Candela in Wilton Manors Mixes Mediterranean and More

Categories: Review

In Spain, food has a different meaning. It's both fuel and fun, consumed and enjoyed in a series of small, snack-like bites throughout the day. This all begins with a family meal, meat from a whole pig's leg sliced onto bread for a portable breakfast.

As the workday rolls to a halt, you quiet a growling belly with a quick stop at the local tasca, the working man's tavern, where tiny pintxos, tapas, and montaditos are washed down with wine and beer.

Later, you'll stroll home to enjoy the final meal of the day, a late-night feast and a few bottles of wine shared with friends and family that can stretch long past midnight.

In South Florida, where the recent small-plate obsession has tainted our palates (and pockets) with pricey, upmarket concept foods, we have no understanding of the Spanish art of celebrating food and drink.

See also: Closer Look: Candela in Wilton Manors (Slideshow)

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Beauty & the Feast Hopes to Lure Locals Back to the Beach

Categories: Review

Can a trendy concept lure locals to tourist-filled Fort Lauderdale Beach?
Reclaimed wood and brick, Edison bulbs, tufted leather booths, small plates, and an emphasis on "craft" seem to be the main ingredients for a trendy restaurant these days.
Beauty & the Feast Bar | Kitchen on Fort Lauderdale Beach has all of the above.

Set in the base of the boutique Atlantic Resort & Spa, the restaurant boasts that rustic/industrial vibe that has been sprouting up all around South Florida. It's perfectly "on trend" and, as such, fits neatly inside the box of au courant dining establishments saturating the culinary landscape. Here, however, it's a welcome addition to the beach's evolving dining scene.

The eateries on Fort Lauderdale Beach have long been recognized for catering to tourists, not locals. Recently, however, a new crop of restaurants -- Steak 954, G&B Oyster Bar, S3, Tsukuro, the reinvented 3030 Ocean -- has been attempting to bring Broward residents back to the coast.

See also: Beauty & the Feast in Fort Lauderdale (Slideshow)

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A Chihuahuan Touch in Hallandale at Chapultepec Mexican Bar & Restaurant

The #2 combo option, enchilada de mole, taco de carne asada and sope.
Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico might get a dubious reputation for its many years of crimes concerning the safety of working class women and the ongoing war on drugs. That's unfortunate because the state boasts some of the best Mexican cuisine and it is a real treat to find some of it in our neighborhood without too much of a Tex-Mex influence ruining the attention to grains and proteins Chihuahuan chefs bring to the table. Chapultepec Mexican Restaurant, a stone-throw north of Hallandale Beach Boulevard has maintained a quiet, almost sleepy existence for the last decade.

Unfortunately, the only ones who were really asleep were us.

Owned by Silvia Ayala and her children, Karla Nuñez and Juan Carlos Marín, with Silvia's voice being the defining authority in the kitchen, the restaurant opened ten years ago as a means to provide for the family. It has now become a cornerstone of a thriving Mexican and Central American community in Hallandale.

The kitschy décor lends itself more to a dance bar, which is in essence what the restaurant transforms into on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., but the continuous buzz of patrons stopping in for a bite or picking up orders is proof positive of what's happening in the kitchen.

See also: Chapultepec Mexican Restaurant in Hallandale: Cheap Beer and Slow-Roasted Meats

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Manna Offers Home-Style Fare in Lauderhill's Korea Town

Categories: Review

Young Kho whirls around the dining room of her small Lauderhill restaurant.

One moment, she's laughing and chatting in Korean with a family of regulars. The next, she's patiently explaining the menu to a table of elderly New Yorkers.

A few minutes later, she's effortlessly gliding from the kitchen, in a pair of conservative wedge sandals, with a huge silver tray of banchan (side dishes) and barbecue.

Young and her husband, Tae, opened the doors four years ago to their modest eatery, Manna Restaurant, on State Road 441.

When the economy tanked, so did their clothing business. The couple, who have three children, were left looking for alternative options to make a living.

"We were looking for a business to support our family," Young says, her face lighting up in a cheeky smile. "We needed to make money."

See also: Vienna Cafe & Bistro Brings British High Tea to Western Broward

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Vienna Cafe & Bistro Brings British High Tea to Western Broward

Categories: Review

Saundra Guerra, co-owner of Vienna Cafe & Bistro.
With laced-covered tables, draped flower garlands, commemorative plates of the royal family, and a life-sized flaming-red English telephone booth, Vienna Cafe & Bistro feels like a throwback to another era. One could envision sitting in front of the mock fireplace with an English grandmama and a hot cup of tea listening to stories about the war. Certainly not your typical South Florida eatery.

The comfortable bistro serves an array of fare from all across the globe: traditional British roast beef with homemade Yorkshire pudding, French croque monsieur, Italian prosciutto caprese, and Maryland crab cakes.

