Best Of :: Food & Drink
Many critics say one of the Miami culinary ecosystem's shortfalls is its lack of diners. Objection! What is a diner? It's a neighborhood place with humble decor, friendly service, and food to fit any appetite or taste — all at reasonable prices. The Cuban cafeterias sprawled across Miami-Dade fit the bill well. Even better is the long-standing Peruvian seafood joint Sabor a Perú. It regularly draws such large crowds that hungry hopefuls happily wait outside and choke on traffic fumes. They do it for the jalea ($15.99), a neck-high mound of seafood that includes shrimp, squid, and whatever fresh fish is on hand. Speaking of fish, the mountainous ceviches are enough to feed a family of four, and whether it's the mixed seafood ($15.99) or the shrimp ($14.99), it's punchy and tangy enough to cool you on even the hottest August day.
Finding a quality bagel in Miami is tough. So 25-year-old entrepreneur Matteson Koche found a way to do it himself. He's the creator of El Bagel, a roving food truck stocked with hand-rolled New York-style dough. Each bagel is proofed overnight, boiled, and then baked, yielding a dark and crisp shell with a heavy sprinkling of poppy and sesame seeds. The center is remarkably soft. The whole thing tastes even better when loaded with a heap of cream cheese, a yolky egg, and a slice of American cheese. Some weekends, the truck pops up at local spots such as Boxelder on NW Second Avenue in Wynwood to sling bagels with schmear for $5 apiece.
There are many reasons why you should visit Eating House on a weekend. Created by Chopped champion Giorgio Rapicavoli, the popular Coral Gables restaurant gives brunch a face-lift with the Wake-N-Bacon a munchies-themed menu filled with tater tots drizzled with Coca-Cola ketchup, candied applewood-smoked bacon with brown sugar and sea salt, and pumpkin-spice granola. But the star dish is Rapicavoli's Cap'n Crunch pancakes ($14). Covered in vanilla butter, condensed-milk syrup, and candied cereal, each doughy bite includes a loud crunch and a sweet finish. Wash it down with a guava mimosa, made with prosecco and pink guava juice ($10), or a yuzu cocktail with Florida grapefruit juice and vermouth ($12). Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11:30 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
There's a new baker in town. James Beard Award-winning Jim Lahey, best known for creating New York's Sullivan Street Bakery, has opened a production facility in Little Haiti. Through a partnership with Steven Perricone, owner of the long-standing Perricone's Marketplace & Café, Lahey has brought his no-knead method of mixing dough to a growing list of local restaurants and shops. Among the places serving his crunchy and fluffy baguettes and loaves are 27 Restaurant at the Freehand, Proper Sausages, Laurenzo's Italian Market, MC Kitchen, the Four Seasons, Le Zoo, River Oyster Bar, Joey's, Les Bahn Amis, and Café Roval. In early 2019, Lahey and Perricone will open a bake shop attached to the facility, which will sell a lineup of breads as well as sandwiches, salads, pastries, and pizza.
On the corner of NE 29th Street and Second Avenue in Edgewater, amid shiny new restaurants and selfie-taking tourists, stands the iconic Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop. The low-priced Cuban cafeteria serves authentic eats such as pan con bistec ($7) and medianoches ($7) from morning till night. For something more breakfast-centric, try the desayuno especial: two eggs, bacon or ham, Cuban toast, a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and café con leche for $6.25. For something light and portable, go for the house-made smoothies and shakes. No matter what, don't leave without a sip of café con leche ($2). Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
This cozy neighborhood breakfast and lunch spot is just what Broward locals need. You'll probably miss seeing the friendly, rugged-good-looking chef and co-owner, Keith Freiman, who is happiest flipping his homemade buttermilk pancakes in the back. After years of working as pastry chef in fancy Florida restaurants, Freiman, along with co-owner Emilio Freire, took a chance and opened up shop in unpretentious Dania Beach, where he makes simple and delicious food. Customers are greeted by an eye-catching display of doughnuts in flavors such as blackberry blintz, tres leches, and Nutella mousse ($1.45 to $2.25 each, $10.25 per half-dozen, and $19.25 per dozen). But regulars come for the Dough Boy ($5), a delectable combo of salty and sweet made with a mini cheese egg omelet and bacon, sausage, or ham nestled inside one of Freiman's signature airy, slightly sweet doughnut breads. They're so good you'll want to order two, so why not give your meal a bit of a health boost by adding avocado for an additional 75 cents?
