Small specialty bakeshops like this started turning up around New York’s Greenwich Village around 15 years ago. Many would set up in old brownstone storefronts where I remember frequently having to wait on-line in the summer sun to get one of the baked treats inside. I think that was fun! The owners of Sweeter Days have created an oasis of confections in a small shopping center away from the downtown area, where they produce a stunning array of cupcakes. They also make cookies and brownies. But it was a cupcake I was in for recently and so my buddy Matt, a cupcake aficionado, selected for me… a Salted Caramel with White Cake. Macadamia Nut & Almond Buttercream. Wow! What did that taste like? Don’t ask…run down now and get your own!
Tucked into a shopping center in Coral Springs is a Rock n Roll themed BBQ restaurant that the locals flock to when they want to get their “Heavy Metal” Q on. My twelve-year-old nephew is a regular and made me promise to try the Baby Back Ribs. Turns out this kid can eat a full rack on his own. What you get is St. Louie style ribs that are first smoked then liberally brushed with sauce and finished off on the grill. The meat falls off the bone and the sauce has that nice tang that you’ll happily lick off your fingers. We also liked the X-large Stack of Onion Rings with spicy Grammy Sauce for dipping. The well-rounded menu has many options for non-Q folks like hotdogs, burgers, chicken and fish. Causal, friendly and a no brainer especially if you live in the area.
From the way it looks now, its hard to believe that Rosie’s occupies a building that was once a Burger King, however many folks also remember that site as Hamburger Mary’s. Today, everyone in Wilton Manors is well aware that Rosie’s Bar & Grill is the place to go for Burgers, sandwiches, salads and unique dishes that keeps both locals and visitors coming back for more. Try the Burger Nirvana, Rosie’s top prize winning entry in the 2013 Riverwalk Burger Battle IV, and you can try 24 additional specialty burgers on the menu. Some other standout items for me were a grilled chicken sandwich called Young Ranch Hand a Grilled Shrimp, bacon, cheese thing called the Key West Club and a spicy chicken tender wrap with the name The Gypsy Rosie Lee Wrap. The menu is large so take your time. Also check out their Sunday brunch menu. Try any of their Belgian waffles with fresh fruit toppings!!! Wow. Sunday brunch is extremely popular so go early or be prepared to wait. Not too bad if you’re enjoying one of their wonderful Mojitos.
Well… it is close to the sea, about 2 blocks, but it’s the old-time diner experience and honest food you’ll remember. A smallish storefront restaurant that really is like a diner once you walk through the door. The menu has the usual list of items for breakfast and lunch, but it’s the prices that make you think you’ve gone back in time. The portions of food are generous and the staff is homey and friendly enough to prod you along with your order if you can’t decide. Expect it to be busy on the weekends and many evenings.
This place recently moved to a new water view location on Federal Hwy. They say “third times the charm”, so if true, owner Jay Armstead is well on his way. This is Texas style BBQ…smoked with dry rub and a tangy vinegar based sauce offered on the side. BBQ favorites include Pork Ribs (Spare Rib & Baby Back), Pulled Pork, Brisket, BBQ Chicken and more. I usually order the 6-bone Spare Rib dinner with collards and slaw. Liked their Mac ’n Cheese too. Click here for more info.
I have to say this first…I’m not a vegan and don’t think I will be one, however, the Green Bar is a non-threatening vegan eatery with enough interesting, healthy and flavorful dishes to satisfy most people. Having looked at the menu before arriving, I was ready to have the Firecracker Kale, recommended by a fellow food hound, but was sidelined by one of the day’s specials…the ”Chickun” Salad Sandwich. Amazingly my brain recognized it immediately as chicken salad. The sandwich was served on grain bread and I opted for a cup of their soup of the day…Sweet Potato & Garlic Soup with its creamy pungent goodness. I washed the sandwich down with my first taste of Kombucha– this mildly fermented green tea is said to promote good stomach and liver health. Along with daily specials you can find Craft Beers, Wines, Juices, Smoothies and a Bakery. I’m told they do a Sunday Brunch with eggs that are not eggs and bacon that is not bacon. The people here are friendly and the place is cheerful and clean. While I wasn’t converted, I must say that I will be back to taste more. Like my mother’s chicken soup, it couldn’t hurt!
Pomperdale’s NY Style Deli- 3055 E Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
I’m originally from New York, where “deli” is a way of life. Most folks who have lived in the City remember the Carnegie, the Stage, Sarge’s, the Second Avenue Deli and Katz’s to name a few of the oldest and best known. Those NY deli sandwiches are things of beauty…overstuffed wonderful layers of deli meats on fresh seeded rye bread with a schemer of spicy brown deli mustard and so huge you can barely bite into it. Each restaurant usually prepares its’ meats in their own special way. I can’t tell you why, but Florida deli’s have a difficult time duplicating this. Some say…lack of NY water! Each year there seems to be fewer places offering anything close.
It’s understandable, then, why lots of displaced New Yorkers appear driven to find good Corned Beef or Pastrami sandwiches. I don’t know if it’s just nostalgia or a physical need to absorb the fatty steamed meats of another time and place, but many eventually find their way to Pumperdale’s on Commercial Blvd. It’s a surprisingly friendly place with lots of customers who jam in for one of closest NY Deli experiences you’re going to find in the area. Now don’t get me wrong…it’s not NY, but for a deli-starving expat from the Big Apple, this is just fine. It should be noted there are a few rules . Step into the restaurant and you’re on a fast-moving line, so slackers beware… know what you want a.s.a.p. cause there are other hungry people behind you. Need a beverage???…Go to the beverage cooler in the back to select one of the Dr. Brown’s flavors (they have other stuff, but does it really matter?) and find a seat. The small tables are close together so make friends and listen for your order…then pick it up and enjoy. The folks here are friendly and if you should want to show your appreciation, put a little money in the tip-jar and the sandwich mavens behind the counter will thank you and shout-out “SUBWAY.” It’s a throwback to the old days when the tip money was used to ride home on the NY subway. After eating & schmoozing, step up to the cashier and recite what you ate as it’s rung in to the register, then pay and you’re done. On one trip I was behind a lady who couldn’t recall what she had just eaten. “Well,” she said with a quizzical look, “I’m not quite sure, but it was very good!” And for South Florida, Pomperdale’s really is.
Update March 13, 2013 –Since writing the original story in 2011 I’ve been back to Pomperdale’s many times. During one of those visits I learned that the owner had passed away. With each subsequent trip I began to notice changes in the food that never seemed to measure up to the experience I had first described. After a while I stopped going altogether and had almost forgotten about the place until a fellow deli hound mentioned that he had been there and had a really good sandwich. Really? So, off I went to Pomperdale’s to see for myself. While there are some physical changes the place still had that deli look, but a little more polished. There is a change in the rules…food orders are now taken and paid for at the front counter, before you eat. I wasted no time and quickly ordered my favorite deli…Pastrami on Rye. This time around the sandwich was so much better. The right amount of fat and lean and briny flavor I look for. Whole slices and no pile of crumbs, an honest sandwich and a fitting tribute to the original Pomperdale owner and to the new owners, who have succeeded in restoring the quality and flavor of the original. I be back.