Fran's Chicken Haven
Christina Mendenhall

A sign hangs on the wall at Fran's Chicken Haven in Boca Raton that pretty much says it all: "If the colonel had our recipe, he'd be a general." Why? This joint has been serving comfort food for close to five decades. Originally opened in 1964 by Fran and Joe Gerace, today the restaurant is owned and operated by Boca Raton native Chris Stuart, who remembers eating there as a child with his father, who at one time delivered the bread. Since he took over in 2013, Stuart has used the original Fran's fried-chicken recipe, a sugar-sweetened blend of spices that fries up to a perfect crisp. Some things, though, have changed: The menu once served nothing but fried chicken with a side of coleslaw or fries. Today, Stuart offers homemade sides like mashed potatoes and gravy or macaroni 'n' cheese. If you're extra hungry, go for the fried chicken and waffles, an oversized Belgian waffle served with a fried chicken thigh and leg and a choice of a regular, chocolate, or apple caramel waffle. For dessert, follow it up with a fried Oreo or Twinkie.

Readers' Choice: Bay Bay's Chicken and Waffles

Betty's Soul Food
Candace West

Betty's... a place where you can stuff your face with fried chicken and cornbread and no one will judge you for it. It's been in Sistrunk for 40 years and is opening a second location in Pompano Beach. Owner Betty Taylor is a sweet Southern woman from Mississippi who just had to share her food with everyone, and we are so glad she did. This restaurant has won countless awards, and we aren't hesitant to give it another one. It's the best place to get a home-cooked meal when you don't feel like frying anything. We just recommend you hit the gym the next day, because you may be feeling this one for days — but in a good way. Here are ten more reasons to go: crunchy fried chicken, creamy mac 'n' cheese, fall-off-the-bone ribs, breakfast all day every day, freshly baked desserts, soft and sweet cornbread, Kool-Aid (oh yeah!), collard greens, fried jumbo shrimp, and Betty Taylor's smile.

Teddy's Wing Shack

Don't let the laid-back Caribbean theme fool you. Inside this tiki-hut-style eatery, there's a bar serving some of the area's best chicken wings. Here, it's all about choice. Exercise yours wisely. You can order your wings with a wide array of homemade sauces, fried or grilled. Or both. The best: Teddy's wings sauce, of course. It's made from scratch, a vinegary purée of fresh banana peppers that's finger-licking good whether on the wings or at the bottom of the basket. Some of the other 20 or so flavors include fun fruit mashups like raspberry, pineapple, and guava tequila lime. When the weather is nice, grab a seat outdoors under the tiki's shade and be grateful the best Buffalo wings in the area come with a tropical breeze too.

Often confused with a meatball, falafel is a completely vegan concoction made of ground chickpeas, herbs, and spices deep fried in oil. Nowhere in the area do you find as delectable a specimen of falafel than those found at Sunrise Pita & Grill. It comes served in three varieties of sandwiches — in a pita for $6.75, in baguette sandwiches for $8.49, and in a lafa wrap for $8.99. If you wish to have the falafel in its pure form unencumbered by bread, lettuce, or tomato, you can order the appetizer of six falafels for $3.99 or get the full falafel plate with hummus and salads on the side. Keep in mind, the restaurant is Glatt Kosher; thus, to observe the Sabbath, it closes at 4 p.m. on Fridays and is closed all day Saturday.

It's filling, healthy, and fun to eat: Pho, a beef broth noodle soup that's considered the national dish of Vietnam, is made after a lengthy process of parboiling, rinsing, and simmering beef bones and adding ingredients like ginger, rock sugar, charred onions, and spices. The broth is finished with rice noodles, slices of beef, onion, scallion, giant sprigs of fresh Thai basil, and bean sprouts. Housed in an informal strip mall on the outskirts of Davie, Pho 79 offers different phos in three sizes. Try the pho ga, a combination of noodles and chicken breast. Or maybe the pho seafood, with shrimp, scallops, squid, and imitation crab. If you want more meat, there are extras; add bo vien (meatballs) or extra tai (slivers of rare steak).

