Here are SFGN's "Best of 2015" winners in the food category in Broward County
Best Asian - Tee-Jay Thai & Sushi (New Category)
5975 N Federal Hwy
2254 Wilton Drive
Tee Jay Thai and Sushi’s Wilton Drive location is just next door to the Alibi. The interior leans a little toward nightclub trendy, slate gray with purple and chrome accents. But there are fun touches, like the jellyfish lamps over the back bar, and the center-piece aquarium.
The Thai and Japanese menu is extensive and the dishes are beautifully and simply presented. Hot appetizers range from $5 to $9. Two of the more unique are the age nasu, a delicately fried eggplant dish drizzled with miso, and the Thai fries, made with coconut battered boniato root. Sushi and sashimi appetizers cost between $8 and $17.
Beyond their sushi and sashimi rolls, seaweed or seafood salads, tom yum or miso soups and panang or masaman curries Tee Jay serves some ambitious entrees. The hot and spicy fish is served fileted off the bone in nuggets, but presented with the head on.
I also love any place that will bring you a full spice tray – chili oil, dried chili and vinegar chili sauce-- to customize your heat level. My only regret was that we didn’t have a larger party so we could try more dishes.
Tee Jay Thai is open: Mon – Thurs 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fridays 11:30 a.m. till 11 p.m. Saturdays noon to 11 and Sundays noon to 10:30.
Best BBQ - Red Cow, Smoked & Fired (New Category)
1025 N. Federal Hwy
Just stepping out of your car, you can smell the smoked meats of Red Cow from the parking lot. The smell is promising, and the delivery does not disappoint. Inside, the look has been described as “saloon chic.” Picture red chairs, lacquered woods, and corrugated steel accents.
As polished as the interior is, this is no dainty date night joint. These are some hearty barbecue portions. The appetizers are easily enough for four people. Starter prices range from $4 for the chili dusted pork rinds to $13 for the smoked fish dip.
We of course, started with cocktails. Their “Smokey & the Bandit” smoked tequila margarita, the Sweet ‘T’ with lemonade and sweet t vodka, and the True Grit, with Maker’s 46 and ginger beer. Followed by an order of the light and fluffy skillet cornbread and crispy, tender maple bacon wings.
For $23 we shared an Eat More Meat combo -- your choice of three meats and two sides. We chose the jalapeno cheddar sausage, the pulled pork, and the pork spare ribs with deviled eggs and mac and cheese. We had plenty leftover to bring home, but not before having a slice of chocolate pecan pie a la mode. These were some calories well spent.
Red Cow also won Broward-Palm Beach New Times Best BBQ 2014.
Red Cow is open: Mon-Sat from 11:30-10 p.m.; Sun. from 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Sun. brunch till 1:30 p.m.); Happy Hour is Mon – Fri 4-6 p.m.
Best Breakfast – Courtyard Café
2211 Wilton Drive
Delicious food, generous portions, healthy alternatives, great service served at decent prices. That’s why Wilton Manors Courtyard Café won best breakfast. For under $10, diners can enjoy an egg, with bacon or sausage and a choice of chunky home fries, grits, tots or toast. (Does breakfast get any better than that?)
If that’s not enough to get your taste buds excited, one of the most popular combos is “The Mess.” It consists of two scrambled eggs mixed with bacon, sausage, ham, American cheese and a side dish. The servers here are always friendly and personable. You may also be surprised at how quickly your food arrives after you order.
While the Courtyard is located in the heart of Wilton Manors, its patrons are a mix of everyone in South Florida. At any time of day or night, you’ll find young, old, straight, gay, black or white patrons. It’s no wonder why the voters chose Courtyard to win Best Breakfast.
Best Coffee Shop – Java Boys
2230 Wilton Drive
While waiting for one of the baristas to complete your coffee order, awards decorate the corner wall for guests to gawk over as they add extra cream or sugar. Clearly, Java Boys does not shy away from winning Best Coffee Shop from numerous publications – and ours is no different, as it is SFGN’s winner for the third consecutive year in a row.
