The American Diner is much maligned for it’s greasy image, which many don’t deserve. They are today still loved and enjoyed by many for their cavernous menus, large portions, late hours and very reasonable prices. If you follow me on Twitter/Facebook you know I frequent many of these places. I was reminded of this today when my foursquare check-in app awarded me the “Greasy Spoon Badge”, for my check-in at the Peter Pan Diner. This also reminded me that I haven’t paid any attention to Diners on this Blog, despite my numerous visits to them. An oversight I intend to correct now. The Peter Pan Diner has been around for over 38 years. My memories of the place go back a mere 20+ years. After a night of partying with friends, the 24/7 Pan was always there for a good breakfast. Today it remains virtually unchanged from those days. It’s still 24/7 and able to serve up all the dishes from their huge menu almost any time you wish. Breakfasts are exceptional on the limited early bird menu and very reasonable thereafter on the regular menu, with all manner of omelets, sandwiches and sides. My favorite special is the #4…eggs, tasty link sausages and two fluffy pancakes. The dinners here are very good as well. Try the Rumanian Skirt Steak and the half Chicken. The seafood is excellent for the price with many broiled selections. I tend to order the locally sourced stuff when available like Snapper, Mahi, Sea Bass, etc. The early dining specials include salad, entrées of some of their most popular dishes and dessert. Diners like the Peter Pan are friendly places that serve up honest good food. No greasy spoon!
I felt like I was the last person on the planet to know about this place and, thanks to my foodie friend Maiko who made the suggestion, I can now inform the last few souls who’ve not been lucky enough to make it here. If you enjoy Chinese food and are ready to experience some new tastes and flavors you must try Hong Kong City BBQ. You’ll find this ordinary looking restaurant in a small shopping center in Tamarac, but there’s nothing ordinary about the food. The owners say they make genuine NY Chinatown, Hong Kong style cuisine and the place does have that look and feel, from the hanging duck & ribs in the front to the extensive menus. With this being my first trip, I came for one thing…Dim Sum lunch. Not many restaurants in the area do as many Dim Sum dishes (I counted over 40) as you’ll find here. First timers like myself are handed a card with color pictures of all the selections. Dim Sum is an individual portion of bite size savouries, which can consist of all types and parts of meat, fish and poultry. It’s like “Chinese Tapas.” The prices are very reasonable and you can expect to order 6-8 dishes for lunch. Yes…I shared…Really!!! Here are a few suggestions from my first adventure. The Crispy Shrimp balls…they were so good we ordered a second portion. They come three to a serving and were crispy as the named implies, with a soft center of minced shrimp, which is wrapped in a thin wonton skin, and then perfectly fried in vegetable oil. Some other dishes we liked were the Pork Siu Mai, the Steamed Shrimp Dumpling, and the Shanghai Dumpling. New for me was the Steamed Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce and the Beef Tripe with Ginger and Scallions. I won’t get any awards from Andrew Zimmernfor that last dish, but it’s one I’ve always wanted to try. Next time Chicken Feet with Special Sauce!!! Additional pictures of this meal can be found at http://on.fb.me/tM8vB0.
They call them “appetizing stores.” The Jews and the Italians and most other immigrants to this country have these types of places where the foods, flavors, smells and tastes of the “old” country and culture can be found. New York City still has places like Zabar’s, Russ & Daughters, and Barney Greengrass, but 50 years ago these stores were commonly found everywhere in the Big Apple. I can remember my mother taking me into a small appetizing store in the Bronx and being overwhelmed by the sight of large Pickle Barrels (sour, half-sour Pickles & Pickled Tomatoes) and bins of nuts, grains and the smoked and baked fish. OMG…it was sensory overload. Today we have far fewer of these kinds of places. You see, it’s a generational thing, so as those folks who practiced the weekly ritual of sitting around the table with family for a dairy meal pass, so do these stores. The Sage is the closest I’ve found in South Florida that is able to keep those memories alive with an amazing selection of foods. Technically, a deli is a place that specializes cured and pickled meats and an appetizing store is where you’d find fish and dairy items. Even though Sage has “deli” in it’s name, they sell both. Once a month, my brother and I make a pilgrimage to the Sage to pick up our favorites. If you’re an appetizing maven and know what I’m talking about, you can stop reading here and start riding to Hallandale. Otherwise read on.
