Best Teahouse 2012 | Serenity Garden Tea House & Restaurant | Food & Drink | South Florida

A proper British tea has no place in the heat of a South Florida summer, until that lazy afternoon when you crave an escape from the blazing sun. Behind the shade of white lace curtains, pastel-colored ladies' hats and gauzy wedding veils decorate the walls. From a bookshelf, a picture of Princess Di brings an aura of propriety to the proceedings. Tea arrives in pots covered in flowery cozies. This is a meal designed for long hours of gossip and languid sipping. Each of the tea sandwiches arrives in finger-sized slices — the crusts cut off, the main dish accompanied by slices of watermelon, greens, and flower-shaped curls of carrot. There's curried chicken salad, quiche, slices of cucumber, and cream cheese. But the scones are the main event. Warm and moist, just out of the oven, decorated with sweet morsels of cranberry, they are accompanied by lemon curd, jam, and a heavenly creation called clotted cream. This miracle bears no relation to tin-flavored Reddi-wip. It's like sweet, whipped butter, impossible to stop mopping up with crumbles of scone. That's why there's a full pot of tea — so you can keep sipping and munching for hours.

Rod Deal

There are lots of reasons to love Riverside Market: It transformed the sleepy Riverside Park neighborhood into a beer lover's mecca with plenty of regulars. The charming location is across the street from a red-and-white Bozo's sandwich shop and a little park and a stone's throw from a quaint swing bridge. And the beer selection is vast (529 kinds at last count) — and self-serve. Once you've hemmed and hawed and opened and closed the fridge doors eleventy billion times, grab your bottles, find a church key, and pull up a seat. (An informal hierarchy seems to dictate that the superregulars get the couches.) Fish tacos, fish dips, sandwiches, and soups are good for balancing out your beer intake. Event nights include tap takeovers (the place gave away a whole keg of Swamp Ape during Craft Beer Week in May) and winetastings, and a neighborhood secret is the dirt-cheap breakfasts: croissant sandwiches and produce-stuffed omelets.

Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians really love to eat. And no, not just piles of leafy greens and cold tofu. They want good, hearty meals as much as their steak-loving friends do. And that's just what Sara's Kosher Restaurant delivers. Family-owned and operated for more than a decade, this quaint eatery boasts an extensive menu of vegetarian and vegan options. Try the Rooster, a savory "chicken" breast golden fried in tempura and layered with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and cheese (dairy or vegan) on a fluffy challah roll with special sauce. In the mood for Italian? Snack on the Boston Beauty, a personal pizza dripping in vegetables and marinara sauce and topped with an extra layer of dough. Treat your bacon-craving friends to a dinner at Sara's and they might renounce meat-eating altogether.

Candace West

When we discovered this place, our hearts beat faster than Charlie Sheen's during a sex-a-thon. Plenty of elbow room, enough barstools, and a lacquered bar? Throw in large plates of gourmet food and, sweet Jesus, we just had an aneurysm. The fuss is over the Falcon House "great plates": better-than-your-mom's mac-and-cheese, grilled rib-eye quesadillas, and hellfire spicy jerk chicken lollipops, for starters. The price helps: only $8.88 for each.

At first glance, the Floridian is an assault to the eyes, with its tacky '80s décor, shiny metal chairs, and clutter everywhere, particularly on the walls, where photos of celebrities and politicians paper every square inch. You're not here for the design, however. You're here for the fuel. Expect heaping servings of eggs and potatoes or other greasy-spoon standards like cheeseburgers and patty melts. They're perfect for soaking up chagrin over bad decisions from the night before. As your vodka haze dissipates and you regain your strength, you may muster the energy to put on your dark sunglasses and venture onto Las Olas Boulevard to face the day. Think twice before you leave, though — there are mimosas on deck 24/7. Perhaps you're ready for one now?

This beer mecca is a stunner. Reclaimed wood from Washington, Montana, New York, and Oregon textures the walls in a rhythm of varying widths and subtly different shades of brown. Douglas fir from Oregon outfits tables. Floors are lapped with concrete, while the bar base is made of steel. Rebar runs the length of the ceiling overhead. The only "art," if you'd call it such, is a drawing of a tree that explains each beer's origin as a lager or an ale, and a gas station sign from a West Texas artisan. Fifteen thousand pennies serve as a backsplash behind the row of taps, 42 in all.

Photo by Glenn Govot, courtesy of Southport Raw Bar & Restaurant

Hey, nice boat. Seriously. How many feet? It's a real beauty. Hey, if you're around one weekend, and want to hang out... we can go fishing or something. Then, when we're good and sunburned and haven't caught any fish, we can cruise on down toward the 17th Street Causeway and turn in toward Southport, a shining beacon at the end of the canal. The inside is fishy dive bar; the outside is more backyard picnic. The seafood options wash in on a tide of cold, cheap beer: raw or steamed clams, raw oysters (shucked to order), fried shrimp, conch fritters, a couple of chowders and soups. The fresh, simple, possibly alive options are better than more processed creations (don't bother with the stuffed clams). Over cracking cephalopods and fizzing beer, conversation and daydreaming are the dominant pursuits: The TVs are too small to bother with, so the real entertainment is right there in front of you. Us. Together. Just enjoying a day out on your boat.

C. Stiles

A great brewpub doesn't force good beer to make up for mediocre food. Big Bear's huge menu goes beyond standard bar food, featuring fancy vittles like steak, seafood, volcano shrimp, and "Brie pillows." But the burgers remain a must-try; wash 'em down with an eight-beer sampler (eight types of beer are brewed in-house) for $8.50 and you're having a good night. The atmosphere has the dimly lit, cloth-napkin feel of a much more expensive restaurant with the din (and giant metal tanks) of a more rough-and-tumble brewery. Combine that with quick service and you've got a happy dinner experience.

This place looks and feels like the collision of a greasy spoon and a sports bar — napkins are replaced by a roll of brown paper towels on each table, the condiments are held in bent-up license plates, and the walls are covered in pictures of guys holding big fish. It's got burgers and milk shakes, but Diner 24's breakfast is the best in town if you've got ten bucks and an empty stomach. Its omelets are stuffed full of whatever you want, and it never skimps on the cheese. Sign yourself up for the home fries too — they come with onions and peppers mixed in. Combine that with a biscuit and jelly and you'll be all set. (Don't let the name fool you, though — it's open 24 hours on the weekend, but it closes at midnight during the week, so stumble over there before it's too late.)

C. Stiles

Bravo offers a whole list of delicious entrées, but its sandwiches are edible miracles. The lomo saltado sandwich is easy on your wallet but fancy in your mouth, and the fish sandwich is so good you won't even mind that you don't like fish sandwiches. You can go there for a quick dinner, but it's perfect for lunch — just be prepared to be really full. It offers takeout, but you can sit down at a table without getting embarrassed about getting rocato sauce on your face — it's not a cloth-napkin joint, and nobody's ever been judged over an Inca cola.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of