Best Pizza 2020 | Pizza Tropical | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Photo courtesy of Pizza Tropical

The pizza universe has ballooned to a beast of epic proportions. From technically perfect Neapolitan pies to ultra-crisp ones in the style of Brooklyn to the thick, chewy grandma (also known as Detroit) pies — it seems we've forgotten the humble pie that, while it might not rest upon the upper echelons of culinary achievement, is quite capable of providing speedy, utilitarian delight the likes of which are unmatched, and never for five bucks a slice. Such joy awaits in a blood-red and taxicab-yellow bungalow on Gramps' patio, where at lunchtime during the week a five-spot buys you not one but two slices, plus a Coke. The crust has just the right crunch. The cheese is the stretchy lava of your dreams. The sauce is fragrant and barely sweet. Sure, the joint's cheeky motto is "Hot Pizza, Cuban Coffee, Bogus Claims," but what you really get is a flashback to the days when life, and pizza, were simpler.

Photo by Victor Mayoli/@ThankfulMonster

What started as a weekly popup at Box Elder now can be found at the Citadel food hall. A shameless play on the United States Postal Service, United States Burger Service is the king of killer burgers in Miami. These burgers have garnered a cultlike following in a relatively short time period. Everything from the potato bun to the cheese sauce is made from scratch by husband-and-wife team Michael Mayta and Keily Vasquez. The pun-filled menu often features over-the-top specialty creations that rotate weekly, but the "Ground" (a single patty with "government cheese" and "priority" sauce for $7.50) and "2-day" (a double patty option for $10) is where it's at. The smashed patty has just the right amount of crisp while remaining juicy. The star of the show is the house-made cheddar-fontina sauce labeled "government cheese" — it's decadent, flavorful, and nothing like what government-assisted funding would provide. Add some "Insurance, " AKA thick-cut fries ($3.50) to complete the experience.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®