Here are SFGN's "Best of 2018" winners in the Food category in Broward County.
Tee-Jay Thai and Sushi
2254 Wilton Drive
Sweeping the title for the fourth year in a row, TeeJay’s winning combo of Thai and Japanese cuisine with a “dash of Chinese” thrown in, keeps this Wilton Manors place hopping for both lunch and dinner. The modern Asian décor offers a choice of standard tables or low tables with seating on the floor. One of the reasons Tee-Jay’s consistently wins the “Best Asian” title is that the Thai dishes and the Japanese fare are equally good. You’ll be just as happy with one of the place’s signature maki rolls as you will with a steaming plate of curry or noodles.
Everyone seems to have their favorite dishes. My husband thinks that the tofu pad Thai is the best in the area, while Akilah raves about the crispy duck and the red curry shrimp. It’s not just the food that brings folks back, it’s the friendly service and full selection of beer and sake. There are some inventive cocktails to help enliven your experience. Gabby, visiting from Brooklyn exclaimed, “I suggest the Lychee martini - such an awesome drink and at happy hour, 4-7 p.m., it’s a BOGO special.”
Dixie Pig Bar-B-Q
4495 North Dixie Highway
If you love the vinegar-based sauces used in Eastern North Carolina BBQ, Dixie Pig Bar-B-Q will not let you down. It also features all the traditional BBQ side dishes: hush puppies, coleslaw and fried okra, as well as one not always found on menus; Brunswick stew. The tomato-based dish, contains various types of lima beans and/or butter beans, corn, okra, and other vegetables, and one or more types of meat and makes a hearty side dish option.
You might have passed by this unassuming little roadside shack on Dixie Highway dozens of times, just as Steven from Boynton Beach had, “I've driven by this place at least 1,000 times. Finally stopped in. Glad I did…Great prices. Very helpful and friendly staff. Can't wait to come back and try other things on the menu.”
While the vinegar-based sauce is the preferred option, all of the meats are served simply smoked and there are squeeze bottles of various sauces on the tables. If you prefer the sweeter Kansas City style sauce or a mustard-based sauce, those options are available. BBQ is available in sandwiches, as meal combos or by the pound. For some variety check out the BBQ sampler with pulled pork, brisket and chicken sliders.
Whatever you order, save room for Dixie Pig’s yummy banana pudding.
Best Coffee Shop
2230 Wilton Drive
Co-owners Nicki and Steve Rose, know that many of their customers hang out for hours on end, and that’s fine by them. That sense of community gathering space has kept Java Boys going for 15 years. It’s also why it’s captured the “Best Coffee Shop” prize for six years in a row. “We want to thank the community,” Rose said. “The community has always been very loyal. I feel they appreciate the store because we’re always giving back.”
But it’s not just about hanging out, the folks are there for the excellent coffee and tea confections as well as pastries, quiche and sandwiches. There’s an equally strong demand for Java Boys popular breakfast sandwiches.
Andy V. is a big fan, “When Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts seem to be everywhere, it's refreshing to find a local coffee shop that has charm as well as quality. Java Boys is kind of a breath of fresh air- stuck in the middle of a bevy of bars, it's the only true place that a person can come to relax and drink- but not get drunk.”
Stork’s Bakery & Coffee House
2505 NE 15th Ave., Wilton Manors
In a town where people and businesses come and go more quickly than Dorothy in a tornado, Stork’s has managed to thrive for 20-plus years. The reason they’ve done so well is simple; they serve a damn good product at a reasonable price.
Grab one of the few indoor tables or sit on the covered patio, sip your coffee or teas, smoothies, cappuccinos and lattes, iced or hot, and grab a pastry to go along with it. Whether you opt for a simple cookie, an elegant pastry or a slice of cake, you’re certain to be pleased; Stork’s prides itself on serving only the freshest pastries. While Stork’s is open for breakfast and lunch, many folks don’t realize that it offers some great cocktail hour deals (bottomless mimosas and two-for-one glasses of wine) and is open for a late-night dessert.
To quote Hillary C (not Clinton), “The best desserts. Two words: Chocolate Decadence. This heavenly, flourless chocolate cake is my main motivation. Sometimes I just bypass lunch altogether and just go straight for the cake.”
