Here are SFGN's "Best of 2017" winners in the food category in Broward County.
Tee-Jay Thai and Sushi
2254 Wilton Drive
Along with boasting of its Thai and Japanese cuisine, which has a “dash of Chinese” thrown in, Tee-Jay Thai and Sushi has taken great pains to pair its décor with its food, much in the same way a great Italian restaurant expertly pairs its different wines with different dishes.
It’s one reason why they’ve done “Best Asian” three years in a row.
Tee-Jay’s cuisine can be enjoyed at a standard table or at one of its low Japanese Tatami tables.
Those who ask for one, are asked by the owners to take full advantage. “If you request one, I suggest you take your shoes off, order some warm sake or your favorite ice cold Asian beer, pick out that perfect sushi roll and get into the moment.”
- Michael Brugger usually has his moment at Tee-Jay while visiting South Florida.
“Have been here twice while on vacation. Top notch each time. The crispy duck breast is incredibly tasty and would be great with any of their Thai sauces. I only regret that they haven't managed – hint, hint – to sneak it into the appetizer menu or a specialty sushi roll. Satay was good but the sushi rolls are works of art.”
Dixie Pig Bar-B-Q
4495 North Dixie Highway
The Dixie Pig Bar-B-Q specializes in Eastern North Carolina BBQ, which uses a vinegar-based sauce. Since my late partner was from North Carolina, I am familiar with that state’s BBQ and all of its side dishes: hush puppies, cole slaw, fried okra and so on.
I tried the Dixie Pig a few times back and can attest to its authenticity. The owner comes from Lumberton, NC, where we are told they use “every part of the hog except the squeal.” After retiring to Florida in 1990, the owner “wanted to open a good BBQ that he is used to in the Eastern N.C. So he decided to open the Dixie Pig BBQ.”
In addition to the vinegar-sauced, pulled Pork BBQ that made the Tarheel State famous, the Dixie Pig serves Brisket Beef “that is chopped like Pork” as well as Chicken and Ribs.
“We smoke all our meats in a smoker: The Pork is 14 hrs, Beef 13 hrs, Chicken 4hrs, Ribs 4 hrs.” Each entrée serves more meat than we would expect and comes with two sides and hush puppies. Though all this might not leave us with room for dessert, space must be made for the Dixie Pig’s famous Banana Pudding, a Southern classic that even Elvis Presley would approve of.
Best Coffee Shop
2230 Wilton Drive
The Wilton Manors community sees five-time winner Java Boys as their home away from home.
“You will see people relaxing in comfy lounge chairs while others are working on their laptops using free Wi-Fi,” said co-owner Nicki Rose, who owns Java Boys with her husband of 40 years Steve Rose. “Some are just engrossed in their favorite movie on the large TV screens in the living room-like ambiance.”
Community-oriented Java Boys has been thriving for the last 15 years, taking home the prize of SFGN’s Best Coffee Shop thanks to their excellent customer service and delicious products.
“Along with their great tasting and specialty brew coffees, Java Boys has bagels and muffins, sandwiches and paninis, as well as their famous Java Scrambler, the egg white and spinach Power Scrambler, and the healthful Avocado on Toast special.”
And don’t forget dessert, whether it’s a gourmet pie or a mouthwatering cupcake baked fresh daily by their own in-house baker.
The smiley baristas have been working there for years, are people-oriented and know everybody’s go-to drinks, making Java Boys a welcoming environment for all.
“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.”
2301 Wilton Drive #C4
Wilton Creamery regularly brings in new customers.
Jenni Kane stopped in “on a whim” and is glad she did. “The ice cream was so good that I decided to take a pint home. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, and very patient with me. I took forever to decide, and must've tried six different flavor samples. I will definitely be a regular here.”
But Kane barely scratched the surface of the number of flavors offered by Wilton Creamery, which dethroned Storks this year and won the “Best Dessert” award. Ice cream lovers can choose from over 25 dairy and non-dairy flavors to satisfy their sweet tooth, including seasonal varieties like “Pumpkin Spice” and “OMG Oreo.”
