Meat Market

Don't be deceived by the name — Meat Market isn't just a place for rare cuts of beef. The sexiest steak house in town also proffers the freshest local catch in all the land. Executive chef Sean Brasel prefers to eat and cook fish (although he might be reluctant to admit it). And it's the uncooked seafood that best evidences his prowess. Try the made-to-order daily ceviche, which tosses the morning's bait in a mélange of tropical and exotic ingredients ranging from ají amarillo to pineapple yuzu. Equally tantalizing is the tuna tartare with avocado smash and mango mole ($19) and the cedar-scented jalapeño hamachi drizzled with yuzu and white truffle ($19). If you happen to arrive on a good night (and during season), you might just score 17-ounce stone crabs. For a sure thing, a plethora of rotating East and West Coast oysters are shucked on the spot and served with Brasel's atomic horseradish. Slurp with caution. Still want red meat after all that? Opt for the Wagyu carpaccio or the Kobe tartare. Some like it hot. In Miami, we like it raw.

La Carreta

Buffets may be humankind's greatest culinary contribution. And nothing beats beginning your day with back-to-back servings of crisp bacon, scrambled eggs, buttery grits, and roasted potatoes. Oh, there's some Cuban food too. Though typical American breakfast items are certainly available at La Carreta's weekend breakfast buffet, the Hialeah outpost of Miami's largest chain of Cuban restaurants provides a Cuban spin on el desayuno, including croquetas, pastelitos, picadillo, and tostada con mantequilla. In addition to platos calientes, there are also fruits, cereals, and all sorts of baked goods. The buffet runs from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and includes café con leche. For only $9.45, you get a satisfying, banquete-style breakfast good enough for abuela.

Readers' choice: Toro Toro

Cold cuts are nice, but sausages are nicer. Since the early '70s, Cheryl Mainzer and her husband Ron have been tucking braunschweiger ($5.45) and bratwurst ($5.95) into steamed buns. If you happen to order one, trust us, the meat is in there; just look beneath the mound of warm sauerkraut. There's also a seemingly endless array of cured meats, salty smoked fish pastes, fresh-baked pretzels, and tangy liverwurst that you can get if you ask nicely. More important than all of that, however, is that Mainzer's is a home away from home for Miami's German community. Deutschlanders stroll in and out all day enthralled to find currywurst alongside those little chocolates they remember so well from childhood.

Jimmy's Eastside Diner
Photo by Aran S. Graham

The seedy Biscayne Boulevard of yore is a whole different place these days. There's the Vagabond, Starbucks, Michelle Bernstein's Cena, and too many new, cool stores to count. But there are some Miami favorites that were here a long time ago and will never go away. Jimmy's Eastside Diner, a boulevard tradition for decades, serves diner favorites like tuna melts, BLTs, and meatloaf at bygone prices. Clubgoers, strip club denizens, and Saturday breakfast club members alike will be happy to know Jimmy's opens at 6:30 a.m. and serves breakfast until closing at 4 p.m.

Readers' choice: Big Pink

The Café at Books & Books
Courtesy of the Café at Books & Books

Miami grows many other things besides skyscrapers. There's a whole world of fresh-farmed produce and meat out there, and plenty of skilled artisans are ready to put their inventive touch on every edible indulgence. Some of these fine folks have begun hanging out around the Arsht Center's beautiful steps every Monday afternoon. They offer their crops, wares, and finished dishes, but the real excitement is at the long table just behind the market, where adventuresome diners taste the best of Miami's homegrown fare for just $25 a head or $35 for unlimited wine with the meal. This isn't a bad deal at all. Each week, there's a different menu and selection, but everything is fresh and local. Let the good people at the Café at Books & Books know if you have special dietary restrictions, and they'll be happy to oblige. Even if you don't want to spend the extra money on wine, there's a complimentary cocktail pairing with at least one course. Get to know the farmers better when they come by to discuss their business. You'll be shocked to hear some of the stories and see what farmers are doing in our area. And you'll be stuffed with food so delicious you'll want to share this secret with all of your closest friends.

