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Best Of 2010


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Arts & Entertainment

Food & Drink

People & Places


Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Restaurant in Palm Beach County
<b>Michelle Bernstein's at the Omphoy</b>

Slip up the steps to the third floor inside the dark and mysterious Omphoy Hotel and you'll find yourself at Michelle Bernstein's, the fourth restaurant from the eponymous star chef herself. The striking dining room full of backlighting and mirrors is like another dimension in which nothing else is visible but the meal you're about to eat. Start with a Bernstein classic like crispy sweetbreads — here, they're served with lemony gremolada like some bizarro version of fried chicken. Or try her foie gras, a playful take on German pancakes that pairs the melting delicacy with savory maple syrup and crisp apples. Bernstein places emphasis on all things local and sustainable too. From her rooftop garden, she culls produce such as arugula and fennel for a radiant spring salad. And from the waters of the nearby Atlantic — located just outside the restaurant's panoramic window — she plucks fresh snapper to encrust in salt and gently bake, letting those oceanic flavors shine. Although the menu changes daily, the quality never falters. You can feel Bernstein's touch in every dish, from slow-braised short ribs to jam-filled donuts. Even the service is genuinely caring and never feels performed. Yep, even though it's located in some brooding luxury resort in Palm Beach and not in Miami, MB's at the Omphoy is Bernstein from top to bottom.

2842 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach, 33480
Best Place to Drink but Not Eat

Here, at one of the last remaining "Grand Polynesian Palaces of Tiki," the drinks are legendary. They are phenomenal, magical concoctions comprised of rum and fruit juices and time-tested mixology. Whether it's the "barrel o' rum," the piña colada, or the mystery drink (served on fire, with four straws and a personal Polynesian dance), these spirits will take you to another period in Florida's history — a simpler time, when a man with a pompadour hairdo and a woman with a flower behind her ear could stare into each other's eyes and forget about life with some tropical sounds, some twirling fire, and a sweet injection of delicious booze. Unfortunately, there's the Mai-Kai food. Starters come not from some island paradise but seemingly from freezer to fryer. The dried, fried appetizers head right into the expensive-but-bland entrées that also seem cooked during that same time in Florida's history, several decades ago. You can't wash this down with a barrel of liquor or a personal Polynesian dance.

3599 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 33308
Best Waitress
<b>Lori McMahon at Tequila Sunrise</b>

Sometimes a waitress can be so genuinely friendly and attentive that her mere presence feels like a warm hug. If you have sat in Lori McMahon's section at Tequila Sunrise, then you can probably attest to that level of waiterly affection. If you're a regular, you've probably been on the receiving end of numerous actual hugs and countless "rock-on" hand gestures and shouted "love yas" as well as consistently topnotch service. It's impossible not to notice McMahon when dining at the locally loved Mexican restaurant, whether you've drawn the McMahon card or are being attended to by one of the other fine servers. McMahon enlivens the whole atmosphere with her high energy, New York accent, and rocker-in-disguise quirkiness. Among her many adoring fans is owner Schiller Martin. "She's the perfect employee," he said, "heart of gold... she gets along with everyone." Fittingly, it was an act of caring that brought her to South Florida. After working in the fashion industry in Manhattan for ten years, she came down to take care of a honeymooning friend's dog, cat, iguana, and bird. Now she takes care of other, perhaps stranger, creatures most nights of the week.

4711 N. Dixie Highway, Oakland Park, 33334
Best Comfort Food
<b>Bash Wine Cafe & Catering</b>

These days, everyone could use some comforting. And what's more calming than food handcrafted with passion and care at a decent price? That's precisely what you'll get at Bash, a homey little strip-mall café in Sunrise where nothing on the menu tops $19. Chef and owner Nikki Pettineo — a private chef for the likes of football players Renaldo Hill and Ronnie Brown — envisioned this low-cost café and wine bar as a place where even those hard-strapped by the recession can come and enjoy a home-cooked meal and a bottle of wine. Her menu has the same warming effect as a hand-knit woolen stole. There are short ribs braised in cola and pork chops with apple chutney. Mac and cheese is creamy and baked with crispy bread-crumb topping, and even the chicken wings, napped in garlic and vinegar, have a pleasant, placating effect. If any fear were left unabated after all that, the cheery staff would smooth it out with the soothing promise of a deep-fried brownie or three.

10053 Sunset Strip, Sunrise, 33322
Best Restaurant When Someone Else Is Paying
<b>Eduardo de San Angel</b>

A case could be mounted that Eduardo runs the most consistently mind-blowing kitchen in Broward County. Exotic-sounding dishes — like the "Cactus Paddle Bocadillo" appetizer, herb-rubbed and stuffed with pork tenderloin — are transformed into comfort food by the house's unparalleled intimacy, the servers' incredible warmth, and the cooks' almost neurotic attention to detail. Even those dishes that gringos might fear — like an ancho chile-flavored crepe, filled with cuitlacoche, Serrano chilies, onions, asadero cheese, and squash blossom sauce — go down like something familiar, if not something entirely known. The experience is exquisitely relaxing, and in the midst of it, the last thing you ought to worry about is a bill. So don't.

2822 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33308-4206
Best Breakfast
<b>Dune Deck Cafe</b>

You're in Florida, so if you're going to be spending Sunday morning eating French toast and sipping mimosas, shouldn't you do it on the beach? Damned right, you should. At Dune Deck Cafe, situated atop the dunes of Lantana Beach, breakfast (or brunch or lunch, for that matter) comes with a pristine view of the Atlantic Ocean, located, oh, about 30 feet to the east of your seat. In the salty air up there, the eggs just taste eggier, the stone crabs crabbier, and the bloody marys bloodier. Service is swift, and the coffee is strong. And the stuffed French toast is the sort of custardy goodness Parisians dream about. Add daily specials like Florida lobster Benedict and fresh fish plucked from the docks up the road and you've got a breakfast fit for even the most sun-baked of Floridians. Just don't forget change for the meters.

100 S. Ocean Blvd., Lantana, 33462

Best Restaurant in Palm Beach County: Michelle Bernstein's at the Omphoy


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