BEST BRAZILIAN RESTAURANT AND BAR
916 NE 79th St., Miami; 305-757-7735 or BotecoMiami.com
In Brazil, "boteco" is a slang used to describe a casual bar, sometimes a hole in the wall, where people go to drink ice-cold beer while eating greasy food. It's a place to get together with friends after work, to listen to samba late at night or to watch a soccer game.
Miami's Boteco creates that atmosphere nearly to perfection. The beer may not always be Brazilian, but it is always cold. The caipirinha is one of the best in town, and not overpriced. The traditional finger-food dishes are delicious. It's best to go with friends and order different items to share. The menu is not limited to appetizers. It also features traditional Brazilian dishes and an incredible grilled picanha, the Brazilian cut of top sirloin. The place offers samba classes on Mondays, and often hosts parties during popular Brazilian holidays, such as Carnaval.
Burr's Berry Farm
12741 SW 216th St., Miami; 305-251-0145 or BurrsBerryFarm.com
Visiting this local farm can be a bit of a drive even if you live in Miami-Dade County, but its milkshakes are worth every mile. The ice cream is made with real fruit from the farm, and the Key lime pie milkshake tastes better than any pie I've tried in the Keys. The farm only opens a few months of the year, from December to early May, and it's also a you-pick location. You can walk in and pick your own strawberries, carrots, onions, beets, turnips, tomatoes, peppers and other fruits and vegetables. The farm sells homemade jam and salsa. There can be big lines on weekends, so bring a hat.
BEST ICE CREAM
Azucar Ice Cream Company
1503 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-381-0369 or AzucarIceCream.com
I'll never forget the first time I tried Azucar's original Abuela Maria ice cream, made with guava, vanilla, cream cheese and Maria crackers. The owner, Suzy Batlle, based the ice cream flavor on a recipe by her Cuban grandmother, but the taste of guava and Maria cracker took me right back to Brazil. I believe many of her flavors can do the same for different nationalities. Batlle is constantly creating new ice cream inspired by South Florida's diversity, such as Cuban Coffee and Oreo, Sugar Cane and Pineapple, and Pumpkin Flan. Batlle uses natural ingredients, and you will find chunks of fruits, cookies of other ingredients in every spoonful. As a plus, the store sells shirts with popular Cuban sayings.
BEST VENEZUELAN RESTAURANT
6941 SW 196th Ave., Pembroke Pines; 954-470-5021 or Facebook.com/LaCasserola1
Earlier this year, I took a tour of 10 Venezuelan restaurants for a story about arepas, and La Casserola was the place that stood out. The owners of this charming restaurant are two Venezuelan sisters who put their own spin on their grandmother's recipes, making everything a little healthier. While many Venezuelan places serve arepas with an overwhelming amount of fillings, making eating them a mission, the grilled arepas at La Casserola come with just the right amount. The place also features mini fried arepitas and sweet fried arepas, as well as traditional dishes such as asado negro, a caramelized eye-round roast, and pabellón criollo, a plate with rice, beans, shredded beef stew and fried plantains.