Tijuana Flats
"Don't be a chickenshit!" "Smack my ass and call me Sally!" These are two of the more involved names of the 12 sauces (four regulars and eight rotating ones) in the bar at Tijuana Flats Burrito Co., daring you -- make that double-daring you -- to "Give heat a chance." As soon as you walk in the door, you're seeing red; the walls are a deep shade of it and decorated with photos of hot-sauce survivors. (If you're a glutton for punishment, try the aptly named "Ass in Hell.") The sauces, of course, are all there to accompany Tijuana Flats' budget-conscious menu, which includes drool-inducing dishes like the toasted blackened chicken burrito ($5.75) and the spinach artichoke quesadilla ($5.50). In fact, the most expensive thing on the menu comes out to a whopping $7.75. But your pockets won't be the only thing paying.

Rustic Inn Crabhouse
Candace West
Face it: Our primordial ancestors had the right idea about how to eat shellfish. They'd find a handy club or fist-sized rock, smash it down on the calcium carbonate-layered sea creature, and finger out the fleshy parts. Early in our lives, however, too early to resist parental persuasion, Mom and Dad thrust a spoon and fork between our fingers and opposable thumb at mealtime. We're witless and soon come to accept those cursed utensils as the proper way to deliver food to the ol' piehole. That's why the Rustic Inn is such a fine place to get in touch with your inner Neanderthal. Tucked away in the industrio-wasteland west of the Hollywood airport, Rustic Inn staff spread newspapers over the wide tables and equip diners with wooden mallets. The crab meals -- blue and golden garlic -- begin at $21. More expensive crabs include the blue steamed, Jonah, queen, and king. For the ultimate meal, order the $63 king colossal crab, which comes with parsley potatoes and veggie (as if you'd have room for one). Once the heaping bowl of crab legs arrives, you just bash away. Forget the fork; dig that meat out with your seawater-soaked hands. Suck the tiny pieces out until you're blue. A caveman paradise. Open Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. and Sundays 2 to 9:45 p.m.

Tarpon Bend Food & Tackle
Michael McElroy
So you're drunk, having lots of fun, and you spill a greasy something down your shirt. It's after midnight. What's a slob to do? Well, if you are at the downtown hot spot Tarpon Bend, pick up one of the $15 all-cotton T's in the front. There's a pun-opoly to choose from, emblazoned with the following: "Nice Bass," "Master Baiters Welcome," "Spawn Till Dawn," "Best Piece of Tale in Fort Lauderdale," and that old classic, complemented by a picture of a very large fish: "Size Matters."

Tom Jenkins' Bar-B-Q
Anthony Cave
Don't be harsh on those folks who go to Tom Jenkins and order the barbecued chicken. They're not bad people, just misinformed. It isn't their fault nobody's told them the ribs here are the thickest, meatiest, and smokiest that you can possibly find this side of the Mississippi and that it's the ribs that set Tom's jaunty old barbecue joint apart from the rest. Besides, the deep, brick-red barbecue sauce here is so seriously and piquantly delicious that it can make even poultry seem irresistible. Tom's has other things going for it, like great corn muffins, slow-cooked ham-hocked greens, and an authentic Southern barbecue ambiance with African-Americans, good ol' boys, Latinos, and Jews sitting side by side not only in peace but openly communicating with one another -- as in "Could you please pass the paper towels?" Still, if you find yourself seated at Tom's next to someone eating chicken, don't pity or denigrate; just politely offer them one of your precious ribs. They will likely remember the gesture the rest of their lives. A rack costs $16.95. It's only $17.95 with two side orders and bread.

West Palm Beach Green Market
Browsing through the produce section of your average supermarket, you have to wonder: What the hell are we eating? What is all that white stuff on apples and plums? And who sat on the tomatoes? The more sensible thing, however, would be to do your weekly fruit and veggie shopping at the West Palm Beach GreenMarket. Not that produce is all the place has to offer; there's also lots of fresh tea, pastries, nuts, and pastas, as well as an assortment of plants and flowers from more than 60 vendors. But before the shopping begins, start your morning off with a cup o' joe from Cappuccino Express ($1.25 small, $1.75 tall) or a nice pancake breakfast courtesy of Tuxedo Gourmet Catering ($4 plain or with strawberries), which has a booth set up in front of the City Hall building. Or if you prefer something a little spicier, go get some jerk chicken ($5, kabobs) from the nearby Jamaican food vendors. Either way, you'll be serenaded by live music while breakfasting in the shade. Afterward, you can check your health with a free blood-pressure screening by West Palm Beach Fire-Rescue. Try getting all of that at Winn-Dixie. The West Palm Beach GreenMarket is open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. from mid-October through the end of April.

