Mers Optical's locations in Hialeah West is chock-full of designer frames well suited for all manner of face shapes and personal styles. Independent doctors of optometry administer thorough eye exams, passing the results off to lens grinders who churn out single-vision, bifocal, and progressive lenses and fit them into frames from the likes of Lacoste, Ray-Ban, Fendi, and Mr. Potato Head.
What originally began as a modest shop in the back of a home in Santiago de Cali has morphed into Sandwich Qbano, a sandwich chain with locations across Colombia and Florida. The eatery churns out wraps, salads, and sandwiches such as the italiano, the teriyaki, and the classic cuban.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Ali's Sweet Treats bakes and decorates photo-emblazoned cookies customizable for any occasion. After customers send one high-resolution photo file via email or holographic carrier pigeon, Ali's army of confectionary connoisseurs turn the image into edibles baked with real vanilla and pure butter with no trans fat. Choose to overlay a baby photo, hand-drawn design, or mug shot of Cookie Monster onto 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch round cookies, or 3.5-inch rectangular cookies. Each order is then packaged in a clear cellophane bag and tied with a colorful satin ribbon. Any design can be cropped to the customer's specification, and patrons may choose to add up to three wise words of wisdom to the design for no additional cost.
Owner Melissa Vias originally unveiled Malanga Café not only to share the exotic dishes crafted from her meticulous collection of Cuban recipes, but to transport diners to the music- and amusement-filled atmosphere of Cuba itself. Head chef Haydee Porras blends traditional ingredients to forge from scratch items such as crispy croquettes, steaming tamales, and a traditional suckling pig that smokes and crackles as it rotates in its sweltering roaster. Meanwhile, succulent morsels of shredded pork nestle into pillowy baguettes to craft the pan con lechon, whose popular recipe arrived from Santiago de Cuba via Vias's husband. Postmeal, patrons can amuse other senses with games of Cubilete or the rhythms of a live band, then sign a giant mural awash with famous Cuban sayings to personalize a part of history and provide an effective alibi against sushi-eating accusations.
Italian dinner hosts never allow their guests to leave the table until buttons are bursting and plates are spinning precariously on rods. This intense passion for food paired with a welcome-to-the-family attitude generates the perfect semolina storm from which today's deal was spun. For $15, you get $35 worth of Italian cuisine and drinks at Kaliapy's in Pinecrest. As casual as it is fine, the family-operated establishment has been inviting hungry guests to dine in a capacious yet cozy setting since 2006. Bring your whole entourage and reap the benefits of combined powers—parties of four or more can use two Groupons.