Sweeter Days Bake Shop

Sweeter Days Bake Shop1497 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-396-3979, http://www.sweeterdaysbakeshop.com

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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!

Sweeter Days Bake Shop Sweeter Days Bake Shop

© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

 

Rock n Roll Ribs

Rock n Roll Ribs – 4651 State Rd 7, Coral Springs, Coral Creek Plaza, 954-345-7429, http://www.rocknrollribs.org

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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.

Rock n Roll Ribs Rock n Roll Ribs Rock n Roll Ribs

© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Rosie’s Bar & Grill

Rosie’s Bar & Grill– 2449 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, (954) 563-0123 – http://www.rosiesbarandgrill.com

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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.

Rosie's Bar & Grill – Burger NirvanaRosirs- Chicken QuesadillaRosies- Ham & Swiss Club Rosies- Young Ranch Hand

© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Diner By-The-Sea

Diner By-The-Sea- 215 Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, (954) 491-0642 http://on.fb.me/ZipKni

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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.

Diner By-The-Sea Diner By-The-Sea Diner By-The-Sea Diner By-The-Sea

© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Texas Hold’em BBQ

Texas Hold ’em BBQ, 2528 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, (954) 527-4115 – http://www.texasholdembbq.com

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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.

Texas Hold'en BBQ Texas Hold'en BBQ Texas Hold'en BBQ Texas Hold'en BBQ

© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Green Bar & Kitchen

Green Bar & Kitchen- 1075 SE 17th St, Fort Lauderdale, (954) 533-7507 – http://greenbarkitchen.com/menu/

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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!

Green Bar & KitchenGreen Bar & KitchenGreen Bar & KitchenGreen Bar & Kitchen

© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Pomperdale’s NY Style Deli

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.

Pomperdales

Taps & Tapas at The Manor

Taps & Tapas at the Manor- 2345 Wilton Drive,
Wilton Manors http://www.themanorcomplex.com/html/dine.php

Have you ever had writers block?  You know what I mean…you sit in front of a blank piece of paper or computer screen for days and pour out dribble, which as it turns out, makes no sense.  So it was with me after I accepted an offer to write about a place that sits on a site with an old history and a new one in the making. Ok, let’s go back in time a bit. Before the Manor was the Entertainment Complex it is today, it was the site of a wonderful small neighborhood restaurant/bar named Costello’s. The food was good American/Continental fare with reasonably priced food and a terrific bar menu that became half price during happy hour. In time the restaurant was sold and the new owners tried to upscale the place. They changed the name to “Food Amongst The Flowers”, renovated the interiors, added to the menu, increased the prices and provided the only “fine dining” experience on the drive. That lasted a relatively short time closing in 2009. The Manor Complex is on the same site, but housed in a greatly expanded building comprising a two-story dance club, several bars, with places to sit and observe & be seen and a restaurant. The original Manor Restaurant opened with much anticipation and an elegant and ambitious menu. Perhaps too ambitious. As time pasted they must have realized that a change was needed. Today the Manor restaurant has evolved into a more informal venue, Taps & Tapas. The trend toward Gastropub style food fits this location better than past efforts. It’s the right fit for before, during or after a fun evening. In addition to the regular full bar They built a separate bar where you can order 24 tap beers with an additional 100 available in bottles.

So what did I try and enjoy, you might ask. I joined a few friends for a visit recently and was immediately impressed with the smaller more focused menu.  We started with several “Small Plate” dishes. The standout was the Grilled Manor Wings 3-Ways. I have no idea why many places deep-fry the life out of these poor things and then smother them in a sauce. We ordered ours nude with all of the sauces on the side. Grilling the wings gave us the flavor without the extra grease. Flatbreads are perfect pub food. We tried the JD BBQ Chicken version with Red Onions, Tomato and Monterey Jack cheese. On another visit I had the Cajun Sausage; Mozzarella, Red Pepper & Onion with Chipotle Mayo Drizzle. There two meatless flatbreads that I must try on another visit. The Shrimp Orzo is sautéed shrimp and orzo in a Parmesan and Jack Cheese Cream Sauce topped with Marinara. While rich and decadent the marinara sauce levels it out.

Although the menu lists several Salads, Sandwiches and Burgers we chose from the “House Plates” offerings.  Dishes I tasted and enjoyed and would order again include; Grilled Skirt Steak, Grilled Argentinian Steak and the Bronze Roasted Salmon. The steaks like all the grilled items here are done to the temperature ordered. Be advised that they have a really good grill man here. The salmon was good, simply done and reasonably priced. I couldn’t help thinking, however, how that salmon would be, brushed with a little Teriyaki or Tamari Sauce and lightly grilled. Just think’n.

Clear your mind of the past. In the restaurant business its who are you now that counts? The folks at the Manor have done their soul-searching and are their way to make new history in this location. If you find yourself on the “Drive” or enjoying one of the Manors other venues, a visit here is definitely worth it.

