Best Chef 2014 | Jose Mendin | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

When Jose Mendin and his partners opened Pubbelly in 2010, it was love at first sight for Miami. After all, who wouldn't fall head over heels for a chef who specializes in all things porcine? Unlike say, your first boyfriend, Mendin didn't become lazy with your adoration. Like a suitor who sends flowers and remembers your birthday, Mendin constantly works to keep the fire burning, creating memorable bites at Pubbelly Sushi and cooking perfect slabs of beef at PB Steak. Then there are his collaborations at the Pubbelly Group's other restaurants. His efforts paid off with a James Beard nod in 2014 and various other accolades, including a People's Best New Chef nomination from Food & Wine. Now Mendin is getting all continental with the highly anticipated opening of L'echon Brasserie, where he will offer his interpretation of classic French bistro fare. Jose Mendin is the gift that keeps on giving.

Best Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Teena's Pride

Contrary to what Publix might have led you to believe, vegetables don't grow out of the ground plastic-wrapped with a three-week shelf life. Industrialized food has so warped our produce sensibilities that you simply must opt into a farm share. A CSA will improve your waistline, your wallet, and all your unseen insides. Payment plans are varied and flexible, but for $46 every two weeks, Teena's Pride provides a quarter-share weekly box of Homestead-grown delights such as plump heirloom tomatoes, staunch bunches of leafy kale, summer squash and zucchini in bright yellows and emerald greens, fragrant Thai basil, and rainbow-hued carrots. The bounty changes every week. It's like Christmas morning for your kitchen. Shares also come in bigger sizes if you're eating for more than one. The program begins in November and ends in May, so you'll have to wait a few months to get on board — but it's worth it. Once you go locavore, you never go back.

Don't be surprised if Mi Vida Cafe has run out of what you'd like to order. It's simply a consequence of the vegan restaurant's ethos of using only fresh and organic ingredients (local when possible) and striving to limit waste. Mi Vida also doesn't believe in microwaves, frying, or preservatives; a huge chunk of the menu consists of raw and gluten-free items. Take, for instance, the tango-mango wrap ($14). The exterior is made from dehydrated mango, banana, sun-dried tomato, and flax seed, while inside there's avocado, tomato, cucumber, and sprouts splattered in a spinach cream sauce. It's light yet undeniably filling and tastes best when paired with a homemade smoothie ($6 to $8). There's seating outside along Biscayne Boulevard, but inside is a colorful oasis of calm. Come for lunch or dinner, but remember to silence your cell phone — there's a sign that reads, "You are here, so be here." Well said.

Kim and Louis Duncanson have been farming pure, organic wheatgrass in Miami for about 30 years. They started in an empty yard in Coconut Grove. Then they developed a supersterile hydroponic indoor system in Doral using desalinated seawater and mineral-rich nutrient feeds. Now they produce and distribute a variety of vital, raw, organic greens through every Whole Foods Market in Florida. They also distribute mung beans, sunflower greens, and sprouts through many retailers in Miami. But about a year ago, they opened their first juice bar, Green Garden Organics, where you can buy all of the above-mentioned products, along with traditionally delicious fruit smoothies, raw vegan pies, hummus spreads, and a variety of treats picked fresh from Mother Earth's supermarket — AKA the ground — and made fresh daily. With their dedication to healthy living, longtime experience with all that's good about the Earth, and commitment to clean, delicious excellence, the Duncansons' new juice bar is an amazing addition to the plethora of health-conscious establishments opening in the 305.

You're a cleansing pro. You've tried it all, from the Master Cleanse to the Candida Cleanse. But most have left you feeling hangry (hungry + angry) and less-than-refreshed. Luckily, Ten Fruit's Cleanse Professional is a less than painful way to give your bod a break. This is not a fast — just a chance to break your bad habits via an all-liquid meal plan. For $47.50 a day (a steal compared to most cleanses), you get six hearty juices in a supercute to-go carton. And truth be told, you might be too full to make it to the finale. From the early-morning Super Green to the evening Green Day, you'll drink your fill of wheatgrass, parsley, ginger, beet, lemon, cucumber, and kale. Add an impossibly delicious midday almond milk for good measure, and it's a palatable lineup for those seeking internal enlightenment. No stomach pains, no deprivation, no lightheadedness. For three days and $142.50, you'll feel like a million bucks. Your innards especially.

