Miami Mojito Company
Cesar Morales

A well-kept secret doesn't stay that way for long, which explains why so many people know how to find Wynwood's newest hidden tiki bar. The clandestine beach-themed place popped up in December 2016 for Art Basel, but creator Cesar Morales — owner of Wood Tavern and Bar Next Door — never closed the doors. Instead, his pop-up, dubbed Miami Mojito Company, has gained impressive popularity. Accessible only through the Plant the Future corridor on the side of Wood Tavern off NW Second Avenue in Wynwood, the back-alley bar fashioned into an island tiki hut was conceived after a trip Morales took to Brazil, where he saw carts and stands peddling fresh mojitos and caipirinhas on the beach. His idea: Bring a true taste of Brazil to Miami. Today Miami Mojito Company is open seven days a week from noon till midnight or 2 a.m. And the only menu item at this 20-seater is the mojito. It starts with fresh sugar-cane juice prepared barside using a large metal contraption that presses stalks of sugar cane into a waterfall of cloudy juice. From there, it's nothing but whole mint leaves muddled in fresh-squeezed lime juice and shaken over ice with a few shots of Don Q rum. The resulting drink is not syrupy-sweet like the ones at so many tourist traps on Ocean Drive. Instead, these are blissfully refreshing, accented with just the right touch of lime and a hint of sweetness from the raw sugar-cane juice. Order them in several flavors, including blackberry, tamarind, passionfruit, and raspberry ($10 to $12). Then sit back, relax, and let the sounds of samba transport you from the streets of Wynwood to the beaches of Brazil.

Readers' choice: Ball & Chain

Tuto's Place
Nicole Danna

Miami and flan go together like San Diego and fish tacos or New York City and hot dogs. It's just part of the culture. But deciding which flan is made just the right way can be a point of contention. And the version made at Tuto's Place is arguably the finest. First things first: Don't judge this place by its decor. Forget the Southern-pride signs and bumper stickers on the walls (and the Confederate flag) and the fact that it looks more like a greasy spoon than a Cuban restaurant. This cafeteria-style eatery serving mainly breakfast or lunch from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. gets it all right, from desayuno to postre. And though the Cuban sandwich and pan con bistec may be the two most Instagrammed dishes here, the real star is the flan ($2). Just like abuela used to make, the custard is tinged a golden brown on the top and bottom from caramelized sugar. When it's turned over to serve, the jiggly flan cracks at the edges, and an ooey-gooey deluge of that liquid sugar cascades over the sides and hardens into a crystalline candy shell at the edge of the plate. If you're lucky, Tuto himself will serve it to you. The convivial old Cuban guy is most often found behind the counter.

Laterria Italiana
Photo by Gustavo Tonelli

When word came out that the Persian sundae at Fooq's included rosewater and lavender gelato churned by Midtown's Latteria Italiana, it was obvious Miami had something special on its hands. Yes, indeed, the interior of this pocket-size spot is cute as a button, with oversize blue-and-white Cuban tiles and little faded black-and-white pictures of Italian street scenes. But it's the gelato that takes you away. At first, a whiff of the pale-green pistachio flavor fills your head with a nutty aroma. But a first bite reveals the concoction has been filled with salt and pepper, making each bite like a handful of the nuts themselves. There's been candied chestnut for the holidays, along with coconut and key lime because, well, it's Miami. Owner Antonio Carrozza ventures into uncharted waters with pear and ginger, and the nutty, earthy Japanese green tea called matcha. He's even been in talks with nearby gyms to churn out a high-protein, low-sugar treat. Just call Carrozza the gelato genius.

Cindy Lou's
Courtesy of Cindy Lou's Cookies

This artisanal cookie purveyor peddles 28 varieties, including cheesecake, lemon cloud, Oreo crunch, and salted double chocolate filled with Nutella. Owned by Cindy Kruse, a local baker with more than 25 years of pastry experience at restaurants such as Barton G. and Gigi, Cindy Lou's molds and decorates every cookie by hand. The treats, priced at $3.50 apiece, are baked around the clock, and toppings and fillings are made in-house too. Her Little River storefront is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Panther Coffee, Jimmy'z Kitchen, and Vice City Bean also carry her creations.

Ella Cafe
courtesy of Ella Cafe

Hidden inside the Design District's Palm Court is Ella, a collaboration between venerable Miami chef Michael Schwartz and his daughter Ella. This bright, industrial space offers a variety of café items, including avocado toast, Greek yogurt, salads, sandwiches, and juices. But at the bottom of the seasonal menu is something even sweeter: a rotating doughnut special. Expect flavors such as brown sugar, cinnamon, and white chocolate; brown butter and orange; and melted chocolate and toffee. Each treat costs $3 and comes crowned with a decorated doughnut hole. All doughnuts are unique and made individually by hand. Ella stays on trend with fashionable flavors too: She's created varieties topped with matcha green tea icing, caramel, or cocoa.

