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These days, everyone has an eye peeled for the next great bite to come out of a gas station. Most of it is thanks to this paper-plate-and-plastic-fork spot that for years has dished out flaky corn tortillas packed with succulent shards of al pastor ($2.45) made with tender pork shoulder dampened with an intense chile arbol sauce that's brightened with a tangy hit of pineapple. The tongue and tripe tacos ($3.95) are just as skillfully griddled, with the former offering tender, almost milky shreds of the offal and the latter as delicate as 48-hour-braised short ribs. The beating heart of the place is a humble-looking salsa bar that each day offers no fewer than a half-dozen sauces ranging from a scorching habanero to a tangy tomatillo. Don't be afraid to pack some into little to-go cups and slather it over everything in your refrigerator.

Zachary Fagenson

Start with the taso kabrit ($12). If you're with friends, expect the succulent bits of goat meat to disappear from your Styrofoam container faster than soursop juice ($4) in July. Apouchy seems to put a little extra into all the Haitian standbys. The pikliz is spicier, the stewed vegetable dish called legume ($8) seems richer and more full of substance, and the shrimp in coconut sauce ($14) seems to burst with fat crustaceans. But it's the soup joumou ($8), served every Sunday, that has you thinking about this place in the middle of the week. The stuff is the symbol of Haitian freedom and is what the island nation's enslaved freedom fighters snacked on after ousting the French. Slaves weren't allowed to eat soup, but with their long-awaited and deserved freedom, they devoured the rich, pumpkin-infused broth sweetened with bell peppers and enriched with cuts of beef still attached to marrow-filled bones. Soup joumou is everything to Haitians, and after one slurp, it will be for you too.
Pork intestine with dried chili at Chinese Guy.

When searching for a traditional Chinese restaurant, Western diners often take the presence of Chinese customers as a good sign. West Miami-Dade's Chinese Guy is beloved by the countless Chinese students who attend the University of Miami and Florida International University. The eatery's owners are Tianjin natives Kun Bao and Yanan Cai, who just happen to be PhD students at FIU. When Bao arrived in Miami in 2010, he and his Chinese classmates quickly realized there was no place serving the food they grew up on. A few years later, that problem seems a distant memory. Northern Chinese dishes such as slender shreds of braised pig ears doused in ripping-hot chili oil ($7.95) come flying out of the kitchen. Buttery lobes of tilapia ($11.95) are poached with wood ear mushrooms, leaving the pearly-white flesh soft and floating in a pool of seasoned oil punched up with a hint of rice wine. A handful of scallion slivers and grated ginger are thrown in at the last moment, offering a pop of spice and nose-tickling perfume. The delights never seem to end: Corn or pumpkin cubes are fried in rich, salty duck egg batter ($12.95); sticky pig trotters are braised in sweet soy; and a heap of meaty rib tips come perched atop sticky rice ($8.95). This Chinese Guy will leave you begging for more.

Readers' choice: Tropical Chinese

Taylor Estape

Think about Chinese food and you'll probably picture mounds of breaded, fried meats covered in thick, brightly colored sauces that taste like someone dumped a pound of sugar into a vat of chicken Jell-O. And maybe that's fine, because you're not thinking about your arteries or cankles when you pick up food in your pajamas. But it's nice to have options — and that's what China Gourmet provides. Yes, this Palmetto Bay eatery serves sesame chicken ($9.99) in an orange glaze and jumbo portions of fried rice that far exceed a quart, and hands out fried egg rolls as if they were fortune cookies, but that's not the point. The salt-and-pepper chicken ($10.99) is surprisingly light while maintaining a peppery bite, and the dumplings ($6.35) put soggy, paper-thin, and tasteless ones to shame. So by all means, leave the six-pack on the coffee table and the pile of blankets on the couch, and avoid eye contact for the duration of your carry-out transaction — you can have your deep-fried cream cheese krab Rangoon ($4.50) and authentic egg foo yung ($8.55). China Gourmet is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 10:30 p.m.

When it comes to serving fast Chinese food, House of Chang doesn't hold back. Not even hurricane warnings stop this joint from cranking out take-out orders. Try the moo shi: shredded cabbage, wood ear mushrooms, golden needles, bamboo shoots, scallions, and eggs with your choice of meat wrapped in thin pancakes. For large orders, you can't go wrong with the boneless spare ribs, the house special fried rice, and the house special soup. The soft and lean rib meat is cooked in a succulent, sweet sauce. The house rice is loaded with fresh, tender cuts of beef. The special soup comes loaded with shrimp, white-meat chicken, roast pork, broccoli, snow peas, baby corn, leafy greens, and mushrooms. Stop by between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to take advantage of the 25 lunch specials for $6 or less. Combo plates with fried rice and an egg roll run about $8. House of Chang is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. It's closed Monday.

