Verde

They say art feeds the soul. That's all well and good, but after spending hours perusing art, you're starving. And even though that Warhol looks good enough to eat, it tastes like cardboard. Instead, head to Verde Restaurant & Bar, conveniently located inside Pérez Art Museum Miami. This delightful little café has a spectacular view of Biscayne Bay's changing colors — a work of art in constant flux. The menu is short yet eclectic — meaning there's an item that speaks to your cravings whether you're feeling a squash blossom pizza ($13) or bigeye tuna tartare ($14). Of course, art is best interpreted with a slight buzz, so have a guava margarita ($12). Hell, have two. Your poor, tortured, artistic soul (and your stomach) will thank you.

City lights twinkle in the near distance as you enter the oversize patio from the dock. Whether you arrive by yacht or pre-owned Toyota, Seasalt and Pepper's view is gorgeous. Make your way to the bar for a cocktail and a dozen oysters. As you slurp down the cool, briny kisses of the sea, allow your eyes to wander away from your date. Is that Beyoncé and Jay Z in the corner? Since the restaurant's opening about six months ago, it has hosted some of the brightest stars in the Miami firmament. They come to dine alfresco on organic filet mignon ($45), Maine lobster thermidor ($50), and house-made foie gras ($18). For one sparkling evening, you can feel what it's like to be a pampered celebrity. And it feels good — even if you drive home in the Toyota (we won't tattle when you say your yacht is in for service).

LT Steak & Seafood
Photo courtesy of LT Steak & Seafood

There are times when being a do-it-yourself kind of person works to your advantage. After all, it's pretty handy to change your own tire or make homemade cupcakes. But there are some things that really should be left to the experts — like rewiring the electricity in your house or cooking the perfect steak. First off, that hunk of meat you brought home in the Styrofoam packaging might have come from a cow that died of natural causes (ya never know). Second, your electric two-burner stove in your studio apartment simply can't generate the heat needed to get the ideal sear. Which is why you go to BLT Steak. Laurent Tourondel's Miami Beach restaurant uses only prime cuts of certified Angus beef, naturally aged for tenderness. Then, chef de cuisine Daniel Ganem sears the meat at 1,700 degrees. That's what gives the New York strip ($58) its mouthwatering char on the outside while keeping it cool and pink on the inside. It takes a real pro to honor such a fine piece of meat. Now go ahead and savor your dinner. You can call the electrician tomorrow.

Bagel Bar East
Aran S Graham

It seems fair to say Miami has the good weather but New York has the good bagels. Yet then there are occasions when it's simply gorgeous in the Big Apple and you can find the perfect bagel in the Magic City. For the latter, Miamians just need to head to Bagel Bar East — one of the few places around that still hand-rolls, boils, and bakes its bagel dough. You'd be hard-pressed to find a deli classic not listed on Bagel Bar's gargantuan menu, and everything is available for take-out. You can also purchase meat, fish, and prepared salads by the pound. If you like smoked fish, order a cream cheese bagel with Nova, whitefish, lox, surgeon, baked salmon, or sable ($12.99 to $15.99). For meat lovers, there's no shortage of melts, wraps, burgers, and sandwiches ($9.99 to $11.99). One example: The indulgent corned beef sandwich with pastrami and chopped liver ($10.99) comes with a pickle and either potato salad or coleslaw and tastes like your ideal blend of authenticity and awesomeness. Every day from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Bagel Bar East does Miami proud.

The District Miami

There are lots of restaurants in the Magic City that dazzle with bright lights, designer table linens, guest DJs, and chefs with acting resumés. But sometimes a place shines so brilliantly that it needs none of that fancy footwork. The District Miami is such a spot. This place claims to offer "contemporary pan-American cuisine," but it's really a melting pot of favorites you probably grew up with — slow-braised pork shoulder, tacos, and meatballs — except reworked by a masterful chef. Under Horacio Rivadero's care, meatballs are made with foie gras ($15), tacos are graced with sweet lobster meat ($18), and tartare is prepared with young Colorado lamb ($14). The work pays off, because Chef Rivadero was named a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Best Chef-South award this year. Better make reservations now.

Rouge
Photo courtesy of Rouge

There's no debating that the food at Rouge is fantastic — the place has arguably the finest seared foie gras in the city. But where this restaurant excels is its ambiance. Once you walk into the red-walled bohemian atmosphere of the interior dining room, you begin to feel far away from the weird wilderness of 71st Street, which is just on the other side of the door. Make your way to the outdoor courtyard, formerly a parking lot, and discover an oasis lined with rustic brick flooring and walls covered with sprawling vines and flowers. Ornamental tiles adorn all the tables, and the soft bubbling of fountains instantly transports you to a breezy night in Marrakesh. It's an amazing departure from the bustling center of Normandy Isle, which is a mere few feet away from the low-key patio. And Rouge's combination of subtlety and French-Moroccan styling makes it a beguiling place for a romantic evening of wine and whispered sweet-nothings.

