Best Restaurant for Out-of-Towners - 2006
Joe's Riverside Grille
Your Northern cousins arrive on your doorstep with four kids, 14 bags, and their heads full of dated, nostalgic drivel about discovering the "real Florida." It's no use explaining that "real Florida" is that line of hotels blocking their view of the beach, the 12 hours they just spent bumper-to-bumper on 1-95, the highest restaurant prices in the country, and a property-tax bill you'd be all too willing to split with them. Just suck it up and take them over to Joe's Grille for dinner. Somehow, Chef Joe Cascio and his wife, Erica, have managed to spin the fantasy, even after Hurricane Wilma wrecked the place last year, that we Floridians spend the bulk of our time sitting outside under jaunty umbrellas, forking up grouper cheeks, slurping from big bowls of fish chowder, and watching pleasure boats chug placidly by. Let the cousins keep their illusions; we all have so few left. Send them home loaded up with stories about how the line-caught swordfish in rum sauce was the best they've ever tasted and how the view of the harbor lit up under a full moon was the prettiest thing their sore eyes have ever beheld.