When you walk in to the family-owned Whip ‘n Dip Ice Cream Shoppe in Miami, you’ll likely feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. Make your way to the counter to find your ice cream being scooped by hand in front of you, then released into a specially-dipped cone. The classic flavors of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, strawberry, mint chip and cookies ‘n’ cream are always offered at this throwback counter service spot, but check the board for daily specials that bring the place up to modern day standards. Lighter-calorie flavors are available as well, plus a variety of basic toppings, and you can examine the wall of accolades while you wait for your treat to be served. Or sit on one of the painted park benches inside.
Yesenia Rivera has three days to singlehandedly bake 425 treats, but you won’t see her break a sweat. In fact, you probably won’t see her at all. Come evening, the seasoned pastry chef will seclude herself in her home kitchen, which she has transformed into a tidy assembly line. She can tell you to the second how long it will take to apply frosting to a cupcake or poke a stick through a cake pop. And, aside from the occasional taste test from her 4-year-old daughter, Rivera shuns a second set of hands. “I can’t imagine delegating any of it. It’s too personal a process for me,” she admits.
For Rivera, every baked treat is a labor of love. She meets with her clients in their homes for hours and pours over recipe options and photo albums of her past creations. She caters to their every ingredient request—as a gluten-free, dairy-free eater herself, she’s no stranger to substitutions, such as bananas for eggs, or coconut oil for butter. And when it comes time to decorate, she literally sets each treat on a pedestal, and decorates it slowly and meticulously. “I think about the person I’m baking for when I’m putting the ingredients together—I pour my heart and soul into it,” Rivera says. But despite rigorous recipe calibration, each treat must pass one final test: if her daughter doesn’t love it, it doesn’t make it out the kitchen door.
When the first 100 Montaditos opened in the Spanish seaside town of Islantilla in 2000, the owners had in mind a vision of recreating the classical comfort of old-fashioned Spanish taverns. What they didn't realize was that they were about to start a worldwide phenomenon. Today, more than 300 outposts of 100 Montaditos have opened on three continents, and it's all thanks to their titular menu item?and its 100 variations.
A montadito is a tiny piece of bread, about as long as a finger and as wide as a giant's finger, stuffed with fresh, Spanish tapas-inspired ingredients. Diners build their meal from a selection of the bite-sized sandwiches off a menu that includes meat-and-cheese combos, all-vegetable nibbles, and even a few dessert sandwiches. Sampler plates let you taste a few popular montaditos in one easy order: the Meat Lover combination, for one, includes the Chorizo sandwich, the Meatballs sandwich with marinara, and four others. Everything goes down all that much smoother with a crisp glass of beer, a Spanish wine, or fresh and fruity white sangria.
Despite its nationwide presence, Dairy Queen is not as common in South Florida as one might assume. That means this Ludlam Road location is a bit of a local gem, and during peak summer months the wait for Blizzards and other ice cream treats can be lengthy. Forget the cheap chili dogs and french fries; there are 20+ soft-serve blends on tap for all tastes, from cookie lovers and candy cravers to fruit fans and chocoholics. There is also a wide selection of the smooth or frothy Orange Julius original smoothies, while banana splits, sundaes and parfaits keep things sufficiently old timey. That theme holds true for the rest of the space as well, which still displays the old-school Dairy Queen signage, including a swirling vanilla cone that acts as an exit sign.
At The Last Carrot, fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grain breads come together to feed the body and mind. Lean chicken, tuna, or tofu nudge up against shaved carrot slices and crunchy cucumber inside the welcoming embrace of a whole-wheat pita sandwich. Diners also dip into freshly made bean soups, or slather snacks in homemade peanut butter. The health food enclave also offers a colorful mélange of freshly squeezed juices, including acai, wheatgrass, and a frothy blend of carrot juice spiked with sweet strawberry, papaya, and mango.
Siblings Fabio, Mary, and Saul Soares were practically born to be pastry chefs. They grew up watching their mother Vera bake for family and clients in their native Brazil, spreading cheer through her creative and tasty desserts. Today at The Pastry Shop by Magic City Chefs, the trio continues her legacy by creating stunning tiered cakes, dainty macarons, and airy mousses suitable for any occasion, especially dentist appointment pre-parties. For those who require a bit of balance on their plate, the chefs also prepare hor d'oeuvres, canapés, wraps, and other savory specialties.