There isn't much in Juno Beach except pine scrub, sand, and ocean, and the locals like it that way. It isn't Old Florida anymore -- too many condo communities now blanket the coast -- but the sense of connection to the sea lingers. Boating is a big deal here, and some of Palm Beach County's most dedicated fishermen call the area home. Bringing high expectations to the dinner table when they're in the mood for seafood, these folks skip the crab-house tourist traps around the Jupiter Inlet to the north and head to this inconspicuous boite on U.S. 1. A casual atmosphere, moderate prices, and succulent fresh fish, any style, are the heart of the place. The chef's flair for pastas and appetizers by way of the bayou and the islands is a kicker. The joint is jammed every night in season, but it's worth the wait.
From the street, this place looks like any old nameless waterfront dive bar. No windows but for the two small portholes in the doors. But at the Southport Raw Bar, many people don't enter from the street. Here, patrons can pull up in their boats, dock, and take a seat at a table to order a pound of Old Bay-seasoned shrimp, prepared just the way they do it in Maryland (home of all things Old Bay). In fact, no less a personage than Jimmy Buffett dubs this place tops. The king of the Parrotheads was a fixture here for a number of years and still makes the occasional appearance when he manages to get to this neck of the woods. If you're a fan of seagoing finger foods and a cold pitcher of Key West Ale or three, you could find yourself turning into a regular as well. If you own a boat and have yet to visit, what the hell is wrong with you?
The top diner around has to fit a few criteria. First, it's got to be open 24 hours a day. Second, down here in the South, it's got to have at least a minimum of Southern-fried fare. And finally, a convenient location along a major thoroughfare is preferable. And while it nearly gets the nix for the lack of biscuits 'n' gravy on the menu, Joe's nevertheless fits the bill. Situated just off SE 17th Street, where A1A and Federal Highway merge, Joe's never stops dishing out the grub, whether it be noon or 4 a.m. The breakfast items are suitably greasy, and the lunch stuff is usually served hot and in large portions. And while rumors persist of a secret passageway linking the diner with the School of Culinary Arts with which it shares a wall, the food served here is the sort no chef would claim, lest they be the short-order kind.
A buffet by any other name usually smells the same. Not so at Kyojin, where the sushi buffet offers some of the freshest fish around. The only odors you'll get from this 50-item assortment are of seaweed and wasabi. Of course, if you move on down the line, you can inhale some steam from the soba noodle soup and the hotel pans replete with spring rolls, sesame chicken, and tempura vegetables. At the far end of the feast, a grill chef waits to cook you a steak or shrimp to order, much like the omelet chef at a brunch. The beauty part is, you don't have to stand and wait for it: Kyojin's servers are happy to bring it you, putting the lie to the rumor that all a waiter in a buffet restaurant has to do for 15 percent is fill your water.
Fish and chips shouldn't be a stumbling block for a British pub, but all too often, the results are greasy and unpalatable. Not here, where the fish is flaky, the coating a light golden-brown, and the chips as perfectly fried as a swimsuit model. Of course, basic fare isn't the only thing this upscale pub does well. Windsor onion soup with clotted cream and port is an appropriately English take on the French classic. Baked tilapia stuffed with scallops and shrimp and napped with a brandy-sweet pepper sauce entices the palate away from standard bangers 'n' mash. And West Country pork tenderloin slowly cooked in a Devon cider reduction makes a proper diner forget all about ordering a burger -- even if said burger is a half-pound of mouth-filling beef that goes down oh so easy with any of the 25 drafts, some of which are so rich and hearty that they can be counted as meals in themselves.
The nonsmoking section, 4:30 p.m.: "I want a nice hamburger, that's all."

"Ma, look at the menu."

"You eat. I don't have to eat. It's this medicine."

"Ma, you're gonna be hungry later."

"How much is the hamburger?"

"It's better to get the whole meal. You get more for your money. You get coffee, soup or salad, and dessert. With the chicken parmigiana, that's $8.95."

"I don't want that much."

"Well, you're the one who asked about price."

"Hmph. I guess you know better than me. I'm eating too much. I don't want to get fat."

"One pound. You gained one pound."

"One and one makes two, and then what do you got, hmm? How much is the hamburger?"

This cheerily painted, tin-roofed eatery is doing for Jamaican food what Pollo Tropical has done for Cuban food -- offering traditional favorites in a fast-food setting, complete with drive-through -- but the menu at this favorite Lauderdale Lakes lunch spot is far more varied and traditional than its Greater Antillean-inspired counterpart. Case in point: Chicken is offered in jerk, mango barbecue, and simply grilled. All are well-prepared, tasty, and go for a paltry $2.99 including rice. But what really wins us over is the pumpkin rice, in all its orange, slightly sweet glory.
Any way you look at it -- from a blue, golden, stone, or king crab perspective -- if you order the signature dishes in this overgrown waterside shack, you'll be hanging around for a while. That's because portions of the crabs, especially the blues steamed in garlic and oil, a house specialty, are large enough to satisfy the biggest eater in your life. Because wooden mallets are mandatory utensils here, flecks of shell and drips of oil tend to mark patrons after they've consumed even just one crab. But rest assured, you can separate the gluttons from the pack by the state of their clothing. They're the ones proudly strutting straight to the dry cleaner's, who can (most of the time) get out all the stains. So stop making excuses, prospective piggies, and get cracking.

Haitian food is no different from regular Caribbean fare, right? There's no good reason to seek out authentic Haitian grub, right? Wrong. While Haitian cuisine has a similar body to Jamaican -- a lot of chicken, goat, ox tail, plantains, and red beans and rice -- it's dressed up in a totally different set of clothes. Haitians don't do jerk or curry; the sauce is thick, soupy, and red, with onions and hot peppers and garlic to spice it up. Reflection Restaurant, hidden in the snug corner of a little strip mall along Sunrise Boulevard, does a beautiful version. The sauce is just spicy enough to make your mouth sing but not so hot as to make it scream. Once you start eating, it's hard to stop, so it's a good thing the fine and friendly folks at Reflection hand out generous portions. They offer poisson (fish), legumes (vegetables), queue boeuf (ox tail), griot (fried pork), cabrit (goat), ragout (cow's feet), lambi (conch), and kalalou (okra and beef), most of which can be had with a mountain of beans and rice for a mere six bucks. Relax and eat inside the diner-like atmosphere of tables and booths with red-and-white-checkered tablecloths. Or order out. Either way, you're in for a Haitian treat.
As you sit before a heaping platter of rice and beans, white cabbage, and curried goat at Tasties, the fullness of its spice builds slowly, from tropical depression to storm to hurricane. Halfway through the meal, your face is hovering over the plate, vacuuming like a water funnel. The piquant sauce brings on a kind of equatorial madness, a subtropical food lust. Your mind maniacally calculates when next you'll hunger, what next you'll order -- perhaps the curried oxtail, cowfoot, or chicken. Some day, you revel, there will be a chance to feast on the jerk dishes. A five-spot covers most of Tasties' meals, which are served 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

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