Aran S Graham

Miami is filled with places to eat and go broke, but if you want a delicious meal for less than ten bucks, get yourself to Dogma. This MiMo District hot dog shack will dress and decorate your dog any way you like. Franks are offered in beef, turkey and vegan versions, so there's one for every taste. Try a "Texas Tommy," topped with bacon and American cheese; the "Coney Island," with spicy brown mustard and sauerkraut; or the king of dogs, the "Chicago," topped with mustard, relish, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, sport peppers, a pickle, and celery salt ($4.75 each). Add fries ($3.50), and a soda and you've got a delicious lunch for just about a ten-spot. Throw in free parking and you've got one fine deal. Open daily.

Courtesy of Sports Grill

Sports Grill is a longtime local favorite, so much so that it has seven locations spanning South Florida since the first one opened over 30 years ago. With a nondescript name like Sports Grill, this neighborhood spot is unassuming, but the wings are our pick for the city's best. They offer eight different styles, from buffalo to barbecue to jerk, plus some signature recipes, like the Miami Heat and Dale Style wings. But the classic option, and house favorite for decades, is the special grilled wings. They're dipped in a vinegar-based sauce, charbroiled with just the right amount of crispiness, then finished with a light brushing of Sports Grill's mildly spiced secret sauce, with your choice of ranch or blue cheese dressing on the side. As far as COVID-friendly offerings go, the South Miami location on Sunset Drive has outdoor seating available and also offers takeout, so you can bring the taste of football season home this year.

There's something about the fried fowl from the Dominican Republic, better known as pica pollo, that hits like nothing else. Perhaps it's the aroma: Straight chicken fat, and none of the whiffs of burnt oil you'll find in other places. Maybe it's the skin, not at all greasy, and shatteringly crisp. And the meat — oh, the glorious meat! Just imagine if before he created his monster, Dr. Frankenstein put in some time crossing chickens with the ultra-fatty cows of Kobe, Japan. (Yes, it's that juicy.) Jacqueline's is just one part of a family operation that stretches across the city, filling fried-chicken freaks' needs with simple, affordable fare that's a world away from the high-priced imports that have invaded our shores in recent years. Don't even wait until you get back to your place. Hit a piece of chicken with some hot sauce when you get back to your car, savor, then cool your tongue with a bite or two of fried green plantains before heading home.

Photo courtesy of Finka

Finka Table & Tap, West Kendall's holy grail, may specialize in Cuban-Korean-Peruvian fusion, but it's a sleeper hit for where to find out-of-this-world mac 'n' cheese in Miami. What might possibly be the most comforting food in the world is taken to another loving level at Finka Table & Tap. It's not overly fancy or showy, but the mountain-size mound o' mac at Finka ($10) features three different kinds of cheese, creating a sauce that's just the right mix of gooey and creamy. Then it's topped with carne asada, bacon, and chopped scallions to add a slight crunch to the sizzling skillet of cheesy goodness. Then the most crucial component that sets this mac 'n' cheese apart: aji amarillo. A well-known ingredient in Peruvian cuisine, this yellow pepper adds a kick that sends this dish over the top, creating the equivalent of a warm hug with every single bite.

With two locations and nine delicious kinds of ramen on the menu — including curry, dandan, and vegetarian, in addition to the house and spicy miso flavors — Ichimi was riding a wave of popularity when the pandemic hit. But the restaurant didn't let coronavirus stop it from serving loyal customers its signature bowls filled to the brim with broth, noodles, proteins, egg, and vegetables. Pivoting smartly, it started packaging cooked ingredients in to-go bowls and signature broths in separate containers, so nothing would get soggy along the way. And management made the equally good decision to use its own (free) delivery service, which never dawdles. When you want Ichimi ramen — which you do, often, once you've had it — you get Ichimi ramen. Pandemic or no pandemic.

