We should note right off the bat that this eatery isn't really one of the most expensive; in fact it just barely makes it into this category. That's fine by us -- we can just order more courses. And a four-course meal is truly impossible to resist in this 50-seater where everyone is treated like "family" even if you've never stepped foot in here before. Start with antipasto, laden with roasted peppers and fresh provolone, before moving on to thick, rich pasta e fagiole. Main courses, whether they're enormous portions of linguine with white clam sauce or plates of chicken scarpariello so overburdened you can almost hear them groan -- no, wait, that's your stomach -- will bring endless (read: endless) pleasure. But that's no excuse to wave away the espresso with anisette and a dish of crème brûlée topped with stewed strawberries. Just be sure to give as good as you get -- the staff likes to tease if you don't clean your plate.
When a restaurant resembles a trailer from the trailer park that sits behind it, you can bet it's reasonably priced. In fact the motto at Little Italian Tavern (LIT) is that it's cheaper to dine here than it is to dine at home. Cheap doesn't always mean good, but fortunately LIT lights a fire under typical Italian fare -- fried mozzarella, for example -- and gives it a welcome boost. Choose from a zillion pastas priced under ten bucks, sophisticated blackboard specials such as beef braised with leeks and endive, and a decent selection of South American and Italian wines, and you can still get out for less than $25 per person. Despite the parity, do make sure to stock your wallet with cash: LIT doesn't take a shine to credit cards.
This "doctor's" chicken soup will cure whatever ails you. So will his lobster bisque or any of his other six hot soup selections daily ($3.75 to $4.50 for the 12-ounce serving; $4.50 to $5.50 for the 16-ounce) or the dozen or so refrigerated soups sold in pints ($4.25 to $5.50) or quarts ($7.25 to $9.75). Raymond Schamis, age 28, learned his trade in French restaurants, a fact most obvious in, say, his rich sweet potato soup made with puréed sweet potatoes, nutmeg, cinnamon, a little brown sugar, and some cloves. And while we're not about to knock your grandmother's chicken soup, Schamis' version is, well, different. It contains so much garlic, there ought to be a warning label: Do not attempt to go out on a date after eating this soup. Sorry, this doc doesn't accept health insurance; he doesn't even accept credit cards.
Frankly you can't get more proper (read: stuffy) than Churchill's. This elaborate English pub, designed like a country manor, is crammed with antique furniture. Decorative and architectural pieces from eight different centuries, plus two enormous fireplaces, further enhance the dining rooms, which are named the "Medieval" and "Churchill" rooms. Indeed, gentlemen are required to wear ties and jackets in order to dine here, a formality almost unheard-of in this subtropical region and this contemporary era of casual supping. Yet this upscale restaurant doesn't age-discriminate. As long as your babies are properly dressed (read: shoes), they can dine here, too, in luxurious highchair comfort. That's the English influence for you -- youngsters, as long as they're well behaved (read: confined), are welcome to be with the folks, even in a bastion of culinary civility. After all, how else are they supposed to learn good table manners? Better from Churchill's than from, say, Barney.
Sure, country-and-western music gets short shrift among the R&B, jazz, and karaoke easy-listening that often accompanies our meals these days. But if you have a hankering to be a country boy (or girl) while you down an enormous porterhouse steak, take the country road home to Boonie's. With few decorative frills and lots of Marlboro men populating the bar, this budget steak house can seem a little intimidating at first. We say brave it and head straight for the lounge, where some reasonably good live musicians and bands play classics ranging from country-and-western to Southern rock. No sense in not crooning along, either, or in keeping yourself from that dance floor. It's all good clean American fun in a county that's often too ritzy for its own good. Slap some boots on that thar Kennedy, folks, and let's remember what Palm Beach used to be like, when you could still tie a hoss to a hitchin' post.

If your definition of a family restaurant is one where you can take relatives ranging from grandparents to grandkids, fill their bellies with wholesome food like meat loaf and roast chicken, and come out with a bill so reasonable you wonder whether the server included everything, then you're obviously thinking of Penn Dutch. As are we. Not to be mistaken for the Penn Dutch retail center on the other side of I-95, this eatery, where mashed potatoes are served with gravy rather than Gorgonzola, epitomizes the family restaurant. The restaurant opens early (6:30 a.m.) and closes early (8 p.m.), even then serving dinner only four evenings a week, Wednesday through Saturday. That's OK with us and with most of the other patrons, since folks like to cook at home early in the week and eat out later in the week, when everyone's energy has ebbed. At times like these, Penn Dutch provides an infusion of home cooking just like Mom (or Dad) would -- if the restaurant didn't prove that it's actually cheaper, faster, and tastier to dine here than to do so at home.
No doubt we could use some more Southwestern cuisine in this part of the country -- or county, for that matter. But Canyon doesn't take its solitary status for granted. Instead executive chef Chris Wilber continues to reinvent his regional cuisine, providing diners with the likes of smoked-duck nachos, chicken quesadillas with mango-black bean salsa, and filet mignon with poblano-pesto goat cheese. Even more of a draw, Canyon offers a menu of rare, smoky tequilas, either to wash down the peppery fare or to start a fire all their own. In any event diners can be assured of a hot time in the Canyon tonight.
Browsing Batten's gives the fruit-and-veggie savvy a place to meditate. Watch how shoppers glide quietly along while contemplating such seasonal goodies as honey tangerines, acorn squash, and vine-ripened tomatoes. There's a definite reverence toward the bins spilling with gleaming eggplants, plump limes, black radishes, and cactus pears. This open-air market sports the kind of bounty that looks almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. During the months of November and December, Batten's grows its own strawberries, peppers, Kirby cucumbers, sweet onions, and various tomatoes. Step out behind the store and you can see nature in action: Batten's Farm fans out behind the market. If you get hungry while shopping, there's a walk-up window where you can order fresh juices or fruit milk shakes -- "fresh" as in they cut and mix the stuff right in front of you. The market also sells fresh-cut flowers and prepackaged gourmet goodies like pepper vinaigrettes, all-natural spices, coffees, and homemade jellies and jams. And best of all, Batten's is open year-round.

Cheeburger Cheeburger is a hamburger joint, but it's not a fast-food hamburger joint. In other words you have to wait for your food rather than have your food wait for you under a heat lamp. This is a good thing. Everything on the menu is cooked to order, including the French fries, which means that they're made from scratch, not frozen. The fries are sliced from the finest Idaho spuds, fried (with the skin on) to a golden brown in peanut oil, and then sprinkled with what the restaurant insists are "secret" seasonings. If you find yourself on Las Olas Boulevard with some time to kill, stop in and order a basket, and try a burger while you're at it.
Since the average hamburger is made not of ham but of beef, we feel no qualm about awarding the blue ribbon to Shuck-N-Dive's burger, which is neither ham nor beef but buffalo, and there's nothing average about it. Yes, buffalo. Humpback on a roll. The good ol' buffburger. The meat from farm-raised buffalo is generally leaner than beef, but the way chef-proprietor Staz prepares 'em, these burgers are just as juicy as ones made from ground chuck. Toss in a couple of sides of fried okra and fried green tomatoes, and you have yourself a meal so many culinary steps removed from the typical burger and fries that it's almost a shame to finish it. Almost -- because, hey, you can always order another one.

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