Year-round flavors include the popular “He's Not Worth It!,” a blend that includes vanilla, English toffee, Oreo cookies, Heath Bar, and chopped soft caramel with a swirl of sea salt caramel. Others include “Coconut,” “Mango,” “Triple Rum Raisin,” “Sea Salt Caramel,” “Pistachio/Almond.”
Ed Nicholas calls the flavors “mind-blowing” and “creative.”
“Right now I'm confessing to being a totally unrepentant ice cream addict. That said, Wilton Creamery is my latest guilty pleasure.”
Best Kept Secret
2430 NE 13 Ave.
Tucked away in the eclectic collection of shops and restaurants known as The YARD, The Alchemist is as much praised by customers for its laid back and relaxing atmosphere as it is for its coffee and food.
Among the numerous awards bestowed by local publications, The Alchemist has been chosen as the “Best Kept Secret” two years in a row. It’s a distinction that may have been at least partially-earned by The Alchemist not being located right on a major street. Blink, and you might miss it.
But many customers won’t mind if you do. On weekend mornings, The Alchemist’s tables are packed and the line is out the door. It’s The YARD’s most popular draw.
Before he became general manager, Anjo Molina used to be one of those customers who wanted to keep The Alchemist to those who already knew about it. “We would literally tell each other, ‘don’t tell anyone.’ I just really fell in love with this place. I came for just the love and energy.”
4245 N Federal Hwy.
Just as there was a King of Salsa, La Bamba has retained its crown as the “Best Latin” food and one of South Florida’s most popular Mexican restaurants.
The winner for “Best Latin” three years in a row, La Bamba has grown to include six locations –
Oakland Park, Fort Lauderdale, North Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Margate, and Plantation.
But customers say the quality isn’t just limited to one location.
Sue Lopresti is one customer who said she always enjoys her experience.
“The food is always excellent. I have been coming here for more than 10 years. We had fajitas, Pepe's burro, ropa viego, and fried ice cream. All were very good with great flavor. Also, the homemade chips and margaritas were good, too. You definitely must try this place.”
And there’s a lot to try.
Along with appetizers and desserts, La Bamba’s Spanish dishes include Arroz con Pollo, Camarones en Salsa, Carnitas, Costillas de Puerco, Picadillo, Shrimp Scampi, and Snapper a la Broiler. The Mexican fare includes Chimichanga, Flautas Rancheras, Pollo en Mole, Pollo Sonora, Wild Grande Tostada, and Chiles Rellenos.
Best New Restaurant
Ethos Greek Bistro
2055 Wilton Drive
The chicly appointed Ethos Greek Bistro is Broward’s best new restaurant. A customer favorite is a traditional spinach pie, which the menu describes as "fresh baby spinach, creamy barrel feta, sandwiched between flaky phyllo dough."
If you've only experienced Greek cuisine in the food court at the mall or the occasional food truck, Ethos offers smorgasbords for the sampling of the major Greek staples, an excellent option for catered food at social events or board meetings, appealing to the most deviating of palates.
The Silver platter, priced at $21, includes a charcuterie-style spread of Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, grilled kefte rice and potatoes, and a meat platter consisting of gyro, grilled chicken, and pork tenderloin ($21). The Gold platter features an Ethos house salad and the popular spinach pie, and a meat spread of lamb chops, gyro, grilled chicken, grilled kefte, pork tenderloin, rice, and potatoes ($27).
Customer testimonials have been laudatory. As one customer, Christina, wrote in praise of Ethos on the restaurant's website: “Having lived in NY and having great Greek food at every corner, it’s hard to find anything comparable here in South Florida. Ethos has stepped up and made it happen.”
Dolce Salato Pizza & Gelato
2406 Wilton Drive
Customers saddened over the closure of Humpy’s Pizza have already found its successor.
Dolce Salato Pizza & Gelato has been awarded “Best Pizza,” the first time the award has been won since Humpy’s started winning it consecutively in 2011.
Dolce Salato’s menu includes salads, meatballs, paninis, wraps , and cappuccino. But what customers love most is the pizza. And Dolce Salato has plenty of pies to choose from, including La Margherita, Hawaiian, Capricciosa, In Campagna, Salciccia, Con Carne, and Americana.
