Top Five Spanish Restaurants: Beyond Best Of Miami 2011

Andalus made off with our Best Spanish Restaurant prize in the recent Best Of Miami issue. We have other recommendations in this arena. Cinco más, to be precise. (And if you don't see your favorite Spanish restaurant listed, it may just be because we're saving it for 5 Best Tapas, which was won this year by El Bocaito).

5. Casa Juancho

It's like a cliché of a Spanish restaurant, replete with brick walls, tiled floors, and strolling musicians...but that's part of the fun. Among our favorites at this Calle Ocho institution (owned by the Valls family of Versailles and La Carreta fame) are the platter of mixed fried seafoods and the garlicky sauteed shrimp (gambas al ajillo) -- but we almost always stick with the signature paella Valenciana ($28 per person), bottle of Rioja wine, and crema Catalana for dessert.

4. Cerveceria 100 Montaditos
This isn't a formal Spanish restaurant but rather tenders one hundred little sandwiches at between $1 and $2.50 -- which, with its Spanish Mahou 5 Estrellas beer on tap makes it reminiscent of an authentic tapas bar. The vibe is similar -- regular and tall-top tables in a modern pub atmosphere with flat screen televisions accessing soccer games and such. There are 200 locations worldwide, but this midtown Montaditos is America's first. Thin wisps of Serrano ham drizzled with olive oil and plunked into a warm, crusty mini-baguette -- that's as Spanish as it gets, and at one dollar it's a damn good deal to boot.

3. Por Fin Restaurant & Lounge
Owner Carlos Centurion pulled out all the stops upon opening this beautiful two-story restaurant on the corner of Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Anastasia Avenue in Coral Gables. That was in 2008, and talented chef Marc Vidal turned it into among the very best Spanish establishments in South Florida. Vidal has since left, and Por Fin's food isn't quite as razor sharp, but the kitchen still kicks out some very impressive cuisine. Start with silky gazpacho Andaluz ($7) and segue into the stellar seafood specialties ($18 to $28). There's an extensive selection of regional wines from Spain. First floor is more formal, upstairs lounge gets lively, and there's al fresco dining on both levels (the patios upstairs are more isolated and romantic). Finish by sampling a few of the wide range of Spanish cheeses.

2. Soleá
Executive Michael Gilligan has kept Soleá in the W Hotel at the forefront of our finest Spanish restaurants. We love the Catalan tomato-rubbed country bread as a start, followed by some pica-pica (little bites) -- such as patatas bravas (fried potatoes with aioli), fried baby whitebait fish with fried egg, and croquetas de jamón. Calasparra-based paellas, fresh seafoods, and pastry chef Antonio Bachour's Manchego cheesecake are just a few more reasons for dining here.

1. Delicias de España
We just love this bustling market/bakery/cafe/restaurant that Ernesto Llerandi and wife Isabel Miranda opened in 1997. Over the years they have expanded, added tables, brought in more and more imports from Spain...and now it just cannot be beat for a full Spanish breakfast (like eggs with Serrano ham); lunch (daily deal brings appetizer, main course, and dessert); merienda (snacks); coffee break; and dinner. Fish such as besugo (sea bream) and lubina (sea bass) are flown in twice weekly from Spain, and sizzled on the griddle with lots of garlic and olive oil; potatoes on the side are delectable and speckled with parsley. Specialties from the owner's native Asturias region abound; don't miss the fabada Asturiana, a hearty stew of white beans, pork shoulder, and sausage. Delicias de España is a one-of-a-kind place that every foodie should visit at least once.

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