The “Best of” edition of SFGN is always one of our most popular issues and the dining section is the most popular section.
Maybe it’s because it’s the one thing we all do. Not everyone goes to the bars and clubs or follows politics, but we all gotta eat! This year we’ve changed things up a bit. Instead of just asking for the best restaurant, we asked for your favorites by geographical location, Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, and outside of the metropolitan area. Given the rising food scene in Oakland Park, it looks like we might need to add another category next year.
We also added a couple of new categories, “Best Bar Food” and, in the spirit of Taco Tuesday, added “Best Taco”. We also separated “Best Bakery” and “Best Dessert” into their own categories, don’t worry though, we left “Best Ice Cream” alone. Without further ado here are the winners and runners-up in SFGN’s “Best of” rankings for dining in 2022.
Best Pizza: Dolce Salato
2406 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
There’s an old saying, “Pizza is like sex, even when it’s not good, it’s not bad.” I don’t how much I believe either side of that equation, but Dolce Salata’s pizza is about as good as you can come to great sex while eating pizza. Whether you order a whole pie to eat or take home, or just a couple of slices, the possibilities are amazing. There’s traditional Neapolitan style, or versions topped with everything from eggplant parmigiana to speck and brie (and pineapple for those of you who like that sort of thing) and there are even stuffed, double-decker pizzas for those of you who can’t get enough of a good thing.
The runner-up is franchise chain Jet’s.
Best Greek: Ethos Greek Bistro
2055 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
Did Ethos win this because its food is outstanding or because its staff is so good-looking and charming? Probably a little of both. Add in the fact that its sidewalk patio is the place to see and be seen on the drive and you’re got a winning combination. Authentic Greek and Mediterranean cuisine derived from family recipes passed down from generations is served with a modern take. Meze-style plating allows a table to share multiple appetizer-like courses.
Runner-up is the always popular Greek Islands Taverna.
Best Restaurant: Outside Wilton Manors / Fort Lauderdale: Houston's
2821 E, Atlantic, Pompano Beach
A nationwide chain and part of the Hillstone Restaurant Group, the Pompano Beach location wins points for its top-level service and the beautiful, spacious patio located on the Intracoastal. Inside the dining room, large windows provide lovely views, and the exhibition kitchen buzzes with activity. The menu leans heavily on steaks, chops, fresh fish, and seafood in classic preparations. Complimentary valet parking is available.
The runner-up, also located in Pompano Beach, is Beach House.
Restaurant: Fort Lauderdale / Italian: Il Mulino
1800 E. Sunrise
By setting boundaries, we allowed another dining location popular in our community to join the award-winning family. With recipes made in-house that date back three generations – il Mulino has become Fort Lauderdale’s go-to Italian restaurant for friends and family. Whether customers are looking for a glass of fine wine, a lite-fare meal, or a classic Italian dish, this comfortable yet intimate restaurant is a longtime favorite.
“Our team works hard, we are very proud of them and we are excited for the recognition,” said Eddie Dos Santos, Manager of Il Mulino Italian Restaurant. He attributed their win to their “perseverance and consistency since day one. We are excited and honored and flattered.”
In an upset this year, the Fort Lauderdale landmark has taken the top spot for Best Italian from long-time winner Bona Italian, which garnered a runner-up position this year. Whether customers are looking for a glass of fine wine, a lite-fare meal, or a classic Italian dish, this comfortable yet intimate restaurant has what they’re looking for.
“We are very respectful to the classics of Italian cuisine, but also inventive with our techniques, balance of flavors, presentation, and the friendliness of our team,” Dos Santos said.
Dos Santos recommends their Anelli's and homemade pasta that “you cannot find anywhere.”
Runner-up for Best Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale: Kaluz.
Runner-up for Italian: Bona Italian Restaurant
Best Dessert: Carrot Cake @ J. Alexanders Restaurant
2415 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale
This is a new category for a specific dessert and the award goes to the national chain J. Alexander’s. As the item isn’t on the restaurant’s website menu, I have to go by Yelp comments. Shaun from N.Y. said, “The real star of the show is the carrot cake. Oh my god.” Angela from West Palm says, “Their signature dessert, the carrot cake, is always delicious.”
Runner-up for Best Dessert: Apple crumb pie at Stork’s
Best Fine Dining: Kaluz
3300 E. Commercial, Fort Lauderdale
Sometimes you just want to be waited on and pampered, no matter what the cost. Whether it’s a special event, a date night, or dining with someone you want to impress, you can’t go wrong with a fine-dining establishment. Our community chooses Kaluz, whether dining on its gorgeous waterfront patio or in the tastefully appointed dining room. Duck confit, Chilean seabass, cedar plank salmon, and steaks and chops dominate on a menu that is expansive and inventive, yet always classy.
The runner-up in this category is a national chain favorite The Capital Grille.
