Strada in the Grove

Olive stuffed with cheese

Molten, salty orb of gold.

Pleasure burns the tongue.

If you think we're a little off our rocker for waxing poetic about some fried green olives, you clearly haven't tried Strada's Gorgonzola-stuffed olive fritte ($6), just one of many antipasti to begin your eating adventure at this Coconut Grove gem. If you don't like fried cheese and olives, check for a pulse. If you've got one, order the polpette, beef meatballs with polenta and sage oil ($10.50); the beef carpaccio, served with baby arugula ($12.50); and the black mussels sautéed in lobster sauce ($14.50). Only when you've feasted on the first course should you start on the pastas, such as the penette with speck ($17) and the simply satisfying spaghetti with garlic, red pepper, and aged anchovy elixir ($11.50). Take your time and channel your inner Italian. After you finish your slice of cheesecake, you'll be writing poetry of your own. Extra points if you do it in Italian.

Wynwood may be the heartbeat of Miami's art scene, but you want to know what's really beautiful? The sight of R House's gorgeous Brazilian seafood mocqueta arriving at your table. Tender cobia, sweet scallops, and shrimp swim in a piquant coconut milk broth, seasoned with garlic and fragrant ginger. Served with basmati rice, it's a masterpiece of a meal ($16 half portion, $25 full portion). As you dine, your eyes are entertained by the art on the walls, which display works curated by White Porch Gallery, and your ears are thrilled to music spun by some of the best local DJs. Why simply dine when you can feed all of your senses?

The River Seafood & Oyster Bar

For more than ten years, the River Seafood & Oyster Bar has been luring Miamians to Brickell with its impressive hand-shucked oyster selection and its superior-quality fish. Something you rarely spot on a local menu despite an abundance of seafood restaurants is wild Faroe salmon, but here you can have it grilled or pan-seared with a choice of condiments and sauces ($32). The sustainable fish is renowned for its delicate flavor, and chef-owner David Bracha coaxes it out with a sweet-and-spicy glaze. During happy hour, you'll find no shortage of sharp professionals sipping $3 draft beers or $5 wines and cocktails to go along with half-priced oysters. Patrons here seem to know one another, and there's a decidedly neighborhood vibe in the warm, unpretentious dining room. Sunday brunch is a relatively new addition and one of the best spots in town for fish-centric egg dishes such as the yummy lobster omelet stuffed with chanterelles, goat cheese, and chives ($24).

Barley
Barley

B&S Gastropub is all about porcine decadence, so if you're not into indulging yourself within an inch of your life, maybe you should go straight home to the monastery. For the rest of us (especially those who enjoy the pleasures of pig flesh), B&S is a snout-to-tail one-way trip to nirvana. Starting with an order of crispy pig ears bathed in Thai sauce ($10), you work your way to a generous helping of pig tails in chimichurri ($10). Of course there's a heaping platter of sausages from all nations to go through ($17), or perhaps you'll opt for rich, flavorful pork cheek vaca frita, served with crispy pig bits and an egg yolk for dipping ($15). If you've had a bad night, try the hangover burger, with fried egg, pork belly, and cheddar on a pretzel bun ($15). Wash everything down with a few beers from the extensive selection of craft offerings. And be sure to raise your glass to Porky. The little guy gave his life for a noble cause — your dinner.

Delicias de España

Miami is well known for its delicious Cuban food. What many don't realize, however, is the city also serves as a hub for Spain's cultural heritage. Tucked into a shopping center at the intersection of Bird and Red roads, almost overshadowed by Allen's Prescriptions' massive neon "DRUGS" sign, is Delicias de España. It's a one-stop shop for just about anything Spanish. There's Serrano-ham-stuffed trout, traditional goatskin wine skins, culinary gift baskets, and colossal paella pans big enough to cater a wedding. And for you gringos, there are also daily baked birthday cakes and an all-day breakfast menu. You can dine in, take out, or even tackle your weekly grocery list in this eclectic storefront. Some of the menu's specialty dishes include rabbit braised in wine sauce ($23), Spanish sausage cooked in cider ($4), Galician-style octopus ($15), Serrano ham and Manchego cheese subs ($7.50), and mango mousse ($4.25). The staff will even serve you freshly made sangria ($15), enough for about ten glasses per couple, in an authentically crafted ceramic pitcher, or "dalper." One caveat: English is a foreign language here, so practice your Spanish at home before enduring the struggle of ordering something you can't pronounce.

Boteco

"You look so relaxed. You fit right in at our Brazilian restaurant. You are welcome back any time." Genuine observations such as these from the gorgeous employees at Boteco will have you returning again and again. Other perks: The large space boasts two patios and a homey vibe. It even has a special "mother's dish" section of the menu with items such as frango ($13.95) and picanha steak ($14.95). Along with the regular menu, there's a series of daily specials, such as all-you-can-eat galeto (baby chicken) on Sundays, as well as happy hour, ladies' night, live music, and tons of other fun stuff.

Fiorito
BillWisserPhoto.com

Never mind the jitney speeding past the storefront. Forget about the chickens traipsing across the parking lot. Fiorito is a small piece of Argentina plopped in the center of Little Haiti. Located in one of the few Miami neighborhoods where the foreign language of choice is not Spanish, this restaurant proves its authenticity the moment you walk in, with a framed photograph of author Julio Cortázar hanging on the wall. As soon as you snag a seat in the candlelit interior, a complimentary basket of warm bread is delivered to your table. Then you must make the difficult decisions: A glass of Malbec or the fruity green apple sangria? The fresh burrata or the provoloneta with chorizo? The churrasco with chimichurri or the milanesa napolitana? The panqueques with homemade dulce de leche or the flan with homemade dulce de leche? They say happiness is a choice, but here it's the response of virtually every diner.

Asian Thai Kitchen

At the Kwik Stop in Coconut Grove, you can get almost anything: Bob Marley relaxation drinks, scratch-off lottery tickets, condoms, and the best freaking pad thai you've ever had. Tucked inside this average-looking convenience store stands a small counter where authentic Thai cuisine is made to order. Try the crisp som tam (papaya salad) with a savory ginger dressing ($6), or opt for the tiger tear salad, made with spicy grilled beef ($7) and fresh veggies. Curries can either leave a slight tingle on your lips or a fire in your gullet — it's up to you. If Thai food isn't your thing, the ladies who own this tiny gem of a restaurant also make one mean ceviche mixto ($12). Bonus: While you wait for your food to be made, you can spend your time shopping for a bottle of midpriced wine or a six-pack to cool the flames that your tongue and tummy are about to experience.

If your idea of Mexican food doesn't dip into the Yucatán Peninsula, you are seriously missing out. In case your Maya language skills are rusty, "cheen huaye" translates to "only here." And only at Cheen Huaye can you try superlative cochinita pibil ($16.95) and poc-choc ($18.95). The pibil features marinated suckling piglet that has been wrapped and cooked in plantain leaves until tender and flavorful. If you want to try this same meat wrapped in a tortilla and served at a bargain price, head to Cheen Huaye for lunch, when you can get the burrito Maya ($8.95), packed with pork alongside Mexican rice, refried beans, and pickled onions.

Fritanga Monimbo

Just one whiff of Fritanga Monimbo will have your mouth watering and your brain racing. A quick look at the selection of food steaming on plates in its Plexiglas prison will have your heart aching. Free that carne asada and hide it in your belly. Liberate the beans in the gallo pinto and introduce them (and their rice compadres) to your appetite. You see that little golden-brown square of queso frito? It's so chewy it might sound like its screaming "help me." But as you close your teeth around it, you'll realize it's singing "eat me."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®