Alexandra Rincon

Odds are high that your meat-loving friend will have no idea that the "soy and wheatballs" he's just eaten at the Honey Tree aren't animal-based. That's because they're ridiculously comforting, as is most of the vegan fare at this lunch counter. Another equally deceptive and soothing item is the eggplant Parmesan. Its texture is so gooey you'd never know it's made using Daiya nondairy mozzarella cheese. Hidden inside a health-food store, the Honey Tree lets you compose your own plate filled with fresh and mostly organic hot and cold dishes that change each weekday. Everything is weighed and usually winds up costing $10 to $15. The fact that you can mix and match myriad foods and that you never know what will be available is half the excitement. The other half, of course, involves eating.

Once upon a time, there was a vegetarian burger that didn't pale in comparison to its meaty contemporaries. The hearty and protein-rich patty was made with forbidden rice, turtle beans, and shiitake mushrooms and topped with crushed avocado, goat cheese spread, and roasted tomatoes and red peppers. It was then placed on a fluffy and lightly sweetened bun that was delicious enough to eat plain. To savor this Miami Earth burger ($12), you would have to go to a restaurant called Umami Burger. The chain came to Miami Beach in May 2013 via California, where since 2009 it amassed legions of devoted fans. All the burgers were injected with a magic ingredient known as Umami Master Sauce and served in a laid-back dining room replete with TV sets. The term "umami" was defined as a category of taste that was neither sweet, sour, salty, nor bitter and had a mouthwateringly brothy and meaty flavor that lingered on the tongue. At this eatery, you could also get burgers made with meat, including the Umami burger. It featured shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, a Parmesan crisp, and house ketchup ($12). The smart folks would order it with a side of crispy thin fries ($3.50) and call it a very good day.

France isn't known for its vegetarian-friendly food. Neither is Miami. But la cuisine française with a meatless twist is an unlikely pairing that has found a cozy little love nest in the Roads. Founded by a family of French immigrants, Eden in Eden is a labor of love; its je ne sais quoi stems from brightly colored accents, French flags, and Eiffel Tower imagery. Instead of heavy French standards, the menu offers avant-garde, vegetarian takes on European tradition: baguette sandwiches ($8.50), quiche oignons ($9), crepes fromage ($9.50), and the timeless croque-monsieur ($8.70). Father Eusebi, mother Monique, and son Nathanael Guillaume happily serve these cruelty-free French favorites — artfully prepared salads, soups, sandwiches, fresh juices, natural (made with champignons) coffee, croissants, and sometimes vegan crème brûlée. Charming French accents come à la carte. Bon appétit and vive la France.

Bey: Baby, drunk in love was all well and good last night, but today, I'm hung-over and hungry.

Jay Z: Me too, baby. I need more than your breasteses for my breakfast.

Bey: Remember how trim and tight we felt after our 22 days of veganism? We need to get back on track. I've heard Choices Café UES is Miami's vegan HQ. They say bitches are crazy in love with their chicken's friend wrap ($12) and la pixsa pizza ($15).

Jay Z: I'm down. I got 99 problems, but heart disease ain't one.

Bey: Oh, and we need to snag a double chocolate raisin cookie and cocobliss smoothie ($12) for Blue Ivy. When it comes to my baby, I bring the best.

The view from Area 31, located on the 16th floor of downtown's Epic Hotel, is downright breathtaking. Luckily, the restaurant is familiar with the notion of sharing the love and allows Miamians to enjoy the skyline during breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch, happy hour, and dinner. What's more, the food doesn't play second fiddle to the cityscape. Seafood is the main draw at this eatery, which is named after Fishing Area 31, an ecologically sustainable swath of the western central Atlantic Ocean encompassing the coastal waters of Florida. For dinner, executive chef Wolfgang Birk (formerly of Casa Casuarina) offers excellent options such as swordfish with pea shoots, a Yukon gold potato, and a sweet corn and chorizo salsa ($30), as well as a vibrant crab salad plated alongside palm hearts, avocado, and coconut shavings ($17). Brunch at Area 31 is also a must. Pair the eggs Benedict with seared flounder ($21) and one of bartender Dean Feddaoui's unique bloody mary variations ($9 to $33).

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®