Best Kept Secret
2401 NE 11th Ave.
I don’t know if it’s the best kept secret, but it is the best undiscovered gem, and I’d like to keep it that way. Le Patio, tucked around the corner on the north end of Wilton Drive only seats a dozen or so folks and service is friendly and unhurried, and that’s just the way its customers like it.
As I stated in an article a while ago, dinner at the tiny Le Patio is like visiting your eccentric lesbian French aunt’s house and nothing has changed. The food showcases classic French cuisine and technique. There are such French classics as onion soup au gratin, but there’s also always daily soup that is vegetarian and organic.
The escargot offers a large serving, swimming in homemade garlic butter so good you’ll want to bathe in it. The same butter is equally delicious on baby clams. Tomatoes a la Provençal is an excellent rendition of the regional classic.
As good as the French dishes are though, my favorites are, those that show a little Mediterranean influence. The lasagna, manicotti a la Provence and lobster ravioli are the best pasta dishes you’ll ever eat and the Dungeness crab cioppino is the stuff of legend. Desserts, $8 each, are limited in selection but not flavor.
You don’t go to Le Patio to eat, you go there to dine!
4245 N Federal Hwy.
La Bamba has won the “Best Latin” food category four years in a row. Although Monday night’s bargain-priced Margaritas might not be the only reason, it is certainly a contributing factor. That drink special has made the Fort Lauderdale location of this mini-chain (there are also locations in Oakland Park, North Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Margate, and Plantation) the de facto gay gathering spot on Monday nights. During season the wait for a table can be well over two hours if you don’t get there early.
The Molina family came from El Salvador in the early 1980s and the restaurants are still a family run business. In addition to standard Mexican favorites such as chimichanga, flautas, pollo en mole, tostadas, and chiles rellenos, there are several steak dishes on the menu, including a top sirloin and cheese enchilada combo.
Pompano Beach native JL says, “You will leave here filled, happy and satisfied and maybe even a little inebriated!”
Best New Restaurant
The Grille On The Drive
2000 Wilton Dr.
Has there been any place else where the opening was as anticipated as that of The Grille on the Drive? Taking over the space formerly occupied by a landmark such as Tropics bar and restaurant isn’t easy. There were rumors of opening dates that always seemed to be pushed back a few weeks. A quick look inside, and you can see it was worth the wait. The restaurant’s general footprint hasn’t changed, but the space has been completely re-imagined and freshened with new décor.
No longer does it look like the restaurant in a Ramada Inn near the airport. Everything is chic and stunning, from the tile work to the graphic wallpaper. The Grill is run by the same folks who managed EAT a few blocks north. When they took over the Tropics space, they closed EAT to focus on their new endeavor and they brought along some of their best dishes (though sadly, not my favorite, the shrimp boat) and expanded the menu with burgers and sandwiches as well as entrees. They also added a salad bar, which proved to be a popular addition to the diner’s meals.
Some of EAT’s former staff, including the charming manager Randy and the always smiling server Jamie. While many of Tropics’ former bartenders have moved on, the Grill’s replacements have quickly developed their own following.
The Tropics cabaret tradition continues with fresh new voices and a younger, hipper vibe. The old Tropics regulars seems to enjoy the updates as well as the younger clientele. Sunday nights with Victor and Rick have already garnered quite a following.
As Marqus states, “We may have lost EAT but they gave us something better in The Grille.”
Dolce Salato Pizza & Gelato
2406 Wilton Drive
Dolce Salato Pizza & Gelato has been awarded “Best Pizza,” for the second year in a row and whether you choose the traditional or the innovative double-crust version you’re going to get the freshest ingredients and best house-made sauces. This is a true Mom & Pop (and handsome son) operation.
The pizzas come in two styles; traditional Neapolitan, with a crispy outer crust leading to a chewy center, and a double crust version with a crispy crust encompassing all of the gooey, cheesy goodness inside. Topping options include traditional offerings such as Margherita, pepperoni, and Hawaiian, as well as more exotic toppings and combos like Capriccioso, Campagna, Salciccia, Con Carne, and Americana.
