Restaurant Reviews

Ten of our 100 favorite foods in Miami

Neither rain, nor clouds, nor a slight balminess at night stayed our tenacious team of Short Order food bloggers from the swift (or not) completion of our appointed task: to compile a list of our 100 favorite dishes and post one per day, with a dazzling photo, on the Miami New Times gastronomic blog.

It's been an ongoing five-month project — not including additional months of pre-post meetings, filled with lively debate and colorful pie charts, that defined the criteria that made a dish worthy of inclusion. Ultimately, we came up with this guideline: The writer who submitted the dish had to like it a lot.

Our lascivious list captures a mouthwatering cross section of the city's iconic and not-so-iconic eats — from haute to hot dog. And that's why the order of the entries on our blog is random: to rank them would be comparing candy apples with duck a l'oranges.

What follows is but an amuse-bouche of the full 100 courses (listed here alphabetically). Hungry for more? Visit for the complete list.

Bento Box at Naoe

The bento box changes daily at Naoe, so you never know what you're going to get. What you can bank on each time, though, is that the four-compartment box will be filled with delectable creations prepared by chef/owner Kevin Cory — maybe sea bream wrapped in napa cabbage with okra, citrus, and live aoyagi clam; maybe shako (mantis shrimp) topped with green beans and unfiltered soy-sauce miso. Soup always starts the meal, and a side of rice flavored with anything from parsnips to organic portobello mushrooms accompanies it. — Paula Niño

Naoe, 175 Sunny Isles Blvd., Sunny Isles; 305-947-NAOE (6263)

Falafel Platter at Daily Bread

Give us this day our Daily Bread,

And forgive us for gorging on so much falafel,

But it's just so divine with its crisp shell, evenly spiced bean center,

And soft yet hearty texture!

Deliver us from impostors that don't know how to make the stuff as well as you.

And accept our appreciation for the sides you add to make this an ideal meal: the red oniony salad, creamy hummus sprinkled with paprika, eggplant dip, parsley-heavy tabouli or rice, and two hulking pieces of the best damn pita bread in the city — all for only $7.99.

Our hunger comes,

Our order will be done,

And often packaged in take-out boxes.

Amen. — Riki Altman

Daily Bread, 12131 S. Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest; 305-253-6115

Fritas at El Mago de las Fritas

El Mago has spent the past 25 years at the same location in the "saguesera" (southwest area), and his fritas (Cuban hamburgers) are a perfect combination of paprika-seasoned meat, crisp onion bite, potato-stick crunch, and a Cuban bread roll soft as a cloud. You can get yours with cheese if you want, but anybody over the age of 35 might look at you with contempt for bucking tradition. — Jacob Katel

El Mago de las Fritas, 5828 SW Eighth St., West Miami; 305-266-8486

Goat Stew at Tap Tap

Every Tuesday, the folks at Tap Tap head to the airport to pick up their 200 pounds of fresh goat from California. That's a lot of goat meat to go through in a week, but kabrit nan sos, or goat stew, is a really popular dish here ($15). We can thank the cooks for making it taste so good, but we should also give gratitude to the people out West who raise the Bolinas breed of all-natural, free-range animals; you can clearly taste the difference between this eminently tender version and the tough stuff served elsewhere. Next time you're at Tap Tap — and try to make it soon — get the goat. — Lee Klein

Tap Tap, 819 Fifth St., Miami Beach; 305-672-2898

Joe's Stone Crab Claws

These critters come straight from the sea and are all pretty much cooked and served the same everywhere. But Joe's Stone Crab has the hookup to get the highest-quality, supersweet grabbers on the planet. Dip some of those meaty claws in the restaurant's signature mustard sauce, order some house coleslaw and hash browns for the table, and enjoy a truly succulent supper. — Jacquelynn Powers

Joe's Stone Crab, 11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-0365

Lechón Asado at El Palacio de los Jugos

If you're one of those folks who trust that a better meal can be had beyond the white-tablecloth spots, confirm your belief via a taste of the lechón asado at El Palacio de los Jugos. Soft, tender ropes of glistening pork taunt the tongue with their light, smoky flavor, while extras such as rings of steamed onions, bacon bits, and a huge hunk of golden pig skin grace the top. This is the Holy Grail of porkness, and for less than $8, you'll get enough meat, rice, beans, and yuca to feed anyone for three solid days. — Riki Altman

El Palacio de los Jugos, 5721 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-262-0070

Old Dirty Dawg at gastroPod Miami

This isn't your average frankfurter, but rather a homemade beef short rib hot dog nestled in a potato bun and topped with a generous serving of "stupid slaw." You can find it at chef Jeremiah Bullfrog's mobile gourmet truck, gastroPod Miami, a relative newcomer to our streets and one that's been making quite an impression. The dog is kept in a 57-to-59-degree water bath and then finished on the grill — incredibly tasty and yielding a nice snap when bitten. And that slaw? It's good stuff. — Paula Niño

Follow gastroPod Miami on Twitter and Facebook to learn where to find it next.

Spaghetti at Scarpetta

Chef Scott Conant's deceptively simple rendition bursts with a surprisingly light and luscious flavor. The firmly cooked, homemade noodles come coated in a buttery marinara sauce of plum tomatoes, crushed red pepper, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and fresh basil. Order your own bowl because you won't want to share. — Jacquelynn Powers

Scarpetta, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4660

Strawberry Shake and Cinnamon Bun at Knaus Berry Farm

The strawberries that go into the shakes at South Dade's legendary Knaus Berry Farm are grown on-site, the cinnamon buns are hand-baked with love (no really, you can actually taste it), and the German Dunker who takes your cash-only payment will make you feel as though you're in some kind of Dade County time warp. You are. Enjoy it. — Jacob Katel

Knaus Berry Farm, 15980 SW 248th St. (Coconut Palm Dr.), Homestead; 305-247-0668; open mid-November through the last Saturday in April from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; closed Sunday

Vegan Ding Dong at Lido at the Standard

Pastry chef Vanessa Lane's version of the Ding Dong tastes almost exactly like that beloved snack of your childhood. The qualification gets added because this treat is quite a bit fresher and, truth be told, a whole lot better. This Ding Dong ($8) derives from a higher-quality chocolate, doesn't contain baking powder (thus no sulfates), and, well, we'll refrain from going into the whole health shebang. Just be prepared to dig how darn delicious it is. — Lee Klein

Lido at the Standard, 40 Island Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-1717

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Riki Altman
Jacob Katel
Contact: Jacob Katel
Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein
Paula Niño
Jacquelynn Powers

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