The Bazaar by José Andrés

Celebrity, author, humanitarian, chef. These are just a few words that describe José Andrés. The brilliant chef has devoted his life to feeding people both at his cutting-edge restaurants and in the aftermath of disasters through his organization World Central Kitchen. His South Beach restaurant, the Bazaar by José Andrés, transports guests into a whimsical world filled with giant shell chandeliers and a bull wearing a pink wrestling mask. The rooms set the tone for the food, which can only be described as fanciful yet grounded in reality. One example is the frozen blue cheese sandwich ($14 for dinner). Basically a blue cheese ice-cream sandwich, it's Andres' reframing of a humble childhood treat into a masterpiece of sweet and savory tastes. The menu is filled with small wonders in which the chef makes the mundane magnificent: A taco is stuffed with precious Ibérico ham and Ossetra caviar ($50), a PB&J sandwich is made decadent with the addition of foie gras ($16), and a simple margarita is topped with salt "air" ($16) as if it were gently kissed by a mermaid. These twists are both playful and elegant. The Bazaar is a restaurant with which you can never grow bored — there's always something new to discover, which is the mark of a truly special establishment. Hours are 7 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Readers' choice: Byblos

Viva Brazil Signature
Bruno Fioravanti

There's a lot to like about this little piece of Brazil in Sunny Isles Beach: the good-looking crowd that streams in and out of this rustic steakhouse, the friendly waiters, and a comprehensive menu that spans the many flavors that make up the vibrant South American country's cuisine. Run by Luciano Silva and his son Victor Faleiro, Viva Brazil serves the traditional rodizio feast but still offers a high-quality assortment of sharable prime steaks and chops, such as the prime New York steak with mushroom pan jus and wild sautéed mushrooms ($52), a slow-roasted rib of beef ($96), and the half rack of domestic lamb with fig demiglace ($46). The mouthwatering menu also includes traditional dishes of the Amazonian, African, and Portuguese varieties, like the camarão com abóbora — sautéed jumbo tiger shrimp over a silky kabocha squash ($38). Complete your meal with crêpes covered in sugarcane reduction, dulce de leche, and vanilla ice cream ($16) or a generous piece of moist coconut cake ($14). You'll want to linger on the patio over a couple of strong, delicious caipirinhas ($14) made with cachaça or vodka in tropical flavors including passionfruit and strawberry before taking a stroll on the waterfront dock. Hours are noon to midnight Sunday through Thursday and noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Fiola's bar
Photo courtesy of Fiola
Fiola's bar

Miami is having its Michelin moment. Though the famed dining guide has yet to officially rate Miami restaurants, many chefs and eateries that have won the coveted distinction elsewhere have opened outposts in the Magic City. At Fiola Miami, Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning chef Fabio Trabocchi has brought his Washington, D.C. power restaurant to Coral Gables. It's a tough reservation to get, as well-heeled residents of million-dollar homes clamor to dine on $60 lobster ravioli, $140 dinner seafood platter, and wine-pairing dinners that cost hundreds of dollars. Don't get yourself in a tizzy over those prices, though — just order some pasta. A steaming dish of perfectly made cacio e pepe ($22) uses Roman shells so that the decadent, salty sheep's Pecorino and cracked black pepper can coat more space than it would with mere linguine. The restaurant also offers half-portions of all of its pastas, so order a few — or all — and share. Sure, you can splurge and get the elk with juniper berry sauce ($48) or savor a portion of Ibérico ham ($26 per two ounces), but Fiola is a surprisingly great place to have a white-collar meal on a blue-collar budget. Hours are noon to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6 to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for brunch and 6 to 10 p.m. for dinner Sunday.

Anthony's Runway 84
Photo courtesy of Anthony's Runway 84

Anthony's Runway 84, by the owner of the Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza chain, is airport-themed, but the restaurant feels more as if Epcot opened a restaurant based on the quaint Brooklyn of yesteryear. There's a dining room, but if you really want your evening's entertainment, have dinner in the lounge. False cockpit windows have you coming in for a landing as you peruse the menu filled with red-sauce Italian fare. Women with teased hair wearing leopard-print dresses and large diamonds on their red lacquered fingers drink pink martinis while Sinatra croons in the background. Your bartender takes your drink order and then sends a different server for your food order (for some reason, you'll also get separate checks for food and drinks, but just go with it). Before dinner, a basket of warm, fresh bread arrives with a dish of olive oil festooned with garlic and grated Parmesan cheese. If you're on a date, agree to both go with garlic breath out and scarf that bread down — it's worth it. Meatballs arrive with a dollop of ricotta ($12 for lunch, $14 for dinner), Sicilian peppers are stuffed with more cheese and garlic ($11), and clams oreganata ($12), baked with breadcrumbs in a garlic and lemon sauce, are authentically Sheepshead Bay. The civolata sausage is presented with broccoli di rabe and roasted peppers. The sausage is spicy, but the peppers are sweet, and the combination is classic ($15). Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 4:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Readers' choice: Louie Bossi's Ristorante Bar Pizzeria