The St. Regis is behind a brunch experience stocked with bottomless pink bubbly, unlimited trips to a buffet, and an unobstructed view of the Atlantic Ocean ($95 per adult and $45 per child). It's called Rosé Sunday Brunch. The resort's main waterfront dining room looks like the perfect spot for a bridal shower. Various shades of pink, from blush-colored tablecloths to coral-hued booze, dominate the space. Half of the area includes dining stations piled with sweet and savory items such as sea-salt-crusted fish, freshly shucked oysters, and a bakery section offering croissants filled with fruity jams. Then there's a large dessert table anchored by a five-foot-tall macaron display in the shape of the Eiffel Tower. Sparkly cake pops, key lime pie, chocolate mousse, and other sweets orbit the centerpiece of colorful meringue cookies. But what distinguishes the St. Regis' Sunday brunch from other experiences is its lengthy menu of bottomless rosé wines, champagnes, and the hotel's variation on the classic bloody mary and mimosa. For rosé alone, the menu includes nearly ten brands categorized by sparkling or flat. It's all served from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
In Miami, brunch comes in many forms. There are reasonably priced experiences, indulgent buffets, and spirited parties with effervescent crowds. Myles Chefetz's Prime Fish in Miami Beach's South of Fifth neighborhood has struck the perfect balance. It has a full-service buffet serving both breakfast and lunch dishes, an entrée selection, and bottomless bubbly, all for $59. Standouts include the Egg Foo Yung, with rock shrimp, Chinese sausage, and shiitake; the Green Eggs & Ham, with Serrano ham, wilted spinach, and manchego cheese; and a warm popover stuffed with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, scallions, and cream cheese. For an additional price, order from the raw bar, stocked with oysters, lobster, and caviar. Then there's dessert, from chocolate-Oreo squares and cranberry scones to homemade s'mores and chocolate and peanut butter bites. Wash it all down with mimosas, bellinis, prosecco, or house-made bloody marys. Try brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Pembroke Pines' Gold Marquess Fine Chinese Cuisine is behind 1-800-Lucky's dim sum stall, Yip. There, you'll find a selection of dim sum served in small bamboo steamer baskets. Dumplings are made from scratch every morning and filled with ingredients such as shrimp and pork, carrots, mushrooms, and savory soup. There are also steamed buns packed with roast pork or chicken, as well as crunchy spring rolls stuffed with bean noodles. Don't skip dessert: Yip serves crisp steamed buns filled with dulce de leche, and hand-rolled sesame balls loaded with red bean paste. It's best to select a few sweet and savory items to share with the table. Try it from noon to midnight Sunday through Wednesday and noon to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
This bright, airy spot near Sunset Drive in South Miami has everything you could want offered in a way that makes it seem as if it emerged from someone's kitchen. Much of this is due to the spot-on sensibilities of co-owner Brendan Connor, who skillfully imparts culinary touches only a tried-and-true chef would think up into dishes that conjure happy memories of youth. Order a large iced tea and some pimento cheese spread with corn chips ($6.95) and follow them up with filet mignon salad ($17.95), deploying a rich onion confit that marries green beans, mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette, and a goat cheese fritter. That'll set you right for the rest of the day, or you can go for the open-faced chicken BLT ($14.95) and spend your afternoon in a delicious fog.
Next to Greynolds Park in North Miami Beach, find the charming coffee shop the Alchemist. Tucked inside a complex of unassuming houses on West Dixie Highway, the quiet retreat sits inside a barn-like structure, where the shop slings fresh-baked Belgian waffles and churns out 24-hour cold brew. Walking toward the entrance, you're greeted by a garden patio lined with trees and filled with intimate tables. Inside, a coffee bar is filled with laboratory-like flasks and beakers holding various teas and coffees. The baristas are called "coffee scientists." You'll spot the shop's syphon, a contraption used to brew coffee in-house. For the cold brew, beans are roasted onsite and cold-steeped for 24 hours. Then the coffee is mixed with brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk for a rich, creamy flavor. It's poured into a giant glass dispenser where it infuses further. Try one for yourself — a barista will hand-shake the brew inside a cocktail shaker and then pour it over fist-size ice cubes in a Mason jar. Order the café's signature menu item: an open-faced sandwich on Tuscan bread ($7.99). Choices range from savory to sweet, including turkey and Swiss, smoked salmon, melted Brie, caprese, and Nutella. Alchemist is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Kay Rico is a hip take on the Spanish phrase ¡Qué rico!, which translates to "How delicious!" And when you take one sip of the café con leche ($3.50) at Kay Rico, located at the Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood, you're left proclaiming that phrase. At most places, the café con leche may be regarded as an inferior latte or a drip coffee upgrade. At Kay Rico, it's the highlight. The café con leche here is made with three kinds of bean — most recently from Honduras, Ethiopia, and Guatemala — that are hand-roasted weekly by the family-owned operation and then brewed to perfection each weekend (like the farmers' market where it's located, Kay Rico is open only Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). The drink is finished with milk, sugar (optional), and a beautiful design.