As bars and restaurants sprout up across Miami Beach, one of the area's oldest and most beloved diners still holds its place. Since 1992, the quaint, Airstream-style aluminum façade, which dates to the '40s, has endured hurricanes, floods, and a profusion of Pitbull album releases. Its shiny red booths remain intact, and its menu is current. Come for a Monte Cristo ($10.25), where grilled ham, Swiss, and turkey are sandwiched between slices of French toast, or a Crabby Patty ($11.50), which places fried crab cakes and homemade tartar sauce on a roll. For more typical diner fare, opt for country fried steak and eggs ($11.99); the farmer's scramble ($9.99), served with vegetables and cheddar cheese; or the "3 pair" ($11.25), which includes two eggs, two pieces of bacon or sausage, and two pancakes or French toast.

Readers' choice: Big Pink

Jungle Plaza
Courtesy of Robin Hill for Miami Design District

Who would have thought Miami's most luxurious shopping destination is also home to a happening weekly farmers' market? Well, it is, and you should go. It takes place every Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m. The formerly rundown, crime-ridden neighborhood, which is now home to designer boutiques such as Tom Ford and Dior, hosts the Market #atMDD, a collection of more than 40 booths packed with sweet and savory goods such as fresh produce, artisanal breads, nuts, jams, teas, oils, and vinegars. Participating businesses include Creperia to Go, Mauricio's Fudge, Korean Kitchen, Sanctuary Teas, Two Guys Soaps, and Sandwicherie, giving shoppers on all budgets an opportunity to spend some cash. Snag samosas and curries from Nisha's Flavors of India or floral bouquets from local vendors. In the middle of the market, a rotating roster of performers, such as the French Horn Collective and DJ Nippy, adds life to the otherwise quiet luxury shopping area. And let's be real: We've all felt out of place walking through the Design District. Thanks to the Market #atMDD, the area now welcomes all South Floridians.

Lettuce & Tomato

Sandwiched in a nondescript strip mall on West Dixie Highway, Lettuce & Tomato gives North Miami Beach the chef-driven gastropub it has long awaited. The small restaurant, owned by Argentine-born Roy Starobinsky, fuses Latin American flavors with Asian, American, and French influences. The menu jumps from huevos rotos ("broken eggs") — a large bowl of hand-cut garlic French fries, sofrito, serrano ham, three fried eggs, and a pinch of sprouts — to Asian-inspired steam buns stuffed with short rib or pork belly and drizzled with a homemade ají aioli. Salads, burgers, and fish are available too. Most of the plates hover around $15. The restaurant is known to draw large crowds at dinnertime, so plan accordingly.

Palme d'Or
Photo courtesy of the Biltmore

Palme d'Or is, without a doubt, the grande dame of Miami's dining scene. The shining jewel of the Biltmore's crown, it sparkles in shades of gold. This restaurant, which offers a $115, six-course dinner or a $155 chef's tasting menu, is the place for 50th-anniversary celebrations and other important affairs. But because of Gregory Pugin, it is much more. The Michelin-starred, James Beard Award-nominated chef has opened restaurants around the world, from Paris to Tokyo. All of that global experience, including time at Joël Robuchon's L'Atelier in New York and Le Cirque at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, has given Pugin a style of his own. It's reflected in dishes that combine traditional techniques and local ingredients to transform the classics into modern and exciting interpretations. Compared to a round-trip ticket to Paris, the price to dine here is quite reasonable. Indeed, Palme d'Or is a good reason to break out the dressy outfit and celebrate for no reason at all. How very French.

Readers' choice: Eating House

Best Restaurant in the Design District/Midtown

Estefan Kitchen

Estefan Kitchen
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Forget the queen of England. Miami has its own royalty: Gloria and Emilio Estefan. This golden couple is the very soul of Miami. If you need proof, hop a plane or boat to the farthest reaches of the planet and mention Miami to some random stranger. They'll start singing "Conga." At Estefan Kitchen, chef Odell Torres plates refined versions of recipes passed down through generations of Estefans, such as vaca frita ($22), paella ($70), and even lechón flatbread drizzled with truffle oil ($15). Of course, the Estefans are best known for their music, so expect a nightly showcase of music and performances in a colorful setting. The cabaret setting is fun without veering into Disney-tourist-trap territory. Frequent sightings of the Magic City's royal couple add to the excitement.

