Tucker Duke's Lunchbox Offers Unpretentious, Small-Town Food

Categories: Review

Photos by CandaceWest.com
A burger fried in a pan and slapped together in timed competition helped get Brian Cartenuto his win on the first season of the Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen. Even though he stole his competitors' bread, hand-chopped beef into a course grind, and whipped up his signature onion rings, no one could tell it was a burger made under extreme circumstances.

No one can argue the hamburger is not classic American comfort fare, but with one overbuilt burger after another, it's easy to forget how simple it needs to be. For those looking for a taste of Cartenuto's winning burger, a spectacular made-to-order version can be found at his newly opened Tucker Duke's Lunchbox in Deerfield.

See also: Bao Las Olas Seeks to Expand South Florida's Taste for Asian Cuisine

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Bao Las Olas Seeks to Expand South Florida's Taste for Asian Cuisine

Categories: Review

Clockwise from left: Bao owner Simon Bai; blue crab rangoon; Har Gow dumpling.
For the past decade, the United States has been experiencing an Asian resurgence of the culinary variety. Dishes like bao buns and ramen, once reserved for Chinatowns and college dorms, respectively, have become the stars of restaurant menus around the country.

And like everything else, the concept took its time trickling down to South Florida. Over the past few years, however, we've been seeing increasingly more pan Asian starting to rise up.

Bao Las Olas is the latest incarnation.

See also: Bash Is a Foodie, Craft-Beer Mecca in West Broward

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Bash Is a Foodie, Craft-Beer Mecca in West Broward

Categories: Review

Clockwise from left: Executive chef Shannon Weiberg; homemade ravioli; Dale's "Fall Off the Bone" beef short rib.
Set in a suburban shopping center in Sunrise, Bash American Bistro looks just like any other café from the outside.

But behind the beige exterior lies an eclectic, cheerful atmosphere.

A chalkboard wall with draft beer specials spelled out in bright colors highlights the bar, and decorative beer taps sit right in front of the door. Exposed Edison bulbs hang from the ceiling. Dark wood wainscoting highlights the array of local art adorning the walls, a multifarious collection, ranging from local wildlife photography to pop-art images of the Beatles. The effect is the same as walking into someone's home: intimate, warm, and totally unpretentious.

See also: Atlantic Surf Club Hopes to Draw Locals to Beach Place

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Atlantic Surf Club Hopes to Draw Locals to Beach Place

Categories: Review

Clockwise from top: Tartufo pizza with roasted porcini mushrooms, pecorino, and garlic salsa blanca; lobster mac & cheese with Maine lobster, orzo, and bread crumbs; and tuna tartare, with spicy avocado, a sweet soy glaze, and cucumber ginger.
The clean and modern décor of the Atlantic Surf Club is a stark contrast to the dark sports-bar-type aesthetics of the majority of Beach Place.

With varying shades of soft blues, pops of orange, warm woods, stainless-steel accents, and sea-glass-inspired light fixtures, the ambiance incorporates contemporary dining concepts for an atmosphere that is trendy without the pretense; beachy and inviting.

But it's the view that brings it all together; the space is encased by vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.

See also: Green Spot Kitchen Offers Diners Fresh Food and Its Owners a Fresh Start

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Green Spot Kitchen Offers Diners Fresh Food and Its Owners a Fresh Start

Categories: Review

Thumbnail image for green_spot-chicken-tacos_candace_west.jpg
Candace West
With a cheery bright-green awning out front, unfinished wood and colorfully painted walls, a pleasant and folksy playlist of artists like Jack Johnson and the Lumineers, and a premise based around healthful foods for all, Green Spot Kitchen is like the poster child for positive eateries.

The small restaurant offers a wide selection of gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and ethical carnivorous options for those with dietary restrictions or a desire to eat whole, natural foods.

See Also: Bocce Wine Bar & Tapas Bringing Modern American Fare to West Palm Beach

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La Cocina Puertorriqueña: Puerto Rican Cuisine With a Dash of Dominican Flair

Categories: Review

Owner Tony Sanchez and the Alcapurria de Res
Nelyson De Jesus is an imposing man with a goatee, a lip piercing, and a wide, infectious smile. About a decade ago, he left his childhood home on Crash Boat Beach in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, to join his father in South Florida. Tony Sanchez is an affable Dominican native with white hair, dark skin, and cheerful eyes. As a kid, he formed a love for salsa and Puerto Rican culture.