Courtesy of Estiatorio Milos

Greek cuisine is rooted in simplicity and quality ingredients. At Estiatorio Milos in South Beach, there's something new to discover on every visit: The fish selection changes daily depending upon what fishermen haul in. The day's catch is prepared to your liking and priced according to weight. There's nothing newfangled here, but when it comes to topnotch seafood, Milos is in a league of its own. One of the restaurant's specialties is melt-in-your-mouth charcoal-broiled octopus, seasoned with white balsamic vinegar and olive oil produced by the owner's sister in Greece ($29). Another signature dish is the tomato salad, with cucumbers, green peppers, onions, kalamata olives, and feta cheese ($29). Prices are justifiably high, but Milos offers a daily twilight menu between 5:30 and 7 p.m. (and all evening Sunday), when diners can enjoy a three-course meal for $39. The homemade Greek yogurt dessert is so thick and creamy you'll never believe you're eating something that's good for you. Open Sunday through Thursday from noon to 3:30 and from 5:30 p.m. to midnight, and Friday and Saturday from noon to 3:30 and from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Courtesy of Kebo

Nestled in the back of a Key Biscayne strip mall somewhere behind an anonymous Starbucks sits a spot for fine Iberian dining. For the past few years, Kebo Restaurant has offered a varied and delicious selection of Spanish cuisine. It serves nearly everything you would want to eat after flying into Madrid, including tapas, paellas, fish, and meats, as well as a diverse vegetarian menu. Though the entrées are pricey, the weekday $24.99 executive lunch special from noon to 4 p.m. gives you a chance to affordably sample the menu. The special includes appetizer choices of gazpacho, eggplant cake, or black ink squid rice; pork loin, veal, or tuna as a main dish; and a dessert of almond cake to sip over with a glass of wine, beer, or sangria. They are open Sunday to Thursday noon to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon till 11 p.m.
Seafood, like in the chaufa pictured here, anchors the vast majority of Pisco y Nazca's menu.

Pisco is a city in the Ica region of Peru that's famous for its grape brandy of the same name. Nazca is a desert town on the southern coast of Peru, which is also known for its production of pisco. Put them together and you get the Spanish saying "entre Pisco y Nazca," which in slang means "drunk." Indeed, whether you eat at the Doral or Kendall location of Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar, a good time is practically guaranteed. Return time and time again to revel in the lively atmosphere and assertive flavors of chef Miguel Gómez. The toque worked at venerable Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio's San Francisco outpost, La Mar Cebichería Peruana, before a colleague coaxed him into moving to Miami. The leche de tigre of his traditional ceviche ($9 to $16) achieves the perfect balance of sweet and tart, and the flounder isn't overly firm. There is much to like here, including the empanadas filled with a spicy chicken stew ($8), as well as a trifecta of beef heart skewers called anticuchos de corazón ($11). They're laced with a bold ají panca sauce, but they're flavorful enough without it. Pisco y Nazca isn't reinventing the wheel with its cuisine. Rather, the eatery is doing something more enticing: offering bold-tasting Peruvian fare at affordable prices.

Oh, Wynwood, with your deconstructed, gluten-free, four-course, impossible-to-pronounce menu items. Your ambition might have earned a few James Beard Awards, but the truly hungry should venture beyond the murals and cross NW 29th Street, where the venerable Nadine Patrice will place a menu in front of you and help you select from an array of the top Jamaican and Caribbean dishes in town. Start with some fresh juice before moving on to the main event. Pro tip: If it starts with the word "jerk" or "curry," it's worth ordering. The jerk chicken meal costs only $10.50 and comes with two sides. If you have a few extra singles in your pocket, splurge on the $15 oxtail meal. Just be sure to wipe that delicious sauce off your face when you're done, because Miss Nadine often stops by to snap photos of her patrons. If you're lucky, you'll end up on her Instagram page (@palatinojamaicanrestaurant), an adorable catalog of bloated yet insanely satisfied customers.

Courtesy of Atlas Meat-Free Delicatessen

What exactly do vegans eat? Roots and tree bark? Sprouts and celery? Water and air? Hardly. If they're eating at Atlas Meat Free Deli, they're chowing down on an impossibly meaty menu. This Little River food truck and soon-to-be brick-and-mortar deli is "vegan food for carnivores," in the words of owner Ryan Bauhaus. The menu is stacked with towering sandwiches and sizable specials. There's smoked "pastrami" topped with barbecue sauce, crisp onions, and slaw piled onto a pretzel bun ($11); hearty deep-fried chik'n topped with cheddar "cheese," slaw, pickles, and creamy garlic aioli ($11); and chik'n wings ($6 for three), double-fried and tossed in the customer's choice of sauce. Plus there are burgers, loaded fries, mac 'n' cheese, and more. This is too-big-to-fit-in-your-mouth, sauce-dripping-on-your-clothes, food-coma chow. It's stereotype-busting, protein-packed, and the furthest thing from rabbit food. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Readers' choice: Plant Food + Wine

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®