your stomach grumbles. You rummage through your pockets. Jackpot! Twenty bucks — just enough for those golden, luscious crustaceans ($9.99 for a half-order of conch or a full order of shrmip) and some fried chicken ($6.99 for two wings, two drumsticks, fries, and coleslaw). The yard bird arrives at the table. It's served on a Shoney's plate. It has a thin, brittle crust and juicy, moist flesh. You take a bite. 4:15 a.m. 4:20 a.m. Should you head home? Is the restaurant closing soon? No, Jumbo's is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You stay awhile. After all, the time for fluffy buttermilk pancakes ($2.99 for two, $3.50 for three) is approaching.

Scotty's Landing

If you want the best seat in the house at Scotty's Landing, prepare to hover near a table of folks finishing their dessert. Then pray they don't want to sit around to take in the view. It's a good one. This is casual waterfront dining, so there's no hostess to bribe. If you can't score an unobstructed front-row view of the bay, fear not — even sitting a few tables in from the boat parking does not disappoint. Though Scotty's is mainly about the waterfront, the restaurant has provided affordable, no-frills seafood and pub grub for 21 years. The fried stuff, like the grouper sandwich ($13.50) and conch fritters, are the best menu items (the smoked fish ain't bad either), but the star attraction remains the view across Biscayne Bay to West Islands Park. Bonus waterfront pleasure: If you can make it to Scotty's July 4, it offers a definitive view of many of Miami's best fireworks displays, and you'll have a table, a server, and a hearty chili dog to boot.

Best Restaurant to Take Out-of-Towners

Florida Cookery

Florida Cookery

Forget those hackneyed airboat tours across the Everglades. Nibbling on the alligator empanadas at Florida Cookery is a truer taste of Florida. At this South Beach restaurant, you won't find margherita pizzas, niçoise salads, or neon-blue frozen cocktails with too much sugar, too little booze, and one too many paper umbrellas. What you will find are frogs' legs ($17), wild boar chops ($36), and local quail ($26). There are spicy micheladas and tasty desserts such as dulce de leche rice custard and Puerto Rican pineapple rum cake ($9). The restaurant is inspired by a late-'40s pamphlet about Sunshine State cuisine, which belonged to chef and partner Kris Wessel's grandmother. Wessel clearly loves Florida's diverse ethnic and cultural influences: the Caribbean, Latin America, and the American South and Northeast. So when you have visitors, chomp on this!

Maoz Vegetarian

Chloe Levi is your average Miami Beach resident. She favors coconut milk smoothies, practices Bikram yoga on weekends, and keeps a mostly vegetarian diet. Chloe dislikes chain restaurants, yet she frequents Maoz Vegetarian often. The falafel joint, located just a few steps from Lincoln Road on Washington Avenue, is part of a unique group of eateries. There are franchises in Barcelona, Paris, and New York that are completely vegetarian, kosher, and, in some cases, even vegan and gluten-free. There is a falafel sandwich for $5.95 and a salad option for $7.95. There are vegan soups, juices, and complimentary toppings from a salad bar — including sliced red cabbage, tabouli, and roasted cauliflower and broccoli. Chloe loves Maoz because it's affordable, healthful, and very unchain-like. Trust Chloe. She knows what's up.

La Camaronera Seafood Joint and Fish Market
Courtesy of La Camaronera

Few things can trump nibbling on a pan con minuta ($5) while standing at the counter of the West Flagler staple La Camaronera. For 40 years, the cash-only seafood shack has sold delectable fried shrimp, oysters ($8.50), and fish roe ($7). But recently, there have been changes. The restaurant added pan-seared fish fillets and shrimp tacos to its bill of fare. And it took over an adjoining space. Now there are waiters taking orders. There are menus. There are even chairs! Hours were amended too. La Camaronera is open for dinner on weekends. That means those daytime, counter fish-fry lunches have been upgraded to evening, sit-down grouper-soup suppers. Plus, beer and wine will be coming soon. Talk about a fish-fry spruce-up!

Khong River House
David Cabrera

Miami's temperature is approaching 90 degrees. South Beach's streets are clammy, damp from the midsummer mist. You are hungry, but you don't want steak frites, lasagna Bolognese, or thick vegetable curries with sticky rice. You want Khong River House's boat noodles ($18) — a robust, auburn noodle-and-broth soup enriched with fish sauce, beef blood, fried garlic, and chili vinegar. You want Khong's Vietnamese-style crispy prawns ($31) with spring onions and shallots or Thai tofu salad ($13) with deep-fried bits of soybean curd and vibrant vegetables. Owned by 50 Eggs Inc., the folks behind Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, the restaurant is an oasis of intrepid flavors and startlingly spicy cuisine. Its cooking is based on foods found across the northern Mekong River, particularly in Laos, Burma, Vietnam, and Thailand. Many dishes were previously hard to find around town. Now, when it's hot out, Khong's jolts of piquancy and bursts of freshness feel so right.

The Bazaar by José Andrés

No name could suit this restaurant better than "the Bazaar." The mastermind behind the dining spot's whimsical and delightful cuisine is José Andrés, the James Beard Award-winning restaurateur and culinary icon. At this South Beach eatery situated inside the SLS Hotel, caipirinhas are prepared tableside with liquid nitrogen, Brazilian cachaça, fresh lime, and sugar. The caprese salad ($12) brings cherry tomatoes and spheres of liquid mozzarella that burst and ooze with fresh milk after just one bite. Some dishes offer nods to Miami, such as the Cuban sandwich and the bao con lechón. Others originate in Spain. In the black rossejat ($16), thin, short-cut pasta is tinted with black squid ink and topped with luscious shrimp and garlicky aioli. So what if your teeth turn black after a few bites? The Bazaar is where you go for more than a meal. You visit it for a sublime moment of wonder. Worry about whitening later.

Cypress Tavern

Few would doubt Michael Schwartz's status as one of Miami's best-loved chefs. His Michael's Genuine Food & Drink is known worldwide for serving beautiful food at honest prices in a casual and understated setting. Schwartz followed up his first restaurant with Harry's Pizzeria, a totally casual and family-friendly place to get a wonderful pizza and a brew. Now, Schwartz has gone to the other end of the spectrum by opening the Cypress Room, a nod to a time when people dressed for dinner and dining out was considered an occasion. A blue neon sign, reminiscent of the Jazz Age, welcomes patrons to the Design District building. Inside, robin's-egg blue banquettes and white tablecloths whisper understated elegance, while trophies on the wall and floral china give the room the air of a French country manor. But enough about décor, because Schwartz has always been about the food. Before taking its place in the restaurant's pantry, each vegetable, each piece of meat, each tomato is selected to be the best. That level of quality is reflected in the dishes — and the prices. A marrow bone appetizer with preserved lemon, celery, and garlic toast is delicious, but pricey at $19. Entrées range from $24 for the Cypress burger with Jasper Hill Landaff cheese, onion marmalade, and thrice-cooked fries all the way to a côte de bœuf for two for $129. Or splurge for the five-course wine-pairing dinner at $155 per person. And, of course, you simply must have a sweet ending to your decadent dinner with a dessert by Hedy Goldsmith. Pair your $15 treat with a $5 cup of cold-pressed Panther coffee. When the check comes, don't look. Just plunk down your card and float on a sea of good food and lovely surroundings this once. You can always brown-bag it for the next month.

Lemoni Cafe
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®