Restaurant Michael Schwartz
billweiserphoto.com

There's so much to love about Restaurant Michael Schwartz. For starters, there's the idyllic poolside setting, which makes for one of the most outstanding outdoor dining experiences on the Beach. Then you have a menu overseen by one of Miami's most acclaimed chef-restaurateurs, Michael Schwartz. Best of all, you've got a dessert list created by executive pastry chef and James Beard Award finalist Hedy Goldsmith. If you visit in a party of four or more, the family-style pie à la mode (flavors change regularly) served with homemade ice cream ($36) is haute comfort food at its finest. Meanwhile, the tangerine creamsicle pot de crème ($12) features custard dotted with vanilla beans and three warm, fluffy doughnuts. The desserts here are anything but ordinary. But they're not gimmicky or pretentious, and that's definitely something to love.

Misha's Cupcakes

Misha Kuryla-Gomez's cupcakes are pretty, oh so pretty. In fact, it might be impossible to enter Misha's Cupcakes without breaking into a smile. And in this case, appearances aren't deceiving, because these little treats are undeniably divine. Kuryla-Gomez began baking out of her kitchen to earn money while staying close to her young daughter, and — voilà — now there are five Misha's Cupcakes stores. What's more, her sweets are sold at numerous locations throughout Miami, including the Café at Books & Books and Epicure Gourmet Market in Sunny Isles Beach. Seasonal flavors include key lime, orange creamsicle, and s'more, and some regulars are red velvet, cookies 'n' cream, and coconut ($1.35 for mini, $2.60 for regular). Picture-perfect cakes (starting at $20) are also available.

Beehive Natural Foods

Oreos may be vegan, but an unrecognizable Crisco-based filling and some mass-produced chocolate wafers aren't exactly the stuff of a healthy diet. So what are meatless eaters supposed to look forward to at the end of a meal? Enter Beehive Juice Bar's cake du jour. Whipped up daily, the vegan lunch counter's cakes are dairy-free, flour-free, and processed-sugar-free. Owner and master chef Carlos Schicchi generally uses whole-wheat pastry flour, brown rice syrup, flax meal, pineapple purée, and an array of other good-for-you ingredients to craft cruelty-free masterpieces for your mouth. On any given day, there could be apple, strawberry, carrot, banana walnut, chocolate, or tangerine cake. And they're all guilt-free, cruelty-free, and bad-stuff-free. At $2.99 a slice, it's a sweet steal.

Sweat Records
Paolo Santosuosso

Sweat is the city's only vegan coffeehouse. You'd think herbivorous caffeine fiends would be banging down the door. They'd do anything to avoid Starbucks' ludicrous 60-cent upcharge for soy milk. But not so much. Instead, the chocolate coconut lattes ($4) and Panther Coffee espressos at this music lovers' paradise are still on the DL. The Vanilla Iced Rice Baby ($3.21 for a regular) is a piquant treat — an iced, toasted rice green tea with vanilla milk (almond or soy, pick your pleasure). Pair it with a vegan cookie and use the free Wi-Fi to look up kale smoothie recipes and baby animal pics on Pinterest. You'll feel like you're in Portland — till you step outside into the sunshine.

Once upon a time, there was a busy little corner with a café named Mary's. This magical shop, located inside a laundromat, smelled like freshly cleaned blankets and coffee. All sorts of good people gathered there to drink an elixir known as café con leche. This hot beverage, the color of chocolate pudding, was rich and sweet, and when the townsfolk drank it, they were energized no matter what time of day or night. In the morning, workers dropped in for a quick pick-me-up before heading to their jobs. In the afternoon, people would gather for a shot of the drink on their way back from lunch. Even in the middle of the night, folks who worked while the rest of the city slept — policemen, paramedics, and others who burned the midnight oil — flocked to the window at Mary's for a much-needed caffeine fix (only $1.87 for a medium). The little café was an important part of the community. The people of Miami loved her for that, and they all lived happily ever after.

The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami

Of all the cocktails in the world, the martini conjures up the most romance. After all, it's the drink that James Bond sips (shaken, not stirred) in those moments between bedding a gorgeous babe and saving Her Majesty and mankind. Because of that, note must be made not only of those who take proper care in the making of the martini, but also in the ambiance of the drink. Even the best-made cocktail of its ilk loses face if served in a red Solo cup. Which is why you're at Lazuli Lounge, the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove's indigo-tinged oasis, for the Spice of the Ritz-Carlton ($14). Just like Bond and one of his girls, spicy pepper vodka coos to fragrant St-Germain as they're both kissed by lime and heated by red pepper flakes. Sexy and sophisticated, it's the ultimate cocktail for the international man (or woman) of mystery.

Dearest mojito:

Why do you tempt me with your delicate notes of sweetness?

The way your mint leaves dance around the white rum —

That twirl is enough to drive sound minds mad.

Your body sparkles,

Your contact cools,

Your taste excites.

Refresh me, but don't emborrachar me.

Morgans

The bloody mary's origins are continually debated. Its alleged progenitors include Queen Mary I of England, comedian George Jessel, and French bartender Fernand Petiot. Most drinkers, however, don't give a hoot how it began; they just need that good old-fashioned hangover cure — and fast. Though Miami's focus on nightlife has made finding a good version of this daytime drink a challenge, the Morgans Restaurant's bloody saki offers a refreshing twist on the classic. It includes fresh tomato purée and juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, hot sauce, celery salt, ground black pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. Instead of the traditional vodka, Morgans opts for Gekkeikan sake. Before you bemoan the loss of liquor, the lightness of the sake makes this bloody an even better postpartying option. While neutrally flavored vodka typically lets the tomato foundation take over, the sake adds a touch of bittersweet saltiness that complements the drink well. Generously portioned and garnished with olives, lemon, and celery, the $10 bloody saki is a satisfying steal.

Uvaggio Wine Bar
Photo by Bill Wisser

What sets this wine bar apart from others? It puts wine at the center of everything. At Uvaggio, a classy little hole in the wall on Miracle Mile's long strip, the menu celebrates and elevates the grownups' juice. The menu is shaped by the wine selection. Instead of recommending a drink to go along with your meal, waiters recommend a small dish to pair with your wine. The cocktails aren't even safe from this dictum: no vodka or rum here. Instead, the chef and sommelier base their cocktails on sparkling wines and the like. Speaking of the chef and sommelier, Uvaggio employs a topnotch team, including former Top Chef contestant Bret Pelaggi, world-class sommelier Heath Porter, and wine collector and businessman Craig DeWald — so you know you're in the right place for drinks and exquisitely prepared dishes.

Lou's Beer Garden
George Martinez

You might be over the word "chillax," but you can still get behind the sentiment. Try sitting poolside in a non-sceney way with a cold brew while devouring delectable mini crabcakes with bitching sauce ($17). That's what Lou's Beer Garden has to offer. It's a hidden gem in North Beach that's like the kid brother of the Broken Shaker. You will feel like you're in a friend's backyard — if that friend had an awesome beer collection that took up the whole center column of a menu. Lou's has served everything from banana bread beer to big Belgian to local Florida ales. Sure, they make pretty good mixed drinks, but you come here for the craft beer libations, ambiance, and crabcakes.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®