Best Bakery 2015 | Sugar Yummy Mama | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

If it's true that we first eat with our eyes, Sugar Yummy Mama's cupcakes, cake pops, and other delights are a delicious visual feast. Owner Giselle Pinto opened her Sugar Yummy Mama food truck around Valentine's Day 2011 and, appropriately, stole Miami's heart with colorful cake pops and cupcakes in cutesy flavors. There was "bananarama" and yummy "wuava." Even hardened cynics couldn't resist her confections, often bedecked with sprinkles, hearts, or, in the case of the recent 101 Gay Weddings event thrown by celebrity chef Art Smith, bow ties and bridal finery. Now Pinto has opened a brick-and-mortar bakery in Wynwood, where she sells to retail customers and takes orders for custom creations that range from branded cupcakes for corporate events to a mountain of cake pops for a sweet birthday celebration. Take one bite of her Bermuda Triangle cake pop (a take on the classic Caribbean rum cake), and you'll be forever lost under Sugar Yummy Mama's spell.

Readers' choice: Zak the Baker

A cup of steaming milk, a shot of cafecito, and a pile of sugar can turn any day into the sweetest day ever. Willy's Bakery is known for creating some of the tastiest cakes in East Hialeah, but try one drop of la dulcería's café con leche and you'll find yourself making frequent visits to la Ciudad que Progresa. It's not just the price ($1 for a small, $1.50 for a medium, and $2 for a large); it's that every lick of this liquid gold is made to order. You control the intensity ("oscuro o claro," dark or light) and the amount of sweetness ("con azúcar o sin azúcar," with or without sugar). From the moment the café is poured into your cup and the boiling milk is served from the stainless-steel dispenser, you prepare yourself. Take the first sip of that perfect blend of silky milk, bitter espresso, and sugary goodness, and it's love.

George Martinez

A typical trip to Casola's goes something like this: You stumble in — probably inebriated after midnight — and can't help but immediately go for the free squares of pizza. The first thought that pops into your head is, Mmmm. Pizza. So. Good. But before you place an order for the shop's colossal, saucy, greasy, and cheesy slices, think about tomorrow. Do you want to regret eating a wedge of bread and molten cheese larger than your face, or would you rather tell yourself you made a wise decision by going for the chicken salad croissant ($7.29)? Hear us out. Yes, croissants are those flaky, buttery pastries that leave crumbs all over your face. Well, at Casola's, they're baked fresh every morning. (Side note: They are huge. Like stupid big.) And they come stuffed with savory fillings like ham, turkey, salami, roast beef, and chicken salad. About that last one, the chicken salad: It's also made in house. It's the standard recipe — chicken, mayo, salt, pepper, lemon juice, more mayo, and a lot of love. If for some bizarre reason you're still thinking about pizza, throw some Swiss cheese on your toasty croissant. It'll be like falling in love with Casola's all over again after ordering pizza for the past 33 years. And if you don't remember it the next morning, just head back for another when the croissants are hot out of the oven.

Courtesy of Miam Café

Who would have thought the French could make delicious, smooth lattes? This seems especially unlikely in Miami, where the combination of milk and espresso is reserved solely for cafe con leche made by Cuban mamis and papis. Yet Miam Café & Boutique — which takes its name from the French word miam, meaning "yum" — can give those mamis and papis a run for their money. Not only does the coffeehouse roast refreshing blends, but it also offers sweet and savory treats. The items may be on the pricier side, but that's because they use organic ingredients and, hey, they're French! Take, for instance, the Miam version of a breakfast burrito ($6.50): gloriously fluffy eggs, surrounded by crisp bacon, with roasted potatoes tossed in the mix, all smothered in a secret sauce that tastes like sour cream and then wrapped in a flour tortilla. It may appear a strange combination at first, but one bite will have you closing your eyes in ecstasy. The freshly baked cookies and pastries are also more than satisfactory. So are the sandwiches and homemade soups. Come for the coffees and lattes ($4), but stay for the pastries ($2.25 to $5) and sandwiches ($4.50 to $10). Plus, the café is located in the heart of Miami's hottest neighborhood, Wynwood.