Laurenzo's Itialian Market
What most "gourmet" markets fail to understand is that the finest foods needn't be fancy; they just have to taste good. Laurenzo's Oceanside lets the competition focus on the fusion of multitudinous, multinational imports, instead carving a nice niche for itself as the best purveyors of old-world Italian specialties -- truth be told, the only store in South Florida to do as good a job is the original Laurenzo's in North Miami. It's not that there is anything wrong with pistachio-crusted meatloaf with wasabi mashed potatoes, but if you want a takeout dinner to lend the comfort of home cooking, might as well get the real thing. Like manicotti, stuffed shells, and lasagna prepared with Laurenzo's ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Like Italian sausage and peppers, eggplant parmigiana, and meatballs that would make Tony Soprano cry. We're talking one-stop shopping too, as you can turn your main course into a full meal by picking up some antipasti from the prepared foods section, freshly baked Italian bread from a North Miami bakery, a bottle of appropriate wine from a well-priced selection, fruit and salad greens from the produce department, and freshly stuffed canolis for dessert. Yes, it's all a bit pricey but still a bargain compared to what you'd pay for the same dinner in a restaurant.

Looking for a ten-hour votive candle? A tortilla maker? You could go to Sedano's in Hollywood, as so many of the ordinary do, but why, when a visit to this muy amable grocery in the middle of Fort Lauderdale's version of Little Havana proves you're the cultural adventurer you think you are? Owned by the Linares family for seven years and patronized by people who know from marinating sauces and chorizos, Santa Barbara Grocery packs more variety of selections in its few hundred square feet than most larger "power" markets do in 10,000; it also boasts a neighboring bakery with superb café cubano and a nearby "Latin Sounds" CD store that blasts the latest salsa from an outdoor sound system worthy of Juan Peron. On the Santa Barbara grocery counters, you'll find choices of dried beans and rice, enough types of spices for an Indian wedding feast, and hundreds of Food World mysteries. The meat selection may cause most gringos to pull out their dictionaries, and some basic Spanish won't hurt you when approaching the friendly staff. But how hard is it to say "¿Que es?" when you're holding a package of what looks like corn husks? Go ahead. Ask. They really are corn husks.

Houston's
The etymology of romaine is about what you'd expect, given that it sounds like a Frenchman's lip-squishing pronunciation of Roman. The stuff dates back, you know. Likewise, romaine tastes about as you'd expect it to, given that it's lettuce. As lettuce, if it's to taste like more than the popped polysaccharides of a plant cell wall, you've got to pour on the dressing. The Deli Den does that fine and then goes Caesar one better by adding splinters of grated parmesan, dense croutons, and mandarin-orange sections like plump wads of knuckle skin. Slap some chicken ($8.95) or salmon ($9.95) on that baby and heap it all in a bowl like an upturned umbrella and you're ready to top off the gratis pickles, slaw, and soup (try the matzo ball) that arrive just after the ice water. Readers' Choice: Houston's
Back when you were small, when you and your fellow neighborhood rugrats gallivanted carelessly through the streets attacking one another with palm fronds, you'd occasionally receive an invitation for dinner at Vince's house. You never turned it down. That's because the food at Vince's, made with spice-filled sauces so tasty and meaty that you could eat them separately, was cooked with the love only a devoted Italian madre can provide. Those were the days. But they ain't over. Reno's Pizzeria on Hollywood Boulevard specializes in making authentic Italian-style feasts to go at rock-bottom prices (expect to be stuffed for less than $10 per person). Whether it's a Blockbuster night or a romantic dinner for two in the backyard, you can always swing by Reno's and pick up an appetizer of fried calamari and two tasty Stromboli specials. And don't forget the cheesecake, capretto. It's just like the way Vince's mama made it.

Dragon Gate Chinese Restaurant
So your sizzling Latin mate is in the mood for a spicy dinner, the couple on the couch across from you are vegetarians, and your visiting sister and brother-in-law won't try anything they haven't eaten a thousand times before. Give Dragon Gate a call and order piquant beef in garlic sauce and Szechuan soft-shell crabs for your better half, vegetable egg foo young and fried tofu with red pepper sauce for the noncarnivores, subgum chicken chop suey for the in-laws. Add some hot-and-sour soup, the meatiest of barbecue pork ribs, and moo shoo pork for yourself. The bill will be outrageously affordable, the food fresh and delectable, the guests occupying your living room sated so that hopefully they will merely thank you profusely and leave you alone with your grateful mate. Just pray they don't return an hour later for more.

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