A trip to Sage has to include a purchase of Smoked Salmon, Lox or Nova Lox (less salty.) The whole Salmon is smoked locally and is sliced to order. The art is in the slicing and these guys are good. Paper thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth Lox, are perfect on a bagel with a schemer or just by itself. Lox can also be found pickled with onions and combined with cream cheese in a spread. The Baked Salmon is wonderful too. Look for the thinner fatty pieces. Herring is an acquired taste. I recommend the Herring in Cream Sauce. This is NOT to be confused with the stuff you see in a jar at the supermarket. No jar here…you order by the filet and its cut into pieces and packed with onions and cream sauce. The Chopped Herring Spread is also very good. White Fish and the smaller whole Chubs are available, however, I tend to go with the White Fish spread…could never deal with the small bones. For hard-core fish enthusiasts they also have Smoked Sable and Sturgeon slices. There is so much more including a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal before or after shopping. I liked the Rabbi Mann’s Blintzes with Sour Cream and a cup of coffee. Oy!
Memories are made up of all the wonderful times we have with family and friends usually over food. You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy some of this stuff. Buy some at Sage…invite over a few friends, have a nosh and make memories!
I admire and appreciate this place for its unpretentious style and good food. Originally recommended by a friend whose food choices are way different from mine…it took me a while to pay them a visit. At first glance you might mistake it for one the places that specializes in quick meals near the beach. Big mistake! Locals and savvy travelers know and love it here and get nervous with just the thought of sharing this gem with vacationers. The food is New American and has several seafood and, to my delight, pork selections. Hints of the Bayou, Caribbean and Southern California can be found all over the menu. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided in advance to have a particular dish only to find that the Special is more intriguing. I rarely talk about staff or ambiance, but I’ll make an exception now. I found the youngish staff to be competent and knowledgeable about the food. All servers I’ve come in contact with have told me they’ve tasted most if not all the dishes and can explain how they’re prepared. And let’s face it…what could be better than dining Al Fresco beside the calm waters of the bay side of Fort Lauderdale Beach? Simply put, the food here is consistent, the portions ample and the specials are always tempting.
So what do I eat here? Haven’t tried it all yet, but here’s a short summary so far. The Coconut Shrimp can be had as an appetizer or entrée and is prepared with panko then lightly deep-fried with a dipping sauce. When offered, try the Sliced Heirloom Tomatoes with Blue Cheese. For lunch I’ve had the Mahi sandwich and the fish taco, both good. For something a little different, try the Comfort Bowl and the Jambalaya. There are always one or two fish selections available broiled or blackened. I prefer the blackened. All I can say about the side items is…YES, please. Now, I almost never do desserts, but for lunch the other day they came up with this banana, caramel, granola and rum infused thingy, that was wonderful. On Sundays, Coconuts offers an off-the-menu Brunch that starts at 10am. If you get there early you may be rewarded with Beignets to enjoy while you peruse the menu. As usual I had pre-selected one of the three Egg Benedicts. However, the Special was the Cuban Confit Sandwich. An open-faced assembly of Pork Loin slices, Swiss cheese, Onions, Mojo sauce topped with a Fried Egg. Somehow this chef knows the inner me!!! Not to be missed is the French Toast Special, which was decadently delicious. The dictionary defines decadent as unrestrained gratification…yup, I agree!
John Nigro started Sonny’s over 50 years ago. I just caught up with history! I confess up front…I did not find this place. I heard about it while discussing, the best Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich on the planet, with a few of my foodie friends. I lamented that we can’t get that in Florida and one guy quickly responded, “I know where you can get the best Steak Hogies.” So, when someone gives me a name I Google it and find out what the buzz is. That brought me to a video clip from Guy Fieri’s food show, Diners, Dive-ins & Dives (http://youtu.be/DLMP-eSEV8Y). If you’ve not seen this Food Channel show, it’s a hoot. Guy visits small food establishments around the country and chats with the owner/chef as they prepare their signature dishes for the time-lapse camera. Seeing that video was all it took for me to call some of my pals and head down to Hollywood to see for ourselves. When you go…and you will…you just have to start with the Sonny’s Famous Steak Hogie. It’s a sliced Boneless Rib-Eye, cooked on a flat top, with or without onions and served with or without homemade sauce on a hogie roll baked fresh on premises every day. All four variations are numbered, but to understand the system will drive you crazy even after they explain why there’s a #50, 90, 95 & a 9. OK, I ordered a #90 – Steak Hogie, Plain with Fried Onions. The roll is slightly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and holds up well to the meat and onions. Also a winner was the homemade meatball hogie, not numbered and the pizza, which is thicker than most I’m used to, but not deep, dish. This crispy pizza was loaded with cheese and sauce and we added some more of the meatballs. Believe me when I say that nothing was left! I’ve since been back for a second visit and was rewarded with another fine meal. John’s son and daughter now run the place and from what people lucky enough to live nearby say… it’s still the best. And I agree!
