Best Salads 2016 | Giardino Gourmet Salads | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

For a city where people obsess over achieving bikini-ready bodies, Miami certainly lacks great salad spots. Giardino is the exception, with salads made to order in hearty portions from exceptionally fresh ingredients. The dressings and toppings are crafted in-house and available in premade combinations or customizable versions. Giardino has more than a dozen locations around South Florida, so a satisfying lunch is never far away. But don't be mistaken — this isn't some big Saladworks type of chain. It was opened by a former teacher and her firefighter husband in 2004, and the two have maintained a menu of wholesome food.Favorites include the Tropical ($6.95) and Thai Thai ($8.95) salads, but Giardino's variety of add-ons and toppings creates myriad options, so mix and match to your healthy heart's desire. Giardino's hours vary by location.

Once upon a time, all food was organic. This sounds like the title of a new Netflix documentary, but it's actually the motto for Organic Bites, a socially conscious eatery in the MiMo District. Located next to Karma Car Wash, this spot differentiates itself from the competition by offering food that's 95 percent organic. What's more, nothing on the menu exceeds $14, and there's plenty of meat on there too. Try chef Gonçalo Costa's signature burger topped with caramelized onions and smoked truffle mozzarella on a brioche bun with sweet potato fries ($14). It's not particularly waist-friendly, but it's bursting with flavor. For something lighter, the grain salad featuring quinoa, spinach, mango, and black beans is hearty and healthy. ($11). Organic Bites serves breakfast and lunch daily and dinner Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The place gets packed during lunchtime, so be sure to show up early to snag an outdoor seat on the secluded terrace.

Smoothies are a dynamic beverage. They can be indulgent and rich with peanut butter, healthy when mixed with protein powder or kale, or simply restorative, made of açaí berries and freshly squeezed orange juice. The guys at Smoothie Spot & Healthy Food in a tucked-away Kendall strip mall understand this dynamism. They offer a series of classic house blends, such as the exotic and refreshing "Passion Blast," made with maracuya, pineapple, kiwi, vanilla protein, and milk ($5.34). But more adventuresome smoothie drinkers can create their own blend from an extensive tableau of ingredients.

Everyone, from your doctor to Michelle Obama, says "eat the rainbow." To most people, that phrase suggests either downing a bag of Skittles or imagining kids ingesting unicorn poop in that Squatty Potty commercial. Eating the rainbow actually refers to consuming colorful fruits and vegetables that are rich in nutrients, and Della Bowls makes it easy to eat healthy. The food truck, conveniently parked at the Wynwood Yard, serves customized bowls ($9.50) where you start with a base of brown rice, quinoa, or greens and then add a plant-based protein like tofu, chickpeas, or tempeh; veggies; and sauce. For the undecided, there are house favorite bowls like Southwest, curry, or Mediterranean. The result is a tasty, nourishing, and surprisingly filling meal that's colorful and good for you. Look at you scarf down a day's supply of vegetables like a champ. Then comes dessert. Owner Della Heiman's sweet treats are indulgences that even the cleanest eater can allow. Gluten- and processed-sugar-free, these treats totally qualify as health food. There're the chocolate and vanilla macaroons, circular pillows of shredded coconut, maple syrup, and sea salt ($4); the delightfully spicy almond butter cups — like raw, vegan Reese's with a fiery kick ($4); the light, crunchy almond butter and coconut lime granola bites ($4) — or the fresh twist on a banana split, where the fruit is pressed through a juicer into a smooth, creamy treat ($4.50). Pick your pleasure, grab a seat in the sunshine, and feel good about your food choices. Eating clean never tasted so spectacular. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 9:30 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.

Readers' choice: Ms. Cheezious

They came quietly, those Pubbelly Boys. In November 2010, partners Andreas Schreiner, Jose Mendin, and Sergio Navarro opened Pubbelly, a small pork-centric, Asian-inspired gastropub on the quiet, west side of South Beach known to locals as Sunset Harbour. The restaurant quickly built a following for its seemingly perfect menu of pork belly dumplings, pork belly mofongo, and the McBelly, a pork belly slider. As an encore, the trio opened Pubbelly Sushi and then Barceloneta on the same block — essentially monopolizing Sunset Harbour and turning it into one of the hottest dining destinations in Miami Beach. The three even opened a media group to handle both their own branding and that of outside clients. Of course, there have been glitches, with the closing of a few restaurants along the way. What makes these Pubbelly Boys special is that when there's a bump in the road, they dust themselves off and go forward, learning from their mistakes. In the past year, they collaborated with Norwegian Cruise Line to open Food Republic on the Norwegian Escape, where diners order dumplings and noodles from iPads while at sea. The guys also just opened their first restaurant on mainland Miami — PB Station — along with their first cocktail lounge. These boys might have come a long way from one tiny restaurant in SoBe, but their hearts — and their dumplings — are always firmly planted in Miami.