Readers' choice: The Salty Donut

Best Cupcakes
Julia Rose Photography

The belief that everything tastes better with a little booze inspired Lola Rivera to begin experimenting. As Miami's craft beer scene flourishes, she has created an assortment of alcohol-and-sweets pairings, including vanilla rum, chocolate stout, and Tortuga rum bite-size cupcakes. Most of them can be made gluten-free — and vegan too. Lola the Baker, which does not have a storefront, operates on a made-to-order basis. Nicknamed "Cupcakes on Tap," her business allows customers to order by the dozen ($10 to $20). To contact Lola the Baker, email [email protected].

Best Desserts
courtesy of MdoughW

You might have seen a photo of a rainbow-sprinkled cookie-dough ball oozing creamy liquid chocolate on Margo Wolfe's MDoughW Instagram page. Wolfe, the creator of Miami's first cookie-dough dessert company, rose to social media fame through gluttonous postings of rich, cream-filled dessert mashups. Her fans are located around the world, but Miamians can enjoy MDoughW treats (around $25 to $30) on UberEats. That's right. Flavors such as Funfetti, cookies 'n' cream, rainbow cake, and chocolate-chunk dough stuffed with a brownie can be ordered and delivered across South Florida. That way, you avoid MDoughW's online shop and the need for shipping. The brand is also known for inventive collaborations, including cinnamon-sugar-infused cookie dough wrapped around a half-portion of a Knaus Berry Farm roll, and a guava pastelito from Versailles stuffed inside flavored dough. When limited-edition collaborations are available, they can also be ordered on UberEats. Each treat begins with a cookie-dough base and is then filled with another sweet. The blend allows Wolfe to dream up the craziest and tastiest confections Miami has ever savored.

Readers' choice: Fireman Derek's World-Famous Pies

Sweet Delights Bakery
courtesy of Sweet Delights

Martha Stewart's recipe for key lime pie calls for condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice, and a touch of zest to be whisked together. For Paula Deen, it's those same ingredients, plus a touch of cream. But if you want to get South Florida's most famous pie right, you should probably start with advice from Miami's own phenom baker, Debra Allen, owner of Sweet Delights, housed in a tiny but whimsically spray-painted building that would be more at home in the artsy Wynwood than it is in the Goulds neighborhood of South Miami-Dade. (The bakery will move July 1 to 28838 S. Dixie Hwy. in Homestead.) Her customers know her as the vivacious and smiling Miss Debbie, but you can also call her the pie queen. For Allen, the ultimate key lime pie filling ingredients are a well-kept secret, one she's guarded since she began making the pies in 2010. The only ingredient the self-taught baker will divulge: fresh, hand-squeezed key lime juice. Her treats cost $5.50 for a slice, $12 for a half-pie, and $23 for a whole. They are available in a rainbow of flavors, from tamarind, guava, and ginger to mamey and mango. She's even made an eggnog key lime variety for the holidays. These additions are just enough to lend a hint of color and tinge of flavor but not overwhelm the delicate key lime. Allen's traditional, meringue-topped key lime pie remains the most popular: A hefty slice of creamy, pudding-like custard is cradled in a paper-thin butter-and-graham-cracker crust and crowned with pearly meringue whose fluffy peaks glimmer a golden brown. You can opt for a slice with or without the meringue. It's the stuff dreams are made of.

Cream Parlor
Christian Portilla

Cream Parlor is much more than a spot to snag sweet, frozen scoops. Think of it as your home away from home, stocked with delights such as creative ice-cream flavors, flaky pastries, and knickknacks that offer a sense of comfort. Cream Parlor, a sky-blue hole-in-the-wall ice-cream shop and café that opened on Biscayne Boulevard in August 2016, is the creation of husband-and-wife duo Johnny and Ainsley Tsokos, who dreamed of sharing their favorite foods with the public in a quaint space with a vintage vibe. The eatery caters to all diets, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, and prices range from $2.95 to $10.95. Sandwiches come on Zak the Baker bread, and the selection of house-made ice creams is varied and playfully named. Try a few scoops of the Prince-inspired flavor, Purple Rain, covered with berries and dark chocolate, or the pastel rainbow of Unicorn Poop, topped with Lucky Charms marshmallows.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®