Best Fried Chicken
Photo courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant

Joe's Stone Crab is arguably Miami Beach's most famous restaurant. A sprawling seafood palace, the restaurant attracts heads of state, celebrities, and your Uncle Bob — all who come for the restaurant's stone crabs. Sure, those crustaceans are tasty, but do you know what's even better? A heaping plate of Joe's crisp, golden fried chicken. Each piece is sheer perfection — crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Peel off a piece of breading to catch the aroma. See the gentle puff of steam wafting from that tender breast. Bite into that plump thigh. It's food porn for the well-heeled. The best part? A half chicken costs just $6.95. That's not a typo. Joe's fried chicken actually costs less than an order of fries ($8.95) at the restaurant. The only thing cheaper than a plate of fragrant, warm, soulful fried chicken is a Diet Coke. So go ahead and let everyone have their crabs. You're in on Joe's real secret. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (October through June), 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, and 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Joe's closes yearly from mid-July through early October. (Exact dates vary and are announced a few days in advance.)

Readers' choice: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Ella's Oyster Bar
CandaceWest.com

When you think of an oyster bar, you generally think of wood-panelled shacks by the sea with fishnets and a wooden pirate for decor. Ella's is basically the opposite: A clean, sophisticated spot right in the middle of bustling Calle Ocho, it's a place to take a break from the heat and slurp up a dozen cool, crisp oysters. Get there between noon and 7 p.m. for oyster happy hour, when select varieties cost only $1.25. Need to brush up on your oyster knowledge? Sit at the bar and let your friendly shucker explain the subtle nuances among the bivalves. Wash them down with a local beer before going in for a lobster roll ($23), served on a toasted bun so rich and buttery you'll think you died and went to New England. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Sunday and weekdays and noon to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Malibu Farm Miami Beach
Courtesy of Malibu Farm

Inside the Nobu Eden Roc, this California-cool restaurant is reminiscent of the Pacific Coast town for which it's named. With a direct view of the Atlantic Ocean, Malibu Farm offers cauliflower-crust pizza ($22), chicken-ricotta burgers ($21), and watermelon-juice-infused vodka cocktails ($16) — not exactly what you'd expect at a swanky hotel on one of Miami Beach's most historic properties. Created by Los Angeles-based private-chef-turned-restaurateur Helene Henderson, Malibu Farm celebrates ingredient-rich plates and locally sourced items. The restaurant uses bread from Wynwood's Zak the Baker, meat from Larry Kline in Deerfield Beach, and fruits and vegetables from Produce Kingdom in downtown Miami. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The bar remains open an hour later for drinks every night.

Vista
Vista

North of Wynwood and the Design District, a massive, two-story world-cuisine-inspired restaurant and rooftop lounge filled with lush greenery serves poblano pesto gnocchi ($19) and salmon a la plancha ($26). Created by Roberto and Fiorella Blanco — the husband-and-wife duo behind downtown Miami's Fratelli Milano — the restaurant, whose name means "view" in Spanish and Italian, reflects the owners' goal to introduce Miami to a new kind of world menu. In addition to offering large indoor and outdoor dining areas, Vista boasts the neighborhood's first rooftop bar. Offering a rotating lineup of live music, it's a convenient stop for a predinner snack or a nightcap. Downstairs, Vista serves an all-day menu of items such as a sweet grilled pear salad with stracciatella and toasted pine nuts ($12); an eight-ounce burger made with a blend of sirloin, brisket, and rib-eye that's garnished with portobello mushrooms, mozzarella, and sun-dried tomato spread ($18); and a daily rotating risotto ($18 to $26), as well as Sunday brunch. Summer hours are noon to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. The rooftop bar is open from 5:30 p.m. till closing Thursday through Saturday.

