South Florida Restaurants: Which Ones Offer Soulful Spaces?

Categories: Musings
laserwolf.jpg
I'm blogging from Charleston, South Carolina, this week during the Association of Food Journalists' conference. In addition to hearing talks from the likes of the Lee Brothers and Nathalie Dupree, I've been eating my face off and exploring spaces such as Two Boroughs Larder, a newish little restaurant housed in a barber shop and convenience store.  

The place serves soulful, Southern-inspired cooking with an occasional digression into new territories, such as a Sichuan oxtail number with fried rice, chilies, farm egg, scallions, and peanuts. 

What has seduced me at the restaurant as much as the food is the charm of the space, with its pocket doors, exposed brick, old lumber, and bones kept intact from its former life. This got me to 

thinking about a conversation I'd had with an employee at Riverside Market. I told him how much I enjoy the quirk of the space: the beer doors, the boat that hangs from the ceiling, the Adirondack chairs out front. His reply? "There aren't that many places here that aren't in a strip mall."

Interiors and architecture of a restaurant can shape an experience as much as service, food, and company. I can't help but wish that Laser Wolf were a restaurant, since it's housed in one of Lauderdale's most interesting buildings. The space is also a reason I fell in love with Sea, the subject of a review a few weeks ago. 

Is it true that destination-worthy dining in these parts resides in strip malls? Or is change afoot, as creative folks reclaim warehouse spaces, old houses, and tired sections of street scapes?


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17 comments
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Cal
Cal

I find it ironic that MM is blogging from a journalists convention. I wonder if they make her wear a wristband?

Laser wolf and sea are both in strip malls if you didn't notice. and I can't see driving into the woods to get a sandwich.

MelissaMcCart
MelissaMcCart

Yes, I noticed they're in strip malls. With Laser Wolf, I just like the building. I'm on a hunt for character, interesting spaces. If you have suggestions, that would be great. Thanks for the Le Tub suggestion. I have been and forgot about that. 

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

Other places with character (and decent food) Cap's Place Lighthouse Point, 15th St Fisheries Ft Lauderdale.

Fun and OK food the Chickee Hut at Seminole T Truck Stop, just North of Griffin and US 27 weekends especially but be ready for bikers.

The Field is a good suggestion, along the same lines is Rustic Inn and Maguire's.

Sea Watch has a great building too.

Remember though, this is South Florida our history barely dates back 100 years and most buildings were built within the last 50. So to find any building with character is hard in So Fla.

Tricia Woolfenden
Tricia Woolfenden

Great suggestion on Cap's Place. Lots of fun, just don't miss the last boat back to the mainland.

It's a different type of character, but Dada and Falcon House in Delray have nice spaces  (not in strip malls). 11th St. Annex in Fort Laud is a nice little place, as well. Good food.

KT
KT

Check out The Field in Dania

DeathFrog3
DeathFrog3

LeTub in Hollywood is an old gas station. If you look you can see the garage doors, etc.

Donnie
Donnie

We call them dumps in the northeast

Fat Hand
Fat Hand

You call what a dump in the northeast? Any restaurant that has reclaimed an old house or building? That's just crazy (and also not believable). I can't think of too many places in the FTL like Melissa is describing...can think of a bunch in the Keys. But even though ours is a much newer city than, say, Charleston, SC, I would love to see more places open in some of those northeastern-style dumps.

Donaldty345
Donaldty345

You and you alone. Melissa never misses an opportunity to mention riverside market or laser wolf. If you like eating in a grocery store, fine. But don't try to pass it off as something positive

Darren F. Gideon
Darren F. Gideon

If looking for character in a non strip small setting. Try Sundy House in Delray Beach. Also the Falcon House, haven't been there in some time and it is more of a bar with food but they converted an old House. Can't say if it still is good or not. There is also Dada's in Delray Beach.

Donnie
Donnie

I was referring to the commentor. I believe that sea is in a strip mall and laser wolf is a bar that doesnt serve food in a strip mall so your point seems a bit jumbled

MelissaMcCart
MelissaMcCart

I'd love to find more places with character. I eat out every night and often at lunch between West Palm and Lauderdale. I'd like to find more places with character; I haven't. I'm asking you if you have any suggestions. Do you?

Tricia Woolfenden
Tricia Woolfenden

I sincerely doubt Melissa is the only person who enjoys taking a meal in someplace other than a miscellaneous strip mall.

Erinhilburn
Erinhilburn

Many people enjoy a quality meal in the grocery store. It's called Whole Foods. Maybe you've heard of it? :)

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