Christina Mendenhall

(Sing to the tune of "My Favorite Things")

Chocolatey syrup and marshmallow fluff

Handfuls of ice cream with mounds of yummy stuff

Sparklers light up this dessert made for kings

The Kitchen Sink has everyone's favorite things.

Homemade flavors topped with whipped cream

This dessert concoction is truly a dream

A few bites will cure any ice cream cravings

The Kitchen Sink has everyone's favorite things.

When your hunger calls

When your stomach stings

When you're feeling sad

Take a bite out of the Kitchen Sink and then you won't feel so bad.

The word buffet conjures unappetizing images of blue-haired old ladies and no-haired old men doddering around a giant steam table piled with muddy-colored substances that might once have been food. There's nothing unappetizing about the lunch buffet at this swanky-looking Indian eatery, though, especially not its all-you-can-pig-out-on-for-a-penny-squeezing $10 price tag. The dozen or so dishes lined up on long tables at the bar taste fresh and well-made and are replenished often. There's good variety too, from a basket of puffy, garlicky naan to rajma masala (a deftly seasoned stew that turns the humble kidney bean into the uncommonly plush-textured Legume of the Gods) to the classic chicken tikka masala, which bathes chunks of tender clucker in a riotously flavorful tomato and cream-based sauce so indecently rich and luxurious that it would cause your average French saucier to set fire to his toque... while he was still wearing it. You gotta admit, that alone would be worth ten bucks.

Coconut Creek's Mama Asian Noodle Bar rises high above the humdrum Thai restaurants populating strip malls all across South Florida. That's because its owners, Mike and Lisa Ponluang, have been serving the chili- and lime-inflected cuisine of their homeland to hungry South Floridians for more than 16 years. Sure, the place sports your usual assortment of curries, pad Thais, and kaffir-infused salads, each brimming with enough slow-developed flavor to make anyone's ma proud. But much like the couple's Coco Asian Bistro in Fort Lauderdale, Mama takes traditional Thai dishes and gives them a modern twist. Here you'll find pan-seared Chilean sea bass with bok choy over delicate miso broth or juicy pork chops marinated in lemongrass and garlic. Crisp fried spring rolls filled with shiitakes and chicken are a star — just as they were when Ponluang began serving them at his legendary restaurant Thai Pepper back in the mid-'90s. And when Mama steps out of the Thai mold, look out. Its wide range of noodle dishes give a sly nod to the warm street fare of Southeast Asia, from excellent Vietnamese pho scented with basil and anise to panko-coated kutsu chicken over waves of pipping-hot ramen. Add in chic décor and wallet-friendly prices and Mama really is the mother of all local Thai restaurants.

From the short-rib tacos of Kogi BBQ in Los Angeles to the funky fusion of New York-based Korilla, Korean-inspired street food has long been at the heart of the food truck craze. And now with Dim Ssäm à GoGo, the mobile extension of Miami's Sakaya Kitchen, chef Richard Halles has elevated Asian-inspired street fusion to the next level. What makes Halles' attractive, inked-up truck so great is the balance he achieves between modern restaurant cooking technique and munchie-inducing street fare. Take his duck banh mi, made with crisp-skinned, sous vide duck breast and served on a mayo-slathered baguette — we could eat that shit in a five-star restaurant or sitting on a curb at 3 a.m. Or how about the chunked-up tater tots? Covered with zesty cheese sauce and spicy ssam­jang, it's basically stoner food — until you consider the lovingly crafted, tender, short-rib slices that grace the top. Until recently, us northerners had to trek down to Miami to find this Korean monster. But thanks to recent truck gatherings up in West Broward and Boca Raton, mobile food hounds in Broward and Palm Beach can now enjoy their Dim Ssäm (a play on Chinese "dim sum" and the Korean word for wrap) on the go-go.

Whether you have been craving classic Jamaican jerk chicken, oxtail, curry goat, fried fish, ackee, or some good, old-fashioned cowfoot (don't hate), old Auntie I has got you covered. She opened her first location back in 1987, and Auntie I's now has three in South Florida. Expect friendly service, along with delicious Jamaican food that's prepared using original family recipes yet maintains a modest price. This joint is perfect for lunch (there are always great daily specials), takeout, or a fun family outing. It's about time you break it off with your weekly habit of diluted wonton soup and stale, misleading fortune cookies.

