Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

New restaurants sprout across Wynwood almost as fast as the art on its walls change. But as Wynwood flourishes into a mecca for food, drink, and art, it's time to give a shout-out to the restaurant that has continued to mature in the ever-changing and constantly growing district. It's kept its quirky charm and flavorful food consistent since opening more than five years ago. It's easily considered the area's quintessential meeting ground, and that's not because it shares the same name. It blends everything the arts district has become known for in a medium-size courtyard space. Wynwood Kitchen & Bar offers affordable Latin-American tapas-style cuisine, including ropa vieja empanadas, lemon-pepper calamari, roasted beets, shrimp ceviche, and 48-hour crispy pork ($15). It features a large bar space, with more than 40 international beers and a bevy of wine and spirits too. And, most important, it's situated amid a handful of murals, letting diners eat in the center of what makes Wynwood one of the most innovative areas in the nation.

Best Restaurant in the Design District/Midtown

Riviera Focacceria Italiana

Focaccia is pretty much served as an appetizer at every Italian restaurant and used as bread for sandwiches. Chances are you've had it a thousand times. Only you really haven't had focaccia unless you've been to Riviera. The small restaurant serves authentic focaccia from the Liguria region of Italy. The best way to describe this fiendishly delicious Genovese treat is to liken it to devouring a dreamy, cheesy cloud. This true version is a work of Italian craftwork. The secret? Two thin layers of dough are filled with imported stracchino cheese, which is flown in weekly from Italy. Order it as is ($17), or have it topped with all manner of Italian goodies such as prosciutto, speck, or sliced tomatoes for a nominal added cost. If you find it in your heart to share the focaccia and have room, try one of the half-dozen house-made pastas, such as pansoti al pesto di maggiorana, made with pine nuts, marjoram, and Parmigiano cheese pesto ($17), with a glass of wine. Dig into the steaming bowl of simple yet satisfying pasta as you fantasize about quitting your job and eating your way through Italy until your money or stomach runs out.

Readers' choice: Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Steak-frites
Steak-frites

See Marion in the morning for a buttery croissant and a steaming café au lait. Return a few hours later, grab a seat on her sun-soaked patio, and watch the crowds go by as you sip white wine and nibble on a towering platter stuffed with half a lobster and a half-dozen each of oysters, shrimp, clams, and mussels ($59). Then, after the sun sets, find yourself back in the warm embrace of her gilded dining room draped in palm fronds. Dangling amber lamps and bronze cookware provide the backdrop for her pièce de résistance: a rotisserie chicken ($42) made in the kitchen under the watch of Michelin-pedigreed Jean Paul Lourdes. It's a crisp-skinned and juicy-fleshed treasure. Preparation is a lengthy process: Birds are pumped full of a sweet-salty brine and then gently roasted for an hour and a half. The mound of plump marble potatoes resting beneath them bastes in the bird's drippings to become rich and creamy. Finish things off with a scoop of homemade ice cream ($2) from a rotating selection that has included Valrhona chocolate and fresh mango, and spend your final waking hours dreaming about doing it all over again.

La Fresa Francesa
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

There is a French restaurant in Hialeah. Believe it. But just because Sandy Sanchez and Benoit Rablat's La Fresa Francesa Petit Café serves crepes and steak-frites doesn't mean it can't pay homage to the neighborhood. In fact, it does just that with the appropriately named Un Cubano in Paris ($9.75). A pork shoulder is soaked in milk, rubbed with garlic and paprika, and plunged into white wine for four hours. Once the meat is appropriately softened, it's shredded into silken threads and piled along with pickled red onion and creamy Dijon mustard onto a fluffy roll from Los Angeles' La Brea Bakery. Is it pan con lechón? Not really. Nor is it an archetypal French sandwich à la croque-monsieur. It's a beautiful example of the magic that can happen only in "La Ciudad Que Progresa."

Station 5 Table & Bar
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South Miami's Station 5 has made a name by serving junk food. Regulars clamor for the short-rib tacos ($12) that are braised in red wine and malta for six hours before being cooked sous vide for another 12. They're topped with a rich gravy and then — wait for it — a smattering of Cheetos. Goofy, yes, but clever. The cheesy snack food adds a fantastic crunch and a tart taste. And Station 5 has sold tens of thousands of this dish. But finger food isn't all this quaint haunt does well. Crisp malanga chips can be loaded with tender smoked shrimp flecked with cilantro and jalapeño ($14). Meanwhile, a slow-cooked pork shoulder ($21) straddles Cuban and Southern sensibilities with black beans steeped with salty ham served alongside rice and wilted kale. All of this excitement draws a crowd. And, unfortunately, that means a wait. Again, the unexpected is a good thing. Now you have some time to slurp down a tumbler full of Boodles gin fortified with smoked honey and ginger ($13). It's perfect for cooling down.