You may have driven past this place on Cordova Road every day and figured it’s a regular eatery. But for those who walk through the wooden pub-like door, it’s a little bit of New England dropped down in Fort Lauderdale. So when a friend who originally hails from Boston recommended that I try it, I enlisted the help of the only alanEATS staff member from New England…my brother! His seafood eating knowledge was acquired during his 40 years in Massachusetts and I figured, who better to advise me and help pay the check. We started off our lunch with the signature New England Clam Chowder, which was rich, not too thick, loaded with clams and diced potatoes. They often offer other special soups that change daily, so do ask. Being a former New Yorker, I stuck with the familiar clam strips while my brother ordered the famous Lobster Roll. While I thoroughly enjoyed my clams our server, with a slight Boston accent, recommended I order the whole Ipswich Clams on the next visit. Having now tried both, I will tell you that both of these are wonderfully prepared and nowhere near the HoJo variety you may have experienced as a kid. The breading is light, not greasy and the clams are not over cooked. My brothers lobster roll was lightly seasoned and the lobster pieces were piled high into the hot dog roll. We returned for dinner a few days later to have 2 of the whole steamed 2 ¼ lb. lobsters. And they do it New England style…just a Bug (slang for lobster) on a plate with some melted butter and you must wear your bib. If you’re the type that enjoys hunting through the little beastie for all the hidden meat you won’t be disappointed. The thing about Kelly’s is there is so much to try on the menu I know I’ll be back soon. Did I mention they have Scrod? If I’ve tempted you to try Kelly’s don’t forget to practice some of the slang you’ll find on the menu like; Chowdah, Lobstah , Gahden Burgah… it’s Bastonian you know!
Bozo’s Sub & Sandwich Shop (Friday Specials)- 601 SW 12th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale
Her name is Rosa Bozeman and she is the owner and head chef of a smallish and Spartan Sub & Sandwich shop in Fort Lauderdale called Bozo’s. If someone doesn’t take you there, you’d probably never bump into it. Even so, Miss Bozeman does a fine job turning out breakfasts and lunches for the locals who gladly wait on-line for her food. But on Friday’s it a whole different menu. And that menu is on a handwritten sign on the counter, because the items will change from week to week…just cause they do! And what you’ll get, and be more that happy to wait for, is some homemade southern comfort food that’s guaranteed to fill your belly and put a smile on your face. On the day I arrived, the menu was Meatloaf and Gravy, Smothered Pork Chops, Oxtails and Fried Chicken. With sides of Okra & Tomato, Collard Greens, Mac N Cheese and Pigeon Peas & Rice. If you think she’d have no time to whip up desserts, you’d be very wrong. I sampled the Banana Pudding and the famous Peach Cobbler. You definitely need to wash all that down with the homemade lemonade. This is not fancy schmancy dining. You order/pay at the counter and move out-of-the-way. Al fresco dining is available outside on three tables. I’m told Miss Bozeman begins her cooking chores early in the morning and continues to dish out the food until the last customer is served. So about the name for the place…well, yes it is part of her name. But it’s her motto on the menu that says it all…”When It Comes To Food We Don’t Clown Around.”
Update: Sadly, Rosa Bozeman has decided to close her shop after serving the community for over 34 years. Read more here.
For the last five years my brother has been telling me about many fabulous restaurants that he wants to take me to, but he just never seems to able to make it happen. Recently he made up for one food promise on the occasion of my Great Nephew’s 11th birthday, who I publicly thank here for selecting Café Bella Sera. And what a restaurant he selected! The Owner/Chef, Pete, I was told, was formally the Chef at one of Fort Lauderdale’s iconic Italian restaurants, so I had high expectations. Our party of seven adults and three children was quickly seated in the dining room, which has a view of the large open kitchen. Waiters seemed to appear, busy getting drinks orders and serving warm crusty Italian bread followed by dishes of olive oil with sliced fresh garlic. And then the family ordering began. We’ll have a dish of this and we must have that and add-on one of those and the kids love the other thing. It was totally out of my hands, strange for me, but I sensed this was to be a memorable, if not immense, meal. So now finally…here’s what I ate, sampled and otherwise enjoyed. The appetizers started with Fried Calamari Bella Sera Style served with long green hot peppers in a Fra Diavlo Sauce. The dish is delicate, not over done or overly hot and the calamari is cut wide. The flavors in that dish are amazing so I had several helpings of that. Arriving next were Fresh Roasted Red Peppers served with Dry Sopressatta & Reggiano Cheese and Fresh Sautéed Baby Artichokes topped with Toasted Italian Bread Crumbs. Then the Jumbo Stuffed Shrimp was served. They looked like small lobster tails. By this time I’m filling up fast and dinner is on its way out. It was recommended that I order the Bone-In Veal Chop Parmigiana. It’s a 16 oz. Veal Chop pounded out, covered with their fresh sauce and cheese and served almost falling off the plate. The veal is tender, the sauce tastes of fresh tomatoes and the generous amount of Mozzarella Cheese is stunning. If you’re hungry and haven’t eaten in a while, this dish is still a challenge to finish. My savvy brother had a Center Cut Filet served with Tuscan Potato Chips. Must say the filet had good flavor and was served at the proper temperature. The birthday boy had Chicken Milanese served plain, which I thought would be dry, but turned out to be moist and tasty. All three kids ate off that portion with some to take home. Other dishes of note were Chicken Francaise, Homemade Lobster Raviolis, and Pete’s Famous Meatballs with Spaghetti. Side orders of Sautéed Spinach and Asparagus completed the meal. After the table was cleared, dessert was ordered and served, but I was almost comatose by then and managed to have small tastes of several things with coffee. The birthday boy had a gigantic piece of Chocolate Cake that he couldn’t make a dent in, while the other two kids fell asleep. Wonderful evening. Good food. Must return here soon!!! Check out the menu and specials before you go.