Photo courtesy of La Mar at Mandarin Oriental

Though it's a common item on many a Miami menu, ceviche is a dish that's deceptively difficult to execute. At La Mar inside Brickell Key's Mandarin Oriental hotel, the classic Peruvian creation is the star of the show. La Mar was brought to Miami by chef Gastón Acurio, who's often referred to as the godfather of Peruvian cuisine. Here, Acurio's prodigy Diego Oka executes ceviches that are both delicious and a visual masterpiece on the plate. Options include ceviche carretillero with grouper, shrimp, octopus, crispy calamari, sweet potato, choclo, cancha, and spicy leche de tigre ($23); an Asian-inspired tiradito nikkei made with tuna tataki tiradito, green onion, tamarind leche de tigre, sesame butter, and pickled vegetables ($19); and the stunningly inventive tiradito bachiche, a dish inspired by Oka's travels that's made with fluke tiradito, 24-month Parmesan leche de tigre, colatura, garlic chips, and basil oil ($19). You won't find Parmesan cheese in any traditional ceviche, but here it brings together a symphony of flavors that play on your taste buds with orchestral precision.

Photo courtesy of Taquiza

What started as a takeaway taco stall on the ground floor of a South Beach hostel has morphed into a small empire that now spans the city. Despite it all, Taquiza still draws its strength from the blue-corn tortillas chef/owner Steve Santana began churning out years ago. Today, the standbys remain the standbys. The carnitas (three for $10.50) are delightfully juicy, the al pastor ($12) offer delicate sweetness and smoke, and the chapulines ($15) combine tart spice and crunch with a heap of rich guacamole. Of course, one must never forget the totopos ($7). These chips, best paired with guacamole, are the Mexican equivalent of a croissant — all flake and crunch outside, and pillowy, rich, and moist within. You'll never look at a chip the same way again.

Valerie Lopez

Purists say it's OK to put a fried egg atop your frita but a slice of American cheese is a sin. One wonders, then, what purists might say about the frita at Matt Kuscher's Wynwood craft-beer-and-burger joint adorned with a graffiti mural of Kaptain Kush, Miami's one and only weed-powered superhero. Here the frita ($15) holds on to its chorizo-beef patty but is slicked with guava jelly and melted Gruyère cheese and stuffed with potato sticks and crisp bacon. The fluffy Cuban roll is swapped out for pressed sweet bread that arrives with a buttery crunch. Blasphemy, you say? Nonsense. We call it progress, we call it delicious. And then we call a cardiologist.

Isadora Gaviria Photography

A good Venezuelan-style arepa should offer an unleavened maize crunch and be neatly packed with fillings. But once you pick it up, it should also be something that you just can't put down, for two reasons: 1) because it's actually bursting at the seams, and 2) because that stuffing is just so tasty, it's practically addictive. La Latina's arepas fit those prerequisites, no matter what you choose: black beans and plantains, shredded beef and cheese, or chicken salad and avocado. In pre-COVID times, the modest shop offered these oh-so-satisfying sandwiches, a great post-club/pre-hangover remedy, practically 24/7 on the weekends. Now, like so many other things, we have them only until curfew. We soak up the booze with them — er, celebrate their quality — regardless.

We've all been there. You spot it sometime around 11 a.m. in the lunchroom. It's that three-hour-old, lukewarm tray of limp croquetas. You circle a couple of times. No one's watching, right? Once sure of some degree of privacy, you continue your loop, slowly munching on mediocre croquetas until an almost embarrassing number of them vanish. Well, this ain't that. The croquetas de bacalao ($2.50) from this longstanding cafeteria that now finds its surrounded by a growing number of apartment towers are things to be enjoyed hot, fresh, and with pride. You know it's true because they're not always available. But when they are, each hefty cylinder is packed with rich, salty cod and bound up with potato and spices. They're best when freshly fried with a squirt of lime juice. They demand a certain amount of respect. These are not side-piece croquetas. These are not something to grab at the last minute and leave somewhere like discarded fast-food wrappers. These are fritters of the gods, and they will indeed lead to someplace those cold ones consumed in hiding could never show you.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®