North Miami Beach is extremely confusing. First, its name is a misnomer. It is not part of Miami Beach (or North Beach) and no longer has a beach in its city limits. It is also distinctly different from neighboring, similarly named North Miami.
Though Miami doesn't have a Chinatown, Thai Town, Japantown, Little Italy, or Little Lebanon, North Miami Beach comes close. It is here that ethnic food -- beyond Little Havana -- intersects and offers a more varied and authentic taste of the world in the 163rd/167th Street stretch than almost anywhere else in Miami-Dade.
We present you with our countdown of the best places to eat in North Miami Beach, and it spans the globe, with Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Italian, Honduran, American, and Uzbek food represented.
See also: Ten Best Restaurants in North Miami
10. Little Saigon
Miami may not be a soup city, but you better save a big bowl of Little Saigon pho for a rainy day. The broth -- laced with star anise and cinnamon and dotted with thin slices of rare beef, rice noodles, raw onions, and freshly torn herbs and peppers -- is a doozy. At $6.50 for a regular bowl and $8.50 for a large, it's a fully comforting meal that doesn't break the bank. This restaurant has been serving Vietnamese food in North Miami Beach since 1996, so sit down with a bowl of pho, some lettuce-wrapped chả giò, and a fresh coconut.
9. Albie's Sub
The fortunate son of the famed Subs on the Run has spawned his own sub shop and brought quality and creative sandwiches to North Miami Beach. A simple steak sandwich ($5.69 for an eight-inch or $6.99 for an 11-inch) gets the works with grated provolone, potato sticks, and oil and vinegar. Beyond a standard sub, you can get a burger sandwichfied, like your bacon cheeseburger patty cut into hunks and placed on a soft roll with mayo and mustard.
Curious what constitutes a typical Honduran breakfast? Head to Jennifer's with $7 and sample the fare -- steak, beans, rice, plantains, a hunk of cheese, a wedge of avocado, and a slice of lime. This neighborhood joint has the goods and a dish that does the unthinkable: it beats a breakfast burrito. The baleada with chorizo ($4.50) comes in a pillowy tortilla with eggs and beans that's folded in half. It's a half-moon full of flavor.
Forget the fancy gourmet grocery store; take Laurenzo's, with its charming, Old-World feel and funky dining area. When the season is right, the stone crab bisque is one of Laurenzo's best-loved delicacies. And the rainbow cookies and cannoli -- fuggedaboutit.
Near the border of North Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach stands an Uzbek restaurant that must be experienced. This oasis offers a mesmerizing mural of a woman's eyes floating above a desert and an interesting menu that blends a collection of cuisines. A favorite is the cheburek ($4.95), a deep-fried crepe folded and stuffed with delicate lamb and onion. Lagman ($7.50), an Uzbek soup with chopped lamb, homemade noodles, vegetables, and Asian spices, is another dish that's not to be missed.
Bright-red ducks hanging -- beaks and all -- and fish tanks stocked with fresh shellfish are commonplace in Chinatowns across the country, but in Miami, King Palace is a rarity. The red pork strips are a delicacy, as are the dumplings in the wonton soup. If you stop by during lunch hours, partake of the lunch specials with an entrée -- roast pork fried rice and a crisp egg roll for less than $10.
This market and deli features a few tables in the middle, a Middle Eastern grocery store to your right, and a deli to your left. Head to the deli counter, where you'll likely encounter Sam, who'll make you smile (if not laugh) as he fills your pita or makes you a platter. You can get a sandwich with everything from hummus to carved shawarma ($5 to $6), or you can go for a plate for double the price. We prefer the plates because the sides and salads behind the case are the best part. There's velvety hummus -- say yes to paprika sprinkles -- and baba ghannouj with some smokiness.
3. Panya Thai
You won't find standard pad thai offerings at this different and delicious spot. With offal oddities like pig intestine soup, Panya is not for the squeamish. But sophisticated, worldly gourmands will appreciate rich curries full of depth and delightful pan-fried mussels in a crêpe over bean sprouts with cilantro and fish sauce.
Kabobji is so much more than kebabs. The lentil soup, the fattoush salad, the raw and the fried kibbeh, and the dolmas are just for starters. Every new menu item at this friendly strip-mall restaurant is better than the last. But the beef shawarma, with its liquid gold garlic sauce, is on another level. The tender, flavorful meat packs a punch in freshly baked pitas.
When you think of great Japanese restaurants, you probably imagine sushi bars with fresh fish leaving you feeling light and airy. Yakko-San is not one of those places. In fact, it might take several visits to understand it. First, get there late. Second, indulge in the dishes that use a deep fryer. The crispy pork onion salad ($7.50) -- which perks up deep-fried morsels of pork with refreshing cherry tomatoes, radishes, red onions, and watercress -- and the crispy bok choy ($6.50) will make you see why this restaurant is number one.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst
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