Best Hidden Gem: Le Patio
2401 NE 11th Ave, Wilton Manors
We used to call this category Best Kept Secret but after winning six years in a row, it was obvious that Le Patio was no secret. It still is a hidden gem though. It’s located on a side street off the Drive and is just one unassuming little storefront. Inside, well I describe it to friends as, “Imagine you have two eccentric lesbian aunts and each one is a terrific cook. It’s like visiting them in their cramped French apartment and they just happen to know how to make scrumptious French onion soup, lasagna, shepherd’s pie, and escargot as well as great vegetarian fare.
The runner-up is the equally tucked-away, Alchemist.
Best Take Out: Lotus Chinese Kitchen
1434 NE 26th St., Wilton Manors
Lotus Chinese Kitchen was first established in 1975’s by “Grandpa” and quickly became known for home-style cooking. A long-time favorite for take-out as well as dining in, Lotus was awarded City Guide’s “Best Chinese Food” and has won similar accolades from East Sider and Hi-Riser. Keeping the business in the family for more than 40 years, current owner John Yang “Grandpa’s grandkid”, keeps following his family’s tradition of home-style fare.
During COVID, Bona Italian focused on developing its take-out and delivery business and is rewarded with runner-up in this category.
Best Vegetarian: Milk Money Bar
815 NE 13th St., Fort Lauderdale
Milk Money started as a coffee-bar Warsaw, and quickly became one of the hippest spots in town. It soon morphed into a full-service restaurant and while primarily a vegetarian/vegan spot, offers a wide array of items that just happen to be vegetarian or can be made vegan or vegetarian on request.
“Thank you for voting for us,” said Scott Ojeda. “Our Saturday and Sunday bottomless brunches are always an event. My favorites are the impossible burger and sriracha glazed Brussell sprouts.”
It still attracts a hip, buzzy crowd and everyone is so good looking I joke that it looks like the break room on a porn shoot.
Runner-up for Best Vegetarian: Tee Jay Thai Sushi
Best New Restaurant / Best Sandwich: Papa Duke's
1952 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
Proof that you don’t have to be a fancy, white-linen tablecloth kind of place to win. Papa Dukes has a very limited menu, with less than a half-dozen sandwich offerings, a few salads, and a couple of breakfast items. That’s it, but that’s all it needs to score Best New Restaurant.
“We take pride in providing the freshest and best quality ingredients in each sandwich,” said George Meeker. He encourages his fans to “Follow us on social media for new specials daily.”
Each one of those sandwiches is a gem and everything is presented with pride and care. Taking over a spot in a former laundromat, Papa Dukes has become a landmark in Wilton Manors, which should make it no surprise that it also won Best Sandwich.
Meeker recommends their Drunken Brisket, Corned Beef, or The Italian.
“We have felt very welcomed by the community since we opened and look forward to many more years of seeing everyone,” Meeker said.
Check out our food editor’s glowing review of Papa Duke’s here.
Runner-up for Best New Restaurant: Mamma Mia's Italian Bistro
Runner-up for Best Sandwich: Laspada's Original Hoagies
Best Bar Food / Bang for Your Buck: Pub on the Drive
2283 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
Bar food has come a long way since the days of microwaved pizza and pickled eggs. A few years ago the bar decided to revamp its menu and it continues to fine-tune it.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a gastro-pub, it does serve up some solid pub fare, befitting the name. You’re not going to find anything too fancy, although you can get a good skirt steak, for club sandwiches and loaded tater-tots you can’t go wrong.
And, how good is its burger? It was runner-up to Rosie’s for Best Burger this year. Besides good food, the Pub also took home the prize for Best Bang for Your Buck. When the biggest thing in your pants isn’t your wallet, you’re looking to get good value for your buck. That doesn’t mean cheap food, it means good value. The Pub’s bar food menu wins this category, being both well-made and well-priced. The runner-up in this new category is another landmark on the drive, Courtyard Café, where the sassy servers and classic diner fare fill you up without emptying your bank account.
Runner-up for Best Bar Food: Spencer’s Corner Bar
Runner-up for Best Bang for Your Buck: Courtyard Café, a landmark on the drive, where the sassy servers and classic diner fare fill you up without emptying your bank account.
Best Bakery / Coffee Shop: Stork's Bakery
2505 NE 15th Ave, Wilton Manors
You may be surprised to learn that this is the first year that Stork’s is winning this category. That’s because we retitled this award. Stork won the Best Dessert category nine years in a row. Now they’re winning for all their baked goods, as is proper. Stork’s has been a local Wilton Manors’ favorite since 1997.
It features seven types of freshly brewed coffee each day, as well as a vast array of teas, smoothies, cappuccinos, and lattes, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner items to eat in or take home. The baked goods are made fresh daily; Danishes, muffins, scones, cakes, pies, cookies, and bars, not to mention seasonal and holiday desserts that are so popular throughout South Florida. In addition to winning Best Bakery their Apple Crumb Pie took the runner-up spot Best Dessert.
Make sure to try the tarts, which are especially popular. Flavors include fresh fruit; the award-winning Lemon White Chocolate Mousse Tarts; and their Red Velvet Oreo Cheesecake Tart.
