Whole Foods Market
Courtesy of Whole Foods

There are those who love Whole Foods Market and those who hate it. But folks who think the latter simply don't know what they're missing. For example, Whole Foods makes some of the best wood-oven pizza around, and its prepared food buffet is impressive in terms of both scope and taste. Further, the supermarket chain is committed to teaming with artisans in every location to support local communities. Thus at various markets in the 305, you can find Zak the Baker bread, Jugofresh stores within a store, sushi made by Miami-based Sushi Maki, and a plethora of other local goods. And though prices here are certainly higher than those at conventional grocery stores, it's comforting to know Whole Foods won't sell anything that has artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, or hydrogenated fats. What's more, the company has an in-house product line called 365, which has a lower price point than most brand names. The employees are just friendlier at Whole Foods, and there's always ample outdoor seating for shoppers to enjoy their purchases.

Little River Cooperative's fingerprints are all over town. From the garden at 27 Restaurant & Bar to the menus of Miami's finest restaurants, you've likely enjoyed Muriel Olivares and Tiffany Noe's handiwork without knowing it. Yet the heart of their operation, an urban farm, beats for you. It's the community-supported agriculture program that each year, from November through April, puts fruits and vegetables on tables across the community. One week it's blossom garlic chives, dinosaur kale, and dandelion greens. Another it's tat soi, lemongrass, and cilantro. All of them are grown by hand. That means Olivares and Noe's Biscayne Park farm is carefully weeded and tilled. When it's time to harvest, it's down on all fours. This is why so many people pony up anywhere from $500 to $700 to secure their goods each year.

Mimmo's Mozzarella Italian Market
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

Each day before dawn, Argentine cheese man Bruno Ponce and a skeleton crew arrive at his petite North Miami shop, Mimmo's Mozzarella, to plunge dozens of blocks of Wisconsin curd into piping-hot water. Then come hours of pulling and stretching the softened cheese into milky white lobes of mozzarella and burrata. Some are wrapped in cheesecloth and hung to dry until they become the aged version called scamorza. The vast majority of them used to be shipped out to Marky's Gourmet, the Biltmore Hotel, and Miami Beach's Juvia. But in 2015, Ponce converted his once-barren storefront into a quaint café. Here, you can order a cheese board for two ($25.99) piled high with a mozzarella pinwheel filled with basil and speck, salty ricotta salata, and homemade ricotta. Figure out a way to stop by weekly. Grab a cheese board for a quick lunch and some extra for the fridge.

Quality Meats
Bill Wisser

Patrick Rebholz is a master of meat. The chef who presides over Quality Meats Miami Beach, an import from New York, transforms all manner of cow and pig into otherworldly creations with little more than salt and time. He has offered smoked soppressata and calf's liver mousse. There's cured foie gras torchon and sausage infused with Cigar City's beloved Jai-Alai IPA. Try one, if you possess such self-control, for $7. Or give in to your desires and splurge on the $36 "bouquet" that offers a bite of everything. The latter is served on a suave lazy Susan decorated with house-made pigs in blankets, duck bacon, and merguez-spiced prosciutto. And this is just the setup. Once Rebholz is done wooing you with all of these intensely flavored bites, he still has a cooler full of prime beef ready to fire up and launch across your bow.

Perricone's Marketplace & Cafe
Photo by Lynn Parks

On a busy night, Perricone's becomes a waiting room for the main dining area, but don't underestimate this gourmet shop. It's a specialty Italian grocery plus a catering service, infused with the sophisticated yet casual atmosphere of its restaurant counterpart. More than 100 types of domestic and international wines line the walls, and Italian delicacies, from prosciutto to veal parmigiana, are perched in glass cases. Owner Steven Perricone played a big role in pioneering the Brickell dining scene when he opened the restaurant/marketplace in 1995 before the area underwent gentrification. More than 20 years later, Perricone's Marketplace & Café still provides high-quality cuisine and everyday convenience. "It appeals to people on the go, and it's more full-service," Perricone says of the concept, "so it hopefully services more people's needs." Specials change daily, but comforting favorites such as lasagna ($14.95) and homemade gelato ($3.95 for a single scoop) are staples. The market opens at 7 a.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. weekends. The restaurant operates Sunday through Thursday until the last seating at 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday till 11:30 p.m.

