Best Cuban Restaurant
Leah Gabriel

It's hard for a Cuban restaurant to stand out in a town with more Cuban restaurants than any city off the island. This cuisine should be simple, unpretentious, and delicious. You should be able to taste the garlic before your meal even hits the table, and nothing should be served without a slice of lime on the plate. Puerto Sagua checks those boxes, but that's not what makes it stand out. It's the kind of place you'd expect to find in Little Havana or Hialeah, but this no-frills joint is on the corner of Seventh Street and Collins Avenue in South Beach, where glitz and glamour reign supreme — and most of the old school has been bought up and buried under the new. From 7 a.m. till 2 p.m. seven days a week, Puerto Sagua serves Cuban standards such as masitas de puerco con arroz moros y yuca ($15.25) and ropa vieja con maduros ($11.95) that are as good as you'll find anywhere — including your abuela's dinner table.

Las Orquideas
Photo by Jesse Scott

Do you really want your next Colombian meal to come from a fake-arepa cart at a gringo-filled festival? There's a much better choice. Make the drive to Las Orquideas in Fort Lauderdale for a truly authentic experience. This South Florida mainstay has everything you need at virtually any time (hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday). Not starving? Grab a perfectly fried empanada ($1 for small, $1.60 for large) and drown it in some ridiculously spicy homemade ají sauce. Need to detox? Go for the natural juices — lulo, mora, maracuya, and others — blended with milk ($4) or water ($3.50). Ready for an amazingly delicious dish? Try the bandeja montañera ($13) — with red beans, rice, grilled steak, pork skin, egg, sweet plantains, and an arepa — or the sweet and succulent pollo en salsa de Maracuya ($13). Las Orquideas also hosts live music Fridays and Saturdays and shows an amazing number of Colombian soccer games. ¡Vamos!

Kiki on the River
Photo by Chat Chow

A former fish market, the glamorous Greek restaurant Kiki on the River transports diners to the Mediterranean. The food, executed by veteran chef Steve Rhee, includes tender seasoned octopus ($18), lightly fried saganaki cheese ($16), grilled then baked sea bass (MP), and fried potatoes with lemon and oregano ($9). Find a table around sunset on the restaurant's charming patio overlooking the Miami River. The view, along with the rustic furnishings, whitewashed walls, and lush greenery, is enchanting. You might even forget you're in Miami. Hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, noon to 11 p.m. Thursday, noon to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. to midnight Sunday.

Xixón Spanish Restaurant
Photo by Michael McElroy

Xixón Spanish Restaurant opened in 2001 as a market and today has grown to include a fine-dining restaurant. Consider the Asturian fabada, a rich bean stew that's the signature dish of Spain's Asturian region. The traditional version served here is so labor-intensive it's offered only Saturday ($16). It's rife with white fava beans, blood sausage, chorizo, and a salty Jabugo ham, all simmered for four hours in a hearty saffron-flavored broth. The steak tartare ($18) uses ingredients so fresh the dish is available only Wednesday. Of course, you might want to visit just for the rice dishes. The menu touts four kinds of paella, such as con bogavante, which includes shrimp, clams, mussels, squid, and Maine lobster. If you still have room for postre, a serious dessert menu lists more than a dozen delectables you won't find anywhere else, including a carpaccio de piña, which includes a house-made mint ice cream ($7).

Otentic Fresh Food Restaurant
Photo by John Zur

Escargots can go two ways. When dining out, you'll either get pitifully small mollusks smothered in so much butter it just might instantly clog your arteries. Or, if you're lucky, you'll get the real thing: giant burgundy snails sautéed with a hint of butter, minced shallots, and garlic. That's exactly how you'll find this dish at Otentic Fresh Food Restaurant in South Beach. A dozen escargots are seasoned to taste, finished with fresh-chopped parsley, and arrive plump and tender for $13. It's just one of the well-executed French specialities you'll find at this 40-seat bistro offering an intimate, unpretentious setting for traditional French fare. That includes the country's quintessential dishes, served from 11 a.m. to late into the night. Try it all, from those colossal escargots to custardy quiche Lorraine to Nutella-stuffed crêpes. Prices encourage sampling too: Appetizers start at $7, crêpes run $12 to $14, and entrées cost $15 to $31.

