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EL CARAJO: The big stink about this hidden Miami restaurant

EL CARAJO: The big stink about this hidden Miami restaurant


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Bacalao-stuffed Piquillo Peppers

Dirty words can be good sometimes. That is, when they have another meaning. Though to most who speak Spanish (myself included), you grew up hearing carajo (meaning crap or hell) as a cursing exclamation: Vete para carajo! So it's a risk when a business, moreover, a restaurant where the last thing you want to taste is shit, appropriates the name as its own. But in this instance, El Carajo, a Miami Spanish tapas and wine spot, grabs our off-put attention and then wafts it under our noses so we can smell those roses. Namely, waking us up with the scent of dual meaning: their carajo refers to the lookout basket at the top of a Spanish ship's mast

If that does not pique your interest, then they've got back-up: a disguise. This full-service restaurant with wooden tables, a delectable bakery, an impressive meat and cheese case, and a glass-paned wine cellar, operates inconspicuously behind the literal facade of a BP gas station market. You won't know it's there unless you know it's there. Thus, the speakeasy allure is enough to draw the loyals and rookies alike.

But I'm not quite sure this schtick was enough to keep me roped to this ship. While the service excellent and the air graciously absent of stuffiness, only a few dishes excelled and all were overpriced for their sizes. Any bottle of wine lining the walls is yours to gargle with your meal, but at a price: $10 corkage in addition to the sticker value. A tickling bargain no longer.

Pulpo al la Gallega (Octopus)

The bacalao-stuffed piquillo peppers ($10.50) satisfied with their salty bite rounded by the orange cascades of smokey pimenton sauce. Also parading paprika but not as successfully were the disappointing slivers of octopus ($14.50) which failed to identify themselves as such, but rather tastelessly surrendered to the bright red dust.

Sabor was also absent in the fufu de cangrejo ($10), a dish that held such promise in my mind, but fell flat on my tongue. Plantains and crab, oft a match made in heaven and two of my favorite things, quizzically did not harmonize, but instead canceled eachother out to a flavorless void.

On the upturn, truly sensational were the camarones al albarino ($15). A full bed of fluffy greens cradled supple shrimp drenched not overzealously in a complexly rich tomato sauce with melted shreds of delicate white queso. If you dunked your finger in it that glorious sauce, I would eat it. Without question.

Well cooked was the grilled filet of corvina, but so small it was, the two shrimp served alongside almost dwarfed it. Plated with a few rustic vegetables at $16, it was a tough pill, er fish, to swallow. The same story can be told for the duck breast special, a mere fist size with a few well-crisped yucca fries. The taste was on point, but hardly left a dent in the stomach.

I will insist on ordering the guava cheesecake ($6) if nothing else. The creamy layers of rich and fruity and sweet and savory and crumbly belt for your favor. The Santiago crumb cake ($7) was also satisfying with the nutty crunch of an almond crust and a powdered sugar coating. And so quickly does the crunch slacken when the viscous sherry it is served with is waterfalled into a porous bed of soaked cake.

Though El Carajo can't be taken at face value (a gas station food mart it is not), it should be taken with a grain of salt. Expect not a restaurant with fully expressed dishes. Rather, if you keep your visit quaint with robust wine, savory cheese, and saccharine postres, all the rest of the carajo won't count.

El Carajo

2465 SW 17th Ave, 33145

305.856.2424

All photos by Rebecca Kritzer


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.


Miami&aposs Best Restaurants

The River Oyster Bar

650 S. Miami Ave.
Miami
305-530-1915
www.therivermiami.com

The name might be misleading: Yes, there may be a dozen varieties of fresh oysters being shucked on any night at this sophisticated Brickell Village area hot spot. But Chef David Bracha also stretches way beyond shellfish and into the realm of seafood (with a terrific monkfish paella), beef (churrasco, braised short ribs), and lamb chops (with arugula walnut pesto). A fine wine list and lots of specialty brews on tap served by longtime waiters who know their stuff make it a perennial favorite for foodie locals in the area. The upscale tavern setting makes it a comfortable place to go with the family, and it is priced like a real neighborhood joint it&aposll almost never cost more than $50 a person.

Hiro&aposs Yakko-San

17040-46 W. Dixie Highway
Miami
305-947-0064
www.yakko-san.com

This is the spot where local sushi chefs go after-hours for a real Japanese meal. Here it is all about hard-to-find, authentic Japanese fare like triggerfish jerky, sake steamed clams, natto kitsune yaki (fermented tofu stuffed into toasted tofu skin), and kaki-age (shredded burdock root with carrots). Anything that comes out of the boiling oil here—home of the very best tempura in town—is recommended. You can watch the chefs if you sit at the eat-in bar (an alternative to the bustling dining room behind the blacked-out windows). Though menu items are as minuscule as the tiny dried sardines, starting at just $3 a piece, tabs can add up when you start ordering large whole fish (like hog snapper, a very sought-after local fish). Check the blackboard for best local catches and daily by-the-pound pricing. Beware: They don&apost take reservations&or attitude. But it&aposs open late, usually until 3 a.m. on weekends.

