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.
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!
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.
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.
On the beach, off A1A and Commercial Blvd., is a fun place to have Sunday Brunch near the beach. It’s not expensive and the food is good, so get ready to be there at 11am when they open or be prepared to wait. Everything here is on one line, so take what you crave most on the first pass or you may have to wait on line again. Which is, I’ll happily admit, what I did! While there are fewer dishes here than at some of the other places I’ve been to, what’s offered is plentiful and satisfying. Get your plate and load up on the breads and spreads. As you turn the bend you have Scrambled Eggs, Eggs Benedict, Breakfast Meats, Corn Beef Hash, Grits, Sliced Roast Beef, Cheese Blintzes, Fresh Fruit, French Toast, Waffles, and real Maple Syrup if you like. You know, I’m not one to pile on the food and then slather on the diet Aunt Jemima at the end because I feel guilty. NOT ME I!! Normally I’m just too busy enjoying my food to notice much, but I must admit, having breakfast on the beach in front of a large picture window with a view of the sea, the beach and the people is like one of those “wish you were here” cards you’d send your friends back north. It’s priceless. Coffee and drinks are extra, but there are usually some desserts as part of the deal.
There really is a Luigi and you can see him preparing food in front of the coal oven to the rear of the dining room. He’s authentic, from Milan I’m told, and so is the food. Pizza here is thin and crisp with plenty of Luigi’s homemade sauce. Ok, there are several places that do coal oven pizza. This one is up there with the best. I usually order the House Salad that can feed 2 or 3. Oh yes, bring someone to eat with you or you’ll end up packing it up or making friends on-the-fly. Try the Mozzarella in Carrozza served with a dish of tomato sauce, the Chicken Wings done in the coal oven served with caramelized onions and focaccia bread and also a couple of Luigi’s Meatballs. Now let’s talk about the pizza. Pizza is one of those food products that engender a passionate following. We all know the ones we don’t like and the ones we would crawl across broken glass to get our hands on. I’ve dined at Luigi’s on several occasions and must say that I have enjoyed his crisp thin coal oven pizza. I may not be a pizza purest, but in the end I know one thing…it has to taste good. And Luigi’s did not disappoint me. Try the Margherita Napoletana Pizza. It’s simple and tasty and you can always add a topping. Now after that you’d figure, he’s done. Sorry no! Normally I don’t have desserts, but you should not leave Luigi’s without having a portion of his Italian Cheesecake. Mangia!
If you don’t know what this is all I can say is…where have you been hiding! Food trucks are hot. This West Coast phenomenon has made its way to south Florida in a big way. These gourmet food palaces on wheels serve up tasty treats representing many different cuisines. How do you find them? Usually you hear about one truck and begin to follow them on Twitter. Every day the trucks, with names like; Big Kahuna, Clara Belles, Daddy’s Grill, Divan Bakery, Dog Eat Dog, Gastro Pod, Giuseppe’s Italian, Jefe’s Original, Latin Burger, Miso Hungry, MsCheezious, Nacho Bizness, Nacho MaMa, Purple People Eatery, Red Koi, Slow Food Truck and the Rolling Stove to name a few, will tweet where they will be. When lots of these trucks link up at one location the result is a mobile food court party. Every Tuesday, BTTR assembles 30 food trucks near the campus of Johnson & Wales University. The result is an amazing selection of foods prepared while you wait. Hundreds of folks turn out to walk the line of trucks as they try to read the menus and make their selections. A large lawn nearby serves as your dining room. Just throw down a blanket and enjoy your meal. The atmosphere is an electric combination of sounds and smells. See more BTTR pix on my alanEATS Facebook Page. http://on.fb.me/iBp6o0
I grew up in the Bronx, that’s NY, and for me a kosher hotdog was the start of any meal at the local deli. Back then, unless you were from Chicago, who knew anything else existed other than a Hebrew National dog on a steamed bun with brown mustard and sauerkraut. A Chicago dog is truly different and I have found it to be something to be savored & enjoyed. One of the best places to try one is Hot Dog Heaven. It’s a small roadside stand with a devoted group of customers who gladly wait on-line during lunch to wrap their lips around this dog. I order the Super Dog served on a steamed poppy-seed bun with the works; yellow mustard, sliced pickles, hot sport peppers, tomatoes and salary salt. Couple that with fries and a drink and you’re done. They have many other items on the menu that I’m sorry to say I haven tried, but will on future trips.