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Best Of 2015


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Arts & Entertainment

Food & Drink

Readers' Choice


Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Place to Dine Alone
Anthony's Runway 84

There are times when the inevitable happens and you find yourself hungry without a friend or date to join you for dinner. Instead of pulling up to some fast-food drive-through and scarfing a value meal in your car in desperation, try dining at Anthony's Runway 84's lounge. The airplane-themed room is designed to make you feel like you're in a jetliner. As you settle into a seat, you can just imagine your flight attendant announcing that the takeoff was perfect and to settle in for a lovely flight as you look at a perpetual twilight sky out of mock airplane windows. As Sinatra softly croons in the background, order a glass of wine or a martini and peruse the menu. Your food order will be taken by a different waiter. The menu is classic Italian — gigantic meatballs served with ricotta ($12), a spicy coil of sausage with broccoli rabe ($13), and a chicken Parm to die for ($24), but it's the Sicilian peppers — stuffed with capers, cheese, bread crumbs, and anchovies ($10) — that are the jewel in Anthony's crown. The bar is always lively, filled with a mix of young professionals and old-timers, and no one is alone for more than a few minutes. On a recent Saturday, a man out alone for the evening was persuaded to join a party of women, while two couples compared (and shared) meals with one another. Think of it as Cheers, owned by a guy named Tony.

330 State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale, 33315
Best Restaurant in Broward County
Candela Restaurant

Just one block south of Oakland Park Boulevard and over a canal that hems the northern edge of the Island City, chef-owner Armando Vega and his wife, Yudaris, will deliver your dish as if you were family. Inside their 15-table restaurant, the Cuban-born couple dish out carefully sourced and lovingly cooked Latin and Mediterranean cuisine. Charcuterie, like the $16 ham made from Iberico pigs that feed on acorns, is presented on a wooden cutting board, with specialty cheeses if you please. (Try the manchego, a nutty sheep's cheese, cured for more than a year.) Other delights imported from Spain include medium-grain rice from Murcia; mahón, a soft cow's-milk cheese from the island of Minorca; and olive oil from Jaén, a city in the south. Entrées like grilled octopus ($16) and oxtail medallions ($21) are specialties, and the wait staff will attentively refill your water or wine while you feast. The rustic, red-walled hideaway is accented with handmade wooden wine racks and Vega's family china, and the corks of emptied wine bottles are evidence of the gastronomic merriment that's taken place over the years.

Readers' Choice: Chow Sushi BBQ

2909 NE Sixth Ave., Wilton Manors, 33335
Best New Restaurant in Broward County

At the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's new Japanese-style restaurant, paying $24 for a tower of toro the size of a Ping-Pong ball is worth it. That pile of toro is rich and creamy, paired with a trio of sauces — salty, spicy, and sweet — and served with a basket of crispy wontons fried into pillow-shaped balloons. Kuro translates to "black" in Japanese, but that's less about having black-colored decor and more about a certain noir sexiness that permeates the place. The 9,500-square-foot restaurant has become a showpiece for the resort with a theater-style dining room where patrons can indulge in traditional multicourse Japanese dining, a series of dishes that progress from light, simple fare to heavier, more complex dishes. A private chef's bar presents a front-row seat to the restaurant's expansive open kitchen. Or take your dinner party into the private dining area, a glass-walled room. Outside, just steps from Kuro's bar, two private tables allow for a quiet alfresco dinner beside the pool. Plus, you'll find that element that's so elusive in Florida: exceptional service. A meal at Kuro plays out like a well-orchestrated performance, progressing in stanzas. It starts with chilled plates, salads, and tempura straight through to selections from a robata grill. The roller coaster of flavor peaks with the chef's most inspired dishes, filed under fish (sea) and meat (land). Finish that off with sushi — bright slices of nigiri and perhaps a wacky, Willy Wonka-inspired dessert: shaved ice or green panna cotta.

Readers' Choice: Fork & Balls

1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 33314
Best Restaurant in Palm Beach County
Meat Market
Photo by Ben Rusnak

This year, one of Miami's Buzziest Restaurants, according to Condé Nast Traveler, made its way into Palm Beach County: Meat Market opened in Palm Beach. The upmarket steak house offers the same high-end cuisine, creative cocktails, and cool South Beach vibe as the original location; restaurateur David Tornek and chef/co-owner Sean Brasel know their prime cuts of beef and seafood. A stylish crudo bar offers classic raw-bar items including oysters and ceviches. Appetizers include white truffle Kobe tartare or a daily alternating charcuterie selection. But at the center stage are Meat Market's prime-cut steaks, offered in a three-tier format in which guests can customize their dish with add-ons such as lobster tail, seared foie gras, or roasted prime bone marrow. Signature house-made butters and sauces are served à la carte, like the atomic horseradish truffle sauce. Like its Lincoln Road counterpart, Meat Market Palm Beach boasts a bustling bar scene and an innovative cocktail program.

Readers' Choice: Dada Restaurant & Lounge

191 Bradley Place, Palm Beach, 33480
Best New Restaurant in Palm Beach County

Luckily, Delray's dining scene is expanding beyond the eastern downtown area. The year-old Apeiro Kitchen & Bar is one delicious example, located in the Delray Marketplace shopping plaza where Atlantic Avenue meets Lyons Road just west of Florida's Turnpike. Here, chef-owner David Blonsky has partnered with local restaurateur Burt Rapoport. Apeiro is a Mediterranean-style concept built on simple ingredients and clean flavor. Blonsky has assembled a rather large menu, featuring cheese platters, falafel served with pickled vegetables, and Moroccan-spiced lamb ribs. Stracchino, a young, creamy Italian cow's-milk cheese, is paired with a salty, thin-sliced prosciutto and a potent fig balsamic reduction; the bunuelo is a take on a Latin fritter, made with airy puffs of phyllo. Kebabs and sandwiches highlight house-roasted and shaved-to-order meats. And my God, the pastas — handmade orecchiette is a hearty dish, each tiny ear-shaped pasta tossed in an earthy saffron, fennel, and lemongrass cream sauce with cuts of spicy, house-made, lamb merguez sausage. "My goal with Apeiro is to open people's minds to a different style of cooking," says Blonsky. He is planning a Miami location next.

Readers' Choice: Avocado Grill

14917 Lyons Rd., Delray Beach, 33446
Best Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale

The "best" restaurant doesn't have to be the one with the fanciest decor, the frou-frou-est ingredients, or the Frenchest chef. It's the one you're drawn to, over and over and over again. The one where you meet friends, where you take out-of-towners, where you feel the stress ooze out of your body the moment you slide into a booth. Whenever someone suggests, "Let's go to Coconuts," the sun magically shines a little brighter and you hold off on that snack you were about to bite into, knowing that something better — way better — awaits. The food is a mix of familiar comforts (a $13 coconut shrimp appetizer, $5 mac 'n' cheese, $27 strip steak) and little surprises (pigeon peas and rice, $3; bahn mi sandwiches on special). The waterfront setting is not at all pretentious, and the service, usually lovely. (Ask and servers will often provide food to toss to the little fish who swim up to the dock.) Fridays feel like a community gathering when paella is cooked outdoors, and on Monday and Tuesdays, wines from the well-curated list are half-off (though there is blueberry soda and blackberry mojitos, if you prefer). Best of all, you just can't beat the company motto: "Be nice."

Readers' Choice: Steak 954

429 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33316

Best Place to Dine Alone: Anthony's Runway 84


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