Liz Dzuro

Caprese salad, fritto misto, linguine with clam sauce, veal Milanese... they're as ubiquitous to South Florida as hurricane scams and dirty politicians taking sacks of money from shady developers. So what can one more restaurant dishing up these all-American Italian favorites bring to the table? Well, in the case of Fiorentina, it can do them better and charge you less. We're not talking fast food or fast casual or any other euphemism for wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am dining but a real sit-down, white-tablecloth restaurant with friendly and efficient service and an energetic, locals'-hangout kind of atmosphere. We're also talking a restaurant where at dinner, most pastas come in at under $15, a whole poussin cooked al mattone and served with panzanella at under $20, and the only entrée that breaks the $30 barrier is a porterhouse big enough to have its own area code. Which, for the right price, one of our politicians would be happy to sell you.

Ever find yourself spending big bucks on some so-called five-star dish with a fancy name that is served on bland white linens... only to be presented with some not-so-al-dente spaghetti that's drowning in sodium-infused red sauce along with a breadbasket? You would have been better off saving your money and ordering pizza. Well, it's time to allow La Sirena to restore your faith in fine Italian dining. The charming dining area is dimmed by glowing candles, dressed with delicate flower arrangements, and presented beneath 150-year-old oak beams from Shenandoah Valley — a classic and sophisticated appearance that will surely take you aback. Most important, your palate will be pleased with delightful entrée items including costoletta di vitello zingara — a cutlet of veal, lightly breaded, with a sauce of artichoke hearts, tomatoes, prosciutto di parma, and shiitakes. Or you can keep it light with il pesce del giorno alla livornese — fresh fish of the day, poached in a sauce of tomatoes, capers, onions, and white wine. Price upon request, of course.

It's a long way, both figuratively and literally, from Trujillo, Peru, to a nondescript strip mall across the street from the Lantana post office, but that's the journey of Victoria's chef-owner Julio Leon. The cheery, family-run eatery is a welcome breath of different and refreshing air in an otherwise mostly unexciting-restaurant town, one that's been embraced by a surprisingly diverse clientele that ranges from seniors looking for a good, inexpensive meal to people hungry for something other than pizza, caesar salad, and fried calamari. All the staples of the Peruvian kitchen are on the menu, from beef heart antichuchos and Peruvian-style tamales to a lusty rendition of lomo saltado and traditional tiraditos. There's also sopa a la minuta, a savory beef broth enriched with chopped beef, angel hair pasta, and diced potatoes that rivals "Jewish penicillin" for its miraculous restorative powers.

The worst way to find fresh fish and shellfish is to follow your nose. If you can smell it, it's already bait. The best way to find fresh fish and shellfish is to follow I-95 to Boynton Beach Boulevard to a funky-looking little concrete block building just a Key West pink's toss from everybody's favorite amateur speedway. In the more than 15 years since purchasing the market from the grandson of namesake Capt. Frank, ex-New Yorker Joey Sclafani and family have made it into something of a mecca for discriminating piscavores. The selection of seafood, from both local and other East Coast waters, is as diverse as it is pristinely fresh: Key West pink shrimp or the sweet reddish specimens from around Cape Canaveral, live soft-shell crab in season, locally caught grouper and mahi and yellowtail snapper, dry-packed scallops, and sushi-grade tuna. And though the shop is tiny, with more room for seafood than people, the only smell is the clean, briny tang of the sea. The nose knows.

The eatery's name speaks the truth. It is literally a small, eight-table bistro serving lunch and dinner, and it's nestled in the corner of an unassuming strip mall. Black and white tiles checker the floor; romantic lighting illuminates the sheen of white-pressed tablecloths and pastel-painted walls. Francophiles won't be disappointed by the Dover sole meunière here — a delicate fish pan-fried in butter, crusted with herbs, and dashed with lemon. Those not in the mood for poisson can savor the ridiculously tender beef tenderloin smothered with Roquefort sauce. The freshly made-in-house baguette slices are perfect for swiping the melted garlic herb-butter after the last succulent escargot is gone. Save room for chocolate mousse cake or crème brûlée, and let your inner child savor the cherries jubilee — a whimsical sundae of warm cherries bursting from brandy flambé and melting into ice cream topped with freshly whipped cream.

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