To give you a taste of things to come, here are the best comfort-food winners in Miami.
Jr's Gourmet Burgers. There are secret weapons in the quest for umami, the so-called fifth flavor, which is a combination of savoriness and deep satisfaction. The wrongly maligned MSG is one of them. There's also tomato paste, anchovies, and the Japanese seaweed and fish broth called dashi. Chief among the ingredients, however, is mushrooms. Vegetarians for years have relied on fungi for meaty satisfaction. Jr's, the humble Miami Springs restaurant that in 2015 finally got some long-overdue recognition when it won the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's Burger Bash, deploys a panoply of everything from button mushrooms to shiitake, porcini, and oysters on its wild mushroom burger ($8.85/$9.99) to create an umami bomb tucked in a bun. Take in each bite with a pull of Swiss cheese and a few strands of sautéed onions, and you have all the makings of midday ecstasy. 7 Westward Dr., Miami Springs; 786-360-5347; jrsburgers.com.
Best French Fries: Pincho Factory. At Pincho Factory, you have to order the epic tostón burger: a beef patty, jack cheese, and a dollop of cilantro sauce presented between two crisp fried plantains. But every burger needs a companion, and Pincho Factory offers several. Try a batch of fried plantains ($3.49), or go for an order of the classic French fries, cooked to a golden brown for a nice outer crunch. Or take it up a notch with bacon cheddar ranch fries served with ranch dressing. There are also the Cajun fries, topped with grilled onions, seasoning, and Pincho's top-secret pink sauce. Or check out the bite-size sweet potato tots. They're all under five bucks each. Various locations in Miami-Dade and Broward; pinchofactory.com.
222 Taco. Taco and tequila veteran Anna Robbins' 222 Taco in North Bay Village is a Miami Vice-colored palace of tortillas and margaritas. It's also a comfortable place to partake of a well-priced meal. Tacos are categorized by land, sea, and jardin ($3 to $4 each). All — including traditional items such as carne asada and al pastor — are delicious, but it's the veggie tacos that will win you over. Cauliflower al pastor has the sweet and acidic flavor without the guilt, and hongo alambre has a lovely earthiness. The restaurant even offers vegan queso and crema so you won't miss a beat. Wash everything down with a 222 slushy margarita, a delightful frozen drink that's best described as a passionfruit piña colada with a liberal dose of tequila ($11). 1624 79th Street Cswy., North Bay Village; 833-222-8226; 222taco.com.
Mojo Donuts & Fried Chicken. Big things are happening for Mojo Donuts & Fried Chicken in West Miami-Dade. The shop appeared on celebrity restaurateur Guy Fieri's Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Also, owners announced plans to double the size of the store and open two additional locations in Miami-Dade. Mojo's success can be credited to the doughnuts, which have made the shop a raging success since it debuted in December 2016. More than three dozen varieties are lightly fried and then garnished with sprinkles, creams, or chocolate. Flavors include Nutella bacon, banana cream pie, and salted caramel cheesecake ($1.49 to $3.95). Don't leave without a bite of the chicken brûlée sandwich — a hand-rolled, caramelized bun stuffed with a tender piece of fried chicken and cheddar cheese. Doors are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 8870 Bird Rd.,Miami; 305-223-6656; mojodonuts.com.
Next Thursday, June 21, X Miami will host New Times' Best of Miami party, where you can feast on bites from more than a dozen of the area's best restaurants while sipping unlimited cocktails and jamming to live music.
So far, confirmed restaurants include 222 Taco, 107 Steak & Bar, 305 Peruvian, Amour de Miami, Diced, Doggi's Arepa Bar, Fifi's on the Beach, First Watch, Giardino's Salads, K Ramen.Burger.Beer, Hard Rock Cafe, Poke Life, Rosetta Italian Bakery, Sweet Treats by Me, and Yarumba Restaurant.
You'll also get a taste of midtown's new late-night diner, Mason. The restaurant, created by Beaker & Gray chef Brian Nasajon, specializes in comfort food, from bagels and breads to smoked deli meats and sweets.
Wash it down with beverages from Blue Martini, Canna Vinus, Cooper's Craft, Finlandia vodka, Voga Italia, Miami Cocktail, Gemma di Luna, Kombrewcha, Koloa rum, Santos sangria, Banyan Reserve vodka, Old St. Pete (spirits), Tippler’s orange liqueur, and South Beach Brewing Company.
Purchase tickets for $50 in advance, or pay $60 at the door. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit Miami Lighthouse for the Blind.
While you're at it, be sure to get your tickets to New Times' Burgerfest too. Saturday, July 7, Soho Studios will host South Florida's best burgers, including veggie varieties, traditional beef, fritas, and other creations courtesy of Madlove by Latin House, K Ramen.Burger.Beer, Batch Gastropub, and more than a dozen other restaurants.
New Times' Best of Miami Party. 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at X Miami, 230 NE Fourth St., Miami. Tickets cost $50 via 305-571-7579 or newtimesbestofmiami.com or $60 at the door.