Best Milkshake 2015 | Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant | Food & Drink | South Florida
Christina Mendenhall

Sadly, last June, Monroe Udell — the man who founded the iconic Dania Beach mecca of sweets, Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant — passed away. Many South Florida residents owe Udell a great thanks. Since 1956, he had been giving us a wonderful place to bring our children, parents, friends, and first dates. Jaxson's is a South Florida landmark, both for its nostalgic interior and for what comes out of the kitchen. Udell would be proud to see that Jaxson's is still flourishing and still pumping out the best ice cream in the South. Stop in next time you're in Dania Beach. Sit, grab a handful of complimentary popcorn, and order one of their classic milkshakes, served in 24-ounce shakers, topped with a swirl of whipped cream. Don't be shy. Get some toppings too. Monroe would recommend it.

It's nice that the proprietor, Maria Narvaez, learned to cook by watching her mother in their pueblo of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and that after a stint in Houston, she and her husband, Jose, ran a restaurant in Chicago named after their son, Marlon. It's even nicer that they moved to Florida and opened an affordable, authentic joint on the Hollywood Broadwalk, naming it after the first words that spilled out of Marlon's mouth when he saw the fine-looking ladies passing by on the beachfront: mamacitas. Today, it's nicer still that this chill establishment offers sports on TV and live music four nights a week (salsa, merengue, bachata) and that a spontaneous dance party is likely to break out on the sidewalk as you wolf down a giant whole fried snapper. But these details are all best enjoyed when sipping on the signature drink, a tequila-drenched frozen margarita topped with lime, a straw, and an upside-down Corona. This concoction is called a "Rompe Nalga" ($15 for a medium, $23 for a large), which translates literally as "break buttock" but means, essentially, it'll kick your ass.

Sweetwater in Boynton Beach, what could be considered the catalyst of Palm Beach and Broward counties' craft cocktail movement. The year 1933 has special meaning here, not just as a nod to the year Prohibition ended but also to the good times that ensued. Owners Clint Reed and mixologist Sean Iglehart don't want you to think of their establishment as a speakeasy; it's just a good, old-fashioned watering hole where you're meant to kick back, relax, and toss back some damned good drinks. Here, the bar program is second-to-none, run by a staff of highly skilled bartenders who collaborate on a rotating menu of seasonal specials that changes every few months. The menu also offers a number of signature concoctions, each expertly crafted with house-made syrups, bitters, liqueurs, and a rainbow's worth of fresh herbs, fruits, and spices. Behind the bar, you'll find everything from an authentic wooden swizzle stick to a topnotch arsenal of rare, expensive, or small-batch liquors. Pull up a bar seat, and let the show begin.

Brimstone Woodfire Grill sits on the westernmost stretch of Pines Boulevard in Pembroke Pines, a sprawling, 200-seat dining room at the corner of an open-air shopping mall. With a large, covered outdoor patio and Americanized menu offering a mix of seafood, steaks, sushi, and flatbreads, it's one of the area's best spots to spend the day outdoors with a cold beverage in hand. Whether you take a seat at the spacious interior bar or grab a stool under the shade of a new patio awning outside, the restaurant presents the perfect place to enjoy a craft cocktail, beer, or glass of wine. The best choice, however, is the margarita flight created by beverage manager Jodi Patten. Order up and you'll get a tower of four margaritas including a pineapple mango, strawberry, blood orange, and classic take. Each is made with a generous pour of Casamigos tequila; homemade sour mix combining fresh-squeezed lemon, lime, and orange juices; and a vibrant fruit purée that lends a touch of color and flavor. All are available in full-sized versions for a few more dollars, but it won't be easy to choose just one. The blood orange is a house favorite, however, the tart citrus providing the perfect balance to the margarita's salty finish.

Readers' Choice: Rocco's Tacos

Nothing says "happy hour" like a well-crafted martini. And nothing says well-crafted martini quite like Grille 401 on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale, the stylish eatery with a buzzy bar scene and outdoor patio offering an extensive drink menu paired with New American plates. During happy hour at Grille 401, you can find BOGO deals on any of its 15-plus craft cocktails, along with a side of live music and a view from the outdoor patio. This year, the restaurant's cocktail offerings expanded with three new cocktails featuring innovative ingredients, including Kappa Pisco liquor, blood orange, and jalapeño-cilantro purée. Of the many rotating and seasonal specials, one drink in particular has made the cut to full-time and has become a crowd favorite: the Red Cougar. Served in a chilled martini glass, the bright-pink drink is a simple yet refreshing combination of Stolichnaya vodka, fresh-muddled strawberries, basil, simple syrup, and lemon juice.

