Pizza is a democratic food item. Most people like pizza — unlike, say, escargots — at the very first taste. And, unlike escargots, it's a humble meal made from bread, tomato, and cheese. The best pizza remains true to its working-class roots in style and price. Indeed, Pauloluigi to Go itself is humble. The small Coconut Grove spot is strictly take-out and delivery. Order a margherita pizza to go and open the box. The gentle aroma of cheese and bread soothes as your eyes take in the perfect brown crust and the islands of cheese and basil floating on a tranquil sea of marinara. Bite into a slice and experience cheesy nirvana. The sauce is mellow and slightly sweet, the cheese has a subtle nuttiness, and the crust is firm enough to fold — a pizza necessity. The prices are also humble. An 18-inch margherita costs $17.56 with tax and easily feeds four people. Can you satisfy a hungry group with a quality meal for less than $20 elsewhere? Fuhgeddaboutit!

Mario the Baker

Having pizza brought right to your door is a beautiful thing. At Mario the Baker, a franchise with multiple locations, delivery wait times are short, prices are affordable, and the pies are extra-good. Thin-crusted, lightly sauced Neapolitan-style pizza is eschewed in favor of thicker pies laden with a rich red sauce and a generous serving of gooey cheese. The classic cheese ($7.95 to $12.95) is utterly comforting, and — perhaps more important — tastes excellent when eaten cold the next day. You can also opt for less traditional creations, such as the Buffalo chicken pizza, topped with Buffalo wing sauce, chicken, and mozzarella and served with a side of blue cheese ($17.45 to $18.95). Mario the Baker certainly doesn't skimp on pizza varieties, and the large menu also boasts subs, salads, soups, pastas, and meat dishes. The popular chicken parmigiana ($12.95) comes with a side of pasta with tomato sauce and two delectable garlic rolls. Oh, and for less than six bucks, you can get a traditional Italian dessert too.

Etzel Itzik Deli

Fluffy green falafel, that is all. You have come to expect those balls from Etzel Itzik, a popular Israeli deli where Hebrew is spoken all around. Glossy photos of customers grace every inch of the walls here. Pictures are also stuffed beneath the glass on the tables at this casual eatery. Owner Itzik Younis wants everyone to feel welcome, and just in case you forget that, a green chalkboard sign near the kitchen reads, "At Itzik's you're at home." The deli offers a bounty of bowls with free salad to grace your table as soon as you are seated, but it is those neon-green falafel balls that are most memorable. Break through the crisp brown exterior and you'll find a warm interior with some extra bounce. You can get them in a pita ($5.95), on a baguette ($6.95), or as part of a plate ($7.45). Whatever the vessel, the falafel will shine through. It's a religious and familial experience you'll want to keep popping into your mouth. Hallelujah.

Jerusalem Market & Deli

Server: Olive oil and paprika?

You nod.

Sever: Good, you like it like we do.Just like that, you have the perfect hummus. Wissam El-Zoor goes by Sam, and he knows how to sling delicious kebabs, shawarma, dolmas, and a plethora of fresh salads to patrons whom he effortlessly schmoozes. All of the items served at this market and deli are stars, but the hummus stands out. It is velvety smooth and made fresh every other day. You really taste the nuttiness of the tahini in each bite as you spread it on your pita. Sure, you can buy all the ingredients at the market portion of the shop to make your own, but why bother? Sam and family have you and your wrap covered.

Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop

In Miami, it's hard to get a Cuban sandwich wrong. The ingredients are simple (and common) enough: Cuban bread, ham, cheese, some mustard, a squirt of mayo, a pickle or two, and a delicate slice of pork. Sounds heavenly, right? It is if you're taking a bite of the Cuban sandwich at Enriqueta's. The bread here is toasted to just the right crunchiness, and inside the bun are layers and layers of carne. Go ahead, take a bite; feel like an honorary Cuban during that lunch break of yours — and it'll cost you only $6.25.