Not long ago, most people knew only one type of ramen — the kind served in a styrofoam cup. Today, ramen has been elevated to cult status, with critics parsing the pros and cons of authentic Japanese soup and its many New Age takes. In South Florida, a few restaurants offer exceptional ramen — from traditional offerings of the pork-bone broth like tonkotsu of Japan's Kyushu region to the hearty miso ramen of Hokkaido. But at Nori Thai, the ramen isn't just soup — it's a meal, served in giant white ceramic bowls topped to the brim with a pork- or seafood-infused broth and mounds of chewy-soft crimped Japanese noodles. Ramen options include the basic tonkotsu, a sesame-and-garlic-oil-infused broth topped with fatty chunks of chashu pork, large cuts of broth-infused bok choy, tender tendrils of bean sprouts, sheets of seaweed, tender corn kernels, half a boiled egg, and flavorful slices of kikurage mushroom. A Thai green curry ramen means noodles are simmered in a fresh basil and fish-infused green curry sauce before serving, then paired with bamboo, zucchini, red bell peppers, and the fresh catch of the day. A spicy version marries a Thai broth with lime, fish sauce, fried garlic, crushed peanuts, cilantro, and scallions before it's topped off with shrimp, scallops, squid, and mussels. The best ramen Nori produces, though, is its spicy miso ramen, a tonkotsu broth flavored and thickened with a spicy bean paste for a kick of heat, then finished with all the appropriate tonkotsu accoutrements.

Pho Saigon Cuisine
John Linn

Once you experience a proper/authentic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, there is no going back — every sandwich you taste thereafter is judged upon the standard. Saigon Cuisine makes a banh-mi that will change your taste buds forever. You have no other choice but to order multiple styles, because it's impossible to choose just one. The char-grilled/caramelized roast pork Saigon is famous for a bread that is somehow crusty on the outside and angel soft in the middle. The "combination/special" banh mi includes everything from a liver pâté spread to a sliced Vietnamese meatball. Some places might brag about their five-dollar sandwiches, but at Saigon, you get the greatness that is this authentic sub for just $4.75. Don't walk; run.

Let's talk about poutine. It's time we had this conversation, America. What is it? Why is it? How is it? There are many questions we must ask ourselves, but first, let's dive into the facts. Poutine originated in Quebec, Canada. We're not off to a good start so far. The only thing Quebec has ever given South Florida is bad drivers and tiny man Speedos. But bear with me. Poutine is a dish consisting of French fries, topped with hot gravy and fresh cheese curds. Wait, could it be? Quebec has made something... American. Fries? Check. Cheese? Check. Gravy? Check. How did we not invent this? These are hard questions we must face as a nation, but in the meantime, head to Poutine Dog Cafe in Lake Worth to sample the dish yourself. Let's claim this dish for the good ol' U.S. of A.

Readers' Choice: Tap 42

Anthony's Runway 84

There are times when the inevitable happens and you find yourself hungry without a friend or date to join you for dinner. Instead of pulling up to some fast-food drive-through and scarfing a value meal in your car in desperation, try dining at Anthony's Runway 84's lounge. The airplane-themed room is designed to make you feel like you're in a jetliner. As you settle into a seat, you can just imagine your flight attendant announcing that the takeoff was perfect and to settle in for a lovely flight as you look at a perpetual twilight sky out of mock airplane windows. As Sinatra softly croons in the background, order a glass of wine or a martini and peruse the menu. Your food order will be taken by a different waiter. The menu is classic Italian — gigantic meatballs served with ricotta ($12), a spicy coil of sausage with broccoli rabe ($13), and a chicken Parm to die for ($24), but it's the Sicilian peppers — stuffed with capers, cheese, bread crumbs, and anchovies ($10) — that are the jewel in Anthony's crown. The bar is always lively, filled with a mix of young professionals and old-timers, and no one is alone for more than a few minutes. On a recent Saturday, a man out alone for the evening was persuaded to join a party of women, while two couples compared (and shared) meals with one another. Think of it as Cheers, owned by a guy named Tony.

Sybarite Pig

We love bars. We love great restaurants. Let's combine the two! There hasn't been a no-brainer this obvious since the peanut butter deliveryman crashed his unicycle into the jelly truck. But though it's easy in concept, man, is it hard to execute. When you have to worry about great drinks and great food, the quality of one side is usually going to take a hit. But some gastropubs manage to dodge this all-too-common trap. The Sybarite Pig is one of those. The definition of "sybarite" is "a person devoted to pleasure and luxury." In most cases, this is not a good thing. But at the Pig, it's an attitude responsible for dishes like roasted bone marrow, "Hellswine" sausage, and duck-fat-roasted potato salad. Now, all that stuff alone would be enough to pack the place, but when you toss in a beer menu that looks more like a novella, it creates a perfect storm of gastropub.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of