By now, we all know a glass of wine here and there can be good for you. In addition to red wine's heart-healthy antioxidants and resveratrol, recent studies show those who drink two glasses of wine a day are slimmer and 40 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Cocktails can be good for you too — especially if you're frequenting a bar that looks more like an apothecary than a happy-hour hot spot. At Mind Your Manors in Wilton Manors, they are offering drinks with an extra-special ingredient: spirulina. According to owner Bobby Del Campo, the spirulina behind this bar isn't your average (and awful-tasting) green powder. Instead, the bar uses Spirulina Ice, a frozen product grown by a private farm and developed to preserve the nutritional benefits of this powerful superfood — without the harsh, grassy, bitter flavor often associated with dehydrated products. A potent source of plant protein and amino acids, this blue-green algae can be added to almost any drink. The real supersipper at Mind Your Manors is the spirulina bloody mary. It isn't backed by any scientific claims, of course, but we're guessing you're getting a good dose of essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid, chlorophyll, calcium, B-12, and bio-available iron with every sip.

Two is always better than one, right? Well, it certainly is when you're talking brunch. Visit downtown Himmarshee Village on a Sunday and you'll get two brunches in one spot thanks to Bull Market's weekly brunch buffet for $24 per person. The restaurant tag-teams with its sister establishment, the adjoining restaurant Chow, to deliver a unique "East Vs. West" all-you-can-eat menu offering Bull Market's American-style comfort food eats alongside Chow's Asian-inspired fare. That means omelet and waffle stations accompanied by fried chicken or stir-fried noodles — even crab legs and unlimited sushi. The good times don't stop there. Next, slog down a few drinks with the unlimited bloody mary and mimosa special for $15 per person. During happy hour, all regular drinks are two-for-one. So get in on the breakfast-lunch action with twice the food and drink options, guaranteed every weekend.

Breakfast. It's not only the most important meal of the day; it's also the cheapest. Or at least it used to be. Then restaurants started charging absolutely ridiculous prices for the morning meal. Fifteen bucks for an omelet? That's highway robbery for a few eggs, cheese, and maybe some veggies. What happened to those good, old-fashioned coffee shops where you could get a plate of eggs and a coffee without breaking the piggy bank? Everything about Diner by the Sea is retro — starting with owner Billy at the griddle slinging hash and cracking hen's fruit. Sit at the brightly colored vinyl stools at the counter or in a booth and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee while you peruse the menu items — all way under ten dollars. Choose a hearty country sausage and gravy ($8.99) or the lightest, fluffiest pancakes you've ever had ($5.29). If you're on a budget, a simple egg-and-home-fries breakfast with toast is only $3.99. And on weekends, your first mimosa is free. As you dig into your plate, look around to see a good assortment of tourists and locals cohabiting in harmony over coffee, chatting about the weather and condo values. This is what a good, old-fashioned restaurant is supposed to be.

Family-owned and -operated since 1972, this New York-style eatery and deli has been serving the people of Pompano Beach — especially the Palm Aire neighborhood — for more than three decades. In 1992, its current owners, a husband-and-wife team, took over full-time and continued the Bagel Snack legacy of delivering the restaurant's cooked-on-premises bagels and bialys to a hungry (and happy) patronage of snowbirds and locals. Bagel Snack features bagels in all the traditional New York varieties, from plain and poppy seed to sesame, rye, pumpernickel, onion, and garlic. You won't find anything as sacrilegious as jalapeño or cranberry in the big plastic bins, however. Here, they make all the bagels the old-fashioned way. First, they boil them. Then, they bake them. The final product: a soft, doughy interior with the perfect thin, crispy crust that's not too tough to chew or hard to swallow. All that's left is to decide your favorite flavor. Bagel Snack also offers some of the tastiest bialys in South Florida and fresh cream cheese and smoked salmon that will put all that prepackaged stuff to shame.

Readers' Choice: The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.

The gooey-rich flan cheesecake at Miramar Bakery is one of the most popular menu items at this family business, which has been serving South Florida for more than 30 years. Opened by Cuban-born Mario Cortes and his two brothers in the early 1980s, the original location was a simple shop with a short-order counter. In April of last year, a new generation of owners — Ryan Campbell and Alex Recio Jr., founders of Fort Lauderdale's new Colada Cuban House — took over operations, expanding the business and relocating to a new, state-of-the-art retail and wholesale facility. The move marked the continuation of the bakery with a new generation of Cuban-Americans, who have partnered with Cortes to help keep the tradition of Miramar Bakery (and its goods) available for many generations to come. You'll still find the same recipes and baking methods — everything from the guava and cheese pastries to café cubano and fresh-from-the-oven Cuban bread. Many of the bakery's employees, some of whom have been with the bakery since its inception, can still be found in the kitchen or at the front of house. Of course, some things have changed, but for the better: The menu now offers lunchtime meals, dishes like ropa vieja and lechon asado, served with rice and beans for $5.99.

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