Photo by Andrew Meade/Courtesy of MC Kitchen

MC Kitchen chef/owner Dena Marino is obsessed with tomatoes. Look in the kitchen and you'll see a giant white bowl brimming with her favorite heirloom varieties. This is important to note, because MC Kitchen's bloody marys are made with the juice of these fine specimens. You'll find no Zing Zang or McClure's mixes behind the bar. MC Kitchen's bloody ($11) is a properly simple affair. An old-fashioned glass is filled with ice and a generous pour (one might say a pour and a half) of Tito's vodka. Then a lemon is juiced in the glass along with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Chef Marino's freshly squeezed tomato juice is added. The final touches are black pepper and green olives. That's it — no bacon or shrimp or celery or drink umbrellas. Turns out a good bloody mary needs none of those accessories. Coco Chanel famously said everyone should remove one accessory before leaving the house. She would approve of this classic cocktail.

There are two kinds of food when you're hangry and drunk — soothing and fried. Luckily, Coral Gables' Ichimi serves both of your inner lushes. If you're the kind who wants the culinary equivalent of mom tucking you in with an aspirin and a hug, you need a steaming bowl of ramen, and you need it now. Ichimi Ramen has the cure for what ails you. The Coral Gables restaurant makes its own noodles with a dedicated machine that can pump out up to 200 servings per hour. Those noodles are served in a hearty stock. The veggie ramen, for instance, is served in a dark mushroom sauce with a bit of dehydrated pepper to give your senses a gentle boost back to reality ($19). When only a fried-food binge will sop up the excess alcohol, order Ichimi's chicken wings and the fried oyster buns (three for $12) with yuzu pepper aioli. There — you knew a human was still lurking in that booze-addled, dehydrated shell.

Photo by Laine Doss

Sure, we have palm trees and the ability to wear bikinis year-round. The flip side, however, is the radioactive-intense sun and 99 percent humidity we get during Miami summers. And it's a good day when we're not being carried off by some tropical storm. So when the mercury hits 90 degrees, get thee to Drinkhouse Fire & Ice. Before you even walk inside, your core temperature seemingly drops at the sight of the cool blue lighting and pictures of what looks like a snow queen. Inside, you'll don a faux fur coat and hat before walking into what looks like a meat locker. Surprise! It's like being inside the Disney movie Frozen — except with cocktails! Sidle up to the ice bar (made of ice) and order a shot of vodka or a cocktail — served in a glass made of (what else?) ice. Sculptures change colors to the music, bathing you in a sea of frozen green and red. Admission to the ice bar costs $17 ($34 includes two drinks), and it's recommended you stay no longer than 45 minutes before your pampered Miami blood can't take the 23-degree freeze. But, oh, how delightful those 45 minutes in a crystalline wonderland will be.

Courtesy of Mango's Tropical Cafe

Ocean Drive is perhaps the most touristy strip in all of Miami-Dade, but there's something to be said about being a tourist in your own city. (The hashtag #ilivewhereyouvacation was created for a reason.) But in a sea of overpriced drinks, Mango's Tropical Café reigns supreme. And because of its Tropicana vibe, the drink of choice here is the mojito, which come in 19 varieties. However, stick to the classic, because the mixture of muddled mint leaves, sugar, lime juice, rum, and a splash of soda is magical and doesn't need any bells or whistles. And the price, $12.25, is comparable to drinks on either side of the causeway. For an extra $3.50, you can sip that mojito from a souvenir hurricane glass so you can remember your staycation after the 15-minute Uber drive home.

Readers' choice: Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill

Photo by Amadeus McCaskill

Although owner Eddie Leon and brewers Michael Demetrius and Piero Rodriguez have been making beer for quite a few years, it's been just one year since the company's taproom opened to the public. While most Miami breweries chose Wynwood as their operational hub, Leon picked Doral, which has turned out to be one of the fastest-growing cities in Miami-Dade. Call it foresight or luck, but the move worked well. His taproom is so busy that it's already too small. Leon is planning a mega-taproom and brewery expansion. When complete sometime this summer, the brewery will have 21,000 square feet of space, with 1,700 square feet devoted to the taproom. Expansion means more amenities, such as a full bar featuring beer and craft cocktails, a kitchen serving food, and space for private parties. Leon has always been innovative, starting his own distribution company and then signing with Cavalier Distributing to expand his beer's scope. MIA has always made great beer with an eye to the tastes of its home city. Now, with an expanded taproom and distribution options, the sky's the limit.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®