As couples and groups gather for dinner around Caribbean lobster, steaks, and tapas, the wine flows freely, and eventually, the stillness of early evening gives way to the revelry of nighttime. Flamenco dancers climb onto tabletops, music begins to play, and diners set down their forks to clink glasses, deliver celebratory champagne baths to their loved ones, and do some dancing of their own.
This is the scene at Casa Panza, where dinner transforms into an all-night party. Set amongst Little Havana's sparkling nightlife, the Spanish cafe wraps festive visits in an equally festive experience. Outside, a bastion façade mimics that of a fortress, and inside, Spanish tiles, bodega-style wine racks, and hanging ceramics further immerse guests into the exotic decor. On Friday and Saturday nights, flamenco dancers flock to La Cueva, a party area where 50 to 70 guests can take in the show while noshing on tapas and paella. Even more live music can be found at Salon Rojo, a ballroom and nightclub that books performers from around the world and hosts private receptions for up to 250 guests.
Los Paisanos Restaurant treats guests to Latin American feasts. Chefs flavor fish with garlic and coconut sauces, and submerge lobster in stomach-warming butter. Land-born meats are grilled over an open flame and served with fried plantains and a mix of rice and beans. For other entrees, chefs fry chicken and slather pork chops in barbecue sauce. Another staple dish is soup, and chefs recreate traditional recipes by simmering pots of broth flavored with beef, crab, and snail.
Some may overlook Salmon and Salmon Restaurant, given its strip mall location and proximity to the always-bustling airport, but it is one of the best places for an authentic Peruvian meal. With cozy quarters and seats for only about 30 people, it is likely that customers will find a wait, but the bread and dipping sauce – a slightly spicy green concoction known as aji – that are served to patrons as soon as they sit down make it easy to forget about the time spent in line. The restaurant is known for its whole fish served either fried or poached with fresh vegetables, and its fish with salsa. It is open for lunch and dinner and does a hefty takeout business.
Born in to a family of fishermen in Cuba, the 11 Garcia brothers learned the aquatic trade at an early age. They began immigrating to the United States in the 1960s, working tirelessly for local fishing companies in hopes of one day owning their own business. That dream became a reality in 1966, when the Garcia brothers opened their fish market right on the Miami River. A decade and a few fryers later, they turned their shop into the restaurant it is today.
The mission at Garcia's Seafood Grille & Fish Market has always been, quite simply, to serve fresh seafood. But rather than disguising the eatery as a luxurious timeshare for fish, Garcia's takes a more proactive approach in getting fresh catches through its door: it has its own fleet of fishing boats. That water-to-table method produces popular house specialties, from swordfish and dolphin-fish fillets to grilled lobster and fried jumbo shrimp. Many of the catches come in sandwich form, too, inspiring the Miami New Times to name the restaurant home of the city's best seafood sandwich in 2014.
Whether by suds, professional polish, leather conditioners, or tinted window film, the technicians at Miami Auto Spa keep cars looking sharp enough to make a stop sign blush. All washes are performed by hand. Details, with the help of Wolfgang sealants, Klasse polishes, and shampoos, reach every crevice of the car and transform it into a shiny, new-looking ride. Cars don’t need to be dirty to benefit here, though. Window tinting gives the car a sleek look and the driver protection and privacy, and rim repairs further add to the car’s overall aesthetic.
Old Lisbon brings the cuisine of Portugal to Miami, saving diners a 3,400-plus-mile trans-Atlantic swim and complicated lessons on how Portuguese grammar uses mesoclisis. The estrela of Old Lisbon's menu is the classic Portuguese dish of bacalhau, or codfish, and the restaurant features several variations on it—including grilled bacalhau with steamed potatoes, olive oil, garlic, and onions ($19.95) and deep-fried bacalhau flanked by shrimp, mashed potatoes, and a creamy garlic sauce ($20.95). For diners who love seafood but hate fish for stealing their boyfriend, Old Lisbon offers other oceanic entrees, such as a fresh seafood and fish stew served with steamed potatoes ($22.95) and a seafood rice for two with lobster, New Zealand clams, New Zealand mussels, squid, and shrimp ($44.95). Old Lisbon draws from the lay of the land as well, with meat dishes and vegetarian dishes. The Delicia de Fatima dessert tops egg-yolk custard with cookie crumbles and cream to create a sweet treat with the untested ability to distort the space-time continuum, while Old Lisbon's extensive selection of wines offers definitive proof that, despite mounting scientific evidence to the contrary, grapes aren't inherently evil.