On its own, tequila might be a liquor feared by college students and those with weak stomachs. After a night of imbibing it, people often find themselves swearing off alcohol with the phrase "I'm never drinking again." That's utter nonsense. Be smart about your drink of choice and take your tequila like a man's man: in a fruity margarita. There's no denying the tastiness of a classic margarita — especially the elevated deliciousness of a frozen one — but R House in Wynwood takes the recipe a step further by adding an extra kick. The R House margarita ($12) uses jalapeño-infused Espolón tequila mixed with Cointreau, pineapple purée, and lime juice. At first, you won't feel the spicy ting of the pepper, but give it a few seconds and — boom — your mouth will be on fire, the good kind of fire.

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
Photo courtesy of Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill

It must be said: Hypochondriacs shouldn't be allowed to consume beets. Eating a beet salad or having a beet in your morning juice can color your bathroom activities in such a way that you believe you have internal bleeding. Your worry subsides only when you're driving yourself to the ER and recall your diet over the past 24 hours. Beets, you realize, are the culprit. The same edible root that turns borscht red can paint your insides. But when that stain touches Miami's favorite cocktail — the mojito — magic happens in the Magic City. The beet mojito ($13) at Sugarcane is the drink of dreams. Though the bar specializes in rum, it is the beet juice mixed with Bacardi Superior that enhances and elevates this beverage. The muddled mint is, so to speak, the cherry on top. This cocktail is herbaceous, rich, and flavorful, just like Miami. So go ahead and drink too many. Beets are good for you.

Readers' choice: Havana 1957

Raleigh Hotel

The Raleigh Hotel is a time machine. While other art-deco-era hotels have been glitzed up and glamorized by chains, the Raleigh looks as though Clark Gable or Katharine Hepburn would stroll in for a smart cocktail at any moment. An air of old-world glamor wafts throughout the resort. And the Raleigh's slightly secret Martini Bar is the epitome of Hollywood elegance. Cocktails are classic — you won't find dry ice or neon ice cubes — but you will have the perfect Vesper ($14), a cocktail invented by Ian Fleming for his 007 agent James Bond. There's also the Martinez ($13), thought to be the father of the classic martini. And, of course, there's the martini itself, dressed up with a blue-cheese-stuffed olive. Cocktails cost around $14, which is pricier than they were back in the 1940s, but consider this: They are much cheaper (and more obtainable) than a time machine.

Readers' choice: Prohibition Restaurant & Speakeasy

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Photo courtesy of Genuine Hospitality Group

Sunday morning comes too quickly after a long Saturday night, and you remember you made plans to meet friends for brunch. The only thing that's saving your head from exploding is the thought of the kimchee bloody mary ($13) at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. The cocktail is made with Absolut Elyx, the brand's premium single-batch vodka that contains floral and peppery notes. Then the restaurant's house-made kimchee is added, along with a piquant bloody mary mix. Finally, the drink is garnished with a perfectly pink rock shrimp. This bloody mary is not in-your-face fiery, nor is it too salty. Instead, it's well balanced and beautifully layered. Each sip brings a discovery as your brain cells fire up and your senses return. It's much more than a brunch cocktail. It's revival in a glass.

Tea is often the underdog, its many fine qualities drowned out by the addictive lure of java from Starbucks and Keurig. However, tea is an art all its own — a peerless tradition with more complexity than most Lipton drinkers realize. And at the chic, softly lit Small Tea in Coral Gables, Miami's tea culture is coming into its own. Here, tea is serious business. A whopping 84 varieties are categorized by letters and numbers, and samples of each blend fill glass canisters that you can open and sniff. From ayurvedic to herbal, from Black Rose to Lavender Dream, there's a tea for every mood, taste, and ailment. Made using a steampunk machine — a cutting-edge device that allows baristas to control temperature, time, and agitation — each cup is a work of art. The cost is $3.21 for a small and $4.21 for a large — not too much to pay for the title of Serious Tea Drinker.

