Seafood, like in the chaufa pictured here, anchors the vast majority of Pisco y Nazca's menu.
billwisserphoto.com
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.

Atlas Meat-Free Delicatessen
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 Vegetarian Burger

The term "veggie burger" might have once conjured an image of a dry, tasteless hockey puck, but that was then. This is now. At Wynwood's Love Life Wellness Center Cafe, the staff boasts the "best veggie burger in America" thanks to an epic victory at last year's Seed Food & Wine Festival's burger battle. Love Life's creative concoction beat out plant-based burgers from across the nation. Imagine sinking your teeth into this: a magical superfood-infused patty topped with homemade guacamole and pickles, marinated kale (an easy way to eat your greens), cilantro aioli, and plant-based cheddar on a pretzel bun topped with Hawaiian lava salt. At $14, it's not cheap, but it's colorful, satisfying, and oozing with complementary flavors. Consider it the veggie burger reborn. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Jucy Lu
courtesy of Jucy Lu

Picture yourself in Wynwood, strolling the streets in apropos hipster gear, perusing the newest murals, and sharing supercute snaps of yourself with your fave artwork. As usual, the humidity is killer, so you're dying of thirst and need some nourishment. Enter Jucy Lu, a charming spot in the back of Wynwood Block whose colorful edibles are ideal subjects for your carefully curated social media feed. Sip a rosy passion punch ($9.50) made with orange, strawberry, mango, pineapple, lime, passionfruit, cucumber, and apple. Color-coordinate it with the fresh and green forbidden rice salad ($11), complete with cucumber, click peas, cilantro, mini radishes, kale, coconut, pistachio, cashews, and vinaigrette. Or try the "2not" sandwich, with chickpeas, carrots, capers, and tahini paste ($10.50). Don't forget dessert: How about the mango passion coconut pudding with hibiscus and chia seeds ($5)? Choose your fave and indulge accordingly. This is vibrant, aesthetically appealing food that'll maintain your killer bod — and your IG image. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Best Burger
Photo by CandaceWest.com

Order the burger ($17) at this Japanese-anime-themed noodle spot hidden away in the basement of the Townhouse Hotel, and the only thing to decide is whether you want French fries or tater tots. Just let the kitchen do the rest. This beast of a burger is bookended by slices of sturdy yet tender brioche bun that's as soft as a Martin's potato roll but won't mush up or let you down. It's a double-patty affair, and each one of the pair is round, has a slightly pink center, and boasts a woody char. There's also some sweetness courtesy of caramelized onions and a hit of acidity from a thick slice of tomato. A blend of American cheese mingles sensually with a house spicy sauce that cascades over each bite. If some is left on your chin, so be it. Such is the price of entry to burger heaven.

Readers' choice: Kush

Burgers & Shakes
courtesy of Burgers and Shakes

It's a crime this North Beach eatery left the word "fries" out of its name — almost as bad as making a movie and not saying Scarlett Johansson is in it or throwing a music festival and not mentioning Radiohead is playing. Sure, Burgers & Shakes serves the meaty and milky stuff (along with beer and hot dogs), but the main attraction is the French fries. Served in a paper cup for $3.45, they are crisped to perfection in a vat of peanut oil right in front of your hungry eyes. If you want some color in your side dish, sweet potato fries are available for the same price. And if you're really feeling wild, get chili on the fries for an extra dollar. Bonus: The place is open till 4 a.m. daily.

Paulie Gee's signature pie, the Hellboy
CandaceWest.com
Paulie Gee's signature pie, the Hellboy

Hellboy ($18) is your friend. The kitchen crew at this Brooklyn pizza transplant has figured out how to get a crisp, oven-charred crust on this foot-wide pie despite Miami's unrelenting humidity. The crust is delicate and tender at the center, and a pockmarked ring surrounds grated tomatoes and milky, fresh mozzarella. But the real lure is the salty, hot soppressata made with Berkshire pig meat, the holy of holies when it comes to swine. Then a drizzle of spicy honey is liberally applied, giving each bite an alluring flavor contrast that makes it disappear from your table faster than the pizzaiolo can pull another one from the 900-degree oven. Of course, don't get too distracted, because you won't want to miss this former Chinese restaurant's other prized possession: the pie called Cherry Jones ($20). Here, it's Gorgonzola, prosciutto, sour cherries, and honey that are more overpowering than a blotter sheet of acid. You might just want to lock yourself in the bathroom and never come out.

Readers' choice: Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza

Miami Smokers Urban Smokehouse
Photo by Juan Fernando Ayora

You might know Miami Smokers for the bacon, but it's the Floridian ($9) that will lure you back to this Little Havana smoke spot. It begins with a baguette and continues with a wild boar sausage culled from Okeechobee pigs. It's a smoky, rich affair that's like a Middle Eastern merguez, a British banger, and a piece of juicy lamb leg all rolled into one. Then come spicy mayo and orange segments, which cut the richness. Avocado purée brings some of it back. Pickled peppers temper it all just right, while a flutter of cilantro provides a final tropical accent. It's more Miami than driving home a Noche Buena pig from an illegal Hialeah slaughterhouse in a rented Ferrari with the top down.

La Estancia Argentina

This shrine to Argentine eating has long been lauded for its panoply of empanadas with paper-thin crusts wrapped and baked in-house daily. But you only need to examine a carne cortada ($3) to understand the kind of excellence you're dealing with. Go ahead — split it open. Notice something? There's no ground beef here. No picadillo-like filling flecked with vegetables and filled out with who knows what bits of beef. Nope. At La Estancia Argentina, splitting open an empanada is like digging into a prime steak. The filling is little more than cubes of meat that maintain a magical medium-rare, while the crust warms and crisps to a golden brown. Be careful, though: Once you try one of these, you'll never look at another empanada the same way.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®