Best Caribbean Restaurant 1999 | Carib Palace | Food & Drink | South Florida
Well, there's roti here, and then there's roti. And then, if you're still hungry, there's more roti. The large, spiced pancake, used as a wrap for savory beef (or chicken or goat) stew and a side dish of potatoes and chickpeas, is just about the only entrée. Curried goat, a variation on the theme, and fried rice, which speaks to the Chinese-Caribbean community, are also delicious main courses, but it's pretty hard to get past… you got it, the roti. That's why it's a good idea to start with a pepper pot with homemade dumplings, or the spongy potato balls, both of which reflect the owners' respective Trinidadian and Guyanese backgrounds. The 100-seat restaurant may not actually be a palace, but if you like spicy fare -- and roti -- it's pretty easy to eat like royalty.
At some chain bagel shops, you're more likely to find a smoked gouda and blackened chicken wrap topped with jalapeno mayonnaise than a decent bagel. And the same is true at most other homegrown bagel joints in town. We have some advice for you: If you want a banana-strawberry concoction, order a muffin. If you want charred bread, order toast. And if you're looking for blueberry cream cheese, buy yogurt. But if you want a decent bagel, simplicity is the key. Give us a fresh-baked garlic bagel with whipped cream cheese, and you won't get any kvetching. At Bagel Bar West, about the sexiest creation you'll find is an everything bagel -- or maybe a bagel chip. Other than that it's the standards: onion, sesame, poppy, salt, et cetera. Which is just fine by us.
They're fluffy. They're flaky. They're phat -- and fattening. But who's looking for health food donuts, anyway? The fried blobs of sugar-coated dough at Dandee Donut Factory are enough to make the strictest dieter give up, if only long enough to devour a succulent French cruller, down a delightfully dense Boston cream, or sample one of the shop's specialties, such as blueberry chip, a plain cake donut flecked with berry chunks. Berries of other varieties are also infused in dough, and including all of the regular suspects from glazed to maple bars, Dandee offers nearly 20 donut choices. And if you're in need of a donut fix but your companions desire something more nutritious (what are you doing with such losers?), the 24-hour establishment offers breakfast and lunch specials around the clock, which start at just $1.99. Donuts cost 64 cents each, a little more than other places, but well worth the few extra pennies. A half-dozen go for $3.09, a full dozen for just a dollar more. This place is so hip to your donut needs, they even use double-waxed paper bags for carryout in order to keep the oil off your car upholstery.
You've heard about that '60s fad, stuffing as many people as you can into phone booths and Volkswagens. Well, the '90s take happens right here with the Florito -- your choice of filling (grilled chicken, grilled steak, shredded roast beef, roast pork, or snow crabcakes) is stuffed into a flour tortilla along with black beans and rice, Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, corn, and homemade salsa. The Florito, that so-catchy subtropical version of the burrito, also comes with low-fat sour cream and the option of ordering double meat; hey, saving a coupla calories on the dairy entitles you to more flesh, don'tcha think? As if. Actually, calories are just about the only thing you need to count the cost of here -- Floritos run from less than $4 (the 12-inch bean-and-cheese combo) to almost $9 (for a 14-inch with double crabcake), and a side of freshly squashed guac is only a buck.
Here's an oxymoron: sophisticated suburbs. Yet that's just what Weston is, and this Italian restaurant reflects residents' appreciation of fine cuisine. Antonello and Rosaria Catinella, who used to own L'Hostaria in Tamarac, gladly fill the need for superb homemade ravioli or gnocchi, shrimp laced with black truffle sauce, filet mignon in a red wine demi-glace, and breaded veal chop topped with arugula and tomatoes. Prices are upscale, certainly, but not outrageous -- only four entrées top the $20 mark. You'll wind up spending a pile anyway. That's because the fare is so fresh and good you'll have to order a five-course meal, particularly if you're tempted by the antipasto and dessert carts, which servers wheel around the dining room like so many Ferraris.
Here today, gone tomorrow. That's the fate that befalls many new restaurants, but it's one future Keè Grill is likely to avoid. The keys to its success? Well, the simple, well-executed, tropically influenced cuisine includes macadamia-nut sautéed shrimp, crab-shiitake-crusted grouper, and grilled veal chop. The waiters are courteous and well trained. And the management is thoroughly professional. But the only key that gets you through the door is this one: a reservation, usually made days -- sometimes weeks -- in advance. And don't forget to write down your assigned reservation number. Lose it, and you're locked out.
The spelling on the sign may not be so hot, but the pasta fagioli is, and at the end of the day, that's what matters: a good, hearty bowl of white bean soup for less than $3. Homemade mozzarella and roasted red peppers, along with fabulously supple gnocchi, also soothe the belly and the wallet. Perhaps the biggest treats are the chicken Marsala and fish piccata dishes, sauced -- and priced -- just so. In a county rife with Italian restaurants, there's one sure way to beat the competition: Combine deft cooking with fair billing, and receive the same in turn.
Can a steak house be judged solely by the size of its beef? You betcha. The supermodel of steak houses, Smoke offers an enormous 42-ounce porterhouse for two. That's 21 ounces each of succulent sirloin and fragrant filet mignon, separated by a monstrous bone. Dry-aged on the premises, the beef is a perfect match for the steak sauce shipped from the famous meatery Peter Luger's, which New Yorkers in the know consider the finest in the nation. The sirloin, veal chop, and pork chop impress as well. But even the best cut of meat isn't tops without the proper cigar-and-martini ambience, which Smoke has in spades. The handsome, clubby dining room even has a walk-in humidor and private vaults for folks who pay for the privilege of storing their wines. In other words, all you need to be treated like a king here is to flash cash like one.
It's hard to recommend a restaurant when you never know exactly what's going to be on the menu. Still, we have no bone to pick here, despite the fact that the seafood-of-the-night special is always a mystery, depending on what comes in from the purveyor. Fresh tuna, for instance, can top pasta or gazpacho, according to chef-proprietor Tony Sindaco's whim. Come to think of it, the only thing that isn't a surprise here is that every item is lovingly and wonderfully prepared (and that filet mignon is a staple entrée for landlubbers). The menu is small, but the variety of fish and shellfish is large; just about the only fish you'll never dine on at Sunfish Grill is, well, sunfish.
Though India and other Eastern countries extol the benefits of a meat-free diet, no single region in the world has ever held a monopoly on vegetarianism. So it should come as no surprise that the Veggie Garden, which is located deep in a community of Caribbean expatriates, boasts a menu with a distinct Jamaican twist. Check out the veggie patties or the saltfish and akee for breakfast (fish is legal tender here), or the veggie burger served with rice and peas for lunch. Yes, the rice is brown, but that's par for the health food course. You can even wash down your steamed kingfish entrée with "island drinks" such as ginger beer or peanut punch. This mammal-product-free environment isn't just refreshing, it's good for you, too.

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