Casa Panza Café may be located in the heart of Little Havana, but the Spanish restaurant brings el sabor español to Calle Ocho. After you walk past the wooden doors, wine barrels, Spanish tile, and hanging ceramic plates, a hostess welcomes you into la cueva. On Friday and Saturday, Juan de Alba, Estrella Morena, and invited guests charm the crowd with their tablao flamenco skills and Spanish canciones. As the sangria is poured from a ceramic pitcher into your glass, it's off with the tapas. The light and airy tortilla española ($5), followed by sizzling chorizo al vino ($7) and an order of garbanzos frito ($6), will get your taste buds working. Then comes the main plato. Traditionalists will opt for the paella Valencia ($30) or the zarzuela de marisco ($35), but meat lovers will go for the tender and well-seasoned churrasco a la parrilla ($20). For dessert, it's the tarta Santiago — almond cake topped with ice cream ($7) — a shot of espresso ($2), and more sangria. Singer and comedian Juan de Alba will keep you entertained with his chispa, sparkling costumes, and beaded head wraps long after your table is cleared. But there's a $10 cover, so be sure to reserve your spot.

It could be the lure of Miami Beach's beautiful people and electric atmosphere. It could be that the young chef was up for a challenge. It could even be because he was sick of Chicago winters. In any event, the Windy City's loss is the Magic City's gain, because Danny Grant, who earned two Michelin stars at his former Chicago restaurant, Ria, has opened 1826 in Miami Beach. This multilevel establishment is gorgeous and masculine. Golden guns serve as lamps, and airplane wings are repurposed into chairs in the lounge. Cocktail and wine menus are presented on iPads. Everything in the room is as close to perfect as possible. And the food? It's a lovely affair. Every morsel, from the freshly baked rolls served with key lime butter to a melt-in-your-mouth short rib ($29), is so beautiful you almost don't want to eat it. Go ahead. Take a quick picture. Then dig in. Because as pretty as your dish is, it tastes even better.

Moonchine Asian Bistro

Moon-sheen? Moon-cheen? Moon-shine? It might take you three or four visits to figure out how to pronounce the name of this Upper Eastside bistro. But that shouldn't stop you from returning. Standouts include the panang curry and the pad see ew ($9.95 each), but Moonchine is pan-Asian, so you can taste your way around at least one-sixth of Epcot here. For lunch, you can score a couple of sushi rolls for less than ten bucks, which is cheaper than supermarket fare. Even if you're not in the mood for food, the place has a two-for-one happy hour, an upstairs lounge, and a backyard with live music. In an area sorely lacking bars, it's become a de facto neighborhood hangout. Other draws include lightning-fast service and a front-porch couch where you can dine and watch pedestrians on Biscayne Boulevard. A big parking lot in the back doesn't hurt either. If you're burned out after a long day, you can pull up, park your car, and be seated in comfort with a cocktail and a curry in no time. Don't forget to ask for a shot of the homemade "moonshine" — a saccharine, ginger-infused liqueur that's sometimes given gratis to regular customers.

Eating House Miami
Photo courtesy of Eating House

Miamians are welcoming whenever a popular stateside or international restaurant opens an outpost here. But when a talented and innovative local chef unveils his first eatery in the 305, it's an event worth celebrating. That restaurant is Eating House, an intimate Coral Gables pop-up turned permanent fixture. It's where the under-30 chef Giorgio Rapicavoli concocts raved-about fare such as nostalgia-tinged Cap'n Crunch pancakes for brunch ($13) and creamy pasta carbonara ($23) for dinner. The menu is undoubtedly eclectic and reflects Rapicavoli's Argentine and Italian heritage, as well as his upbringing in Doral. Everything is also very well priced considering the nuanced nature of the dishes. For instance, melt-in-your-mouth beef sweetbreads ($15) are coupled with pickled Florida watermelon, cucumbers, and napa cabbage and then punctuated with miso and ginger. Inside this hip space adorned with graffiti canvases, random objects, and plenty of Miami Heat memorabilia, you'll discover that rare restaurant where fun meets high-end cuisine.

Bocce Bar

There's something so sexy about the Italian lifestyle. Women in tight skirts riding Vespas, men talking with their hands over a cup of espresso. A few bottles of house-made wine polished off during the day. Bocce Bar embodies the spirit of a day in Rome. It begins when you walk into the restaurant, where you pass a bocce court on the way to the bar. There, you'll start your Roman holiday with an aged Negroni. It's the perfect combination of sweet and bitter. Working your way to a table, you'll surely hear the melodic sound of Italian accents. Most of the staff, from the waiters to chef de cuisine Tommaso Furlanetto, is imported from Italy (like much of the salumi and olive oil). What's not imported is local, such as the heirloom tomatoes, Key West shrimp, and executive chef Timon Balloo. So he's not from Italy. But he is obsessed with the culture and the cuisine. You can feel the soulfulness in the food. The grilled octopus with ceci bean purée and olive caper vinaigrette ($14) is tender, the orecchiette with duck sugo and roasted butternut squash ($19) is satisfying, and the grilled swordfish with tomato fregola, preserved lemon, and capers ($22) instantly transports you to a seaside fishing village on the Amalfi Coast. Kick off your shoes. Order another bottle of vino. Laugh out loud. You're living la dolce vita. And it tastes good.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®