Java Boys is not only a hit with the locals at Wilton Manors, but even LGBT celebrities from coast to coast. Next to the awards are autographed photos of celebrities like Lisa Lampanelli and Margaret Cho, who have made their way to the coffee shop.
However, don’t let the star-struck awards wall intimidate you as Java Boys’ relaxing coffee shop environment and extensive menu are their strong suits.
Four accommodating lounge chairs by the entrance work perfect for guests who want to finish up business deadlines or unleash their creativity by sketching or writing on their notebooks. It’s so welcoming that guests chime in with one another over social commentary from what’s playing in the televisions based on the Netflix queue.
The outdoor area is more popular toward the night as groups gather by the bar stool tables and chairs to drink, smoke, and connect with the Wilton Manors community.
Best Dessert – Stork's Bakery & Coffee House
2505 NE 15th Ave.
At least once a week, Jessica Chesler makes her way across town to Stork's Bakery & Coffee House. “They always have something interesting there,” she says, but “I love the lemon white chocolate mousse tart. The texture is perfect. The crust on the tart is like a nice contrast to the fluffiness of the filling.”
That perfectly-textured lemon white chocolate mousse tart is one reason why Stork’s was voted Best Dessert.
But dessert lovers have much more than mousse as reason to visit Stork’s. The bakery’s long list of dessert items includes Carrot Cake, Mom’s Chocolate Fudge Cake, Framboise, German Chocolate Cake, French Chocolate Cake, Banana Walnut Torte, Storkberry Mousse Cake, Classic Red Velvet Cake and Tiramisu Cake.
Pumpkin also makes its debut at Stork’s in the form of “pumpkin bars, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin bisque soup, pumpkin Danish and “pumpkin anything,” the bakery promises.
For those looking for something to eat with dessert, Stork’s also sells six different specialty coffees, espresso, gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads. Stork’s also offers catering.
And all the menu offerings can be enjoyed inside or outside in Stork’s patio area.
“They’re always friendly and the atmosphere is more of a European café – nice, laid back service,” Chesler said.
Monday to Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 7 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Best Kept Secret – Le Patio
2401 NE 11th Ave.
Chances are Le Patio won SFGN’s Best Kept Secret because it’s so tiny you may actually miss it. As the “smallest, cutest restaurant in Wilton Manors,” owners Jean Doherty and Vero Leroux have been serving up some of the best food in South Florida since 2008.
If you can actually find the tiny spot, you could try the Shepard’s pie — whipped potatoes are layered on top of ground beef, onions, carrots, and peas. Maybe try the house made lasagna with béchamel sauce instead of ricotta. Try a fan favorite, like the French onion soup or the Gratin Macaroni—also made with béchamel sauce. There are even non-traditional French options, like chicken quesadillas or any variety of raviolis. But pace yourself, you’ll want to save room for the coveted crème brûlée for dessert. The nice wine list also has many French favorites.
Open for dinner at 5:30 daily, closed Mondays
Best Mexican – La Bamba
4245 N. Federal Hwy.
With menu offerings like Tijuana Steak, Flautas Rancheras, Pollo en Mole, Enchilada Verde, Crab Chimichanga, Chiles Rellenos, El Loco Burro and more, La Bamba might have been chosen as “Best Mexican” based on the face value of its menu alone.
But to really judge a restaurant, you’ve got to dig deeper than what’s written on its menu.
Just ask the customers.
“I LOVE THIS PLACE! I used to come eat here when I was in high school, college, drunk etc. no matter what time or day, this place is the best for Mexican-Spanish food. Only thing I didn’t like was that on some nights I had to park down the street because the parking was full, but it’s all worth it,” wrote Airusiam Ramukla on La Bamba’s Facebook page.
“Busy, noisy, and lots of fun! Generous portions. You won't leave hungry. Plan on a wait to get seats on some nights,” wrote David Bruce Bridgeo.
The positive reviews don’t end with the main dishes.
“Best Margaritas!” wrote Carolina Aponte.
La Bamba has over a dozen margaritas to choose from, including the El Don Margarita, the Golden Margarita and, for a limited time, the “Tacoween Pumpkin Margarita.” Mojitos, sangria and cervezas.
But on Monday nights La Bamba is the place to be with the gays flocking there every week.
