Top Five Miami Snack and Drink Pairings for Summer

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Hoo-boy, I tell you. It's so hot outside I saw a chicken lay an omelet. It's so hot the cows are giving evaporated milk. Why, it's so hot even Mitt Romney seems cool.

And it's so hot that it's time to think about where to get refreshing food and drink to help sustain us through the day (we mean food-and-drink in a one-stop-shop sort of way).

Here are five unbeatable snack/drink combos to chill on:

5. Hummus and smoothies at Carrot Express in South Beach
Gourmet Carrot garnered a large share of fans who enjoyed the healthful salads, sandwiches, and smoothies served at the old shop on West Avenue in South Beach. Last year the Laufer family moved its business to the Texaco station on Alton Road at 18th Street in SoBe. It's easy to miss from the street, but in the rear of the Texaco is the Carrot Express counter -- serving the same old favorites. We suggest hummus as the snack, mainly because its made well here. But really, any of the salubrious salads will amount to a light, heat-beating meal at a great price ($7 is about the most you'll pay for anything). The smoothies are a steal in terms of price -- $3.50 brings a strawberry smoothie with fresh-squeezed apple juice, banana, honey, and ice. Fresh-squeezed juice is incredibly refreshing too, and the price is the same $3.50. Plus, while you're cooling off indoors and sipping your reviving tonic, you can be getting your car washed.

4. Shackburger and frozen custard shake at Shake Shack
Hamburgers and hot dogs are synonymous with summer. You can get both at Shake Shack, but we recommend the former. The Shackburger ($4.75 for a single, $7.25 for a double) brings a hormone-and-antibiotic-free beef patty of freshly ground sirloin and brisket, capped with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and Shack sauce (a spicy mayonnaise-based spread). As for the frozen custard shake -- it's the best shake in town, and who doesn't crave that feeling of a smooth, creamy custard avalanche rolling down a parched throat and leaving a coating of ice in its wake? The ice-cream-thickened shakes come in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and a couple of other flavors that don't seem as refreshing (caramel, peanut butter). They're $5.15 each, which ain't cheap, but it's still worth the extra 50 cents to make it a malted.

3. Carnitas de cerdo tacos and horchata at Mi Rinconcito Mexicano
Mi Rinconcito is cool anytime of year, but the mix of tacos and horchata is especially effective in turning down the body temperature. Any taco will do, although we're partial to the soft corn tortillas rolled around pulled morsels of marinated roast pork (three for $5). Onions and cilantro are folded in, and a poke of hot sauce will help you sweat. That's part one of the cooling system. Part two is the horchata, a scintillating chilled rice-and-cinnamon drink -- let's just say there's a reason Mexicans drink this beverage during the heat of day.

2. Oysters on the half-shell and draft beer at the River Seafood & Oyster Bar
The eight to ten types of oysters at River Oyster Bar are farm-raised, and there are few more uplifting quaffs than these salacious dumplings of the sea sitting in a shell of oyster liquor. Make it a double quaff: Pair them with a pull of Boddington's Pub Ale from England ($5), or with Shiner Bock on tap from Texas ($6). From 4:30 to 7 each night, select draft beers are $3, and oysters go for half-price. Those jet-setters in the Hamptons have nothing on you.

1. Ceviche and homemade mint-limeade at My Ceviche
Why, I was just saying how much I like this place, and sure enough, it fits atop this refreshment list like a clean, bright cilantro leaf atop ceviche. Fresh, local fish (or shrimp or octopus) macerated in citrus with onions, sweet potato, corn-on-the-cob -- with corn tortilla chips and salsa alongside. There are six styles of ceviche to choose from; besides the traditional, there's also a spicier aji amarillo ceviche with mint and the namesake peppers, and a coconut water ceviche that could conceivably be packaged as a hydrating solution. Medium-size ceviche is $11.75, large is $14.75, and the incredibly scintillating mint-flecked limeade is $2.75. Pucker up!

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