El Rey de las Fritas

El Rey de las Fritas is the king of all Cuban burgers. Every ground-beef patty is seasoned with a secret family blend of herbs and spices, slathered in a tangy ketchup sauce, served with diced onions, and crusted with crunchy shoestring papitas that overflow the plate. And El Rey, the 2013 victor of the Frita Showdown, offers a variety of sandwiches fit for royalty. Try the frita dulce ($4.75), stuffed with chunks of plátano frito for a burst of sweetness; the frita a caballo ($4.75), served with a fried egg for an extra protein fix; and the B.S. frita ($5.75), loaded with bacon and Swiss cheese. If you're as hungry as a peasant, there's the frita doble ($6), which brings twice the meat with crunchy potato goodness.

Jackson Soul Food
Photo by Aran Graham

Plenty of people have called Miami a soulless town, but that doesn't mean you can't get good soul food here. Although greasy spoons and bourgie brunches have their place, Jackson Soul Food in Overtown is in a whole other weekend dining category. Jackson's version of brunch is letting you choose from all of its breakfast items and dinner entrées. Order one of each. Pair some red velvet pancakes with a $13.99 fried conch platter and enjoy all four sides it comes with. Or get a breakfast sandwich for less than five bucks and load up on mac 'n' cheese, black-eyed peas, and especially the candied yams for $2.50 each à la carte. You won't need to waste one of your selections on biscuits or cornbread, because both come gratis. Once you finish the last spoonful of $3 peach cobbler or banana pudding and you're done dredging your coffee's carafe, you'll feel totally restored. No place hocking bottomless mimosas can compete with that. Although about 90 percent of the other patrons will be there after attending church rather than reading this, you'll be praising Jesus right alongside them.

Kush
Valerie Lopez

Johnny Utah. It's the name of Keanu Reeves' character in the '90s cult surfer-gone-bank-robber classic Point Break. It's also the name of the new cult classic on which you're about to feast. Like the perfect wave, the perfect burger is an elusive thing. Though there are many out there, few are truly memorable. Kush's Johnny Utah ($13) is one to remember. The small Wynwood restaurant starts with beef from Florida's Cowart Ranch that's ground in-house daily. The patty is carefully cooked to order and then placed on a bun before being topped with cheddar, tomato, lettuce, diced onions, and pastrami. Yes, pastrami. Because the only thing that's better than a big hunk of meat is a big hunk of meat crowned with spicy pastrami.

Sweet Dogs
Courtesy of Sweet Dogs

A hot dog with just the right toppings is sweet. Indeed, the franks at Sweet Dogs have it going on with Nathan's kosher quarter-pounders, which can be ordered boiled, grilled, or deep-fried. Beyond the bun and the meat, there are a lot of crazy toppings that give the famed Colombian dogs a run for their dinero. Try the mac dog ($5.50). Yes, that's five-cheese mac 'n' cheese on a frankfurter. Sports enthusiasts can order dogs by their favorite local team's name. The Dolphins dog ($6.50) has grilled ham, smoked bacon, melted mozzarella, pineapple, secret "home sauce," and papitas. For a little more sweetness, all dogs come with a free mini chocolate bar. It's like trick-or-treating with hot dogs.

PB Steak

Lobster mac 'n' cheese is hardly the novelty it once was, but in the expert hands of the Pubbelly Group (PB Steak, Pubbelly, Pubbelly Sushi, L'echon, and Barceloneta), it's elevated to new heights. At PB Steak in Sunset Harbour, chef-partner Jose Mendin and chef de cuisine Guillermo Concho rely on a béchamel sauce spiked with blue crab and white cheddar to give their lobster mac 'n' cheese ($19) an assertive edge. The kitchen frequently switches up the ingredients used in this all-American side dish, and predecessors have included a cheddar and bacon version, roasted apple and chorizo, and even mac 'n' cheese escargots. Given that they've all been stellar, there's no reason to fear change. Besides, popular dishes like the steak tartare sliders ($5 each) and braised beef short ribs ($25) aren't going anywhere. With PB Steak, Mendin and partners Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro — AKA the Pubbelly boys — have given Miami something it was missing: an innovative and casual steak house with high-quality fare at reasonable prices.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®