Best Restaurant For Gluttons 2000 | Sweet Tomatoes | Foodstuff | South Florida
Sure, the tomatoes here are sweet. You can pick 'em up off the salad bar, you can spoon 'em out of your soup, and you can even find the juicy fruit on focaccia bread. But that's not all you can eat at this, well, all-you-can-eat, serve-yourself, prix fixe restaurant. The enormous salad bar -- the first thing you see when you enter the eatery -- offers a tremendous array of choices: Chinese noodle salad, pickled beets, hard-boiled eggs, and chicken tarragon salad, to name just a few. Indeed just wish for a vegetable, sunflower seed, bacon bit, or shredded cheese to garnish your lettuce, and it's there. But salad and its kin aren't the only things at your gluttonous disposal here. How about six different soups daily, plus an assortment of fresh-baked muffins, breads, and desserts like strawberry shortcake? Leave your best intentions at home. Sweet Tomatoes may present plenty of healthy fare from every food group imaginable, but even if you take just one bite of everything you see, you'll still be full for a week.
Proper linens? Formal service? Decorous clientele? It's all under the rainbow at this gorgeously outfitted Chinese restaurant. On the outside the place looks like just another ethnic neighborhood eatery, but indoors the place really is a palace of sorts, with walls glowing with mauve paint and fresh flowers blooming on every table. And the fare served here is reminiscent of the dishes served in the fine hotels of Hong Kong and Singapore. Stir-fried dishes have unusual twists -- combos of mushrooms splashed with sherry, for example -- and are uncommonly delicious. Dumplings may be stuffed with pork or bursting with lobster. In fact just about everything is refined here except for the appetites inspired by the finely tuned fare, which are nothing short of voracious.
We've tried to find a better sub than one from Laspada's. Really. We've had a year to do it, and we've scoured Broward and Palm Beach counties. But now we have to admit we've failed. So once again we're awarding this minichain the blue ribbon in this category. But trust us, it's not our fault. Blame instead the folks who whip together these overstuffed sandwiches faster than Superman can change into his cape and tights: fresh-baked rolls, layered with deli meats or, say, chicken salad. The garnishes: sweet peppers, hot peppers, pickles, onions, tomatoes. The splash of oil/vinegar/oregano, plus a swipe of mayo and a seal of provolone cheese. See? It's irresistible. OK, we admit the staff isn't always the politest -- hesitate a bit too long in your decision-making process and you're likely to lose your turn -- but then, we're not giving them the award for Best Service.
What could be more satisfying than the burrito loco, a tortilla stuffed with your choice of beef, chicken, or beans, then topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream, taco sauce, chopped onions, shredded lettuce, guacamole, tomatoes, refried beans, Mexican rice, and -- whew -- jalapeños? Two of them, of course -- if you can handle them. Frankly we dare you to try. We know you'll be tempted. The burritos here tend to make one forget all about dropping the chalupa, or whatever the nonsense of the week is at that ubiquitous Mexican fast-food chain. But our advice for here is: savor. Such burrito brilliance is best enjoyed singly, and besides, it'll leave room for you to try the signature guaco loco taco.
Though it originated in Mexico, the caesar salad is one of those beloved foods that have jumped all boundaries, invaded all countries, and brought all chefs to their culinary knees. Or we should say most chefs. Danish chef Per Jacobsen, who is also the proprietor of this classy, crowded bistro, has raised the caesar to exceptionally well-balanced heights. There's not too much Parmesan, not too much anchovy flavor; the salad's not too oily, nor is it unreasonably creamy. And Jacobsen uses ultrafresh romaine and crisp, homemade croutons. Recipe for success? In our eyes, at least, if not those of the envious world.
Ask a New Jerseyite what a real diner is, and the answer you'll hear -- a wide-ranging menu, friendly and efficient service, and oh, it must be owned by Greeks and serve great Greek pastries -- could just as easily describe Boca Glades. In addition to the usual egg dishes, sandwiches, and burgers, this spacious eatery offers souvlaki (grilled skewered meats), moussaka (like lasagna), spinach pie, and gyros. Not in the mood for Greek? Not to worry. The diner also presents terrific grilled fish dishes in addition to the more sinful specialties such as sautéed chicken livers and Romanian skirt steak. Then you can finish up with a slice of any number of cakes and pies. It's been said that no restaurant can please all the people all the time, but when you come right down to it, Boca Glades comes the closest to succeeding.