Fratelli La Bufala
Courtesy of Fratelli La Bufala

When it comes to Neapolitan pizzerias in Miami, there is only one that can claim to be the first and best: Fratelli La Bufala. But this hidden gem isn't just known for phenomenal pizzas; it's the pastas, salads, and fresh bufala mozzarella that's made this Italian restaurant a staple in South Beach for more than ten years. Buffalo mozzarella is much sweeter than the cow's-milk version; it's also juicier and creamier. If you haven't tried fresh bufala mozzarella, do it ASAP. Fratelli La Bufala (FLB) is one of the few establishments in Miami to have fresh bufala mozzarella delivered almost daily. Whether placed on the restaurant's wood-oven pizzas or the fresh house-made pastas, this rare and exotic cheese is a game changer. FLB's signature appetizer, La Bufalata ($23), is a beautiful platter of bufala mozzarella served with cured Italian meats and fresh vegetables. The way the fresh mozzarella oozes over the meats and vegetables is out of this world. Another highlight is the cost. This underrated spot is not only extremely authentic but also reasonably priced, making it a favorite for Italians visiting Miami. If you're looking for some of the most delicious pizza and pasta in Miami, run, don't walk, to Fratelli La Bufala. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

Haiti is about 700 miles away, but you don't have to go that far for some seriously authentic Haitian food. The best of the island's cuisine — a colorful blend of African- and Caribbean-influenced fare with a hint of creole — can be found at La Belle Jacmelienne. Step inside the tiny eatery and you'll feel as though you've made the trek. There's a tiki-inspired order counter and colorful wall murals, all meant to spirit you off to an island retreat — even if it's just for lunch. Here, root vegetables, ridiculously hot peppers, meats such as oxtail, and a unique blend of spices work together to form basic, zippy dishes that sing with a soupçon of French complexity. Friendly staff will gladly explain the basic offerings, such as hearty portions of legim stew, a complex dish with plenty of spices, eggplant, cabbage, carrots, peppers, and spinach. It also includes braised meats such as pork or oxtail and sometimes even seafood like conch or crab ($14 to $19). Or go for the griot (fried pork), prepared with an orange-based marinade that walks a fine line between sour and salty. The dish is served with pikliz, Haiti's official condiment — a spicy pickled-vegetable slaw made with white-vinegar-soaked Scotch bonnet peppers, carrots, and cabbage. Be sure to wash it all down with some Couronne fruit champagne, the island's popular soda, and your trip to Haiti will be complete.

Why try Kebab Indian Restaurant? How about warm naan baked in a tandoor and seasoned with garlic butter ($3.95); crisp vegetable samosas stuffed with potatoes, peas, and Indian spices ($4); and a plate of chicken biryani, in which tender pieces of poultry are cooked and simmered with rice, nuts, and korma sauce ($13.95). Those are just three of the more than 150 items served at this traditional Indian restaurant tucked away on NE 167th Street in North Miami Beach. The unassuming space allows Kebab's blend of aromatic spices, basmati rice, vegetables, and meat to shine. And if you visit during lunch, take advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet for less than $10. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

CY Chinese Restaurant
Photo by CandaceWest.com

The moment you step into this North Miami Beach hideaway, your senses are overcome by the overwhelming perfume of rendered beef fat and chili oil. Though Sichuan-style restaurants are popping up across Miami, none holds truer to the fiery cuisine of the Chinese province than this first U.S. project by Chongqing native and chef Yang Xian Guang. That beef fat is the central ingredient of Yang's hot pot. That rich, savory aroma is the yardstick by which most Chinese folks judge hot pot, he explains. The recipes include three or more kinds of chilies, a mountain of Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, garlic, ginger, star anise, fermented black beans, and a litany of secrets he refuses to share. A simple chicken broth, made by simmering carcasses with ginger and garlic for three hours, is poured on top just before the dish is sent out to the dining room. So whether you opt for the Chinese yam, the fatty beef, the pork blood, or just a tousle of vegetables, you're guaranteed an experience like no other.

Azabu
Photo by CandaceWest.com

A Michelin-starred concept from New York City, Miami's Sushi Azabu is as swanky as they come. In addition to a large main dining room, you'll find a snazzy cocktail bar and "The Den," a hidden sushi counter behind the kitchen. Prepared by Tokyo-trained chef Masatsugu "Masa" Kubo, Azabu's fare ($6 to $130) is largely cooked on a robata, a Japanese charcoal grill. It's served izakaya-style, where guests order a variety of small, sharable items served when ready. The menu includes yakitori, grilled chicken on a skewer; fried rice served tableside on a sizzling toban-yaki (ceramic) plate; sukiyaki, fried meat with vegetables and sauce; and a variety of udon noodles. The secluded sushi bar provides a more intimate experience. The 11-seat bar, accessible only through the kitchen, offers omakase-style dining featuring local and imported seafood flown directly from Japan ($120 to $150). Then, at the restaurant's cocktail bar, find a selection of international whiskeys and sakes. Try Azabu from 6 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight Friday and Saturday. The bar is open till 1 a.m. daily.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®