Best of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of 2012

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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Bagels
Way Beyond Bagels

This market, featuring all manner of Jewish delicacies, truly lives up to its name. In one deli case, a baker sets out rainbow marzipan bars and rugelach in apricot, berry, and chocolate. Nearby, an employee doles out servings of smoked fish. Bagels are still the hallmark, though — they're baked here hourly, so the smell of the vaguely sweet, aromatic rounds fills the space. Kettle-boiled, then baked, each bagel offers a crispy crust and a chewy interior: These are the New York-style bagels of legend. Nonstandard flavors include veggie, cinnamon crunch, sourdough pecan, and seven grain. Pick up a selection of cream cheeses to go with.

16850 Jog Rd., Delray Beach, 33484
MAP
561-638-1320
Best Broward County Restaurant
Market 17
Candace West

Lauren DeShields is a young chef with discipline. She assembles dish after graceful dish with local products that transform the craft of cooking into an art. An acolyte of chef Dean Max of 3030 Ocean, DeShields is among the most pedigreed young chefs in town. If you've got coin, splurge for the grand tasting menu: a 17-course tour de force full of surprises, from the amuse-bouche teaser down to the whimsy of dessert. You may find the snapper and shrimp ceviche layered with red pepper, lime, and cilantro — a palate cleanser with a bite of heat. Or antelope — a brawny plate, dressed in savory soy and ginger marinade, served over a bed of quinoa. You may wrap things up with a cheese course, with raw-milk blue and Morimoto Soba Ale cheddar. Served with a tangy beet/date chutney and Marcona almonds, they're one of many delicious bites on a memorable journey.

1850 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale, 33316
MAP
954-835-5507
Best Palm Beach County Restaurant
Max's Harvest
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Cedar+Key+clams%3A+with+tasso%2C+corn%2C+tomato%2C+cilantro%2C+Chardonnay%2C+and+grilled+ciabatta.

There's a danger in getting too attached to any one dish at Dennis Max's "farm to fork" restaurant in Pineapple Grove. Although one may be tempted to develop a dependency on pan-seared gnocchi spiked with morel mushrooms and truffled fondue, or a tempura-battered squash blossom stuffed with creamy goat cheese, that would be a mistake. With its reliance on purveyors like Green Cay Farms, Heritage Hen Farm, and Farmer Jay Pure Organics, the restaurant's daily menu depends entirely on what is good, fresh, and sustainable. There are mainstays, of course, but dishes evolve with the seasons, following nature's arc of availability. With two outdoor seating areas (one streetside and the other on a quieter back patio complete with a waterfall) and two dining rooms, the environs can vary just as much as the offerings on the table. The kitchen is open, a wise design move that gives diners a bit of a show. Executive chef Chris Miracolo and crew work magic with their fleeting stock, finessing, say, something as flat as microgreens into a vessel that one uses to sop up every last speckle of a guava pepper jelly. If it's something you can't live without, order seconds. Nature is an ever-fluctuating supplier, and Max's Harvest intends to keep up.

169 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach, 33444
MAP
561-381-9970
Best New Broward County Restaurant
Tap 42 Bar & Kitchen
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Shortly after Tap 42 opened, New Times panned it in a January review, and commenters on Yelp and Urbanspoon went nuts complaining of lax service and uneven food. Some restaurants shutter after such a rough start, but Tap 42 responded by hiring a new chef, a new manager, and a staff that's nearly unrecognizable from opening night. The changes are dramatic. The service is now spot-on, with a staff that's educated about the extensive beer, bourbon, and wine lists. The kitchen is putting out consistently stellar food, from a burger that's among the best around to salads locally sourced at Marando Farms. Then there's the stunning space, including a sweeping bar backsplash made of 15,000 pennies and cross-cut wood beams that are sunk into the back wall. The bar has been crowded since day one, but where you'd once hear grumbling about servers who'd gone missing and food that came out wrong, nowadays the talk is about Tap 42's comeback.

1411 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 33316
MAP
954-463-4900
Best New Palm Beach County Restaurant
Kapow! Noodle Bar
CandaceWest.com

The naysayers claimed it couldn't be done. They sniffed and smirked, saying a noodle bar with an edgy style and fun concept couldn't survive in a brisket-loving city of grayhairs. But more than half a year after opening, this Mizner Park restaurant can thumb its nose at early detractors. The spot is flourishing, thanks in no small part to the challenging but accessible dishes streaming out of the kitchen during a slamming dinner hour and an aesthetic that is simultaneously trendy and unpretentious. The restaurant specializes in steaming bowls of noodles swimming in fragrant broth, but it's the small plates — a sticky bun crammed with smoky mushrooms, hamachi with grapefruit-ginger poached pears — that give one pause. With a young chef eager to prove her chops and a team of experienced restaurateurs to steer operations, it's a story of controlled experimentation — and South Florida diners are fortunate to reap the results.

431 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, 33432
MAP
561-347-7322
Best Broward County Chef
Angelo Elia, of Casa D'Angelo
Courtesy of Casa D'Angelo

Angelo Elia has nothing to prove. He has already earned his reputation as a terrific chef, this Florida resident who arrived from the region near Naples, Italy, more than 20 years ago. At his elegant namesake institution and four spinoffs, he offers stunning dishes and graceful service. Humble cuts like osso buco are elevated from simple veal flanks to lust-worthy plates, served with sides of marrow. Carbonara is the perfect combination of egg, cheese, guanciale, and herbs on homemade pasta. Some recipes come straight from Elia's mother's restaurants in Italy, and many of his ingredients are well-traveled too, all the way down to imported yeast. An original DIY-er, Elia makes bread in-house and makes some cheeses too. He employs four pizzaiolos, and his restaurants offer the most extensive wine selections around — some 20,000 bottles. Despite all this, he's prepping for more. Two restaurants will debut in Palm Beach County this year, and a bakery and gelateria is on the docket for Delray. Thanks, chef.

1201 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 33304-1456
MAP
954-564-1234
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9 SE 7th Ave., Delray Beach, 33483
MAP
561-330-1237
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Best Bagels: Way Beyond Bagels

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