As SFGN celebrates a milestone 10th anniversary, it reminds me that the newspaper business is probably only slightly less volatile than the restaurant business. Both have numerous factors working against them, but those outstanding businesses not only manage to survive they thrive.
In preparing for our anniversary issue, I looked through my files and thought that those places offering exemplary dining experiences deserved an award. Here they are folks, my “Golden Spoon” Awards for 2019.
These awards honor only those places I wrote about in 2019; honoring wonderful dining experiences of the past year. Rather than tout any place as “Best” I prefer to use the term “Outstanding,” as each of these dining experiences was memorable in its own way. After each award, I explain why they were chosen, often quoting a few sentences from my original review.
2019 Golden Spoon Awards
Outstanding New Spot - Wilton Manors
2390 Wilton Dr, Wilton Manors
As I said in my review, “After a couple of other dining establishments’ failed attempts at this location, it seems that Spencer’s has come up with winning combination. One component of that combination is the manager/waiter Chris.”
Not only is Spencer’s surviving, it is thriving.
Outstanding New Spot - Pompano
250 North Pompano Beach Blvd., Pompano Beach
“Oceanic will quite simply take your breath away. It starts the minute you walk up the grand staircase and through the large glass doors … an expansive view of the dining room and beyond that the massive terrace and the beach and ocean… a menu that combines locally sourced ingredients with innovative recipes.”
Outstanding New Spot - Fort Lauderdale (tie)
1521 E. Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale
“I happened to stop in during the third week the place was open. Normally I give a place a few months to work out the kinks… If the folks running this place have everything this smooth after three days, I can’t imagine what it will be like in a few months.”
2980 N Federal, Fort Lauderdale
“TooJay’s is a Jewish deli. Not quite Kosher (you can get bacon, ham and cheese on a meat sandwich), but you can also get ethnic favorites such as matzo ball soup, pastrami, brisket and rugelach. The deli sandwiches are piled high with lean corned beef, pastrami, chicken, tuna, egg, or whitefish salad and are reasonably priced … Each time we dined at TooJay’s numerous people stopped by our table to check if we needed anything.”
Outstanding Reliable Spot
1245 N. Federal, Fort Lauderdale,
“It has long been a favorite in our community…" and there’s a reason why: the food is reliably good, the service is quick and attentive, the dining environment is comfortable, and the extensive menu has something for everyone.
1527 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale
"I’m often asked to name my favorite restaurant in the area. This is it. After my first visit, I was so blown away that it inspired me to write a sonnet about the place."
-Mo at Bangkok Bistro
1527 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale
"Maybe it’s because his face lights up like he’s seen an old friend whenever I enter the restaurant or the fact that he ably handled a table of 20 that just dropped in one night. Or maybe it’s because he’s as cute as can be (those dimples… I could write a sonnet about them)."
1515 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale
“… the Canada-based restaurant chain has opened a location in Fort Lauderdale and vegans and vegetarians (and some meat eaters, as well) will rejoice.”
-Chicago Stuffed Pizza
238 Commercial, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
“While there are a few places that serve “Chicago-style pizza” here in South Florida, none of them have really gotten it right, until Chicago Stuffed Pizza Company opened in Lauderdale by the Sea.”
Outstanding Burger Joint
1930 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
“The selections are unique… some are sheer genius... Service is friendly.”
Outstanding Waterfront Dining
-Blue Moon Fish Company
4405 W. Tradewinds Ave., Lauderdale By the Sea
"I have a dilemma, I have a favorite seafood restaurant, I just can’t afford to go there often. Ah well, absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Outstanding Bar Food
2283 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors
“Sure, you’ll see standard pub fare; burgers, nachos and wings, but you’ll also find a selection of salads, fish and chips and…wait, is that a lobster roll on a bar menu? Yes, it is, and I have no problem saying that it was the best lobster roll I’ve ever had… appetizer choices proved equally spectacular.”
Outstanding New Dining Event
-Le Dîner en Blanc
“Le Dîner en Blanc, the secret dinner held its first Fort Lauderdale-based event, taking over Esplanade Park as nearly 750 guests … converged at the beautiful location …and set up their tables and chairs and created unique all-white table-scape designs, including elegant chandeliers and miniature lit Eiffel Towers.”
On the Flip Side
Of course, it’s not all delicious food and attentive service. This year the Flying Fork Award goes to a trio of places that closed their doors so fast that even some of the staff was caught unaware.
So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good-Bye
Naked Grape, Galanga and Mind Your Manors all shuttered their doors with little warning leaving more empty storefronts along Wilton Drive. Carol Moran has opened Apt. 9F in the former Naked Grape spot and appears to be doing good business. Galanga has reopened, with new management and a new name, Thai Me Up, and is getting mixed reviews. Meanwhile the spaces formerly occupied by Mind Your Manors, Sushi Rock, and Eat are all sitting empty.
Check out previous Golden Spoon Awards@
Rick's Reviews: 2019 Golden Spoon Awards
Rick's Reviews: 2018 Golden Spoon Awards
Be sure to check out Rick's Weekly Column @
What To Eat: Rick’s Reviews
Rick Karlin is a freelance journalist (South Florida Gay News, The Mirror, Palette, NewTimes, Chicago Free Press, Bay Area Reporter, Windy City Times,Chicago Tribune’s Metromix and Out.com) covering food, dining and travel for more than 30 years. He was the Entertainment Editor for Gay Chicago Magazine for 10 years. He is also a playwright ("Witches Among Us", "Moving Day", “Spin Cycle”) and novelist ("Show Biz Kids". "Tales of the Second City", "Death on the Rocks)."