AltaMar

1223 Lincoln Rd.
Miami Beach
305-532-3061
www.altamarrestaurant.com

A South Beach sleeper with a dozen fresh fish specials on the menu every night, this quasi-Italian seafood bistro is a great alternative to the overpriced hustle and bustle found at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, where all the chains have taken root. Chef–owner Claudio Giordano is a stickler for freshness, having spent time on the water himself as an avid amateur fisherman. A native of Alvignano near Naples, he does a fine job despite his tiny, generic space, which spills out onto the sidewalk patio most nights. Fish selections often number more than a dozen, with connoisseurs&apos selections of tripletail, wahoo, pompano, golden tile, and yellowjack for about $30 a piece. Ideal for first-daters and locals who don&apost want to cook at home.

El Carajo International Tapas & Wines

Hidden in the rear of a Citgo gas station on Highway U.S. 1, this popular tapas bar and Spanish restaurant is as good as it is unexpected. Just steps from where you pay for your gas and buy lotto tickets is a Moorish-style archway leading to an indoor courtyardlike setting where a half a dozen tables and wrought-iron chairs form a truly transporting restaurant. The simple menu includes delicious imported sliced meats, cheeses, and olives as well as tasty codfish fritters, piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao, tasty Galician-style octopus salad, chorizo in wine sauce, lobster empanadas, gambas a la plancha, and grilled sardines. Another surprise comes in the form of a collector&aposs dream wine list of some 1,500 bottles, which includes lots of Spanish and Italian labels and some rare vintages. A more-than-fair $10 corkage fee makes it easy to bring a bottle rather than have a glass of Sangria, though that is pretty good too. You&aposll spend more on a full tank of gas than on a meal here.

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam Grill

3067 Grand Ave.
Coconut Grove
305-444-0216
www.jaguarspot.com

The ideal way to savor this vibrant Coconut Grove pan-Latin eatery: Order a refreshing Pisco Sour to complement any of the ceviches served in giant white spoons. Prefer wine? Pair a South American bottle with the diverse menu, which takes elements from Peru, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. From churrasco to quesadillas, the menu functions like a smart ambassador to Latin American flavors. The staff, too, is reasonably well-informed and eager to help novices negotiate the multinational waters. It&aposs easy to get comfortable in the large dining room splashed with sunny yellow paint and cooled by large spinning fans. It&aposs also fun to sit outside on the sidewalk to people-watch. And even though the check can add up when you are ordering by the spoonful, prices are reasonable for entrພs that start at $18.

Michy&aposs

Local celebrity Michelle Bernstein&aposs first on-her-own spot celebrates explosive flavors in petite portions. She might butterfly perky conch meat and slip it back into shells spiked with garlicky butter escargot-style, or top a ramekin of polenta with finely diced bacon and a poached egg. The location, in a still-struggling stretch of Biscayne Boulevard, might be iffy however, the food is anything but. The dining room, a whimsical shabby-chic mélange of white-washed mismatched chairs, blue and orange wallpaper, and hanging capiz shell chandeliers, looks like the make-believe playhouse of a sophisticated teenager. Many of the loyal staff have followed the Argentinean-Jewish chef (a Miami native) from her prior posts at local spots including Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. That&aposs where the dancer-turned-toque met husband David Martinez, who does a great job in the front of the house and with the wine list𠅋oth here and at their newer venture, Sra. Martinez. The bill can get up there (easily $80 to $90 a head) with so many petite plates, but they all add up to a delicious night out.

17624 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach
Miami
305-936-1008 www.timorestaurant.com

An oasis in the far north stretch of the Miami� county neighborhood—which suffers from a dearth of good food—this comfy yet upscale Italian-Mediterranean is always buzzing with a mixed crowd of well-coiffed moms&apos-night-out types and stately, celebratory couples. Chef–owner Tim Andriola keeps it simple but sensational, with wood-fired pizzas, perfect pastas, sweetbreads, and pristine seafood that make regular appearances on the always-rotating menu. The moodily lit dining room and the cheery bar work together to create a niche for any party, big or single, looking for a good meal at lunch or dinner. The staff of young, smart servers add yet more unexpected charm to this strip-mall standby. Local fish with a full complement of sides might go for $23 to $34, while main-plate pastas hover around $20.

Red Light

7700 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami
305-757-7773
www.redlightmiami.com

The aptly named Red Light𠅏or its less-than-classy location in The Hotel Blu, along a sketchy stretch of Biscayne Boulevard—has a long list of happy customers who come for the edgy cuisine of New Orleans native Kris Wessel. His legendary barbecue shrimp awash in a brick-red sauce of red wine peppered with garlic, cayenne, and tangy Worcestershire is a signature, as is the sous-vide (slow-cooked in a vacuum-sealed pouch) sliced local spiny lobster in kicky a sour orange and allspice poured into a bowl of sweet corn chowder sauce with diced new potatoes, tomatoes, and parsley. Cheesy grits and moist corn bread add to the down-home charm. Despite the dicey digs with crimson lights casting a glow on the &apos50s-style booths, it&aposs a hit with young foodies. Bonus points for the seats along the Little River, free valet parking, and prices that rarely top $40 a person.



Comments:

  1. Madelhari

    Consider not very well?

  2. Ain

    Has come on a forum and has seen this theme. Allow to help you?



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