Readers' choice: Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar

Corsair, tucked away in Aventura's Turnberry Isle Resort & Golf Club, is Scott Conant's Italian, Mediterranean, and American blend of garden-to-table dining. Menus vary based on the season, but a mix of light and airy with hearty and savory remains constant through heat waves and cold fronts. Dishes range from simple — like white bean soup with rosemary oil; roasted beets with whipped goat cheese; and gnocchi with pomodoro — to more intricate and inventive, like mac 'n' cheese with bacon, short rib, and wild mushroom; braised lamb shank with arugula-mint pesto; and broccoli rabe and sausage with red chili flakes. Be sure to order a side of Tuscan fries, which fuse crisp and fluffy into each golden-brown bite. Though dinner might fall on the pricier side, with dishes averaging about $20, the flavor, along with an atmosphere that's quaint and quiet compared to Conant's Scarpetta in SoBe, is worth the splurge.

Sports Grill
Courtesy of Sports Grill

When it comes to chicken wings, be like Galileo. Sure, the Italian thinker was castigated by the Catholic Church for claiming the Earth orbited the sun. But he was right, and he changed science and mathematics forever. Kindly remind your friends from Buffalo of this convenient fact the next time they claim anything other than their fried hometown wings are tops. Sports Grill's special grilled wings ($10.99 for ten) are the new truth. These are dipped in a slightly sweet, peppery sauce and then grilled. Yes, grilled. The wings take on the crispness of a fryer, only these are freckled with char, which imparts a touch of smoke. Finally, they take a quick rinse in some piquant, umami-laced Worcestershire sauce to add a layer of complexity. Buffalo be damned.

Miami Squeeze
Courtesy of Miami Squeeze

Fried food that's healthy for you? Yep, that's falafel! OK, it may not be the healthiest (because fried), but considering a scale that includes deep-fried Oreos, you have hit gold. At Miami Squeeze, an open-air eatery right off the railroad tracks on West Dixie Highway, Leron Shaaltiel and his crew have mastered the recipe to get crisp shells and soft, grainy interiors. What's inside? A mix of chickpeas, cilantro, garlic, parsley, and spices. Slather on some homemade sauce — oh, and there are many, from tahini and garlic dill mayo to curry and tzatziki — and they're ready to go! Eat these Middle Eastern treats in a salad ($8.95), pita sandwich ($7.95), or wrap ($8.95) or by themselves ($5.95); then wash them down with juice. After all, this place is called Miami Squeeze. So pair healthy eats with healthy drinks and choose from an array of wheatgrass concoctions and fresh-squeezed juices that go for $5.95 for a 16-ounce cup and $24.95 for a half-gallon. Here's to eating and squeezing your way to health! Miami Squeeze is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cardon y El Tirano
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Francisco Anton's arepas are hidden treasures scattered throughout the menu inside Calle Ocho's Cardón y El Tirano. A troupe of them lines up in his arepitas ($11), waiting to be topped with the supple, salty white cheese called queso guayanes, followed by clams, mussels, tiger shrimp, and a dollop of avocado cream. They were also the foundation of his mariscada ($45); though no longer on the menu, the standout featured nearly a half-dozen of the neat yellow corn rounds sitting under succulent langoustines, heads-on shrimp, and fried squid — along with sofrito and guasacaca for dipping. There's no secret here. Like all others arepas, they're made of cornmeal, salt, and warm water. But unlike so many that are heated and scored on a griddle, these are plunked into Anton's vat of hot oil. Like magic, the insides fluff up like cumulonimbus clouds as their shell hardens to a crisp yellow crust. The only trick is making them stay out of your mouth.

Coyo Taco
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This neighborhood taqueria has quickly become a Wynwood staple since its December 2014 opening, attracting hoards of hungry, Mexican-craving eaters to its quaint, artistically driven spot. Coyo Taco prides itself on being the freshest Mexican street food around, making it affordable, fast, hearty, and, most important, delicious. Guacamole is smashed to order, ingredients are locally sourced, and tortillas are made from scratch. Though the menu is taco-driven, the eatery lets diners convert taco orders into burritos, salad bowls, and burrito bowls. Menu items range from $3 to $12 and include unique ingredient pairings such as chicken and roasted pineapple, crispy duck and serrano salsa, and quinoa, queso falafel, and cucumber pico. Make your Coyo experience boozy by visiting the backroom; it hides a small bar that offers more than 50 tequila varieties.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®