5@5 - Miami's best bites
February 24th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

This weekend, some of the food world's most successful and spirited chefs will make a splash at Food Network's South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Tampa Tribune food writer Jeff Houck will be on-hand, roughing it in the sugar white sands of South Beach, at this annual orgy for the senses.

For those going to the festival, here are some suggestions for tantalizing temptations you can enjoy away from the Guy Fieri groupies. For those not attending the festival, here are some suggestions to save for your next trip to the southeastern coast.

Welcome to Miami, bienvenido a Miami.

Five Things To Put In Your Mouth In Miami: Jeff Houck

1. Fried fish roe (pictured above)
"Nestled in the elbow of a gritty strip mall in Little Havana resides a slice of gastronomic heaven called La Camaronera Restaurant and Fish Market (Loosely translated, La Camaronera is Spanish for, 'It’s seafood, just eat it.') At lunch, customers are three deep as they wait their turn to stand at the zigzag counter - there are no chairs. Their patience eventually pays off in perfectly fried, non-greasy pan con minuta (fish sandwich), sopa de cherna (grouper soup) and, when it’s in season, cangrejo moro (stone crab claws). For my money, the real delicacy is the huevas fritas, or fried fish roe. How to describe? Imagine The Little Mermaid making you a fresh batch of crispy, tater tots from the sea. Addictive doesn’t begin to describe the earthy flavor."

2. Saucisson sec sandwich
"I don’t know if sitting on a wobbly bar stool in an alley across from a dive bar at 4 a.m. enhances the flavor of a sandwich, but I’m guessing it doesn’t hurt, since that’s the setup at La Sandwicherie in South Beach. This alleyway hole-in-the-wall is across from another hole-in-the-wall, Club Deuce, which spits out drunks like a booze hatchery. Or so I’ve heard. Waiting like an airbag for your liver, La Sandwicherie serves a French salami sandwich that takes pity on your soul with your choice of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions and cucumbers. If you really want to French that mutha out, throw in the cornichon pickles, vinaigrette and croissant too. It’s enough to make Eric Ripert weep tears of dijonnaise."

3. Chicharones
"Dangling on the map like a uvula south of Miami International Airport, El Palacio De Los Jugos on Flagler Street is a foodie shrine worth genuflection. One plate of ropa vieja, chorizo rice and plantains will reorient your compass for what Cuban food should taste like. For a treat, go for a batch of chicharones. Nothing like the Mexican variety, which can be like eating porky cotton candy, these fried strips of crackly pork belly are chopped with a cleaver and served in a paper bag. (The resulting grease stain looks like “The Shroud of Porcine.”) When done poorly, chicharones are like punishment for your jaw. These are beyond tender and supremely porkalicious."

4. Wok-fried rack of lamb
"It’s easy to lose track of time inside the pan-Asian food pagoda known as Hakkasan at the legendary Fontainebleau Miami Beach resort. Matching neither the neon glitz of the hotel’s flamboyant day-glo lobby nor the tacky, coconut-oiled thong forest of Florida’s beaches, Hakkasan is like a day spa for your tongue. Pass on the intoxicating lure of the expertly made dim sum and charred sea bass. Both are outstanding, but are second-class menu citizens to the rack of lamb, which does the backstroke in a pool of spicy black pepper sauce. Sautéed morel mushrooms and garden greens lighten the dish with a fresh punch. Eat at your own risk. The dish likely will ruin you for all other lamb. Then again, why would you want to eat bad lamb when you could have this?

5. Sirloin burger
"Okay, so you have to leave Miami-Dade city limits to eat America’s best hamburger. (GQ’s Alan Richman put it at the top of his list of “The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die.”). It’s worth driving 30 minutes north to Hollywood’s Le Tub Saloon, a converted gas station serving a perfectly charred 13-ounce beef puck with lettuce, tomato, and tomato slabs thicker than a Kardashian. Throw in the ambiance - scattered tubs and toilets as decorations, pool tables with fishing nets dangling above - and you have more than just a sandwich to love. That this spot perches on the Intercoastal Waterway under a canopy of Australian Pines makes it magical. Don’t bother with credit cards; they don’t take them. And, depending on the hour, there might be an American Idol-length line of customers. Go at 2 a.m. You’ll get to watch amberjack feed under the lights along the seawall."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 100 Places to Eat • 5@5 • Bite • Cuba • Florida • Think • Travel

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Esti

    You have got to be kidding me! Miami is full a great cuisine and you recommend bugers from Ft. Lauderdale!! How about you stay in Miami and go to Los pinchos or Mao and try a Carribean/Latin american take on a burger.

    February 27, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • amy

      Miami represent!

      February 28, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  2. peacsktr


    February 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  3. Sam

    Uh, none of this looks good.

    February 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  4. CN Red

    Wow, sounds soooo goood! Thanks!

    February 27, 2012 at 7:24 am |

    I soooooooooooo want to try this. Would you know if there are recipes I can find online for this? I can't wait to try and taste all of these!

    February 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  6. APaws

    Does anyone have a recipe for Cuban Bollos - the deep-fried chickpea "hushpuppy-looking" snack? The ones I've found online basically tell you to make a seasoned chickpea paste and drop balls of it into hot oil. It doesn't work as there is no binder. Dad, born in '33, raised on Key West, and said "I sure would like some Bollos again." I sure would like to make him some...

    February 25, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Challenge accepted! Lemme find.

      February 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Justme

      It's funny to me because Bollo is slang for a certain female body part. What was dad really asking for?

      February 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
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