The highlight of the Cooper City eatery, however, is the high tea service.

See also: Vienna Cafe & Bistro in Broward (Slideshow)

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Fork & Balls Looks to Be Another Victory for the Restaurant People

Categories: Review

Co-founder Tim Petrillo and Executive Chef and co-founder Peter Boulukos.
It's 7 o'clock on a Thursday night.

Outside, the damp pavement is steaming from an afternoon interspersed with showers and intense summer sun. Puddles line the curbs.

When the door opens, the cacophonous roar of multitudinous conversations rolls into the street.

"It'll be about two hours," says the hostess to an older, well-dressed couple inquiring about a table.

They walk toward the bar, quickly disappearing into the crowd.

The vintage-looking bar at Fork & Balls is stacked four deep with a wide array of people: 20-somethings in skyscraper platforms and short dresses, 40-something professionals in office-casual apparel, middle-aged couples in shorts and polos, and one dude straight out of a surf shop ad.

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Bull Market and Chow: Dueling Gastropubs in Downtown Lauderdale

Categories: Review

Sara Ventiera
Captain Crunch Chicken Fingers at Bull Market

Every seven minutes, the ticker moves up or down.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin, up 5 percent to $5.80, with a daily high of six bucks. Orange Blossom Draft, down 50 cents to $7.18. Silver Tequila, down 9 percent to $6.40, its lowest price of the evening.

Illuminated all around Bull Market, a gastropub in downtown Fort Lauderdale, are flat screens with an imitation news-channel logo, the place's emblem, and tickers highlighting rising and dropping prices on beer and spirits. It is based on supply and demand: The more a product is being sold, the more you pay. When demand decreases, so does the cost.

The goal is to offer guests a chance to sample craft beer, says John Todora, director of operations for the Creative Kitchen Group, owners of Bull Market and Whiskey Tango in Hollywood. "A lot of people are intimidated," says Todora. "Not everyone is going to shell out seven or eight bucks for a beer they're uncertain about."

See also: South Florida Brew Bus Delivers South Florida's Craft Beer Craze

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In the Slow Lane: A New Brew Bus Tour Explores South Florida's Craft Beer Craze

Categories: Review

Photo by Karli Evans
From left to right: Edgar Revuelta (Driver), Aaron Caplan (Brew Bus USA Events Coordinator), Kimberly Johnson (Brew Bus South Florida Attendant), Matt Davis (Brew Bus South Florida Attendant)
"Drive slow!" shouted several of the more than 20 passengers on a minicoach as it rolled south on I-95 past the sprawling suburbia of southern Palm Beach County. The driver looked back, smiled, and set the cruise control to 55, allowing traffic to pass unabated.

Why the leisurely pace when most people just want to get to wherever the hell they're going? Simple: free beer. As another round of cold ones from Brew Bus Brewing was tossed down the aisle, the adults smiled like kids on Christmas. At the wheel, the driver looked almost preternaturally mellow.

Welcome to the South Florida Brew Bus.

See Also: Florida Beer: Magic City Pale Ale From Wynwood Brewing

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Bistro 1902 Brings a Taste of Paris to Downtown Hollywood

Categories: First Look, Review

All photos by
Bistro 1902's sweet lemon meringue tart
You might not know you like French food yet, but you do. Cuisine as we know it would not be where it is without the influence of classic, haute French cooking. From sauces and sous vide, to bistros and brasseries -- as well as plenty of groundbreaking chefs and ambitious restaurateurs -- the panorama of plating food is, at its core, française.

Although South Florida is certainly no bastion of French fare, a few places have found their way into the fray and made a name. In Hollywood, Bistro 1902 fills the franco void thanks to its owner, Paris-born Karim Laitaoui. He is often at the front of the house, greeting guests and helping to seat them -- a necessary evil for any true, family-run establishment. But his real job is in the back of the house; Laitaoui is executive chef, on the line each night executing each dish with nascent precision, despite no formal training.

See Also: Ten Best French Restaurants in Palm Beach and Broward Counties

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Taps Offers Craft Beers and "Smart" Homestyle Cooking

Categories: Review

TAPS General Manager Lee Evans with baked meatballs.
At the west end of Himmarshee Street, just across from Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House, the interior of Taps is worlds apart from the rest of downtown Fort Lauderdale.

To the left, a tufted charcoal bench runs the length of the room beneath a solid wood wall of crisscrossing panels. A modern steel-orb light fixture hangs across from it, and a larger-than-life Picasso print hangs on the exterior wall. While stark, the masculine space has more modern steak-house vibe than downtown pub.

The other half of the space has more of a contemporary-sports-bar feel. Both walls are lined with long benches that sit behind pub high wooden tables. High-def TVs hang above. Although it offers guests more of a bar scene, the décor is still minimalist, more Las Olas chic than Himmarshee casual.

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