Many restaurants try to tell a story through food. Liberty City's Esther's spins the tale of Miami. Opened as a catering kitchen for newly arrived Cuban immigrants in the '60s, it survived the race riots of the '80s to become the neighborhood's soul-food favorite. Guiding impressive growth was Pablo Suarez Jr., whose father bought the place in 1965. Come here for a $3.97 breakfast of grits, eggs, and a biscuit. Later in the day, swing by for a $5.47 catfish fillet with okra, rice, and peas. Really, though, the options seem limitless. Turkey wings ($5.59) with mac 'n' cheese and candied yams are one possibility. A half-rack of baby-back ribs ($9.99) or two hefty slices of meatloaf ($5.49) can be served with anything from stewed okra and tomatoes to sweet cornbread muffins to pigeon peas and rice. Rest assured the steam-table selection is always hot and vast. And don't be surprised when the customer standing next to you fishes out some change if you're a few cents short.
Readers' choice: Ms. Cheezious