Most days, the sweat begins to prickle your neck as soon as you open the front door. The four steps to the car feel like a jaunt in a swampy Sahara. By 2 p.m., the only escape is inside a freezing ice cream parlor, preferably one with quaint wooden benches and vehemently Italian décor. Unlike the tin-can-flavored, nonfat frozen crap that usually comes out of ice cream machines, at Rita's, the creamy vanilla custard is smooth and startling rich. After a few bites, you start to remember summers that were not so punishing — lazy, chlorine-scented days, eating microwave pizza and choreographing dances to Paula Abdul. A few more spoonfuls, and you might be willing to brave the sunshine again.
Christina Mendenhall
Let's be honest: There's no good reason to eat a fat-ass fish taco at 1 o'clock in the morning. The human body doesn't physiologically need beef empanadas or chocolate chili pepper ice cream before it's content to go to sleep. So if you're eating hot-pressed Cuban sandwiches or ceviche with avocado around the same time Craig Ferguson signs off for the evening, it's probably because you've indulged in more than your fair share of alcohol. And that's what makes Havana Hideout so great. Not only does the divey Lake Worth bar and restaurant serve the booze needed to induce hunger pangs after midnight but it politely offers a way to alleviate them as well. Now that's one-stop shopping. As for what happens afterward, while we can't officially endorse passing out in the Hideout's tropical patio garden (that would be wrong), those chairs sure do look comfy after a late-night snack.
C. Stiles
It's all about the wood here. In a marketplace dominated by coal-fired pizza, Sicilian Oven bakes its gourmet pies in an oven heated with smooth-burning, sweet-smelling wood. Coal heats to over 1,000 degrees and can leave a scorched, acrid-tasting char around the crust. Wood, though, cooks slightly slower and more consistently, giving Sicilian's pizzas a golden crust with just a touch of caramelized char along the edge. Atop the thin crust, you'll find waves of silky cheese, fresh vegetables, bits of barely cooked crushed tomato, and perhaps the savory fat of Italian sausage. The specialty pies are the best. There's the cervellata and broccoli rabe: bitter vegetal rabe and thick, dime-sized pieces of Italian rope sausage. Or the calabrese margherita: gooey mozzarella, roasted red peppers, strands of licoricey basil, green pesto, and juicy grilled chicken. And pizza aficionados will love "The Hit Man": a mix of roasted peppers and cherry peppers, thinly sliced sausage, and soft bits of fresh garlic. The look of contentment on your face as you leave will give new meaning to the term "get wood."
Butter folded into dough begins life as manna from heaven. Baked into a pastry that's light and flaky, with a hint of crispiness, it's enough to make a person swoon. The man who creates these delectable treats every morning is undeniably French — gruff, impatient, always breaking a sweat. But that only adds to the café's street cred. Everything on the menu, from the baguette to the tomato soup, is divinely fresh. Sitting in the courtyard, soaking up the scent of flowers in the speckled sunlight, you can almost imagine you're in Paris. A croissant may lead to a salad niçoise or perhaps an éclair. You'll sit there for hours, never missing home.
The Green Wave Cafe makes raw food fun. The restaurant and market prepares all of its daily specials without ever putting food to fire, which means that its sustainable, organic ingredients have the maximum health benefit. But healthful doesn't mean flavorless here. Chef Lisa Valle creates a wide range of raw dishes that actually satisfy. She whips up crisp lettuce-leaf tacos with walnut and sun-dried tomato pâté, spreads house-made hummus atop healthful onion bread, and even makes amazingly creamy chocolate ice cream you'd swear is the real thing. Since they know no diet should be a rigid rule book, Valle and crew even cheat a bit and serve some warm and comforting vegan soups that change daily. Best of all, Green Wave is a one-stop shop to raw food heaven. Show up at night for free classes on the whys and hows of raw food as well as "cooking" demos that teach you how to eat raw in style every day of the week.