Best Restaurant in the Design District/Midtown

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

The kitchen at Mandolin Aegean Bistro came under the leadership of chef Roel Alcudia — formerly of Michael Schwartz's Cypress Room and Jonathan Waxman's Barbuto — in 2015. Since then, things have been a little different. For starters, the kitchen is always stocked with ingredients from the likes of great South Florida farmers such as Chris French. And the menu offers a bounty of Alcudia's interpretations of Mediterranean and Greek classics that stand far and above those at most other similar restaurants. Still not sold? Along with preparing standard dishes such as fava-spinach-chickpea kofte ($24) and pillowy manti dumplings ($20) stuffed with minced beef and topped with a rich sauce of garlicky yogurt with burnt butter, the kitchen is constantly churning out specials such as cucumber salad with marinated mussels, leeks, bottarga, and herbs ($14); scallop crudo with English peas, pistachio, and chervil ($18); and dakos with baby heirloom tomatoes, feta, and oregano ($16). Hours are noon to 11 p.m. daily.

Readers' choice: Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Maria's Greek Restaurant

At this Coral Way institution, the avgolemono soup ($4.75) — made with chicken and orzo in a luscious broth of stock, egg, and lemon — is a rich and puckery affair. Maria's has been a family-run operation since 1982, passed down from its namesake matriarch to her daughter Angela to maintain the home-cooked feel. It's easy to imagine being served Maria's mousaka entrée ($16.95) at a family member's home. "Keep eating! You look hungry!" they'd say as they piled hunk after hunk of grilled pork and triangles of pita onto your plate. "Try the tzatziki!" Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Etzel Itzik Deli

Thousands of faded photographs of happy patrons double as wallpaper at this compact spot off West Dixie Highway, just steps from Aventura Mall. If you look under the glass of your table, you'll find them smiling up at you there too. It's best to get to Etzel Itzik Deli early, because the place fills up fast. Tables are close and space is tight, so there's a chance you'll make a friend with a chatty neighbor if you're dining solo. As you look through the menu (English on the left, Hebrew on the right), a friendly waitress will crowd your tiny table with a colorful arrangement of small bowls filled with Israeli salads — carrots, chickpeas, and beets, to name a few — served tapas-style. The appetizer is free and whets the palate for the menu of classic Israeli fare such as the falafel sandwich ($7.95), schnitzel ($16.95), and chicken liver with onions ($16.95). Breakfast is also available, including the green omelet ($9.95), made with scallions and parsley and served with Israeli salad and bread. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Chef/owner Stella Elishayev doesn't want you to tell your friends about her lunch spot tucked into one of Miami's mostly abandoned downtown arcade buildings. She just wants you to eat. So grab a seat at one of the shiny metal tables at Shirin Glatt Kosher and sit back while Elishayev unleashes an onslaught of kosher delights from across the Jewish diaspora. In the mood for some Israeli food? She's right there with the kitchen sink of chicken parts that is a Jerusalem mixed grill ($19.95). There's also hummus ($5.95) and Israeli salad ($7.95), of course. And for a full meal, go for plates such as plov ($19.95), a rice dish cooked with carrots and meat, or the manti ($17.95), dumplings packed with onions, beef, and lamb. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 3 p.m. Friday.

Readers' choice: Zuma Contemporary Japanese Cuisine

The Seven Dials
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

The hearty fare of Britain at first doesn't seem like it has a place in sweltering, body-conscious Miami. But in the hands of Seven Dials chef and owner Andrew Gilbert, plates such as bangers and mash ($18), oxtail soup ($12), and fish and chips ($16) meld with the tropical atmosphere. Just take a look at the last dish to find out how: Here, the mushy peas, a staple of fish and chips, would infuriate any bona fide British citizen (including Gilbert's mother) and aren't the kind you'd find at an English chip shop. Instead, a quenelle of the grassy-colored mixture with an occasional whole pea is served chilled and brightened by mint and a squirt of lemon. The beer-battered shell encasing a fat slab of corvina is crisp beyond belief. Sprinkle the whole plate — including those house-made French fries — with some malt vinegar to complete the experience. Hours are noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

Readers' choice: Eating House

Finding a quality Chinese place in Miami is almost as hard as finding a worthy slice of pizza — it's difficult but not impossible. That's why the Magic City should be forever grateful to chef Richard Hales, the owner of a handful of local restaurants including Blackbrick Chinese in Midtown. For years, Hales has maintained the restaurant's goal of offering simple, delicious, and affordable food. Serving some of the city's best shrimp and scallop dumplings ($8), explosive chili chicken wings ($15), and General Tso's (made with Florida gator) doesn't hurt either ($27). Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Readers' choice: Tropical Chinese

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®