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Restaurants - Where to Go Next: Miami

Mosaico In one of the city's most spectacular dining rooms, on the rooftop of a refurbished firehouse, Barcelona-born chef Jordi Vallès (who cooked at Spain's groundbreaking El Bulli) is preparing modern Spanish food that's both alluring and unusual. Among his creative dishes: seared langoustines with baby corn shoots and garlic-parsley oil; duck breast with pink-pepper sabayon; and, for dessert, guava pâté with cream-cheese ice cream. The superb wine list emphasizes Spain with choice sherries and vintage ports. DETAILS 1000 S. Miami Ave.; 305-371-3473.

Vix James Wierzelewski spent the past dozen years manning stoves, woks and tandoori ovens in France, Belgium, Thailand and Malaysia. Now he's landed in South Beach at Vix, in the new Hotel Victor, where he's crafted an inspired global menu that's attracting serious food lovers to a part of town usually reserved for tourists. He pairs his lightly scorched buttery nan with condiments like cashew-raisin puree and mint yogurt, and sends out silky sashimi tuna salad (made with fish imported from Japan) with a sesame-oil sorbet. DETAILS 1144 Ocean Dr.; 305-779-8888.

Afterglo Restaurant The three-month-old venture from Tim Hogle, owner of the long- running Tantra, has quickly become a South Beach destination. Chef Michael Schwartz prepares everything from Vietnamese-style bison seviche with wild jungle peanuts to a vast selection of raw dishes, including tartlets filled with squash and pine-nut ricotta. For dessert, there's an outrageous milk-chocolate cream sprinkled with sea salt and accompanied by sourdough crostini. The restaurant's "sprout room" provides Schwartz with more than a dozen organic varieties to cook with, including milk thistle, carrot and lentil. DETAILS 1200 Washington Ave.; 305-695-1717.

The Restaurant at the Setai At this opulent 6,000-square-foot restaurant, Australian-born chef Shaun Hergatt serves an international range of dishes such as salt-pressed Tasmanian ocean trout with daikon sprouts and black-truffle pizza Bianca. The Crustacean, a sleek mother-of-pearl-accented bar, specializes in luxe little dishes like black truffle bruschetta and foie gras terrine as well as Champagne. DETAILS 2001 Collins Ave.; 305-520-6400.

Mr. Chu's Hong Kong Cuisine Chef O.A. Chu, who ran the kitchen at the immensely popular Tropical Chinese Restaurant in west Miami-Dade for many years, has brought his creamy snow tofu topped with sweet ground shrimp to South Beach, along with meaty pork dumplings and a spectacular Peking duck that's a favorite of hungry club kids. The bold red-and-gold decor and huge hanging lanterns evoke a grand 19th-century Hong Kong restaurant. DETAILS 890 Washington Ave.; 305-538-8424.

Azul The luxurious Mandarin Oriental, Miami has a talented new chef: Todd English protégé Clay Conley. In the glass-walled dining room, surrounded by glimmering Biscayne Bay, Conley offers Asian-accented dishes like miso-marinated hamachi with edamame rice and sake butter and seared rare tuna with avocado tempura. DETAILS 500 Brickell Key Dr.; 305-913-8254.

Hiro's Yakko-San This dive turns out some of Miami's freshest and most authentic Japanese cooking. A blackboard menu lists specials like locally caught hogfish and tripletail as well as dozens of other kinds of seafood, served grilled, steamed, fried or sashimi-style, along with delicate kabocha squash and chrysanthemum tempura. The restaurant is open until 3:30 a.m., which explains why sushi chefs from Key West to Palm Beach pack the place after they've put away their knives. DETAILS 17040 W. Dixie Hwy.; 305-947-0064.

Graziano's The same Argentine-style grilled beef and blood sausage that made the original steak house so popular with local chefs like Norman Van Aken and Pascal Oudin is now in Coral Gables. The new spot also has imported seafood, like grilled prawns from Patagonia. DETAILS 394 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables; 305-774-3599.

Published December 2005
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