Walking into Tony and Jenny Chan's restaurant, Chang's Chinese, feels like you're being transported to a hole-in-the-wall Cantonese eatery in Hong Kong. Instantly, you're met with a sea of fresh fish to choose from, hand-drawn menus of daily selections on the wall, and the unforgettable sound of ingredients being tossed in a wok. Everything is made for the purpose of encapsulating the smokiness of the "wok hei" flavor profile, a key element in traditional Cantonese dishes. Menu highlights include salt-and-pepper tofu, stewed eggplant with minced pork, steamed fish, and beef hor fun. One meal at Chang's will change your perceptions of Chinese food forever.

Photo courtesy of Red the Steakhouse

For years, Miami chef Peter Vauthy has blessed the Magic City with Red South Beach, his take on the steakhouse experience. Since opening in 2008, the restaurant has become known as the place to go for high-end meat and impeccable service. Eager to offer guests a new and improved location with outdoor dining, Vauthy's new SoFi space sports an impressive wine wall and a glass-enclosed VIP room. One thing that hasn't changed: the chef's signature menu, filled with twists on classic steakhouse dishes. While you can find familiarity with an iceberg wedge salad and steak tartare, it's Vauthy's offbeat offerings — like the meat-and seafood-stuffed pasta dishes (think lobster fra diavolo or meatballs atop bucatini and smothered in his signature "Red Lead" sauce) — that truly shine. But the real lure is reserved for the carnivores –– Kansas City strips, cuts of Miyazaki wagyu, a foie gras-stuffed veal chop, hearty racks of lamb. Each can be paired with Florida creamed corn or house-made Parmesan-crusted tater tots. The bar boasts an award-winning wine list and signature handcrafted cocktails for the perfect marriage of food and drink.

Photo courtesy of Seawell Fish N' Oyster

Because brunch's bottomless bubbles

Will wash away all your troubles

Because the Florida fish fry

Is local and caught on the fly

Because you just can't be sour

During happy oyster hour.

It's one thing to go to a food hall for stone crabs and a dozen oysters. Any decent raw bar, no matter where it's located in South Florida, should stock plenty of those. But the Shores Miami goes above and beyond, filling the case in its fish market with delicacies that range from live Japanese softshell crabs to Hokkaido scallops to Florida rock shrimp. There's always whole local fish fillets ready to be cooked for you as well — or to take home to your own grill. And no joke: Its New England clam chowder rivals anything you can find up north. (The best part is that you don't have to be cold and miserable to enjoy it.)

Photo by Salar Abduaziz

Say you're presented with a whole, turmeric-infused roasted cauliflower head dressed with tahini and cilantro sauce with a large knife sticking out of it. You might suspect then you're not in for the typical Glatt kosher experience and you'd be correct. Chef Yaniv Cohen, also known as the Spice Detective, opened his first Jaffa in Mia Market, then followed it with a full-scale operation just over the county line in Hallandale. Named after a port district in Tel Aviv, Jaffa offers Cohen's Israeli-influenced intriguing takes on mezze, stuffed pitas, tagines, kebabs and chops, fish dishes, and more. Vegetable-forward and dairy-free, with items like labneh made from coconut, the fare here is both impressive and inventive, and heralds the Israeli food trend coming our way.

Photo courtesy of the Plantisserie

Open since 2015 in Miami's Little River neighborhood, the Plantisserie remains one of the best-kept secrets in Miami. The Little River vegan deli and market offers delicious organic plant-based fare, from tuna salad to lasagna to shepherd's pie, all made without meat (and you'll never miss it). The charming, plant-filled space also offers wine and beer, enhancing this hidden jewel.

Out in West Miami-Dade County lies an oasis where vegetarians, animal lovers, and friends of the Earth gather to reconnect with the planet. Aguacate Sanctuary of Love is a nature retreat meets livestock farm meets juice bar, where, while they wait to dine, visitors can take time to meditate amid the zen gardens a few paces away from the free-range chickens. At the juice bar, clean-living patrons order from a wide variety of blends and smoothies packed with natural ingredients — like fresh avocado, pineapple, carrots, and red beets. If you're looking for something more chewable, the bar offers vegetarian and vegan entrés like the "Aguacate Burger," formed out of sprouted lentils, mung and adzuki beans, quinoa, beets, flax, hemp, and chia seeds. Those with a sweet tooth can munch vegan pancakes and berries or Nutella toast with berries or bananas without feeling (too) bad about their diet. The outdoor dining area provides serene seating under a canopy of trees and colorful décor.

Karli Evans

This Miami Beach poolside bar at the Freehand Hotel gets most of its acclaim for its cocktail menu, but don't sleep on its eclectic menu of edible offerings, which feels like a gastronomical trip around the world. Middle Eastern flavors are represented with items like labneh (strained yogurt) served with za'atar and pita, a falafel burger, and shawarma fries. An assortment of Latin selections includes guacamole with tostones or chicharrones, as well as street tacos. Or you can be an all-American and choose the double-patty "Shaker Burger," topped with bacon, Cheddar, onions, pickle, and special sauce. Worldlier carnivores can explore the kimchi fried chicken sandwich or the "Griot & Pickliz" — crisp pork shoulder with a spicy Haitian slaw — while the meat-averse might indulge in an all-vegan oyster mushroom pita packed with tahini sauce, pickled cabbage, cucumbers, and harissa that oozes out of the bread pocket.

Photo courtesy of Water Lion Wine + Alchemy

In search of a sophisticated respite from South Beach? Take a chill pill at Water Lion. This intimate wine bar, tucked inside the Sagamore Hotel, feels more like a members-only club without the lame humans. Partners Filip Trajkovic and Abbe Diaz have created an inviting space to enjoy two of life's greatest pleasures, i.e., sipping wine and slurping. Diaz curates the wine selection, changing things up frequently on a list of naturals, classics, and rarities. Can't decide? Diaz and her staff will prepare a custom wine flight for you. What's with the "alchemy" in the title? Well, there's a bit of magic in the air for sure. Diaz has nicknamed this tiny ten-seater "the marriage bar" for the number of proposals that have transpired there. Regardless of whether you subscribe to this ostensibly sacred institution (marriage, not Water Lion), you can be sure to feel the vibe once you're inside.

The old adage rings true: "Things in life worth having don't come easy." Finding the Cleat takes a little perseverance. You need to get to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne and walk a few meters past the nearest parking lot, at Boater's Grill. But the trek is worth it. The Cleat is a quaint oceanside bar located at a virtual oasis near the tip of Cape Florida. The views of Biscayne Bay alone are enough to sell the experience, with beach-style lounge chairs and picnic tables in the sand set up to provide you with a relaxing, resort-style setting while you sip your cocktails. Speaking of which, the mojitos here are among the tastiest (and strongest) you'll find in the Magic City — or anywhere, for that matter.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®