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Best Of 2013


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Arts & Entertainment

Food & Drink


Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best New Restaurant — Palm Beach County
The Grove
Candace West

Breeding the perfect show dog takes a prestigious pedigree, thorough training, and a handsome build. If restaurants were dog shows, the Grove would definitely win Best in Show. The two young chefs who run the entire kitchen are both grads of the most prestigious cooking school in the U.S.: the Culinary Institute of America. (There's the pedigree.) Chef/partner Michael Haycook went on to become sommelier at Zuma and D.B. Modern Bistro in Miami. Resident chef Meghan O'Neal worked in Chicago for Grant Achatz, at Alinea and Next, and Paul Kahan, at Publican Quality Meats. (There's the training.) Combine those backgrounds with a comforting, contemporary atmosphere, a constantly evolving menu, a wine list that would please even the pickiest wine geeks (wines range from $25 to $1,800), and friendly, prompt service and you have yourself the prized poodle of the restaurant scene.

187 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach, 33444
Best Bartender

Jacques Bruna is a man of many hats. A musician, a lyricist, a friend, a family man. In this case, Jacques (or "Bleubird") is a bartender, and a damned fine one at that. Working at Laser Wolf for just a little under a year, Jacques tends bar "to make helicopter cash," he says. Still, Bruna takes pride in his work, describing all of the hours there as "happy" when asked for advice on the best time to come in for a drink, and everything is "special." Ask him for a recommendation and Bruna will tell you that Laser Wolf "only serves the best beer, so you can't go wrong!" He knows your name, remembers your face, and if he doesn't say much, it's because he's listening. Fast with his wit, Bruna is even faster on his feet. When one night, a regular suddenly started looking ill and feeling even worse, the man stepped up when no one else would to drive this friend and patron home safely (because no one else knew how to drive stick). Don't rely on the bartenders at Laser Wolf as a regular cab service, but that is the stuff a Best Bartender is made of. "He really wasn't doing so good," Bruna says. "I had never seen him like that. Bartender or not—why wouldn't you help someone if you could?" After all, the sign on the door does say "No Jerks."

901 Progresso Dr., Fort Lauderdale, 33304
Best Pizza
Annie's Pizza & Subs of Margate

No category is more hotly contested than Best Pizza. Everyone has an opinion, and with so many former New Yorkers living in our midst, most of those opinions are negative. (We get it. New York has the best pizza.) But Annie's Pizza & Subs meets all the requirements for a perfect pie: Slices are bigger than your face. There's a good sauce-to-cheese ratio. And when you bite in — scalding the roof of your mouth a little because you just couldn't wait — the cheese stretches the length of your arm before breaking loose yet doesn't slide off in a cheese avalanche. At Annie's, when you fold the slice at the top, grease drips down your arm, and the tip of the floppy slice points downward at a 45-degree angle. Feel free to argue that you can't get good pizza down here and write an essay extolling the magical properties of New York water in the baking of pizza dough. After rousing from our pizza-induced coma, we're going to actively ignore you and eat another slice.

2524 N. State Road 7, Margate, 33063-5722
Best Falafel

Run by Mohod Flafil and his wife, Hanna, this is not just a falafel stand. The goods here range from yogurt soda to hookah tobacco to halal meats from the deli. If you've been hunting down a rare ingredient or craving some baklava, this well-organized, clean, brightly lit little shop is the place to stop. Then, of course, there's the falafel. Hanna (who prepares the food) is not stingy — there are plenty of crispy chickpea balls in the nearly foot-long tube of pita bread — which is baked and delivered to the shop every day but Sunday. A falafel sandwich comes with tomatoes, onion, pickles, and tahini sauce, but they will gladly leave off any topping you don't want. The falafel meal includes a drink and a piece of baklava. (Do NOT skip the baklava.) Falafel balls are also available minus the sandwich for 70 cents apiece.

4344 U.S. 441, Coconut Creek, 33073
Best Burger

Tucked away in a converted house on the outskirts of Delray Beach's Pineapple Grove is the juiciest, meatiest, most delicious burgers that can be found in South Florida. On the corner of NE Third Street and Third Avenue, the appropriately named 3rd & 3rd creates burger magic. A firm brioche bun cradles a perfectly seared patty of luscious beef with lettuce, tomato, onion, and choice of pepper jack, cheddar, Swiss, or blue cheese. Those ingredients alone make for the perfect burger. Add the balsamic red onion jam and you have yourself a match made in heaven.

301 NE Third Ave., Delray Beach, 33444
Best French Fries
Gilbert's 17th Street Grill

Traditional fries have an old-school appeal that means they'll always be the most popular kid in school: the quarterback, the letterman, the prom king. But like the intense, art-school loner who charms all the ladies, there's something special about the orange-hued uniqueness of a sweet-potato fry. And when they're hand-cut and fried to a light, gentle crisp, it's easy to pass up your average-joe potato. At the family-owned Gilbert's 17th Street Grill, you can pair 'em with a juicy burger or make 'em your main course — they're downright addictive. They'll come out piping hot, sitting coyly atop newsprint. Place your order at the counter and sit a spell in the casual, no-frills dining room. Once you've inhaled an order or two, you may need to be rolled out. But a tryst with these homemade treasures is well worth the aftermath.

1821 Cordova Rd., Fort Lauderdale, 33316

Best New Restaurant — Palm Beach County: The Grove


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