When De Jesus struck up a relationship with Sanchez's daughter, the two men also formed a fast friendship. They would discuss the cultural differences and foods of their homelands and fondly recall the warm island lives they left behind.

When Sanchez learned that the owners of a local Puerto Rican restaurant were looking to sell the business, he quickly negotiated a deal, and within a week, De Jesus and Sanchez were partners in the venture. It's been nine years since they took over.

See also: Closer Look: La Cocina Puertorriqueña in Miramar

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Indian American Restaurant in Davie Is Truly International

Categories: Review

Nihari is a traditional Pakistani dish with cubes of tender beef served in a bubbling, aromatic brown stew. Boneless beef is slow-cooked for six hours with julienned ginger and jalapeños in a fragrant sauce of peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, and cardamom seeds known as garam masala.

It's a recipe that varies but is always sweet, spicy, and delicious, topped with cilantro and lemon, with complex notes of citrusy coriander and hot cinnamon.

"It differs in every household," says Pakistani native Syed "Sam" Chishti, chef/owner of Indian American Restaurant. "My mom and my aunt make different versions -- my mom gets mad, because I say I like my aunt's variation better," he says with a laugh. "It's everywhere in Pakistan; even five-star hotels have it on the menu."

The nihari is just one of the Pakistani specialties on the diverse menu at the Davie restaurant, which offers an array of fare from South Asia and the United States.

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Sweet Nectar Serves Comfort Food for an International Neighborhood

Categories: Review

Owner Alex Podolnyy and the Dinosaur beef short ribs.
The friendly bucolic motif of Sweet Nectar is a stark departure from the space's former inhabitant, arctic-themed Tundra Restaurant -- and the rest of Las Olas, for that matter.
Contrasting weathered x-back and lacquered wood chairs sit under slatted wood tables topped with sturdy bistro glasses and simple, blue-striped white napkins. Exposed Edison bulbs hanging in vintage-looking metal pendants light the large bar of warm wood and black stone that extends from the patio into the interior of the restaurant.

Tundra -- the gimmicky concept dubbed "the nation's first ice art-themed restaurant" -- shuttered its doors this fall after a mere two years in business. Before that, the location housed Mancini's, an upscale Italian eatery catering to local politicians, developers, and wealthy residents for the better part of a decade.

See also: More local restaurant news and reviews from our print edition.

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Wings Chinese Restaurant in Davie Serves Chifa -- Peruvian Chinese Food

Categories: Review

Manager Sam Moy and tallarin saltado (tay pa)
Many Chinese immigrants left their homeland in the late 1800s to escape the ravages of war, political corruption, and starvation. Some came to the United States, where they worked on railroads and in mines and adapted their cuisines to the American palate, inventing dishes like chop suey, chow mein, and honey garlic chicken (deep-fried and served in a thick sweet sauce for our Western tastes). But Chinese traveled everywhere -- Australia, Southeast Asia, South Africa.

Some went to Peru.

There, they invented chifa -- a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian foods.

After operating for about 25 years in a sleepy shopping center across from the Broward College Central Campus, Wings Chinese Restaurant started serving chifa just three years ago.

See also: Ten Best New Restaurants in Broward and Palm Beach Counties in 2013

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Fresh First Serves Healthy Food for All

Categories: Review

Tuna melt with cole slaw and the lentil garden vegan soup.
At the age of 32, Mary Siragusa got sick.

Her doctors recommended she see a specialist immediately. Already a believer in the power of whole foods -- as a teenager, she served sprouted grain sandwiches to lifeguards out of a juice bar in North Miami Beach -- Siragusa decided to try improving her health on her own terms. She walked out of the doctor's office, picked up an Acme juicer, and started her first juice cleanse.

Though she prefers not to speak about her previous ailments in detail, she claims it worked; she immediately felt better and has been trying to help others manage their health and well-being through whole foods ever since.

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