Sunday to Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday to Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Best New Restaurant – What The Pho
2033 Wilton Dr.
If What The Pho were a meme, they’re officially considered viral.
The restaurant has only been opened since September and they’ve already won Best New Restaurant according to SFGN readers. Owner Huey Nguyen is happy with the business so far, and has a long history of working in the business.
“I used to manage my family restaurant in Miami for almost 12 years,” Nguyen said. “I fell in love with this area and the people around here and it felt right to open [the restaurant] here.”
Turns out Nguyen’s feelings can go a long way. Once he got the place, he opened for business a month later. On a recent Tuesday, they ran out of food. Since they don’t pre cook anything, when the restaurant runs out, they’re legitimately out of food.
The fan favorite? His special, of course. The Huey Special comes with lemongrass chicken with curry, grilled shrimp, a spring roll and veggies. “It’s light and tasty,” he said. It’s his favorite, too.
Nguyen believes in ultimate customer satisfaction. “I believe in customer service more than the food,” he said. “I treat the customer like I want to be treated when I go out.”
Just make sure they still have some food left when you get there.
Best Pizza – Humpys
2244 Wilton Dr.
Humpy’s Pizza has won every single year since the contest started, so there’s a strong likelihood there is literally nothing compared to Humpy’s.
Owner Steve DeJong attributes it to all fresh ingredients, like the housemade pizza dough, chopped vegetables, and cupcakes. Yes, the cupcakes. But more on that later.
“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. “Pizza appeals to big kids and little kids alike.”
While pepperoni still reigns supreme, the Margherita pizza isn’t far behind, with fresh basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes. DeJong’s favorite is actually the wild mushroom pizza: fresh mushroom blend on a white pizza with caramelized onions.
But what about dessert? Humpy’s makes their own cupcakes daily, and now offers 14 different flavors, including seasonal options (get the pumpkin spice while you can!).
“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.”
Want more than a few? You can place your order in advance to get the flavors you want. And yes you should definitely ask for the red velvet.
Best Restaurant & Best Burger: Rosie’s
2449 Wilton Drive
It’s the second year in a row that Rosie’s has won Best Restaurant and the third year in a row they’ve won Best Burger. Why do people love Rosie’s so much?
“We’re really a fun environment,” said Paul Ditty, Director of Operations at Rosie’s. “People come here and feel like they’re on vacation.”
When it comes to the “best burger,” Ditty said there are actually a few really popular choices. All burgers are inspired by names, like the 2014 Burger Battle competitor Dee Fibrillator: applewood bacon, panko-crusted fried velveeta cheese, Sriracha ranch mayo and roasted garlic. Or the 2013 contender, the Anita Mojito: a prime burger drenched in mojo marinade and topped with swiss cheese, shaved ham, sliced pickles and dijon mustard aioli. Not in the mood for beef? They have a house made chicken burger and a quinoa pinto burger for vegetarians.
But Ditty’s favorite goes far beyond the burgers. Some days he’ll chow down on on the Kaling Me Softly salad: kale, quinoa, Granny Smith apple, dried cranberries, and candied pecans topped with grilled chicken, strawberries, and creamy goat cheese. The best burgers may exist at Rosie’s, but that’s why they’re also the best restaurant: the supreme options span far beyond the sandwiches.
Don’t forget the infamous Sunday Brunch, with everything from pulled pork pancake tacos to chicken and waffles and Bloody Mary’s. After one visit, you will no longer question why everyone loves Rosie’s so much.
Best Sub - Pink Submarine
2041 Wilton Dr.
Best subs on the Drive, baby. When asked which sandwich to pick off the menu, the service staff takes a moment to reflect. Each one has a special character to please the palate.
The most unique option, hands down though, is the Captain; a sandwich featuring sweet sliced ham, oven gold turkey, layered with tomatoes and topped with warm mac-and-cheese, offering eaters a medley of nice comforting bold flavors. For a diet friendly choice, go for the Skipper, the eatery’s lightest sandwich that is loaded with veggies and light on the cheese.
On Wednesdays, locals can head to Pink Submarine for the homemade old school Sloppy Joes special. Serving lunch and late lunch daily.