Marky's Gourmet
Carina Ost

Do yourself a favor and invest in a good mother-of-pearl spoon. Why? The pricey little utensils are a must-have if you plan to savor even the least costly caviar. See, when a place serves you an ounce of the finest beluga or osetra roe with a dainty silver spoon, the easy-to-tarnish metal may impart a tinny flavor to your fancy eggs. But not mother-of-pearl. Now, with the proper tool in hand, you're ready to decide whether you want to drop $63.83 for a half-ounce of olive-black Kaluga Fusion Gold or an eye-popping $140 for the same amount of Russian Reserve osetra. If caviar isn't your guilty pleasure, Marky's Gourmet has every other stripe of sinful indulgence. Want a whole duck foie gras from Hudson Valley Farms? Yours for $148.78. A pound of dried French morel mushrooms? That'll be $266.50. Perhaps you're less flashy and like to cloak your refinement. For that, just go for one of Marky's fine cultured French butters. They're only about $20 a pound.

Dolphin Mall
Courtesy of Taubman Centers, Inc.

Mall food courts get a bad rap. At their worst, they bring us back to the dreaded days of mysterious cafeteria food served on plastic trays from questionable kitchens. But at their best, they provide convenient, flavorful cuisine that fuels shoppers without interrupting precious browsing and buying time. The ideal mall food court should have a pleasant dining atmosphere, a convenient location, and a diverse selection of price ranges and cuisines. Dolphin Mall's food court hits all the marks, offering everything from a full-service Italian kitchen and hibachi eatery to fast-food classics such as Burger King and Starbucks. Head to Texas de Brazil for a full steakhouse experience, and finish off the meal the traditional food-court way with self-served frozen yogurt from Yogurberry. Even the sit-down options have quick service and an affordable price range, leaving maximum time and money for your true mall motives.

The Middle East Best Food
Photos by Jacob Katel

Homemade hummus. Freshly baked pita bread. Straight-out-of-the-oven baklava. Ali Aziz has been hooking up Miami with fresh Middle Eastern goods for almost 40 years. And from the second you open the door to this Coral Way hole-in-the-wall, you'll be enthralled by the smell of exotic spices and Aziz's famed pita bread, which he claims to be the best in the nation. But you'll find more than yogurt drinks, sesame seeds, olive oil, and even hookahs at the Middle East Best Food. If you stick around long enough to spark conversation with Aziz, he'll likely tell you the story of how he got his start in the 1950s working as a baker at the Hotel InterContinental in Jerusalem. Though his Miami place is not a restaurant per se, you'll find a table at the entrance where you can enjoy a small plate of tabbouleh salad ($3.50), a shawarma sandwich ($10.95), or kibbeh ($1 each), all made by Aziz. So if you're looking for ingredients to make your own falafel or craving Middle Eastern sweets, the Middle East Best Food market has your back.

Alter
Photo courtesy of Alter

Bradley Kilgore has been searching for a unique cuisine his entire life. It began when he tried to make brownies out of a Betty Crocker cookbook and accidentally replaced salt with sugar. It continues today at Alter, his casual yet ambitious Wynwood restaurant. It's upending the Miami dining scene partly because of Kilgore's relentless dedication to well-sourced, humble ingredients such as chicken, leeks, and mushrooms. They're spiced, smoked, blanched, vacuum-packed, emulsified, cooked sous vide, and then whimsically arranged into delicate, edible artworks. You don't want to demolish them, but you can't help it. So how much should all of this cost? According to Kilgore, it's $30 or less. That may be steep, but not as astronomical as some of the Michelin-starred shops where he trained. Instead, Kilgore looks to bring Miami's most exciting food to the people. There's no need to wait for a special occasion.

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

The Dutch
billwisserphoto.com

Fluid gels and foams are nice. But sometimes you want a good old-fashioned sugar bomb, no frills or xanthan gum included. So you turn to Joshua Gripper, Miami's sheikh of sweets, who has the ability to transform even the coolest diners at the Dutch into sugar-buzzed toddlers. He does it with slices of pie ($12) filled with salted lime custard, warm figs and apples, and banana cream. Sometimes Gripper unpacks a Boston cream doughnut and encases the buttery cake in vanilla custard ringed by macerated blueberries. Other nights, he may send you home with coconut-cream dreams. If there's no pie in your eye, don't worry. Gripper's extensive resumé includes work at two-Michelin-star restaurant Oustau de Baumanière, DB Bistro Moderne, Butter, and Café Boulud. He can turn out the elegant, buttery French cookies called palmiers with ease and then pair them with the best churros and funnel cakes the city has ever seen.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®