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.

Taquiza
Photo courtesy of Taquiza

Taquiza's Steve Santana does more work than necessary. No one said he needed to import dried blue corn from small Mexican farms. Not a soul told him to undertake the painstaking process of turning it into cornflour and then making tortillas. No one demanded they be filled with the slightly spicy, charred poblano strips called rajas or the tangy corn fungus known as huitlacoche. Yet the programmer-turned-cook, who did stints with Jeremiah Bullfrog and at Giorgio Rapicavoli's Eating House, decided it had to be done. And that was the beginning of a little walk-up counter on Collins Avenue that set a new standard for excellent tacos in a city where tacos are booming.

Casita Tejas Mexican Restaurant

The rest of Miami-Dade is finally coming to know the pleasure of a proper taco thanks to the latest foodie trends, but Homestead has long been the place to go in the 305 for authentic Mexican cuisine without the blogger hubbub or upcharges. Casita Tejas has been in business since 1987, and you can bet that during those 28 years, it has learned to make a damn good burrito. The standard option is delicious at this humbly decorated eatery in historic downtown Homestead, but if you're looking for something special, try the burrito norteño. It comes stuffed with steak, grilled onions, rice, and cilantro. Along with a ladle of salsa suiza, a generous portion of melted Monterey Jack cheese is served on top. It's a giant roll of Mexican goodness, along with beans on the side, for just $10.25.

Readers' choice: Lime Fresh Mexican Grill

El Carajo
George Martinez

Miami's best-loved (and probably only) tapas bar in a gas station has a lot to offer. There are at least 2,000 bottles of wine alongside a few quarts of motor oil. There are plump shrimp doused in a fruity, garlicky olive oil sauce ($13.50) and enough candy bars to rot out multiple teeth. But after the thrill of ordering a cazuela of plump chorizo al vino ($8.50) with your gasoline, you're left with simple, delicious food to be enjoyed with good friends and plenty of wine. Because before we all started obsessing over the latest Spanish spot's pinxtos, that's what first drew us together, right?

What do you buy at a gas station? Gas (duh), a six-pack of mass-produced beer, lighters, lottery tickets, and condoms. At first glance, it seems arepas don't fit this list. But they do at this Doral Exxon station that also doubles as an arepa bar. Chefs here sling crisp corn cakes like nobody's business. If you're a gringo, ignore the Spanish menu and simply order an arepa especial. This particular pillow of corn is fried and topped with your choice of beef or chicken, ham, cheese, slaw, and avocado ($7). They'll also put a fried egg and a bevy of house sauces (there are six) on it to amp up the flavor profile. If you prefer your cakes stuffed rather than topped, Pepito Arepa Bar serves a plethora of traditional arepas, such as the reina pepiada (chicken salad with avocado), ham 'n' cheese, and scrambled egg with tomato and shredded cheese. Bonus: They're cheap! Buy a couple and you'll still have money left over for gas and whatever else you came here for in the first place.

Kush
Valerie Lopez

In anthropomorphic terms, most pan con bistec is an underachieving, pot-smoking genius. Kush takes this promising miscreant and turns it into a Mensa-level engineer who unlocks the secret of cold fusion on a bar napkin. The Wynwood spot's version ($13) starts with a palomilla steak from Cowart Ranch that's grilled and sliced. No more desperate struggling and gnawing through each bite. They swap the Cuban bread for a fluffy challah round, then add butter and press it into a slick, toasty delight. The perfunctory potato sticks, lettuce, and tomato are also on hand. So is a slice of spicy melted jack cheese that grabs the potato bits and doesn't let go. You'll feel the same way. So go and get one. Just don't let your favorite cafeteria know.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®