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Best South American Restaurant (1999)

La Hacienda

Without question this place puts one over on Miami. Though primarily Venezuelan, La Hacienda has no ethnic bias, serving pan-Latin American dishes with equal grace. Tamales and arepas are on a par with each other, the former stuffed with ground beef, the latter studded with minced pork. Stews, particularly oxtail and goat, are superb. Steak with chimichurri (parsley sauce) or pickled onions benefits from the pungent condiments but holds its own with a lightly flavored avocado sauce as well. Even the rice pudding for dessert is smartly done. If all Broward County's Latin American restaurants were as accomplished as this one, we'd never have to drive south again.