While many farmers' markets hibernate in the summer months, Pinecrest's weekly bazaar braves the brutal heat to keep Miamians stocked with locally sourced foodstuffs. Contrary to popular belief, plenty of South Florida produce hits its peak in the hottest months. It ranges from summer squash to mangoes to dragon fruit. Instead of spending Sunday in supermarket hell and overpaying for California-grown Monsanto stock, grab a reusable bag and unleash your inner locavore. Buy seasonal fruit and nutrient-rich leafy greens. Browse spiky bromeliads and pick up a jar of local honey to soothe those pesky allergies. Rip bite-size hunks from your freshly baked Zak the Baker sourdough, and thank the Miami gods you're not bumping carts with rude shoppers in an overly air-conditioned aisle. The affair runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday, year-round. But during the summer, arrive early to avoid heatstroke.

Made in Italy Gourmet
Holly Wachowicz

With more than a dozen cured meats and nearly two dozen cheese varieties, Made in Italy Gourmet is antipasti nirvana. It's easy to get distracted by it all, and no one would blame you for falling face-first into your glass of white wine. Yet try to remain on task. You're here for the good stuff, for the supplies that will power you through the rest of the week. After you've had your fill of salumi, ask for the crate of items that represent different regions of Italy. The $99 box of goodies might be from Abruzzo, Apulia, or Emilia-Romagna. Whichever you choose, it's sure to improve your home-cooking game.

Japanese Market Sushi Deli

Once you enter Japanese Market, you'll understand why this family-run bazaar has been in business for three decades (despite its lack of a website and advertising). Sure, you might not be able to read any of the Asian labels, but that's part of the fun. Simply ask the Broken Shaker's Gui Jaroschy and local cocktail muse Cricket Nelson, who frequent this hidden gem for exotic ingredients to mix up libations. For you, there are oodles of noodles, dried shiitake mushrooms, fermented soybeans, and freezers stocked with fresh catch flown in from Japan's fish markets. Want uni? You got it. Eel? Done. Hamachi kama? Yep. Kurobuta sausage? It's here. Prices fluctuate, but you'll find things as cheap as two bucks to upward of about 20 and 30 for the delicacies and bottles of sake. You didn't think you were going to get out of this without sake, did you? Arrive early enough (before 5:45 p.m.) and you can score the highest-grade sushi in town at the counter. The market is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6.

You're late to a dinner party and don't want to show up empty-handed. Or maybe you'd like to pack a romantic picnic. Perhaps you want to wow your co-workers with the pasta salad you "made" for the potluck. For all of these food situations, there's a one-stop solution: Flavorish Market. It puts the "super" in "supermarket." This foodie mecca has a gourmet to-go section (empanadas for $3.25 and sandwiches for $8), a collection of cookbooks, wine and cheese with a designated expert, and specially curated groceries from local and international purveyors. You can pick up Zak the Baker sandwiches and loaves, homemade ravioli from Mimi's in Hollywood, and locally made ice pops alongside imported cheeses, wines, and other gourmet items. Want to get social? There's a series of events like winetastings and cookbook signings. If you want to enjoy Flavorish between visits, join its wine and organic produce clubs.

Mall food courts generally have nothing in common with fine dining. They are there to feed shoppers quickly so the masses can return to their favorite store's sale racks. You can find the usual flavorless options like sodium-laden lo mein, dried-out burgers, and that unidentifiable brown stuff called "bourbon chicken." That is unless you find yourself at Aventura Mall. This commercial juggernaut is quickly becoming a high-end mecca. Stores such as Fendi and Louis Vuitton share real estate with Lululemon and the Apple Store. Now the mall has upped the ante at its food court with the addition of GastroPod. Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog's commercial version of his Airstream food truck serves comfort food for locavores at fair prices. Arepas topped with goat cheese are $6, pulled pork tacos run two for $7, and a bowl of freshly made noodles costs $9. This is delicious, real food made right there — not at some chain restaurant commissary a thousand miles away. Before you head to the Apple Store to blow a few hundred bucks on that new watch, stop at GastroPod for a Mo' Betta burger. Having a full belly might make the fact that the item you want is on backorder a little easier to swallow.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®