Readers' choice: Ball & Chain

Smokey Trails BBQ
Zachary Fagenson

Smokey Trails chef/owner Greg Moody is a one-man machine who doesn't have time to coddle customers. He's tending to his brisket ($16 per pound), that most fickle and unforgiving piece of meat that, when seasoned, smoked, and properly rested, is smoke-ringed sustenance for the gods. Though most of Miami's barbecue options are a hybrid of grilling and smoking that seems to have originated in Georgia, Moody grew up learning to cook in Mississippi and follows the low-and-slow method that's ubiquitous throughout the South. Today, Moody maintains his unwavering commitment to excellence that makes the hulking offset smoker attached to his pickup truck Miami's Holy Grail of smoked meat. If he wants to talk, Moody will talk; otherwise, just enjoy and let the man do his work. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Readers' choice: Shorty's Bar-B-Q

Alchemy Dogs
Zachary Fagenson

Love them or hate them, it's impossible to dispute the role travel shows have played in spreading food obsessions around the globe. Few of those trends are as desirable as the Nordic hot dog. Alchemy Dogs has transported a bit of that magic to Miami, offering topnotch wieners (or smoky roasted carrots) to area farmers' markets. There's the classic Great Dane, with crispy onions, curry mayo, and dill cucumber coins ($7), and the popular Bronx, with onions, purple sauerkraut and pickled mustard seeds ($7). With Alchemy Dogs, you can get a taste of Scandinavia without leaving the South Florida heat. Find them Saturdays at the Upper Eastside Farmers Market in Legion Park on Biscayne Boulevard at NE 66th Street.

Kush
Valerie Lopez

Owner Matt Kuscher originally said his Wynwood spot, Kush, was meant to be a beer bar with a few snacks. So much for planning, because nowadays, locals and tourists fill the North Miami Avenue sidewalk outside the restaurant eager to tear into burgers like the Johnny Utah, topped with hot pastrami, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, diced white onions, cheddar cheese, and a secret sauce ($15), or the gator tacos, with garlic aioli-doused tail meat packed into crunchy corn tortillas with house pico ($15). No need for any guilt here either: All of the meat comes from Fort McCoy Ranch near Ocala and is ground in-house every day. Hours are noon to 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, noon to midnight Thursday, and noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Readers' choice: Kyu

Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina
Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina

Preparations for this $23 beast begin about a month before your craving hits. Deep in the underbelly of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach is a chilled, well-aerated room where hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of beef is dry-aged. Among the racks of ribs, a hulking cow shoulder slowly withers. Evaporation concentrates and intensifies the meat's flavor. Bacteria slowly breaks down the tough connective tissues, giving the meat a gentle texture and a deliciously nutty aroma. After a month, the huge slab is trimmed down, run through a grinder, grilled, and finally tucked into a bun with double-smoked bacon, American cheese sauce, lettuce, and secret sauce. Behold the dry-aged steak burger at Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina. Be patient. Perfection takes time. Hours are 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Readers' choice: Kush

El Rey De Las Fritas
Emily Codik

Two crucial questions plague Miami. First, when will the sea rise above the sand and sweep our fair city into the ocean? Second, is it permissible to put cheese on a frita? Conventional wisdom says no. The nearly four-decade-old El Rey de las Fritas' namesake sandwich ($4) tastes great without cheese thanks to its beef-and-chorizo patty, a handful of freshly made papitas — a recent improvement — and a squirt of ketchup. But hold your tongue when your Anglo friends feel the need to slap a slab of cheese on top of their fritas here. If they like El Rey enough, maybe you can persuade them to go without the cheese on their next visit. Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Stanzione 87
Katie June Burton

Making Neapolitan pizzas is easy, right? You'd think you'd simply need to stretch out some dough, slap on some toppings, and pop the thing into a blazing-hot brick oven for a few minutes. But at Brickell's Stanzione 87, the process is decidedly more complex. Owner Franco Stanzione orchestrates a carefully choreographed dance inside his mosaic-covered pizza oven, which can cook up to five 12-inch pies at a time, and each spot cooks differently. On a busy night, when dozens of orders for pies are buzzing into the kitchen, accidentally ripping a pie or spilling its toppings can cool one of the oven's five differentiated spots, making it unusable until it reheats. Just think about that the next time you bite into a slice of the carbonara ($17) or sausage and bell pepper ($15) pies. Hours are noon to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and noon to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Readers' choice: Steve's Pizza

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®