Readers' choice: Panther Coffee

It doesn't matter whether the empanadas are large or small, baked or fried, or packed with chicken or picadillo. What's most important is that they're not underfilled. Too many in Miami are, and too many first bites through golden crusts reveal little or nothing at all. You won't find these disappointments at Richard Alvarez Guerra's Ricky Bakery. Here, the fried empanadas filled with golden-raisin-studded picadillo ($2.15) feature bubbly, crisp crusts that seem ready to burst at the slightest touch. The baked varieties are just as crave-worthy, with flaky, slightly sweet crusts folded around spicy chorizo and chopped ham. The coups de grâce, however, are those filled with spinach. There's no salty meat to hide any shortfalls. It's only you and a mound of emerald-tinted greens mingled with stretchy cheese. Eating one is a treat and a challenge. Nibble a bit off the corner to give some of the heat a chance to escape. The courageous few can dive right in. Just be ready for the burn.

Natalia Molina

For more than 40 years, Rio Cristal Restaurant has been serving dishes with origins in the small Cuban town of Güines. The famous original steak may be the most popular dish, but like a celebrity in a hat and dark shades, it's covered in fries. The other plate that deserves the spotlight is the flan de Rio Cristal ($3.90), which is silky-smooth and has just the right jiggle. It tastes like something abuela would make. The sugary syrup gathers at the bottom, and each spoonful requires a dip in for extra sweetness. The creamy consistency is king, and the sweet syrup is the queen. Miami has long embraced flan, and this one is a mainstay. Be sure to try it, but don't forget to brace yourself: It's so good you may get weak in the knees.

The cubano ($5.45) at Luis Galindo's Latin American Cafeteria & Restaurant begins with thick slices of juicy pork. It continues with crisped Cuban bread and then crescendos amid ropes of stretchy Swiss cheese lathered in mustard. This Calle Ocho cafeteria still bears the name of its original owner. Luis' brother, Raul, was revered because he served one of the city's favorite cubanos at his Coral Way spot, which was a spiritual home for El Exilio way back when. Though Luis Galindo's was bought out long ago by a Lebanese-Syrian man raised in Cuba, it maintains its beating heart. Every day, masters take the pulpit at the restaurant's center to slice and stack sandwiches. By noon, the place is serving at a fever pitch as crowds squeeze in to pay their respects and take a bite of history.

Photo by Adrianne D'Angelo

In 2002, a cop named Alex Hernandez began stopping at Calle Ocho's El Exquisito for a caffeine-and-medianoche refuel. Even after he left the force, he remained a regular. So when Heliodoro Coro, who opened the place in 1974, put it up for sale in 2011, it was easy to figure out who should take over. Hernandez quickly retooled the kitchen, brought in a new chef, and now pumps out pristine Cuban fare for camera-toting tourists and ravenous locals alike. The rotating list of daily specials is the reason to return. Finish your Monday with long-braised oxtails ($9.99); this unctuous, fatty meat slips rights off the bone. On Tuesdays, pause for lunch with fabada asturiana ($4), studded with meaty white beans and tangy rounds of the blood sausage morcilla. Meanwhile, the medianoche ($5.75) is perfectly reliable any time of day throughout the week. Sweet egg bread is pressed to a pleasant crunch on the outside, but it remains fluffy inside. The pork is perfect, and the juicy, savory shreds rest atop a layer of gooey Swiss cheese that provides a barrier for a mountain of sweet-salty ham. So don't fear the tour buses. In fact, show the visitors where to go. You're a banana republic ambassador.

Readers' choice: Versailles Restaurant

Have you tried real, true shrimp croquetas? If you haven't visited La Gamba, the answer is probably no. This Coconut Grove stalwart is the only place we know of that fries the golden spheres of béchamel first and then adds the beloved crustacean. La Gamba provides a fresh take on classic homestyle Spanish cooking. The gazpacho ($8) has just the right balance of acidity and sweetness. The texture is neither too creamy nor too chunky. Also flawless is the fideuà ($18), a dish similar to paella that replaces rice with baked noodles. Another thing you've probably never had before: huevos estrellados con chanquetes. Translation: broken eggs (as in fried organic eggs) with browned baitfish ($12). Get it for dinner or brunch with a glass of vino. Like everything else on the menu at La Gamba, it deserves to be devoured.

Few eating experiences are as glorious as the one found inside fritangas. They are wonderlands of hangover-friendly delights. Take, for instance, the ubiquitous queso frito. The fat rectangle of fried white cheese is carne asada's longtime friend. But leave one sitting on a steam table too long and it goes from a bubbly, crisp, and slightly gooey treat to a chewy, flimsy mess. Chayito's is the rare Nicaraguan spot where the cheese is fried à la minute, as the French would say. Every platter of juicy carne asada ($8.50), baby churrasco ($11.50), pork ($8), and chicken ($8) comes with rice, tortillas, maduros, and salad, but be sure to order the cheese for $2 extra. You won't regret it.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®