Here are SFGN's "Best of 2016" winners in the food category in Broward County.
Best Burger and Restaurant
Rosie’s Bar & Grill
2449 Wilton Dr.
David Jobin is on something of an unofficial burger tour of Rosie’s Bar & Grill. He visits the restaurant at least once a week and has enjoyed a lot of the different kinds of burgers available.
“I've had many of them. The great thing about Rosie’s burgers is the variety. They have a burger with peanut butter and bananas that is not to be believed, and their award winners are always worth a try.”
“Sofonda Elvis” is the name of that peanut butter burger and, yes, it is named in honor of The King, who famously enjoyed fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches.
While there’s plenty of diversity on the burger menu, one thing is the same: each burger is 8 ounces of USDA prime beef.
“You want to start with the best quality ingredients,” said Aaron Moslow, manager at Rosie’s.
After starting with a steady offering of quality beef, Moslow says Rosie’s tries to make its burgers unpredictable and unexpected with unusual ingredients, such as Parmesan cheese and bacon bourbon jam. There’s also the Burger of the Week. “There’s always something fresh to try,” Moslow said. “We strive to be the best. We’ve been a part of the community for years.”
Best New Restaurant
Thirteen Restaurant & Bar
2390 Wilton Drive
Nancy Goldwin and Carol Moran are co-owners of Thirteen Restaurant & Bar. Moran has more than 30 years’ experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Goldwin’s first restaurant venture came in 2013 when she and Moran opened 13 Even. Now, along with the help of their accomplished executive chef Heather Waid, their latest endeavor has earned them the title of SFGN’s Best New Restaurant of 2016.
Thirteen sits on the corner of Wilton Drive and NE 9th Ave. The restaurant has covered patio seating, an indoor-outdoor bar, and can seat 90.
The menu is modern American featuring hearty meat dishes such as the Thirteen Burger topped with Gouda, fried onions, and blackberry aioli on brioche ($14) and the slow-cooked beef brisket cooked for 48 hours, serves as an entrée ($17) or in slider form ($11). But the menu doesn’t shy away from more “worldly” fare with starters such as the charred Spanish octopus with fried feta ($14) and Asian Pork Belly Sliders with cucumber kimchi ($10).
Thirteen Restaurant & Bar is open for dinner Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4 to 10 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 11p.m. They host a daily happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. with half-priced drinks, $5 wines by the glass, and $5 specials on small bites like wings, curry shrimp, and fish tacos. Thirteen opens early for brunch on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with $15 unlimited mimosas and $5 Smirnoff Bloody Marys.
For parties of six or more, reservations are recommended.
Best Kept Secret
2430 NE 13th Ave
Despite being closed by a fire earlier this year, The Alchemist has risen from the ashes to claim the title of SFGN’s Best Kept Secret of 2016 and New Times Best Coffee Shop 2016.
Tucked away among the Shoppes of the Eucalyptus Gardens in Wilton Manors, the Alchemist’s hidden nature, garden seating, and crafty takes on serving ware and table-settings are all part of its charm.
Specialty creations include their syphon brewed coffee ($3), the cold-brewed “iced coffee” served with brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk and whole milk ($4), and the “bullet proof” coffee with coconut oil and ghee (clarified butter) for $5. The Alchemist also crafts a selection of “slicers” open faced sandwiches on Tuscan bread with a variety of sweet or savory toppings from Nutella and fruit, to avocado, smoked salmon, or pulled pork each for $6.95.
Hours of operation have been reduced while the location recovers from the fire, so for now, if you want to experience the magic for yourself you’ll have to try and get in on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Best Sub Shop
The Pink Sub
2041 Wilton Dr.
The Pink Sub definitely lives up to its name with pink walls, pink menus and pictures of pink pigs hanging on its walls. After you get over the eye-catching color palette, you immediately focus on the delicious smell of the place and find yourself warring over what to order off the menu — or what sort of custom submarine sandwich you want to have made. And that’s probably why the sub shop on Wilton Drive has won Best Sub for the third year in a row.
The workers are lively and the environment is fun — the employee making my “Tomahawk” sandwich was simultaneously mouthing along to Taylor Swift and other songs. And after you’ve finished your sandwich there is no shortage of tasty-looking desserts to wrap up your meal.
The friendly atmosphere and great food make The Pink Sub an ideal lunch destination, whether you want to sit down for a meal with friends or grab a sandwich to go!
