Best Greek Restaurant 2014 | Kouzina | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Greek restaurants get a bad rap. They're often depicted as depressing, neon-lit diners or kitschy eateries with belly dancing and plate breaking. But spend the summer on one of the Greek islands and you'll likely take your evening meal in a small tavern gently lit by candles. If you want that kind of experience, you could either hop a flight to Athens and then take a ferry to Santorini, or you could simply drive to Kouzina. This midtown spot re-creates an evening in the Greek isles — beautiful people drink wine and laugh as they feast on saganaki ($9) and steamed mussels in white wine ($12). Many items are imported from Greece — olive oil, spices, yogurt (not the John Stamos kind either). A handy sign offers a few simple Greek words and phrases, one of them being kali orexi, which means "enjoy your meal." At Kouzina (which, by the way, means "kitchen"), you will enjoy — without a single plate having to lie broken on the floor to prove it.

Carina Ost

Mi Colombia truly is everything. Have a hangover on a Sunday afternoon? Sit at the counter and order the sancocho de gallina — traditional Colombian hen soup. It is a known hangover cure that comes with a large hunk of poultry, yuca, potato, a chunk of corn on the cob, a plantain, and a topping of cilantro and green onion. You also get a plate of rice and avocado slices to hold you over. Hungry and broke? Get the pollo frito ($5.50); the outside has the crunch, the inside has moist flesh, and it's topped with the most delicious tomato and onion sauce. It's served with that same buttery rice and either beans or plantains. The meal is so large it extends over the brim of the large oval plate and can easily be stretched into two meals.

Naomi's takes cafeteria-style Caribbean cuisine to the next level. The eatery is owned by the Yemini family, whose members will let you into a secret garden where you can dine on enormous portions of food. Snag a seat outside and take in the art, the waterfall, the music, and the tropical plants. Make the trek to this hidden oasis near the edge of Liberty City just off I-95 to try the menu. It's all affordable, and the koden — turkey stew — is just $5. The pwason is $10 for a whole fried fish. Wash it down with some fresh-squeezed OJ or passionfruit juice ($2). But it's not just the food and picnic table dining that keep us coming back; it's also the friendly staff, who offer a taste of warm island hospitality. A lunch break here is more like a mini-holiday.

It's Sunday and, sure, you could hit your normal brunch buffet with soggy French toast, runny scrambled eggs, and watered-down mimosas. Or you could try something completely different. Head to Sunny Isles Beach for an Indian feast at Copper Chimney. For $19.95, you can choose from more than 20 Indian dishes and receive a glass of champagne. It's a steal that gets you more acquainted with the cuisine of this restaurant, which offers South Indian and Indo-Chinese menus. If you have yet to try a dosa (a fermented crepe), you're missing out. After you're well-versed in the offerings, visit for dinner. The parda gosht biryani ($21), an aromatic lamb and rice dish infused with saffron, and the murg korma ($19), with bits of chicken cooked in a cream sauce with nuts and raisins, are two favorites. Warning: The Chimney brings the heat, so if you can't handle it, ask for mild.

If you're in the market for Cuban comfort food at its finest, head to Molina's in Hialeah. It's the real deal. Service can be slow, but it's authentic homestyle comida, and the menu is as large as a novel. Let's put it this way: A local abogado advertises in it. Go when you have serious time to dedicate to a meal — the menu alone will take half an hour to peruse. If you need some suggestions, start with the tostones rellenos de camarones ($12). They're little fried green-plantain baskets stuffed with fresh shrimp in tomato sauce. Beyond the starters, the picadillo ($8.25), a true comfort dish, features savory ground beef served with fluffy white rice, homey black beans, and sweet maduros. It's hearty and heavenly.

Best Puerto Rican-Chinese Restaurant

Ming Yuan

Puerto Rican-style Chinese food is one of the finest marriages the world has ever known. And Ming Yuan is the perfect example. True, it's 100 percent authentic Chinese cooking, by Chinese cooks with a Chinese boss. But it's located in Miami's Little San Juan and boasts a diverse staff and a devoted local clientele. The place has a family atmosphere, awesome delivery, and easy pickup, so it's a clear winner in every regard. The food is excellent, flavorful, and adapted to the environment, but still retains its roots. All of your Yuan dynasty favorites are on the menu, and so are the Americanized and Miamified standbys. The portions are generous, the spicy options pack a major punch, the fried rice is perfectly seasoned, and the chicken, whether fried or curried, is always on point. The barbecued spare ribs are finger-lickin' good, the egg rolls are golden and crisp with just the right snap, and the soups are all must-tries. If there's one word to describe this neighborhood gem, it's "¡Dale!" Now go!

