True Loaf
Zachary Fagenson

True Loaf is the bakery that almost wasn't. Owner Tomas Strulovic was in his 30s and working on a lucrative career in finance when he decided to drop the comfort of the high life for overnight baking shifts. Though things were shaky at first, Strulovic quickly hit his stride and today remains the city's leading purveyor of everything from sourdough loaves ($9.60) to croissants ($4.28 to $5.35) to cookies ($3.21 to $4.28) to ciabatta loaves ($3.21). His loaves of challah ($9) sell out in a snap Fridays, so be sure to show up early. Hours are 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Readers' choice: Zak the Baker

Night Owl Cookies
Night Owl Cookies

In 2017, Night Owl churned out more than 750,000 cookies, averaging about 2,000 per day and ringing up more than $1.5 million in sales. Then, in June 2018, owner Andrew Gonzalez expanded into a larger, 2,000-square-foot space on SW Eighth Street, potentially breaking the record for the largest cookie shop in the nation. (Guinness World Records will send Gonzalez a certificate in the next few months, he says.) In Night Owl, Gonzalez has built a multimillion-dollar business by selling doughnut-size cookies in dozens of flavors starting at $2.50 each. Most nights, lines of eager customers hungry for Ave Marias — made with guava dough, white chocolate chips, and cream cheese frosting — swirl around his Calle Ocho storefront. Other popular cookie orders include s'mores, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and the Dirty Diana, in which chocolate dough is stuffed with Nutella. In 2019, denizens of central Miami-Dade should be able to skip the drive out west: Gonzalez plans to open a Night Owl location in Wynwood soon. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Ricardo Trillos
Cao Chocolates
Ricardo Trillos

Chocolate sales, which account for $20 billion a year nationwide, have hit a sweet spot in the past few years, according to the National Confectioners Association. In 2017, sales of premium and dark chocolate grew 6 percent and are expected to continue to rise. It's no wonder that bean-to-bar chocolate shops have sprouted in Miami, including Cao Chocolates, a spot near Pinecrest owned by self-taught chocolatier Ricardo Trillos. His small charming store is stocked with dozens of brightly wrapped cacao products. Everything is crafted onsite, from chocolate bars made with cacao from different countries to dark-chocolate-covered almonds, truffles, and bonbons filled with toasted coconut or almond chocolate cream. His chocolate is used at restaurants such as Edge Steak & Bar and at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. It's also sold at Books & Books and Miami International Airport. In addition, Trillos and his wife host chocolate-and-wine-tastings as well as monthly chocolate-inspired dinners. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Garcia Nevett Chocolatier de Miami
Courtesy of Garcia Nevett

In 2012, sisters Susana and Isabel Garcia Nevett, who worked as chocolatiers in Venezuela, launched Garcia Nevett (formerly Cacao Art) inside their home shortly after immigrating to Miami. Unlike other chocolate shops, which brand themselves as bean-to-bar, the sisters use chocolate made from Venezuelan cacao as a base for dozens of treats, such as cookies, cakes, bonbons, and fudge jars ($3 and up). They also serve coffee and hot chocolate, and they make marshmallows and homemade caramel using honey from Key West. The Nevetts have won three silver medals in the Americas competition at the International Chocolate Awards, which recognize excellence in fine chocolate products around the world. The winning items, which can be found in their store, include a Florida Keys sea salt ganache, an orange honey caramel bonbon, and the Patanemo ganache — a bonbon made with single-origin cacao from a small town in Venezuela ($6 and up). Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Dasher & Crank
Photo courtesy of Dasher & Crank

Wynwood ice-cream shop Dasher & Crank has created more than 200 flavors in a little over a year. Last April, the light-pink storefront, marked by a glowing neon sign in the shape of an ice-cream cone, debuted with a whimsical lineup of ice creams, including raspberry wasabi sorbet and mint with activated charcoal ($5 for one scoop, $7.50 for a double, and $10 for a triple or a pint). Owner Daniel Levine continues to introduce new creations and often joins forces with local spots such as Miami Smokers, Zak the Baker, El Bagel, and Per'La for local collaboration flavors. Past favorites have included Avocado Toast, featuring lightly toasted Zak the Baker sourdough and an avocado swirl, and Maple Bacon, made with cured meat from Miami Smokers. Guests can also swing by for a few of the shop's classics, such as vanilla, the Chocolate Crank, and Chicken and Waffles, which mixes chunks of chicken and waffles from the nearby restaurant Kush. Prices start at $5. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday

Best Key Lime Pie
Photo courtesy of Fireman Derek's Bake Shop

Firefighter-turned-pie-maker Derek Kaplan runs one of Miami's most popular dessert shops, Fireman Derek's. At his Wynwood flagship, he serves a signature lineup of sweets ($3 and up), which includes his best-selling crack pie (named for its addictive quality) as well as cakes and coffee. But Kaplan is best known for offering the Magic City's tastiest key lime pie ($7.55 per slice and $35 for a whole pie). It was one of the first flavors when the shop opened in 2014, and after all these years, the key lime pie remains wildly popular. Each slice strikes a harmonious balance between sweet and tangy and is served with a generous scoop of real whipped cream. Hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Also check out Kaplan's new shop in Coconut Grove.

Pink Pie
Pink Pie

There's a new place to dig into freshly made pies in Wynwood. This past January, Miami's Pink Pie opened its first brick-and-mortar mere steps from Wynwood Walls. The concept, which launched in September 2016 at Hollywood's Yellow Green Farmers Market, specializes in three-inch sweet and savory pies ($3 each). Guests can sample a dozen permanent and rotating flavors, some filled with Oreo and Nutella, guava and cheese, key lime, or salted caramel, and others come topped with onion and duck confit. Limited-edition favorites include tiramisu, caramel pretzel, and hot cocoa. The s'mores pie, which is smoked using hickory wood and filled with burnt marshmallow cream to re-create a campfire experience, is among Pink Pie's best sellers. Vegan and gluten-free varieties — such as matcha and passionfruit chocolate — are also available. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Nico Norena, known online as the Succulent Bite, is not just any Instagrammer but a member of an elite club of food photographers who can earn thousands of dollars for posting a single picture of a piece of cake or an ice-cream sundae. With more than 400,000 followers, Norena posts elaborate photos and videos of overindulgent foods, ranging from a graham cracker dunked into a piping-hot skillet of s'mores, to the step-by-step process of making wood-fired pizza. Though Norena won't disclose how much money he makes from his posts, large followings can equate to hefty sums of cash for so-called influencers. Because of the attention elite Instagrammers command, the value of sponsored posts can range from $700 to more than $50,000. According to some estimates, an influencer can expect about $100 per 10,000 followers.

Laid Fresh
Photo by Anastasyia Yurkevich

Michael Lewis believes breakfast should start with raw ingredients, not from a bag or the freezer. That's why at Laid Fresh, his all-day breakfast spot, the potato rolls for breakfast sandwiches such as the sausage and cheese ($9), the soft scrambled with Brie and avocado ($9), and the egg-topped BLT ($9) all start with actual potatoes. Russet potatoes are boiled, cooled, and milled and then combined with flour, a starter, and just a touch of sugar, yielding a bun that combines the puffy delight of a potato roll with the rich, airier crumb of brioche. There's house-made sausage, made with the shoulders and bellies of North Carolina-grown Cheshire pigs, designed to mimic Jimmy Dean's without the nitrites. And the American cheese sauce recalls Cheez Whiz or individually wrapped Kraft singles, but it's punched up with fontina, Parmesan, and a few other higher-end ingredients. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Readers' choice: All Day

Deck Sixteen
Deck Sixteen

Take your four-legged friend to the pet-friendly brunch at Deck Sixteen, located on the third floor of the Hyatt Centric in South Beach. The indoor/outdoor restaurant, which serves brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, offers bottomless mimosas and bloody marys ($15), live music, and a robust selection of sweet and savory items with a Mediterranean twist. Look for Deck's brunch burger, layered with charred poblano relish, avocado, and a fried egg ($14), and French toast stuffed with guava and ricotta and showered in coconut rum maple syrup ($12). If bottomless drinks aren't your style, you can sip pup-inspired cocktails such as the Wooftini, the Bark Collins, and the Mutt Mojito instead. After drinks, take your pup to Wooftop Park, located next door to Deck Sixteen. The rooftop dog park is the first of its kind in Miami Beach.

Readers' choice: Tap 42

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®