Best Hamburger 2000 | Shuck-N-Dive Cajun Sports Café | Food & Drink | South Florida
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.
It's a piece of sin in a crisp paper bag. And you can get through the shiny chrome façade's double-barreled drive-through so fast your conscience won't have time to stop you. Then it's a simple matter of snaring one of those 69-cent, melt-in-your-mouth, fat-soaked Kremes and making it disappear. They taste so good that, for at least one mouthwatering, donut-devouring moment, you forget that your choice to be the next President is between Gore and Bush. That's right: Gore or Bush. Sorry, but it's true. Thanks in part to Krispy Kreme, however, America is still a relatively decent place to live. Be thankful you have a Krispy Kreme shop nearby, because, believe it or not, not all locales have these culinary staples. (Try to find one on the other coast in, say, Fort Myers.) What's life without guilty pleasures?

Christina Mendenhall
Ah, ice cream. In this age of diet and fitness, it's almost a taboo to savor a scoop, let alone think about ordering a sundae somewhere. Well, we have the perfect solution. Abandon this age. Go back in time, just a little, to when ice cream was a sweet pleasure too rare to be scorned for its fat content. Got the fantasy set in your mind? Now make it reality at Jaxson's, a 44-year-old ice cream parlor and candy shop designed like a general store. The place even smells like the old-fashioned ice cream-candy emporium that it is, with scents of chocolate and malt mingling with the cool air wafting out of the freezers. With a choice of 60 flavors made right on the premises, it's almost a sin not to ask for the famous "kitchen sink," a sundae that has so many scoops, toppings, whipped cream, sprinkles, and nuts it could feed an entire Little League baseball team. In fact just spooning it up is so much exercise you can practically count the calories you're cutting.

Photo courtesy of Cafe Maxx
The term New World may be heading out of favor, but it's a pretty safe bet that chef Oliver Saucy's innovative cuisine never will. As one of the originators of this style of cooking, which uses local ingredients and incorporates tropical influences from the Caribbean to Asia, Saucy produces an incredible complement of dishes. Because the menu changes daily, you can't depend on any single item being available on any given day. What you can expect is a reliance on regional fish such as grouper or snapper -- for good reason, since Saucy cooks it to flaky tenderness -- and a tendency to encrust it in anything from Vidalia onions to pistachios. A few heartier meat dishes, such as pesto-dusted veal chops, sate the carnivore, and there's always pasta, such as gnocchi or ravioli, on the menu. Go for anything oyster, since buttermilk-bread crumb ones are excellent and raw ones are superior. Since 1984, Café Maxx has been amazing its patrons, who expect -- and receive -- nothing less in the new millennium.
There once was a lass named Biddy,

Who spoke of what she could foresee:

That a pub named for her

Would have the best beer,

And therefore never be empty.

So her prediction came to pass.

The folks came to drink in great gasps

The Irish lager, stout, and ale,

And with each pint without fail

They'd toast: Thanks be to the lass!

The word bistro conjures up certain images: an elegant yet homey atmosphere, homemade fare, and a good beer to wash it all down. Darrel Broek and Oliver Saucy's newest venture, East City, makes good on all these qualifications, especially the last one. After all, there's no better way to follow mixed greens with house-made blue cheese dressing than with a swig of freshly cracked Anchor Steam. Or supple oysters with a Sierra Nevada pale ale. Or even hearty prime rib with a honey brown ale. The ideal American brews for the most noticeable American bistro to hit our shores thus far. But for those who think bistros -- and microbrews -- belong in the hands of the Europeans, there's frothy Warsteiner and solid Guinness stout, too.

Tom Jenkins' rib shack isn't open on Sundays, because it isn't nice to worship with messy hands or bibs. The menu's motto -- "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" -- doesn't immediately call to mind good eatin', but don't let the proprietor's inarticulate speech of the heart dissuade you from trying the food. Instead heed the other phrase used to trumpet the restaurant's fare: "A taste you'll never forget." The smell emanating from the place permeates the air for blocks, and the down-home bonhomie cuts through socioeconomic strata, as businessmen mingle with construction workers, young with old, white with black, rich with poor -- in other words, anyone with an appreciation for good victuals can be found standing in line to place an order or hunched over the big communal picnic tables. Highly recommended: the ribs. There's a swell selection of other Southern specialties, too, like catfish with hushpuppies, barbecued chicken, and salty-sweet greens. Beer and barbecue is always a good combo, but TJ's doesn't cotton to swillin', so there's homemade lemonade on hand instead. And make a valiant attempt to save space for dessert: sweet potato pie and, on Fridays and Saturdays, peach cobbler and apple dumplings. Stay on the straight and narrow, follow your nose to Tom Jenkins', and reward your taste buds. Religiously.
If we could judge best new restaurant by pedigree alone, Zemi would still win. Located in Towne Center, this handsome, trendy spot is owned by executive chef John Belleme and manager Allison Barber, both of whom are veterans of a Dennis Max restaurant, Max's Grille in Boca Raton. The connection to Max is convenient, since Zemi itself used to be Nick and Max's and, before that, Maxaluna. In fact Stephen O'Leary, the former pastry chef at both Nick and Max's and Maxaluna, has stayed on at Zemi. What all this boils down to is simple: chili-crusted shrimp pizza, roasted bobwhite quail and homemade duck sausage, homemade goat-cheese ravioli with pancetta-sage butter; and day-boat scallops with braised oxtail and sweet potato-parsnip mashers. Then, to wash it all down, you can order the truffle chocolate cake, which is garnished with peppermint whipped cream and vanilla-mint syrup, an ideal way not just to end a superb meal but to freshen your breath at the same time.
Ask a dozen barbecue aficionados about their favorite barbecue, and you'll usually get a dozen different opinions. But lately all eyes have been trained on the same prize: the meaty back ribs offered at this casual, laid-back joint. It's hard to quibble with both the quantity and the quality of the fare at TSoM, especially the beef brisket, which has been simmered until tender, or the chopped boneless pork. Extras are also worthy: The side dishes include rich baked beans and roasted corn on the cob; the appetizers range from jalapeño poppers to Texas chili rife with kidney beans and ground beef. Even the grilled chicken breasts are doublewide and juicy. Of course the star of the show is the sauce, which is tangy and aromatic. Wash it all down with a Texas-size iced tea, bring your friends, and watch 'em all fall in line with your -- and Texas' -- way of thinking.
Forget the old song of the same name about a woman who shot a man for two-timing -- this place is about love and crabs (but not the kind that ticked off Frankie). It's also about addiction, which is not uncommon in South Florida but is usually less justified. For lovers of shellfish, stone crab claws rival addictive drugs as desired pleasure, when they're in season -- and unfortunately that's not summer. The best place to get them cheap is from this produce-and-fish stand. They come only hours off a boat from the Keys for less than $10 a pound. That's less than half the cost of the fresh claws sold on East Las Olas Boulevard, for example. When the owners get the claws from elsewhere, such as the Chesapeake Bay, the price drops to $6.99 per pound.

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