Sriracha House

Got a craving for spice that just won't quit? Looking for a late-night snack with a healthful edge to fill you up? South Beach's Sriracha House is the stuff of slurp-happy dreams. The staff is incredibly friendly. Don't worry about asking to taste a sauce. There are ten (not counting all the varieties of sriracha scattered all over the restaurant), and you can sample every one. The servers happily guide you through the build-your-own menu. If the hundreds of combinations are daunting, feel free to try one of the menu's time-tested house recipes. Sriracha House prides itself on having something for everyone, whether you are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, or Paleo. Because the place is open until 4 a.m. daily, you can finally stop treating your drunk tummy like a garbage dump. Grab any one or five of the srirachas from the wall and see which one you like best — if your mouth can take the heat. Prices vary, depending upon how many crunchy veggies or savory meats or scrumptious add-ons you desire. But give yourself room to play — you're likely to land in the $10 range. Be sure to grab a visitor card, because after ten meals, the next one is free. And when it comes time to hole-punch, the guys have been known to be generous. They even deliver.

Sushi Runner

Leave it to the 305 to put a Latin twist on sushi. At Sushi Runner, there are dozens of tasty options. Try the Calle 8 roll ($12.95), made with ham croquetas and garnished with papita sticks. Or check out the deep-fried Havana roll ($10.95), oozing with cream cheese and guava paste. Maybe you feel like the Caribbean roll ($14.95), stuffed with whitefish tempura, asparagus, avocado, cream cheese, spicy mayo, and sesame seeds and topped with sweet plantains. The eatery also chops up traditional rolls like the California, dragon, and rainbow. You can dine in, but Sushi Runner also delivers its Japanese-fusion grub to hungry Miamians across Doral, Hialeah, and Miami Lakes. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. So even if you don't live in the area, there's plenty of time to make the drive to get your sushi fix.

Readers' choice: Doraku

Kon Chau
Maureen Aimee Mariano

The dumplings at Kon Chau send diners into a frenzy. Even when these delectables are too hot to be eaten and too delicate to be seized by a pair of chopsticks, they're sought after. On busy Saturday mornings, packs of patrons gobble down shiny chive shrimp dumplings ($3.75) and crisp taro cakes ($2.95). They hunt down the green tea wrappers packed with slick duck meat and earthy mushrooms that come four to an order because no one can eat just one. They don't forget about the pork pies ($2.95), with savory little nuggets of char siu wrapped inside buttery puff pastry, or the soup dumplings in a slick, meaty broth. After trying this classic establishment, you'll know why crowds go crazy for Kon Chau.

Pho Thang

There's a no-frills and lots-of-thrills family-owned place in South Miami-Dade by the clever name of Pho-Thang. Just in case that appellation isn't a dead giveaway, it's all about the pho here. Sure, you can get all the usual Vietnamese suspects — pork rolling cake, spring rolls, and rice vermicelli — but it would be a mistake not to slurp one of the ten varieties of pho (pronounced fuh to your server if you want to sound like you take your soup seriously). The piping-hot beef broth is so good you'll want to bathe in it. Don't. Instead, let slow spoonfuls warm your soul while chopstick snatches of springy noodles with bits of beef ball, rare beef, fibrous tripe, and braised gelatinous tendon fill the tummy. The special beef pho will set you back a measly $10.95. Pro tip: Order the rare beef on the side so you can toss it into the soup at your leisure and watch as it slowly changes from vibrant red to ready-to-eat pinkish brown. Other pho incarnations include fish balls, quail eggs, scallops, and white-meat chicken. None exceeds $11. Add as much basil, bean sprouts, lime, fish sauce, sriracha, hoisin, and soy as you like. We suggest lots of everything, especially hoisin and sriracha. Slurp with caution.

I like big buns and I cannot lie/You other Miami foodies can't deny/I don't want none unless you've got buns, hun. Miami is all about the buns. Before they go on display at the beach, we inject them with fat, lift them, and even add implants to make them plumper, fuller, and bubblier. Well, Buns & Buns fills its creations with beef, lamb, tuna, chicken, pork belly, lobster, and shrimp. The place takes a special, international approach. From brioche to ciabatta to naan to steamed Asian, every one you have ever known is here. You'll learn to appreciate the range of colors, textures and flavors. And there are perfect pairings. The pork belly ($15.95) comes on a brioche bun with bourbon glaze, chicharrones, and pickled slaw for some fatty meat with a sweet and acidic crunch.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®