Orange Cafe Art

Any original piece by Monet, Picasso, or Rembrandt will cost you more than you'll earn in your lifetime, but the artist-inspired sandwiches and salads at Orange Cafe + Art won't set you back more than a Hamilton. Located in the Design District, this corner eatery and gallery has a menu as colorful as the hand-painted oil canvases that adorn the orange and white walls. If you're craving a hearty salad, try the Gaudi ($9.75), served with a Mediterranean blend of fresh greens, tomato, palm hearts, fresh red peppers, avocado, black olives, and balsamic vinaigrette. The Frida Kahlo sandwich ($8.95 for a full, $5.60 for a half) is stacked with crisp bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and spicy mayo. The Diego Rivera ($9.85 for a full, $6.20 for a half) brings roast beef, avocado, pico de gallo, lettuce, and mayo. All sandwiches come with a side of chips and Orange's special honey mustard sauce. But if you order a full size, you get to choose your bread: French baguette, whole wheat baguette, or wrap. With cash to spare, you'll want to save room for homemade chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin (69 cents each), or chocolate macadamia cookies ($1.62 each) and an iced caramel latte ($2.85 for medium, $3.85 for large).

Swimming toward a feeding frenzy -- that could be you, too.
Steve Satterwhite
Swimming toward a feeding frenzy -- that could be you, too.

Time your drive for just before sunset. Cruise down the dusty road into a nearly deserted Matheson Hammock Park. Stow your car and pause for a moment, hand-in-hand at the water's edge. Gaze at the brilliant-blue water and sky. Once inside Red Fish Grill, take your table for two on the terrace. Stare into the limpid eyes of your lover. Listen to palm trees rustle and sway. Watch the waves of the atoll pool gently roll. Let the trade winds nuzzle your limbs as the sun sets in glorious shades of vermilion, apricot, lemon, and pomegranate. Feed each other steamed mussels ($14) or Chilean sea bass ($40) as twilight sets in. Clink glasses and sip champagne. Bask in ready-made romance. If ardent passion isn't ignited by evening's end, it was a hopeless case to begin with.

At five-star restaurants, you expect to be treated like an A-lister. After all, you're paying through the nose. But for excellent service, you sometimes do better at a neighborhood joint like Italy Today. Located on Main Street in Miami Lakes, the Tuscan-style Italian restaurant serves reasonably priced fresh bruschetta ($9), savory pumpkin ravioli ($15), and the most well-balanced combination of mascarpone cream, ladyfingers, and espresso you'll ever taste in tiramisu ($6.50). But that's not all. From the moment you pass through its rustic wooden doors and hear Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole crooning in the background, you'll feel right at home. The hostess greets you with a warm hello and a genuine smile as she grabs a stack of menus and walks you to your table. Moments after you settle down, a wooden slab with homemade bread appears along with glasses of ice-cold water. Your waitress pleasantly welcomes you with a list of recommended plates. As you place your order and devour the bread, a steady stream of servers and even the manager check on you. As soon as the chef puts the finishing touches on your plate, your food is immediately whisked to your table, along with grated Parmesan cheese. Rest assured you will neither be ignored during the meal nor waiting for your bill long after you've finished. At the end of your dining experience, you'll walk out with a grin, a full stomach, and the desire to come back soon.

How would a mad scientist eat his ice cream? He'd inject it with enough nitrogen to cover the whole parlor in a frosty mist. But you don't have to be a mad scientist to chill out like one, thanks to Chuck Woodard and Danny Golik, the brainiacs behind Chill-N Nitrogen Ice Cream. You've never had a tasty treat like this before. Begin by choosing your wet ingredients — or elements — from the "Periodic Table" behind the bar. With everything from vanilla (Vn) and Nutella (Nt) to biscotti (Bs) to dulce de leche (Dl), there's plenty to drool over. Add some "mix-n's," such as Krispy Kreme (Kr), Oreos (Or), or even Pop Tarts (Pt). It all goes into a giant mixing bowl that's churned and injected with just enough nitrogen to start a real smoke storm. Don't worry — it's all very safe and fun, and nitrogen is delightfully tasteless and odorless. You can imagine any ingredient combination you want, or you can rely on special weekly "equations" for something new. Chill-N is a real labor of love — the website says Woodard and Golik spent "six months locked up in a garage and 3,456,789 brain-freezes" to get the science right. So indulge in a creamy cup at least once. Grab a regular cup for $4.55, or upgrade to a large for $4.95. Each additional mix-n costs 60 cents. You should probably go nuts. It's well worth it.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®