No one smashes plates. No one swigs ouzo. Is this really a Greek restaurant? You bet, although an elegantly subdued one. Not only do the décor and the behavior of fellow clientele satisfy propriety, but the traditional fare -- avgolemono (lemon-egg) soup, romaine-fennel salad, swordfish souvlaki (skewered fish) -- is simultaneously sensual and reminiscent of the old country. Indeed, it's one of the few restaurants where you can scan the menu and utter the cliché "It's all Greek to me" without negative connotations. Then you can order some red wine and a portion of flaming saganaki (flambéed cheese), and sit back and enjoy the dramatic presentation of the fare.

This tiny 40-seater, a renovated luncheonette, can be a little cramped if large parties are in the house. But for the most part, tables for two and four are the norm, which allows couples to whisper conspiratorially and foursomes to gossip about friends and neighbors without being overheard. Even more significant, chef-owner Tony Sindaco's open-kitchen cooking commands other customers' attention, so no one eavesdrops. Murmur to your heart's content, at least until your food arrives. Be warned that Sindaco's way with fish -- he makes a mean tuna Bolognese sauce and wraps salmon with thinly sliced potatoes -- tends to silence patrons temporarily, if not shut their mouths completely. Except for the appropriate chewing motions, of course.
Call it "le spécial d'oiseau." Or something like that. The French have survived Jerry Lewis, EuroDisney, and Michael Jackson, so why not subject them to the most dynamic of South Florida culinary inventions, the early-bird special? L'Anjou doesn't dare call its presunset dining extravaganza an early bird, but all the ingredients are there. And we call a oiseau a oiseau when we see one. Show up between 5 and 5:45 p.m., and for $16.50 you get an appetizer, an entrée, your choice of dessert, coffee, or tea. The food is unimaginative but hearty and well prepared. Appetizers include duck pâté and marinated herring, as well as tomato juice. (You call that an appetizer?) As for entrées, there's half a duck à l'orange, mahi-mahi pan-seared with tarragon sauce, and many other dishes you won't encounter at Piccadilly Cafeteria. L'Anjou also delivers that other staple of early-bird culture: hordes of retirees who will take out your kneecap with a walker if you tell them they've missed the 5:45 cutoff.
We can go to the store and pick up a nice low-end bottle of Kendall-Jackson wine for, say, $12, so why would we want to sip the same wine at the inflated restaurant markup of $35? Exactly. So in choosing the best wine selection, we went looking not just for an exhaustive list of bottles but for one that featured choice and fair prices combined with some out-of-the-ordinary finds. We discovered just such a splendid combination at Pineapple Grill. We knew we were onto something right off the bat when a quick scan of the list brought us to the section for rosé (or blush) wines, and instead of the standard Sutter Home or Beringer white zinfandel, we found bottles of Buehler white zin from Napa Valley ($17.69) and Saintsbury vin gris pinot noir ($18.59) from Carneros. And by using various area wine distributors rather than shacking up with one exclusively, Pineapple's proprietors have kept out of a rut, offering a sprinkling of Old World favorites (Chateau Des Rontets' $37.83 pouilly-fuissé and Georges du Boeuf's $19.91 Beaujolais-Villages from France, for example) amid a wide variety of New World vintages. Notable on the list of whites are a Roberta Pecota Sauvignon Blanc ($18.59) and a Matanzas Creek chardonnay ($49.43), both from Sonoma, and a couple of selections from California vintner Rabbit Ridge. A Stags' Leap cab ($52.26) from Napa jumps off the list of reds. You might find some of these by snooping around nicer liquor emporiums, but you won't beat the Pineapple prices by much, and these bottles certainly won't turn up on grocery-store shelves.

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