Readers' choice: Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Best Restaurant in South Beach


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When Scott Linquist moved to Miami to take over Coyo Taco's kitchen, he was already an accomplished chef who literally wrote the book on Mexican cuisine. Sure, his tacos are fantastic, but Coyo didn't allow the chef to show his full potential. When Linquist opened Olla at the far west end of Lincoln Road, he let his culinary talents soar. The restaurant, named after the traditional earthenware used to both store food and cook it, is filled with soulful items. Menudo, a heady tripe stew ($12), cures everything from hunger to hangovers, and a duck breast with mole ($24) is served with tortillas for a hands-on experience. If your idea of Mexican food is guac and queso with chips, don't worry: Olla has you covered so you can gently ease your way into the more exotic. After a few margaritas made with your choice of 50 kinds of tequila, you'll find yourself blissfully digging into a jar of chapulines ($8).

Readers' choice: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

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If you think all barbecue has to be ribs on a grill, allow Kyu to change your view. First off, you'll find no smiling piggies or drinks served in a mason jar. The sparse yet gorgeous industrial setting allows the food to be the center of the spotlight. The restaurant, a collaboration between Michael Lewis and Steven Haigh (both Zuma alumni), is a mashup of Japanese robata grilling methods and good old American techniques. That marriage translates into a Wagyu brisket ($40), prepared with Japanese sea salt and black pepper and smoked for 12 to 14 hours until it melts in your mouth. Kyu also offers an assortment of produce to round out your diet. One bite of the roasted cauliflower with goat cheese ($16) will make you wonder why you ever gave Mom a hard time about eating your vegetables.

Bombay Darbar
Photo courtesy of Bombay Darbar

Look around at the diners seated next to you at Bombay Darbar and you'll think you're in the real Bombay. The Coconut Grove eatery has long been the place for Miami's Indian community to seek an authentic taste of home. The restaurant's owner, known simply as Danny, serves traditional Indian cuisine at more than reasonable rates. A fragrant biryani is cooked with herbs, nuts, raisins, and spices with your choice of chicken, lamb, shrimp, or vegetables ($13.95 to $18.95). The chicken tikka masala ($16.95) sees tender pieces of chicken bobble in a broth of tomato sauce and the Indian spice blend of garam masala. The spice level of each dish can be customized: mild, low-medium, medium, high-medium, hot, or superhot. But take the advice of your wise server when he or she warns you against going all out — the chef packs quite a punch. Put out that fire with a few Kingfisher beers, and all is right with the world. Bombay Darbar is open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. and dinner Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m. It's closed Tuesday.

Readers' choice: GreenStreet Cafe

Il Gabbiano
Courtesy of Il Gabbiano

The delight at this downtown Italian place frequented by lawyers, developers, and the rest of Miami's Masters of the Universe commences before menus are even opened. After you're seated, a waiter sporting a dinner jacket will roll a hulking wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano up to the table. The salty, musty fragrance of the cheese is enough to knock even the fullest-blooded Italians out of their seats. A few jabs of a heart-shaped knife dislodge some jagged bits of the cheese, and soon everyone is digging in. Next, another waiter swoops in to drop a fist-size knot of razor-thin zucchini slivers fried to a snappy crisp. Somehow a sweet, tart pool of tomato sauce lands nearby. Then comes fluffy bread and dashes of good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That is the last free thing you'll enjoy. But don't worry: You're already in such a delightful stupor the $45 price tag on the filet mignon Florentine will hardly register.

Readers' choice: Komodo

Best Restaurant on the Upper Eastside

Phuc Yea

Phuc Yea
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When Aniece Meinhold and Cesar Zapata (along with a third partner) opened a little pop-up in an office building in downtown Miami, the city went wild for the concept and the food. In what might have been the Magic City's first true pop-up, the partners would turn the space into a restaurant each day and serve Vietnamese cuisine tinged with Zapata's Texan and Latin American influences. The two, who later opened the Federal in a Biscayne Boulevard strip mall, would occasionally resurrect Phuc Yea for special events and dinners to enthusiastic turnout. Last year, Phuc Yea returned with a permanent home. The restaurant, set amid a host of glowing Chinese paper lanterns, boasts several rooms and an outdoor garden. Starters such as the mama roll ($8) — filled with Chinese sausage, jícama, dried shrimp, and peanuts — are sharable and flavorful, but the Cajun/Vietnamese hot pots (market price) are a must. A steaming crock arrives at the table filled with corn, potatoes, and your choice of Florida shrimp, clams, crawfish, or other water creatures. Gloves accompany the dish, but go ahead and get your hands dirty for the real experience.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®