(CNN) — Visiting Miami is a sensory experience.
Cigar smoke wafts from storefronts lining Little Havana's Calle Ocho.
Open windows of the Maseratis cruising Ocean Drive fill the street with the rhythms of salsa and merengue.
Sunlight glitters off their pristine finishes and brings the sidewalk to a temperature that nearly melts your flip-flops.
Then there's the food.
This is a city where $5 Cuban sandwiches and $50 crab legs can be found on the same street corner.
The neon signs of decades-old diners reflect off the smoked glass windows of the newest tapas bars, and street-side cafes buzz with gossip from Havana and Hollywood.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
When visiting Miami, one of the most international cities in America, it's easy to forget you're in the South.
Yardbird is here as a reminder.
Southern hospitality rules at this themed restaurant just off Lincoln Road.
Yardbird specializes in farm-fresh, made-from-scratch southern cuisine.
It's all about fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and mint juleps in mason jars.
Yardbird is especially popular for its chicken and waffles, served with a side of spiced watermelon and bourbon maple syrup.
Billing itself as "the world's most famous Cuban restaurant," Versailles has been dishing out ropa vieja and cortaditos since 1971.
The restaurant is located on Calle Ocho in Miami's Little Havana, perhaps the most popular Cuban neighborhood not under the reign of a Castro.
Over the decades, Versailles has become a meeting spot of sorts for the local Cuban-American community.
Diners can munch on guava pastries and croquettes while eavesdropping on discussions about U.S. relations with Cuba and the state of Fidel Castro's health.
Versailles, 3555 S.W. 8th St., Miami; +1 305 444 0240
Joe's Stone Crab
Doctor's orders brought Joe Weiss to Miami in 1913.
At the time, the only known cure for his asthma was a change of climate.
Weiss borrowed $50 from his life insurance policy, made the trek south from New York, and set up a fish sandwich stand on Miami Beach.
The legend goes it was Weiss who first served stone crabs claws, now a delicacy on menus throughout Florida.
Today, waiters in tuxedos zip through Joe's Stone Crab's chandeliered dining room carrying plates of stone crab claws, hash browns and key lime pie.
The restaurant doesn't take reservations and the wait can be notoriously long.
Its recommended to come early -- before 7 p.m. -- to avoid the rush.
Joe's Stone Crab, 11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; +1 305 673 0365; the restaurant is closed August through mid-October. Call for details.
A South Beach institution for nearly 30 years, La Sandwicherie is a walk-up sandwich bar just a few blocks from the beach.
Servings are huge, the ingredients are fresh and prices are reasonable for this area.
Most sandwiches come in at less than $10.
With just a few bar stools at the counter, customers may be better off taking their Tropical sandwich -- a mix of avocado, mozzarella, papaya, mango and pineapple served on a flaky croissant -- to the beach for a picnic.
Night owls will dig La Sandwicherie's extended hours. The stand is open until 5 a.m. during the week, 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Located in a 1930s gas station next to the city's oldest cemetery, Mignonette is an oyster bar and seafood restaurant that adheres to the motto "plain and fancy."
The vibe is casual -- a huge marquee over the open kitchen lists the daily oyster menu in bold black letters, and vinyl booths line the street-facing windows.
But the menu is classy.
East and West Coast oysters are served on the half shell or gussied up Rockefeller or Bienville-style.
The deviled eggs are topped with lobster, the caviar is shipped in from Russia and the cauliflower side is served with a trout roe mayonnaise.
Chef Daniel Serfer, a Miami native who founded the city's popular Blue Collar restaurant, also wants everyone to know he makes a mean prime rib.
Mignonette, 210 N.E. 18th St., Miami; +1 305 374 4635