For decades, Miami has been mixing Spanish flavors with tastes from farther afield. Chef Michelle Bernstein shares her favorites.
“Hakkasan is known for very expensive, high-end Chinese food — the restaurant in the Fontainebleau hotel is a sister to the London and Istanbul branches.
“I'll never forget the stir-fry lobster, which has this intense freshness that's not overpowered by the scalliony chive blossom sauce. It's served with a sweet, crunchy lily bulb, and the combination is perfectly earthy and fresh. I wouldn't even let my husband have a bite.”
4441 Collins Ave.; 786-276-1388; entrées, $13-$48
“I've been going to La Camaronera since before I could reach the counter. I've always had to push with my elbows to get through the crowds to the fried shrimp, which has a greaseless, thin crust and is stuffed with spices that explode in your mouth.
1952 W. Flagler St.; 305-642-3322; entrées, $9-$14
“Brother's Seafood is owned by the same family but has a totally different feel: It's a two-story sit-down place on the Miami River. The restaurant's boats go out daily for fresh stone crabs, its plantains are like sweet, warm goodness, and the flan is Miami's best.”
398 N.W. North River Dr.; 305-375-0765; entrées, $11-$26
“You can't go to the Schnitzel Haus without a sense of humor, since it's an ultra-casual German place that's hilariously decorated with Christmas garlands and sparkles year-round — but the food is very tasty. I bring friends and get two kinds of schnitzel, mini burgers with tons of onions and parsley, warm housemade pretzels, and great lager.”
1085 N.E. 79th St.; 305-754-8002; entrées, $19-$24
“The city's most random — but best — sushi bar is Sushi Deli, inside the pristine Japanese Market on the way to Miami Beach. The sushi is super-classic, with personal touches like a roll of tiny chopped Japanese pickles, shizo leaf, and the most perfect fresh toro tuna I've ever had. That's no wonder: Chef Michio Kushi is known as the Sushi Nazi because he's so meticulous about fish and technique.”
1412 79th St. Causeway; 305-861-0143; sushi, $3-$10
“Venezuelan chef Edgar Leal of Cacao has a real way with fish. He mashes it with different fruits and creates beautiful combinations — some are spicy, some are hot, some cold. It's fancier and prettier than my usual haunts, with a big glass wine room and tasting menus paired with South American wines.”
141 Giralda Ave.; 305-445-1001; entrées, $19-$42
“Everything chef Oscar del Rivero cooks is really special and tasty, but his seviches and tiraditos are my favorites. They're made with a range of ingredients, from scallops to shrimp, at Jaguar. He also does a great causa, which is cold potato layered with poached shrimp, avocado, and a little chili-flavored mayo.”
3067 Grand Ave.; 305-444-0216; entrées, $14-$30
“My own! I go to Spain three times a year, and I have come to believe that one great tapa lets you experience the whole country — so at Sra. Martinez, I wanted to blend my Argentine background into a Spanish fusion menu. My patatas bravas are made with a Peruvian sauce, cilantro, and lime along with the traditional jamón serrano, and I use Argentinian blood sausage, melted majon cheese, and caramelized apple in what I like to call the MbMuffin, a pressed sandwich.”
4000 N.E. Second Ave.; 305-573-5474; tapas, $7-$18
“Hy Vong, perhaps the only non-Cuban restaurant on Calle Ocho (a.k.a. Eighth Street), is a hole-in-the-wall joint that serves authentic food cooked on a four-burner stove. You can't help but lick your fingers after eating the banh cuon — ground pork, mint, shallots, carrots, and mushrooms in homemade steamed rice paper — and the sautéed fish is also fresh and good, plated with lots of ginger, mangoes, and a sweet soy sauce.”
3458 S.W. Eighth St.; 305-446-3674; entrées, $10-$16