Best Restaurant for Out-of-Towners - 2009
El Rey de Pescado at the Swap Shop - CLOSED
South Florida is among the most culturally diverse pieces of land on the North American continent. It's food that brings cultures together here, and it happens regularly at El Rey de Pescado — a place that looks, smells, and sounds like a Third World food market in the very best way. In the middle of the produce tent at Fort Lauderdale's Swap Shop is El Rey and a pictorial menu that demonstrates the amazing things the kitchen can do with Caribbean seafood. A whole, fried snapper or tilapia comes out full of meat, juice, and crackle, served atop rice and garnished with a heap of lime wedges. A pile of limes also accompanies a ludicrously proportioned heap of calamari lightly fried and almost tender enough to fall apart in your mouth. Grab a beer — a Mexican brew, most likely — out of a big ice-filled tub in front and drink it at a plastic table waiting for your food and surrounded by everything that makes Florida, Florida: sunshine, the babble of languages, the smells of the ocean, and a Latin pulse sounding from an unseen boombox.