“Stop right now and go to this little sub shop! The Best Sub I've ever had. The First Mate with prosciutto - it had extra creamy Brie, honey mustard, balsamic and apples,” said one person on Yelp.
2505 NE 15th Ave.
It is extremely difficult to have a favorite dessert at Stork’s Bakery simply because of the impressively large selection of cakes, pies, and whatever else the bakers come up with.
I would say that my current favorite is the German Chocolate Cake — but it’s not set in stone. Every time I visit Stork’s it seems like there are new tantalizing treats that threaten to take the number one spot. Their menu can be found online, but visitors can still expect a surprise treat to come up in the shop every once in a while.
Aside from the food (which is phenomenal) the workers always seem to be smiling and willing to strike up a conversation with customers. The coffee comes with free refills, which is always a plus, and there are usually a few brews to choose from.
The inside of Stork’s is a quaint place to study or work, or just talk with friends, and the outside area (when the weather is nice) can serve as a nice gathering place.
With the great coffee and service, and plethora of decadent desserts, Stork’s Bakery is a great place to bring a date — or just visit alone to get some work done.
Best Latin Food
La Bamba Mexican & Spanish Restaurants
4245 N. Federal Highway
Oh, guacamole! This family owned and operated eatery has been serving up delicious Latin food since the late 1980s. Just a few years prior to opening their first restaurant in Lauderhill, the Molina family had immigrated from El Salvador to South Florida in the early ‘80s. Since opening the first location in Lauderhill, the family of 12 siblings grew the La Bamba Mexican & Spanish Restaurants into six locations, which are located in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Locals have been raving about La Bamba for nearly two decades thanks to its extensive menu, ultimate margaritas, and awesome atmosphere.
And the LGBT community has been eating at the Fort Lauderdale location on Monday nights for years for an unofficial “gay” night. Last year they also won the award for Best Mexican food.
The menu boasts Mexican favorites such as burritos stuffed with savory ingredients, tacos made-to-order, cheesy enchiladas and sizzling fajitas. Spanish dishes are also a part of the menu. The corn tortilla chips and guacamole dip made with savory and sweet spices are beyond delicious. Stop in for lunch, dinner and happy hour.
4495 N Dixie Hwy.
Oakland Park Commissioner Tim Lonergan first discovered Dixie Pig in 2005 after a hurricane left him and his neighbors without power. Lonergan has forgotten exactly which hurricane it was but he never forgot how much he enjoyed the North Carolina-style barbeque.
“I'm a fan of the BBQ pork sandwich, coleslaw and mac & cheese. They’re great for a quick to-go order when I'm on the run since there is no indoor dining room.” Lonergan added that “it speaks volumes” that Dixie Pig is celebrating its anniversary soon. “We’ve got so many great hidden treasures in the OP.”
This November marks 25 years for Dixie Pig in Oakland Park, which was founded by Vernon Pait and is now run by his daughter, Sherrie Gentry. “We started out small and now we’ve grown. It’s all mom and pop.”
Along with the pork sandwiches, Dixie Pig serves ribs and chicken, wraps, chili, fried okra, smoked sausage, burgers, hot dogs, country fried steak and more. And, of course, there’s the sides: baked beans, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, hushpuppies, cornbread and more. For breakfast, there’s eggs, home fries, grits, ham, bacon, omelets, pork chops and more.
Asked what keeps customers coming back for more, Gentry responded, “Well, it’s unique and different. Our barbeque has got a vinegar-based sauce.”
Tee Jay Thai & Sushi
Shoppes of Wilton Manors
2254 Wilton Drive
Although the original Tee-Jay Thai & Sushi restaurant is on Federal Highway our local favorite is the Wilton Manors location, next to the Alibi. The decor is date-night chic, painted in dark colors with pops of neon lighting, sleek fixtures, a good-sized aquarium, and of course the jelly fish pendant lamps over the bar. The service is known for being attentive and friendly, the menu is vast and the effort toward presentation shows on the plate.
Hot appetizers range from $5 to $9 and include dishes like age nasu, lightly fried eggplant with miso drizzle, and Thai fries-- coconut battered boniato root. Sushi and sashimi appetizers cost between $8 and $17 and run the gamut from a simple vegetarian roll for $4.95 to a signature roll, like the Red Dragon, with tempura shrimp, barbecued eel, and avocado topped with tuna and masago for $15.95 or the spicy lobster roll with steamed lobster, spicy mayo, and jalapeno for $20.95.
