Green Gables Café

There once was a vegan named Lady McFly,

Who secretly pined for shakes, burgers, and a fry.

She scoured the town

And wore such a frown

That she nearly gave up the try.

One day she entered Green Gables Café,

"Soy-free black-bean burgers? ($15) Oh, goodness! Hooray!"

No gluten, no meat,

Such a tasty treat.

The wee happy shop made her day.

La Estancia Argentina

We could debate until we're blue in the face about who regionally makes the number one empanada. Caribbean countries tend to deep-fry them, while Venezuela and Colombia make them with a thicker flour dough. But if we had to choose based on perfect doughiness and delicious filling, the Argentines win this battle hands down. Always baked, never fried, Argentine empanadas usually have a more robust flavor and texture. For a prime example of the perfect empanada, head to La Estancia Argentina in Aventura. A variety of turnovers are only $1.80 each, from classics such as jamón y queso, carne, and pollo to more unusual flavors like atun, caprese, humita. Or make a party out of it and buy a dozen for $21.38. La Estancia also offers premium empanadas with hand-cut meats and four cheeses for $2.50 apiece or $27.32 a dozen.

Scully's Tavern
Photo courtesy of Scully's Tavern

Say what you will about Guy Fieri, but when he visited Scully's Tavern for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the dude was onto something. The bar food is excellent, including popular darlings such as escargots and the potato-chip-encrusted dolphin sandwich ($12.25). But the French fries here are stars in their own right. Never soggy or floppy and always delicious, they boast a golden-brown color inviting you to crunch away. There's no need to toss them in spices or dunk them in aioli or some other sauce. You'll just require the perfectly salted fry, your mouth, and the interpretive happy dance that's sure to follow.

Pincho
CandaceWest.com

Jewish and Hispanic people have so much in common: crazy mothers, wild rants with wilder gesticulating, and lots of good eats. So it makes perfect sense that Pincho Factory owner Nedal Ahmad saw fit to top kosher Hebrew National franks with everything found on the drunkard's favorite: Colombian hot dogs. There's the pineapple sauce, the pink sauce, and the crushed potato chips. And how about a sprinkling of crushed bacon? Does it make sense with the kosher dog? Who cares! Get yourself to Pincho Factory and tell your friend, significant other, or hot-dog hostage to claim a seat while you elbow your way to the front of the line to demand your daily dog dose.

Joe's Takeaway

There's something you probably don't know about Joe's Take Away, the casual, to-go sibling of South Beach seafood staple Joe's Stone Crab. Unlike its pricier counterpart, Joe's Take Away has many, many inexpensive eats. There are mahi-mahi sandwiches ($11.95), fried oysters, and crab rolls. There's conch salad, fried calamari, and shrimp cocktail ($13.95). Yet none of these is a better deal — or a better bite — than the spot's golden, crisp fried chicken. At Joe's Take Away, the half fried chicken has moist flesh that drips with tasty juices and oozes unadulterated yard-bird flavor. Speckled with black pepper, its crust isn't too thick. Its exterior, rather, bursts into bits of brittle breading with just one bite. Best of all, though, the fried chicken is an unexpected delight. At this prominent fish joint, on a menu laden with sea creatures, Joe's fried chicken isn't just good. It's also only $5.95. Got a hankering when the Take Away is closed in August and September? Head to the restaurant and order the chicken basket. It's the same bird — with the addition of coleslaw and chips — for four extra bucks.

Keg South of Kendall

They're big, sticky, and fall-off-the-bone. They're hot and fresh, but not overly spicy. They're blackened and crunchy, and they're rubbed down with barbecue sauce. The perfect chicken wings can be hard to find, but those on the grill at Keg South of Kendall come pretty damn close. This family-friendly dive is an offshoot of the real-deal, locals-only Keg South on South Dixie Highway in Pinecrest, but the beloved "wings on the grill" can be found only at this western location. You can get a mouthwatering ten pieces for $9.99 or a gut-busting 20 for $15.99. Like 'em spicy? You'll have to ask for a bit of hot sauce on the side. But don't test the ghost chili pepper sauce unless you're really a hotshot — that stuff is more than muy picante. And the kitchen is open until midnight every day except Sunday, when it closes at 11 p.m., so you can eat these birds' appendages almost anytime. Score.

Ms. Cheezious Food Truck

Typically, not much can be said of two slices of bread sealed together with a wedge, sliver, or hunk of cheddar. The grilled cheese is the simplest of sandwiches: for college students, a quick fix in a makeshift kitchen; for parents and children, an easy bite on the go. But for Ms. Cheezious founders Brian and Fatima Mullins, it's a culinary canvas. Their 2-and-a-half-year-old food truck, decked out with a larger-than-life sexy caricature of Ms. Cheezious herself, winds through the streets of South Florida whipping up creative takes on the croque-monsieur. Monday through Saturday, the food truck can be found stationed at different special events and food truck rallies in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. The truck features a special cheesy creation each week, but several bestsellers are constants on the menu. They range from the Crabby Cheese Melt ($8), a creamy crab spread on cheddar-lathered sourdough, to the Grilled Harvest ($7), a sweet-and-sour pairing of Havarti cheese and sliced apple. Patrons can also build their own sandwiches, and once you've decided on a cheese style and extra toppings (such as shaved ham, prosciutto, or bacon), the truck's zesty tomato soup is the perfect accompaniment.

"Bro, are you seriously telling me to get a croque-monsieur at an Italian restaurant? It's a French dish."

"First of all, this place is owned by a French couple, and now it's full-fledged français, but even when Le Gusto Bistro was slinging spaghetti, the croque-monsieur was delish — great for brunch, the perfect blend of gooey cheese with crisp bread."

"But what about the croque-madame?"

"Oh, it's actually horrible here."

"Really?"

"No, it's the same damn thing with an egg on top. Of course it's just as delicious."

Mr. Moe's Restaurant and Bar

Most people go to Mr. Moe's to drink. "Most people," of course, refers to UM students looking to chug their weight in rosy-hued Moose Juice or near-gallon jugs of Bud Light. But tucked away on an otherwise standard bar-fare menu is a little $4.95 side of mac and cheese. No description, no fanfare, last on the list, and easy to miss. Served in a five-bite white ramekin, it's a lovely little heap of tender elbow macaroni topped with a nicely browned, oven-baked crust of cheddar and Swiss. Poke your spoon through the thick outer layer and dig into the creamy, cheesy pasta below. It's rich, flavorful, and everything you've ever wanted in mac and cheese. Plus, the diminutive portion is just enough to soak up the booze you're about to imbibe — without causing unflattering stomach bloat. Palatable and pragmatic to boot. And at Mr. Moe's, you get the bonus of stuffed dining companions such as a grizzly bear, a glassy-eyed deer's head, and various other critters. Beats eating alone any day.

Toro Toro
Laine Doss

At Toro Toro, the restaurant located off the lobby of the InterContinental Hotel, arepas are served without stuffing. This doesn't mean the crisp corn cakes are served without fixings. Toro Toro's arepas, rather, come whole — with rich, shredded short rib right on top. The three mini arepas ($8 lunch, $10 dinner) are dotted with fresh guacamole and finished with a hint of crema. Think of them as the open-faced sandwiches of Venezuela or Colombia — except these come from a restaurant owned by chef Richard Sandoval, a prominent restaurateur and pioneer of pan-Latin cuisine. That might explain why these fancy corn cakes require a knife and fork. Cutlery-required dining is a good thing.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®