See more photos with descriptions on my Facebook site. http://on.fb.me/LFTAlV

© 2012 alanEATS

JoJo’s Tacos – Restaurant/Café

JoJo’s Tacos-Restaurant/Café- 216 E Commercial Blvd, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea  http://www.jojostacos.com/

I’m really not sure how I heard about this place, but I heard enough good buzz to check out their website. One glance at the on-line menu got my mojo going! This is a Taco Restaurant, but if you ask Chef Joseph Parson’s, he might tell you that his place is just a “Taco stand.” I get it, but believe me…this place is more. To me, JoJo’s has an East Village, New York vibe to it…very casual and unpretentious with a nice mix of people. The space has some tables, but the best seats in the house have got to be along the long counter facing the open kitchen. From here you can see your food being freshly prepared as you watch the finely choreographed movements of the kitchen staff as they do multiple things simultaneously. One person puts something in a skillet another steps in and adds some ingredients a third retrieves some tacos shells toasting on the flat top. These folks are real serious about their food. In one respect it is like a taco stand, in that you order at the front counter. If you need plates, napkins or silverware you get up off your keister and pick up what you need from the sideboard in the center of the restaurant. After that it’s just good eating.  For starters I order “the Guac” served with House-made Chips. I could eat this chunky style guacamole all by myself, but my dining guests insisted I share and I figured had to save room for what was coming next anyway. My favorite Taco is the Peachy Pollo; Peach Smoked Chicken with Blistered Corn, Habanero Peach Aioli, Romaine and
 Queso Blanco. It has good flavor and just enough heat to make you smile without looking for a beverage. I also enjoyed the Shrooms & Asp (Asparagus), Cathy’s Catch and Sarge’s Piglet. Try one of the Quesos. These are skillet dishes served with House made chips, perfect for sharing if you’re not dining with me! The Chicken Queso is wonderful and the Chorizo version has more of the spicy kick I look for. There are daily specials and you’ll find them posted up front. On one visit I could not resist the Short Ribs Special. This is tender, fall off the bone and served up JoJo’s style. There are so many things I want to try, but if I don’t improve my sharing skills no one will go with me!

Click the link to see more pictures from JoJo’s with descriptions.  http://on.fb.me/uIGBeh

© 2011 alanEATS

Betty’s Soul Food Restaurant

Betty’s Soul Food Restaurant- ‪‪601 NW 22nd Rd, Fort Lauderdale

Betty’s is to Fort Lauderdale what Sylvia’s is to Harlem. And like that great New York soul food restaurant, people who know good Southern cooking in Fort Lauderdale must inevitably show up at Betty’s. I’ve heard about this place forever so after further recommendations from Clean Plate Charlie and an article from Jamie Long, both from New Times, I ventured out to try Betty’s with a foodie friend who knows Southern cooking. The place has thirteen tables and seven counter stools, all full when we arrived for lunch. I’m told Betty plays to a full house every day and for many good reasons. One would be for the Fried Chicken and that’s what I came for this day. “Hello there, I hear the chicken is good here” I said to the server. “Best you’ll ever have,” she answered confidently! With our orders placed, I continued to lust over the menu. It was difficult to pass up some of my other Southern favorites like Oxtail, Beef Ribs, Smothered Pork Chops, Chicken Livers and Fried Mullet. And then there was the stuff I always wanted to try like Pigs Tails, Ham Hocks, Neck Bones and Chitterlings. Oh my! …you must never leave me alone in this place or I’ll order it all!  Regaining my composure I stuck to the plan, crispy Fried Chicken, with Candied Yams and Black-eyed Peas. The Chicken here is nothing short of amazing.  Each order is prepared using Betty’s secret wet batter and fried up as needed, served hot and cooked perfectly. After a short while I had done such a good job of striping every morsel of meat off the bones they could have reassembled it as a science project. The sides of Yams and Peas were perfect for me, but next time I need to try the Mac N Cheese, Collards, Pigeon Peas & Rice, and Cabbage.  Sadly I did not get to meet Betty on this trip, but I did chat with our server on the way out to tell her how much we enjoyed lunch, to which she replied with a big smile and a wink, “I told you it was the best you’d ever tasted!”  I’ll be back soon Betty!

Update- March 26, 2012 – And back I did go recently for another helping of that really good Fried Chicken with Collards and Mac & Cheese this time. My dining companion had the same with the Fried Okra. Everyone in the place is genuine and happy to see you, even when we walked in after the normal lunch service. Regards to Connie, our server on this visit, a person who it seemed could be in many places at the same time. And finally, I did get to meet Betty. I thought she might scold me for not coming back sooner, as I had promised. Not so, but I’ll try not to let that happen again, I’ve got far too much to try!

© 2011 alanEATS