“To say that the pizza here is great, would be an understatement. Dolce Salato is without a doubt, the best pizza in Florida. The owner Leonardo, always has a smile waiting for you. What makes the pizza so good is the crust. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, with those giant bubbles on the edge, that in my opinion, is one of the best parts of a pie. Couple that with the freshest toppings you've ever had. You need to have this place in your life,” Steve Tuck said.
Rosie's Bar and Grill
2449 Wilton Drive
Rosie’s Bar and Grill, in a consecutive fourth year, has claimed the crown again as Broward's favorite restaurant. A Wilton Manors staple, Rosie’s offers complimentary valet service and an expansive patio where patrons may dine and lounge outdoors under a festive array of Chinese lanterns, hanging overhead in a spectrum of rainbow colors, paying homage to the colors of LGBT Pride.
Rosie’s offers elegantly styled, all-American pub food. The Wilma Breathstink burger, surely a testimony to flame broiled decadence, is made from beef that has been drenched in red wine. And the Willy Cheesesteak puts a community spin on Philly’s classic namesake while the Sweet Caroline invokes southern gastronomy with its pork barbecue that is roasted in-house.
Besides winning Best Restaurant, the iconic eatery, has also won for Best Burger, for the fifth year in a row.
“This place is fun and fabulous and the burgers are mouthgasms waiting to happen!,” commented one reviewer on Yelp. Another said “They are also very well known for their burgers and have an insane one that has tomato bacon jam and kettle chips on it, I dare you to try and finish it!”
That “insane” burger is their famous “Bacon Bitty Bang Bang” that includes bourbon bacon jam, chipotle Bang Bang sauce, a roasted plum tomato, creamy Brie, topped with kettle chips.
The team at Rosie’s deserves kudos also for raising funds in the wake of hurricane Irma's ruin, which they donated toward relief efforts in Broward County.
Best Sub Shop
2041 Wilton Drive
When it comes to Best Of, Pink Sub is going four years strong.
“I always like to say thank you for all the support,” said owner Dawn Holloway. “I love my peeps. I do. I love the community. We will continue to serve you the best eight inches of your life.”
Pink Sub has won Best Sub Shop every single year since the category was created in 2014. That’s all thanks to their handmade condiments, homemade dishes (like their fan-favorite potato salad), and organic, fresh vegetables bought daily — there’s absolutely no microwaving, unlike corporate counterparts.
“You can see me every morning getting my vegetables at Folgar’s [Produce] in Oakland Park.”
But Pink Sub won’t stay on Wilton Drive for long. After 10 years in business, the sub shop will be moving to the culinary district in Oakland Park by the end of the year due to increased rent and parking issues on the Drive.
The new location will bring on new changes to boot. Pink Sub will feature a “unique hand-held take-and-go” breakfast menu and pop-up bistros with simple late-night offerings.
“I’m very excited about doing breakfast because not only are our subs unique — our breakfast will be unique as well,” said Operations Manager Christopher Wirth.
1431 N. Federal Hwy.
If vegan food is judged by some as not being as delicious as traditional cuisine, no one told the customers who frequent Sublime Restaurant & Bar.
“The ravioli was the best I have ever tasted anywhere and I was sad to see it go. Dessert consisted of 3 cakes. Watching my dinner date eat the chocolate one was like that scene out of ‘When Harry Met Sally.’ Alas I have no appetite for desserts but judging by her reaction it was the best cake she had ever eaten . . . The downside? You will be judging all other food, vegan and otherwise, by the standards here, and I doubt few will measure up,” said David Morrow.
Along with its selection of wines, cocktails, craft beers, and non-alcoholic refreshments, Sublime has a full menu of vegetarian and vegan items.
Diners can start off with a salad, including arugula and beet or kale, then maybe get a cashew cheese plate as an appetizer, then order the mushroom ravioli or garden burger as the main course. “We had mushroom ravioli and a flatbread, both which were awesome,” said Tatyana Viveros.