Via Verdi partners: Mixologist Cristiano Vezzoli (left), chef Fabrizio Carro, and chef Nicola Carro

Biscayne Boulevard and Naples, Italy, have a lot in common. OK, there are no cobblestone streets in the Magic City's MiMo neighborhood, but with a little imagination, you can see more similarities than differences. There are ruins of some formerly beautiful buildings, for example, and you're sure to spot more than one scooter whizzing by. Plus, if you're on the corner of NE 69th Street and Biscayne on a weekend afternoon, you'll probably hear some Italian chatter in the air. That's the sound of Via Verdi's extended family eating and laughing on the terrace, enjoying the restaurant's version of brunch. Twins Nicola and Fabrizio Carro, along with partner Cristiano Vezzoli, have opened a charming space filled with rustic woods and modern touches. You can sit on the terrace or in the dining room (perhaps you'll opt for the intimate two-top inside the wine closet). The Aperol spritz ($9 at brunch) — sweet, bubbly, and bitter — is a perfect drink (and a helluva metaphor for life itself). Have some assaggi (small plates) to start. Try the polenta fries (which rest in a truffle Parmesan cream), some ricotta, a polpettine (one large and tender veal meatball), and some olives. Choose any five for $23. Then it's on to a steaming plate of gnocchi topped with Gorgonzola sauce ($15) before ending the meal with authentic Italian cheesecake. Here, as in Italy, the plates keep coming, so you'll get cookies with your check — a dolce ending to your meal.

Best Expensive Italian Restaurant


Lorenzo, located at the epicenter of Collins Avenue madness, looks like something you'd see on Rome's Via Veneto. Chic chrome accents the inviting brown leather seating. An espresso and gelato bar anchors the dining room. The man behind the recipes is all old-school Chicago. Tony Mantuano has been turning out legendary meals at Spiaggia for probably longer than you've been alive, and he's brought his red sauce and gnocchi to South Beach. Meatballs ($14) taste like Grandma's, and a simple bowl of steaming spaghetti alla nadia is made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano ($16). But if you want your socks blown off, don't miss the grilled octopus ($14), the most tender and flavorful you'll ever have. Save room for cannoli, made to order and filled with candied oranges inside the cream. A little Roman holiday, via Chi-Town, in SoBe. Molto dolce.

Best Restaurant to Take Out-of-Towners

Pueblito Viejo

Photo by Ricardo Rubio/Imagen Beyond

Specializing in Colombian dishes, Pueblito Viejo presents an authentic restaurant experience that's aesthetically pleasing and delightfully overwhelming. It submerges guests in Colombian culture with its extensive wall decor, culinary presentations, and live music. From the moment you walk through the doorway, you're surrounded by an eccentric interior design that pays homage to cultures native to Medellín. The entire space is an I-spy game of tropical foliage, indigenous animals, and creepy figurines of prominent Colombian musicians such as Shakira, Juanes, and Carlos Vives. If the vibe doesn't impress your out-of-town guests, the food definitely will. Popular items include arepa appetizers ($2.50 to $5.25), the "Pueblito Viejo en tabla" churrasco platter ($27), and refajo, a specialty drink made with beer and Colombian cola ($12.50 per pitcher). Try the whole fried red snapper (market price), which arrives propped vertically on a stick and served with lettuce, tomatoes, and fried green plantains. Stay late enough and you'll witness a band circling the tables while singing an improvised, satiric tune that will make you laugh while casually insulting you — if you can understand what they're saying.

A dining room reminiscent of a nightclub that's brimming with Miami Beach's glitziest denizens? That's certainly glamorous. Statuesque hostesses in barely-there attire escorting you to your table so you can throw back craft cocktails from the swanky bar and enjoy a Russian royal osetra caviar service costing hundreds of dollars? Glamorous as well. How about feasting upon a heaping seafood platter delivered to you by the BleauFish, the Fontaine­bleau's 43-foot commercial fishing boat? Yes, yes, definitely glamorous. Or what do you make of the fact that Michael Mina 74 is the latest venture from the eponymous James Beard Award-winning chef? Without question, the man behind 20 restaurants, including Bourbon Steak at Turnberry Isle in Aventura, is glamorous. But most glamorous of all is that along with chef de cuisine Thomas Griese, Michael Mina's hot spot proffers dishes that taste as amazing as they look. Bonus glamour: A late-night menu features items such as truffle omelet soufflé with truffle doughnuts.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®