The World's Gone to Pot, So Let's Eat Gravy

It's a truism of the restaurant business that when the world goes to shit, diners' taste for Indo-Peruvian Tuscan burrito sushi gratins vanishes, replaced by an intense craving for the culinary equivalent of a pat on the head, a glass of warm milk, and a thick, soft blankie to tuck ourselves in with. In other words, comfort food. The restaurants here all dish up food that's as comfy as a pair of old shoes but a lot better-tasting.

The World's Gone to Pot, So Let's Eat Gravy
Brother Tuckers
 3332 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach. Call 954-785-1984, or visit

Beer and bar food go to the next level at this brewcentric Church of Penultimate Fermentation, where the 50-strong beer list is heavy with artisanal Euro-suds and exotic Belgian ales and the menu goes beyond the standard pub-grubbery with dishes like crabmeat-stuffed portobellos, bacon-laced meat loaf, and an über-cheesy quesadilla as thick as one of Thomas Pynchon's opuses. All that with a funky, dive-like ambiance that says, take your goddamned white tablecloths somewhere else.

Grease Burger Bar
 213 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Call 561-651-1075, or visit

Designer hamburgers right now are hotter than a napalm cocktail, and while this

Clematis Street newbie doesn't go for the full monty of

Kobe-Wagyu-truffle-foie gras burgers, it does kick up the usual slab o'

ground beef on a bun by serving fat, ten-ounce patties of grass-fed

beef, ground fresh daily, with optional adornments ranging from half a

dozen types of cheese to applewood-smoked bacon, roasted portobello

mushroom, and even a fried egg.

Hi-Life Café
 3000 N. Federal Highway, Wilton Manors. Call 954-563-1395, or visit


stint on Top Chef a few years back may have had chef/partner Carlos

Fernandez living high on the local foodie chain, but at Hi-Life, he

celebrates decidedly homier pleasures than those wacky-ass creations

shown on television. Fried chicken, braised short ribs, or penne with

sausage in tomato-cream sauce may not make Tom Colicchio's beady little

eyes light up, but you didn't want to be eating frog legs with peanut

butter and corn flakes anyway.

Jack's Old Fashioned Hamburgers
 4201 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-565-9960.


we stipulate that everyone under age 60 is hard-wired to the internet

and that we'll all give up our iPhones when they're pried from our

cold, dead fingers? Progress is a wonderful thing. Except if it ever

comes to Jack's hamburgers. There's nothing trendy about these meaty

discs -- nor about Jack's, which has been serving them since 1972 --

just lean beef, ground twice daily, cooked to perfection, and

self-garnished to taste. Progress is sometimes overrated.

Lola's on Harrison
 2032 Harrison St., Hollywood. Call 954-927-9851, or visit


food puts on a tux and tails and occasionally a clown nose at Michael

Wagner's stylish-but-relaxed downtown Hollywood restaurant, where its

chef/owner's take on comfy classics reveals both good humor and serious

culinary chops. Potato skins are purple spuds loaded with sun-dried

tomato crème fraîche, bacon bits and caviar; "burgers" are made with

shrimp, poblano chilies, and green onions; beef ribs are basted with

tangy Coca-Cola barbecue sauce. Haute dog!

Ouzo Blue
707 Lake Ave., Lake Worth, and 5090 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens. Call 561-582-2002 or 561-776-3188, or visit


grape leaves, gyros, moussaka, kebabs, baklava. Stiff drinks and cold

beer. Table dancing, bar dancing, belly dancers gyrating like jelly

jackhammers. Greek music blasting loud enough to bring down the rest of

the Parthenon. If all that doesn't give you the warm 'n' fuzzies, you

really are in deep doo-doo there, Jim. It must work for somebody, as

the Lake Worth Ouzo was quickly followed by another in Palm Beach

Gardens and a third coming to Coconut Grove.

Rocco's Tacos
224 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Call 561-650-1001, or visit


folks behind the City group of restaurants (City Cellar, Big City

Tavern, City Oyster) struck gold with this yupscale suburban taqueria,

dishing all the usual (and thoroughly familiar) Mexican culinary

suspects -- nachos, quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tostados

-- with the added fillip of guacamole prepared tableside and 150

tequilas. It may be more about fun, margaritas, and hooking up than

authenticity, but that combination has spawned another Rocco's soon to

open in Boca Raton.

Smith & Jones
1313 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-888-8993, or visit


Vinczencz may have made his reputation serving roasted wild mushroom

short-stack with sun-dried tomato butter and duck three ways with baby

carrots, but that doesn't mean he's above turning out meat loaf, fish

'n' chips, barbecued baby backs, and burgers, all on the menu at his

nouveau comfort-food eatery. After a rough start, a recent visit found

the jagged edges smoothed out, good news to budget-minded Las Olas


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