Chef Zé Carlos Jiménez's whole career is a balancing act. As a child growing up in Cuautia Morelos, Mexico, he spent his afternoons in a de facto apprenticeship in his grandmother's kitchen. He watched her roll handmade tortillas and tinker with spices before finding just the right blend to balance out her homespun dinners. As an adult, Chef Zé Carlos treats his own kitchen as a playground, paying homage to his grandmother's family recipes while fusing traditional Mexican street food and fine dining—a style he calls New Mexican Gourmet Cuisine.
The menu—complete with a touching epigraph to Meche, his grandmother—is a compendium of his attempts to blend the two worlds. On the haute end of the spectrum are dishes like the Nopales salad, brimming with pickled cactus and his own housemade vinagrette. Fish-and-shrimp tacos sprinkled with fresh cilantro hold down the street-food side of the culinary fort. Where the menu shines, though, is somewhere in the middle, with dishes such as the molcajetes—Spanish for "stone mortar." The upscale take on Mexican comfort food blends beef or shrimp in the eponymous stone dish along with the tastebud-tingling flavors of nopales, chorizo, and roasted tomato-tomatillo sauce.
After naming ROK:BRGR the best burger joint in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach in 2011, the New Times Broward-Palm Beach repeated the honor in 2012. "If you take apart" one of the restaurant's 17 handcrafted burgers, the paper claimed, and "dissect it into its basic components, you'll figure out why ROK:BRGR deserves this award."
Said components are all local and farm-to-table, from artisan cheese to certified Angus beef. To crown his beef patties, Chef Robbyns Martinez uses everything from chorizo and red-onion marmalade to cave-aged gruyère, which is harvested by spelunking cows. Besides beef, ROK:BRGR's specialties include a free-range turkey burger topped with baby arugula and an ahi-tuna burger drizzled with wasabi mayo.
Innovative twists on comfort food round out the menu, from lobster corn dogs to bacon-infused Kobe meatloaf. Bacon reappears on ROK:BRGR's roster of handmade cocktails, which includes an updated old fashioned made with bacon-infused Maker's Mark. Along with cocktails, more than 65 domestic craft beers can accompany meals.
You're immersed in the lively flavors and atmosphere of Mexico the minute you walk into Frida Mexican Restaurant. The bright pink walls?adorned with a painting of Frida Kahlo herself?mirror the spicy ingredients chefs use to season succulent cuts of carnitas, spit-roasted al pastor pork, and savory fish tacos. Chefs layer these meats atop tortillas for the house tacos, as well as on slices of fried masa huarache to create a hearty dish similar to a flatbread. For drinks, however, staff veer away from these spicy flavors in favor of cooling glasses of beer, thirst-quenching bottles of Jarritos, and beer cocktails. These can incorporate anything from a splash of lime juice and salt to a blend of hot sauces and shrimp reminiscent of a bloody mary.
The Miami New Times magazine named Rincon Argentino the Best Argentine Restaurant in 2009. TripAdvisors give its Coral Gables location an average of 3.5 owl eyes. Yelpers give the Coral Gables location an average of 4.5 stars, and seven Yelpers give the Kendall Drive location an average of 3.5 stars.
Cinco Cantina & Tequila Bar's agave-savvy staff pours artisan tequilas at a bar softly lit by punched-tin lanterns. Duos or quartets of tasters sample three shots of blanco, anejo, and reposado tequilas crafted in small batches by respected distillers such as Don Julio and Tres Generaciones. Spiced chips surf creamy waves of classic guacamole between sips as patrons strain to overhear salsa-themed knock-knock jokes whispered by brightly colored masks on the walls.
Chef Willy Hernandez is an international man through and through—and the evidence can be tasted at Zielo Restaurant. His Dominican Republic heritage presents itself in the Caribbean-steeped trio ceviche, with shrimp, whitefish, and coconut-ginger tuna, or the ahi tuna tartare, served over a plantain nest. But influences from Asia, Italy, and France weave their way into the dinner entrees, resulting in such dishes as truffle-infused risotto. And the time Chef Hernandez spent in New York while training in the William's Culinary Institute also gets some face time with the cowboy ribeye and rack of lamb dressed in mustard sauce.
Guests pair this culinary voyage with sips of wines curated by general manager Ervin Machado, a sommelier and wine judge. The deep red of a Louis Martini cabernet sauvignon or Charles Krug pinot noir pops amid the predominantly ivory color scheme, joining the russet tones of the leather-bound volumes upon backlit bookshelves. Calculated swathes of cobalt add another dimension throughout the restaurant, resurfacing on water glasses, lampshades, the front of the bar, and the faces of those competing in breath-holding competitions.