Tee-Jay offers dozens of mix and match options for entrees. Their selection of Red, Green, Panang, or Masaman curries come with a choice of pretty much any vegetable or protein on the menu, including soft shell crab for $21.95 or crispy duck for $24.95 Grilled entrees come with either teriyaki, peanut sauce, or wasabi cream. Stir fried entrees come with your choice of five sauces: basil leaves, pepper-garlic, cashew nut, ginger or vegetable garden.
With the endless options, the abundance of eye candy and a good group of friends (how else will you try everything?), it’s easy to lose track of the hours at this spot. Tee-Jay Thai and Sushi in Wilton Manors is open Mon through Thursday 11:30 am - 10:30 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m., Saturday noon to 11 and Sunday noon to 10:30.
Shawn & Nick’s Courtyard Café
2211 Wilton Dr.
Working next door to Shawn & Nick’s Courtyard Café makes it convenient for Krishan Manners to eat there. The quality of the food makes him glad he’s so close.
“I’m there pretty much four days a week.” Sometimes, his visit is just a quick pop in for a muffin. Other times, he’s all in for a real meal.
“I love their breakfast, lunches and dinners. What I really love is to sit in there and take my time and have bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns, biscuits and gravy. They have great fare.” And along with traditional menu items, Courtyard also features weekly specials. Recently, Cajun Chicken Salad, BBQ Cowboy Steak and Italian-Style Grilled Haddock.
Asked what his secret is, Nick Berry, co-owner of Courtyard Café, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year, says love and consistent cooks.
“We put love in our food. We care about what we serve. We love our customers and we love cooking for them. We’re a community diner.”
And over those 10 years, Courtyard has lived up to its status as part of the community by hosting a huge number of fundraisers for various organizations, including Tip-A-Cop and Special Olympics.
Best Coffee Shop
Warsaw Coffee Company
815 NE 13th St.
Most coffee shops get at least one thing right – the coffee or the atmosphere or the baked goods or the service. Mina Shah goes to Warsaw Coffee Company “like four times a week” because she says the staff and owners get everything right.
“From beginning to end, it’s great. All of it, the service, the food, the coffee, all of it is amazing. The people are fantastic. The food is prepared intentionally. It’s not out of the box.”
Scott Ojeda, co-owner, credits the 6,000 square feet of space, including the patio, as part of the reason for Warsaw’s popularity. “People like our design.” But, most importantly, it’s the coffee. There’s coffee, espresso, cold brew, cappuccino and more. “We can trace each bean to a particular farm.” The food is also important. “We bake everything in-house but the bread.”
The menu also includes soups, salads, sandwiches, breakfast burritos, veggie quiche, vegan BLT and more. “We’re more like a café,” said Ojeda.
But there’s more than just coffee and food. There’s also a selection of local craft beers, wine and other refreshments. And, adds Ojeda, having a drive-thru doesn’t hurt. “The drive-thru is pretty popular.” And for electric car owners, there’s a charging station.
For the owners of Humpy’s Pizza this award will be bittersweet since the Wilton Manors staple shut down last month. This is their sixth time winning.
Last year Owner Steve DeJong attributed their dominance in this category to all fresh ingredients, like the house made pizza dough, chopped vegetables, and cupcakes. Yes, cupcakes.
“We’ve always done traditional stuff that everyone loves but we try to offer interesting pizzas so any time you come in, you have 10 different pizzas to choose from,” DeJong said last year. “Pizza appeals to big kids and little kids alike.”
DeJong’s favorite was the wild mushroom pizza: fresh mushroom blend on a white pizza with caramelized onions.
But Humpy’s wasn’t just famous for their pizza, customers loved their cupcakes as well.
“Just like our pizza, we focus on them being fresh, so we’d rather make them in small batches and have them run out,” he said. “When they run out, they run out.”
SFGN would like to bid a farewell to Humpy’s – you’ll certainly be missed.
But now what will residents and visitors do for a good slice of pizza? We suggest checking out SFGN’s second and third place winners: Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza and Dolce Salato Pizza & Gelato.
Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
1580 N Federal Hwy
Dolce Salato Pizza & Gelato
2406 Wilton Dr.