Jorge says, “If you're looking for NY style pizza, this isn't the place, but if you want a taste of real Italian pizza, this is the place.”
In addition to pizza, Dolce Salato’s menu includes salads, meatballs, paninis, wraps, and cappuccino. And, after you think you can’t eat another bite, you spy the house-made gelato assortment. The diet can start again tomorrow.
Best Restaurant/Best Burger/Best Brunch
Rosie's Bar and Grill
2449 Wilton Drive
You know how Susan Lucci was famous for always being nominated for an Emmy Award for her work on “All My Children” and never winning? Rosie’s is in the complete opposite position. This is the fifth year in a row that it has taken the “Best Restaurant” title. It also won for “Best Burger” for the sixth year and snapped up the new Reader’s Choice Award for “Best Brunch.”
So, what makes Rosie’s Wilton Manor’s most popular gathering spot?
Complimentary valet service is certainly a factor in an area where parking is at a premium. The colorful, expansive, patio and friendly and efficient staff are certainly factors, but the well-prepared all-American pub food is the main draw.
As mentioned, in addition to “Best Restaurant,” Rosie’s captured the “Best Burger” category, but that really should be “Best Burgers,” as there are literally hundreds of variations of the quintessential sandwich, from the stripped-down Plane Jane to tricked out burgers with toppings ranging from the usual (bacon, BBQ sauce and cheese) to combinations that include exotic toppings such as; cranberry chutney, roasted garlic, bacon jam and kettle chips.
There’s even one with panko-crusted Velveeta! To add to the variety, all the burger creations can be served with a beef patty or a veggie burger, ground chicken, or chicken breast, and there’s also a weekly burger special to add even more variety, and all of them are identified by quirky drag queen names including Wilma Breathstink and Rhoda Cowboy, to just name two.
Brunch is perhaps the most popular meal at Rosie’s. It’s not the milkshake that brings all the boys to the yard, but drink specials such as Bloody Mary and Mimosa’s for just $4 each or the Deep Eddy Ruby Red, Champagne and elderflower liqueur (ambrosia of the gods!).
Or it might just be the French toast which ain’t like nothing Aunt Jemima ever envisioned!
Robert L sums it up perfectly, “You'll have a gay 'ol time! Rosie's is that place where you go to be part of the community. It's Wilton Manors’ unofficial ground zero for that ‘see and be seen’ crowd, and it's a must visit for all first-time visitors and residents.”
2633 N. Dixie
While our readers didn’t specify the Wilton Manors location of the grocery store chain, we’re making an educated guess that this is the one they meant. That guess is based upon the fact that the deli counter has a line of folks waiting to have sandwiches made just about any time of the day you stop by.
That’s right, folks are waiting in line at a Publix for a sub sandwich, even though there’s a refrigerator case full of pre-made subs right behind them, a Subway located two storefronts away, and three other sub shops within a five-minute drive.
I’ve ordered a sub from this location and while it was satisfactory, it wasn’t an exceptional bargain, the best I’ve ever had, or filled with drugs, so there’s nothing to explain the popularity of this spot.
Even the recent call for a boycott of Publix (because of its support of pro-NRA candidates) doesn’t stop people from shopping there. Then I saw a recent posting on a social media site and it all made perfect sense. A recent Yelp reviewer commented, “This one is the place to go if you want to see eye candy.”
6312 N. Andrews Ave. & 200 E Las Olas Blvd.
It’s been almost a year since the original location on Andrews opened and only a few months since the second location on Las Olas debuted, but in that short amount of time, Beehive has developed a devoted following. While not a vegan restaurant (the fast-casual concept offers bowls of grains or greens topped with proteins, including steak and tuna), it does offer vegans plenty of options, and has many choices for those who are gluten-free as well.
For vegans one of the favorite combinations is the sweet potato noodles and quinoa topped with grilled tofu and any variety of vegetables. Since the closing of Sublime, South Florida’s world-famous vegan restaurant, Beehive provides vegans with a more affordable dining option.
JJ of Fort Lauderdale sums it up, “Delicious healthy spot for lunch or dinner. It's somewhat like Chipotle except all healthy fresh choices. Looking forward to my next visit.”