I must admit I was amazed when I first heard that this upscale fish joint on the intercostal was doing a buffet brunch. At around $35, it’s not the most expensive in Fort Lauderdale, so I couldn’t imagine how they were going to pull it off. If you’ve never been to The Blue Moon Sunday Buffet, your waiter will give you and your guests a tour that includes the four buffet food areas and two display areas for entrées and desserts. After the tour you are urged to go forth and eat…a lot! You’ll find a variety of salads and garlic steamed muscles setup on the restaurants main bar. Nearby is the bread & waffle station. It’s no surprise that Blue Moon has a wonderful fresh raw bar stocked with oysters, clams, peel-and-eat shrimp and sauce options. Adjacent to the raw bar is the custom omelet station. When you’ve consumed your fill of the buffet your waiter will be pleased to bring you an unlimited number of specially prepared small plate entrées. Subject to change, these may include; Salmon Strudel, Crab Cakes, Louisiana Seafood Gumbo, Blackened Mahi Mahi with Vanilla Rum Butter; and Applewood Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Breast of Chicken. One Bloody Mary, Mimosa or Champagne is also included in the deal. Did I mention dessert! If you’re able, your waiter will bring you one of several on display. Reservations a must!
So what do I recommend here? After ordering my Bloody Mary, I go directly for the Steamed Muscles, some of the Salads and some bread. Trip 2, has me at the raw bar for a plate of those wonderful oysters, clams and shrimp. Believe it or not I pass on the omelet station, which is top rate, only because I have my sights on the wonderful entrée items. Try the Salmon, the Chicken and the Crab Cake. As for dessert, I usually ask my server to bring me anything Chocolate…and I’ve never been disappointed! Go! …have fun! …and yes, the view is nice too.
Tropics restaurant is synonymous with Wilton Manors and “the drive.” Sunday Brunch started out here many years ago as a once a month thing and became more frequent as time went on. Now every Sunday the restaurant transforms into one of the most extensive Breakfast Buffets around. Everybody goes there including “alanEATS.” After years of Sunday brunching at Tropics, I have a plan of attack for this monster feast. First, as with all buffets…get there early to avoid the crowds of the uninitiated buffet eaters…those are the ones that scurry around piling on the food. I prefer to gently graze and enjoy the experience. So here’s what I recommend. You’ll want to grab your breakfast stuff first. Choices range from Eggs Benedict to an assortment of Quiche. The usual scrambled and fried eggs are there too, accompanied by Bacon, Sausage, Corned Beef hash and Potatoes O’Brian. There’s even some tame Sushi Rolls with all the extras. You’ll also notice a tray marked French Toast. It actually tastes more like Bread Pudding, so I usually pick some up later to enjoy with a cup of coffee. Now on to the main dining room buffet for Salads, Shrimp, Nova Lox and a Carving Station, which can include; Roast Beef, Ham, Pork and Turkey. In addition, Chef Nate and his staff prepare three main dishes that change weekly. Some favorites you may find are Lasagna, Kielbasa and Sauerkraut, Chicken Purses, Fish & Chips, Beef Pot Pie, Stuff Shells and Jambalaya. Let’s not forget about dessert. These are plated and are lined around the main bar. Here you’ll find an assortment of cakes, pies and cookies. Some are done in-house so please ask your waiter to point them out. All of the above with two beverages will run you under $20. Amazing! Reservations are a must. In season you may have reserve several days in advance.
Update-December 2011- The Tropics Omelet Station is back! Returning this year is omelet Chef extraordinaire Danny, equipped with double burners and an assortment of omelet fillings to make your perfect meal. Just this alone is worth the price of admission. I order one with spinach, bacon and cheese…yum. The omelet station is only here during the winter season so catch it before Chef Danny packs up his pans and heads north.