Visit a typical Caribbean restaurant in South Florida and you'll find oceans of aluminum warming trays holding wrinkly jerk chicken and greasy curry. But not at Bamboo Fire, where every island specialty is made to order. Owners Beverly and Donald Jacobs bring a personal touch to Caribbean cookery, crafting home-cooked meals that speak to their passion for food. Within minutes of sitting down, you'll feel as though you're dining in the couple's home. You'll fork up cumin- and garlic-laced chickpeas from a tiny blue bowl as Jacobs regales you with stories of her homeland of Guyana. And you'll skewer curried meatballs on toothpicks as you cool off with bottles of frosty lager. The Jacobses make maximum use of local rarities like golden crab, turning the sweet shellfish into spicy curry. And then there are those plates made solely for the adventurous like local wild hog, which gets barbecued slow and low until the flesh is tender and succulent. After your meal, you can linger for bites of zingy rum cake and Blue Bell ice cream, or just sit and chat with Beverly and Donald as you slip quietly from this off-the-boulevard eatery into a homey restaurant in the islands.
You're likely to see the same endearing grin across the face of Jared Kearney whether he's zipping down A1A on his scooter or flying through the often-packed 101 Ocean in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Kearney is a cool cat who's masterful at what he does. The New York transplant has been down here for nine or ten years (he can't really remember), has been waiting tables for more than a decade, and has been at 101 since it opened its doors in 2008. The experience shows. The orders are always on point, customers are never left waiting, and he creates an experience that is more "hang out" than theatrical.
Many a wiseguy has killed for a cannoli. And judging by the dozens of photos of axed mobsters that adorn Mona Lisa's red brick walls, here's where they come to collect. They utter their last words (likely "fuhgeddaboudit") as they eat dense pastry shells piped with cinnamon-enhanced ricotta. They make amends for their sins as their lips touch orange-scented sfogliatelle one final time. But one penultimate trip is not enough to savor all the selections, every last bit of them made in-house, including the tiramisu and rainbow-colored Napoleon cookies filled with fruity jam. The place has been around for more than 80 years, beginning as a humble bread shop in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. These days, the South Florida leg continues the family tradition of making pastries (and pizzas) to die for.
Slip up the steps to the third floor inside the dark and mysterious Omphoy Hotel and you'll find yourself at Michelle Bernstein's, the fourth restaurant from the eponymous star chef herself. The striking dining room full of backlighting and mirrors is like another dimension in which nothing else is visible but the meal you're about to eat. Start with a Bernstein classic like crispy sweetbreads — here, they're served with lemony gremolada like some bizarro version of fried chicken. Or try her foie gras, a playful take on German pancakes that pairs the melting delicacy with savory maple syrup and crisp apples. Bernstein places emphasis on all things local and sustainable too. From her rooftop garden, she culls produce such as arugula and fennel for a radiant spring salad. And from the waters of the nearby Atlantic — located just outside the restaurant's panoramic window — she plucks fresh snapper to encrust in salt and gently bake, letting those oceanic flavors shine. Although the menu changes daily, the quality never falters. You can feel Bernstein's touch in every dish, from slow-braised short ribs to jam-filled donuts. Even the service is genuinely caring and never feels performed. Yep, even though it's located in some brooding luxury resort in Palm Beach and not in Miami, MB's at the Omphoy is Bernstein from top to bottom.
You haven't seen a hot dog in all its heart-stopping glory until you've witnessed a super perro, the Colombian version of the universally popular street food that adopts an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink methodology. Piled with bacon, cheese, sour cream, "pink" sauce, puréed pineapple, and crushed potato chips, these messy franks should probably come with labels warning off small children, pregnant women, the immune deficient, and the elderly. For everybody else, they're massive fun. Clubby, Miami-based chain Los Perros makes a super perro that could hang on any Bogota street corner. It's so big and messy that it's worth every bit of the six bucks it costs. Show up late (Los Perros is open until 6 a.m. on weekends) and you can gobble your super perro and wash it down with a Postabon in the company of plenty of other revelers, each looking to quell the impending hangover with as much starch and fat as possible. You've all come to the right place.

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