Runner-up for Best Bakery: Sweeter Days Bake Shop
Runner-up for Best Coffee Shop: The Alchemist
Best Asian: Tee Jay Thai Sushi
2254 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
Continuing in our specialty cuisine category. Tee Jay Thai Sushi takes the prize for the eighth year in a row. The location on the Drive (there’s another on Federal) has been dishing up (with an emphasis on dish) healthy, fresh, and tasty Thai and Japanese food to the neighborhood since 2007. Its diverse staff and buzzy dining room offer an exciting and vibrant atmosphere. It features sushi delicacies and Thai classics in a relaxed setting, letting you come as you are and be who you are.
The runner-up in this category is Thai Spice.
Best Menu Item: Lobster Taco at Tulio's Tacos
2150 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
For $14 you too can enjoy a taste of what they must serve in heaven, with Best Menu Item winner Tulio’s lobster taco. Good-sized chunks of fresh, chilled lobster, corn salsa, diced avocado, Tulio's remoulade, and micro greens, all served on a flour tortilla.
There’s a side of salsa roja, but why mess with perfection?
Runner-up: The “4 Corner” pizza at Jet’s in Oakland Park, which allows you to build your own treat with four Detroit-style deep dish corner slices with your choice of toppings.
Best Taco / Best Mexican: Tulio's Tacos and Tequila Bar
2150 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
When the word taco is in your name, you’d better deliver and Tulio’s does, time after time. It’s become a popular gathering spot, especially on Tuesday nights when all tacos are $1 off and Mexican beer is just $3 and Don Julio shots are $5. Book an Uber and enjoy.
Tulio’s was developed by longtime friends Brian Parenteau, Doug Herbst, and Tulio Alas. They’ve created a place where friends come together, and make great memories while enjoying any of the dozen varieties of killer tacos served.
The “Not Tacos” section of the menu also holds some wonderful classics and inventive dishes, garnering the Best Mexican prize, as well.
Runner-up for Best Taco: Tatts & Tacos Beer Garden
Runner-up for Best Mexican: La Bamba
Best Ice Cream/Gelato: Wilton Creamery
2301 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
With chef-curated flavors, this upscale boutique celebration of dairy, located in the heart of Wilton Manors, is not just another ice cream shop. Seasonal and rotating flavors of ice cream and vegan/gluten-free/non-dairy options, combined with hundreds of toppings and sauces for an endless array of pleasures that can be enjoyed in the beautiful loft space or at the spacious outdoor seating, where the people-watching is spectacular.
“We offer a great product in a pleasant environment served by nice people,” said D.J. Colby. “Our pricing is also significantly lower than our competition. I also think that the Chef driven Small and Limited Batches keep interest high.”
Make sure to check out their upcoming holiday flavors which include Peppermint, Non-Dairy Peppermint, and Eggnog. The three most popular flavors are “He’s Not Worth It…” Christopher Loves Chocolate and Sea Salt Caramel.
While exotic and one of a kind is delightful, sometimes folks want the familiar, childhood favorites, and that is why Wilton Manors Dairy Queen wins runner-up.
Best Restaurant: Wilton Manors / Best Burger / Best Place to Take An Out of Towner: Rosie's
2449 Wilton Dr.
We split this category up to represent different geographic areas. It gives a truer representation of our readership. Contrary to popular opinion the world does not fall into outer space outside the border of Wilton Manors. Dividing this category also gives some other popular restaurants a chance against the juggernaut that is Rosie’s, which takes the crown for the 10th time.
“We always work hard to maintain our high standards and quality, knowing that people have several options when they go out to eat, and we always try to offer more than a meal…we offer a little escape from the daily stressful hustle and give everyone a place to be part of a family,” said owner John Zieba. “We truly appreciate our guests for always supporting Rosie’s and being a part of our Rosie’s family.”
The popular community gathering spot known for its killer burgers (it captured the Best Burger crown too).
Besides their burgers Zieba also recommends their huge salads and fresh fish.
Rosie’s takes home the win for Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner as well because really no trip to Wilton Manors is complete without a visit to Rosie’s.
Runner-up for Best Restaurant in Wilton Manors: Tulio's Tacos and Tequila Bar
Runner-up for Best Burger: Pub On the Drive
Runner-up for Best Place to Take An Out of Towner: Sebastian Beach
Best BBQ: Tom Jenkins
1236 S. Federal, Fort Lauderdale
Tom Jenkins BBQ Restaurant and Sauce was founded by two friends, Harry Harrell and Gary Torrence. The business went from friends making a barbecue sauce for family gatherings, to bottling the sauce, to opening a food truck and, in 1996, a restaurant. While the store, with its picnic-style dining tables, looks like it hasn’t been touched since they’ve been serving loyal customers for years. Spare and baby back ribs, chicken, brisket, and pulled pork, along with traditional sides offer just about anything you’d want on a BBQ menu.
Runner-up: Oakland Park’s Dixie Pig
All courtesy photos.
Read the Best Of 2022 Issue on Issuu.com.