The no-holds-barred crowd that often lines up in early evenings to get into this 20-plus-year-old spot is a mix of bikers, surfers, condo-nauts and prowling tourists -- all eager for their electronic buzzers to light up and tell them it's their turn to cram into this little combo tavern/fishhouse, which anchors all the glamour that is downtown Deerfield. Once inside, they'll get a taste of rough-hewn walls supporting more nautica than an Americas Cup yacht and a staff that gives as good as it gets. Not to worry. Elbows are soon too busy flying as diners dig into either the why-be-fancy? raw bar items such as fresh clams, oysters, and regular or rock shrimp (a house specialty) or more prettified choices including oysters Rockefeller, clams casino, and escargots. Prices range from $4.25 per dish to whatever the market will bear. And don't forget to try the whale fries -- Capt. Ahab would have gladly given up Moby Dick for a few mouthfuls of these.

The name of the restaurant is misleading, as this surely isn't a joint but a handsomely designed room with cherry-wood floors, warm mahogany highlights, and two separate rooms for parties and corporate events -- exactly the sort of environment that hobos have, throughout their colorful history, tended to avoid. It is, however, a joint venture that was started a decade ago by husband/executive chef Steven LaBiner and wife/general manager/sommelier Janet Ribera-LaBiner. Hobo's has expanded over the years, but the emphasis on ultrafresh and delectable seafood remains the same. A wide range of fish and shellfish is on hand, each customized according to patrons' desires regarding cooking method and sauce. Whether it be grilled mahi-mahi with lemon butter or pan-seared grouper with sizzling Thai sauce, the flavors of the fish come through vibrantly. Dinners are as generous as they are delicious, accompanied by artesan breads, sprightly salad, and a smart array of flawlessly cooked starches and vegetables. Consistently great seafood, professional service, comfortable family ambiance, moderate prices, and a wine list bestowed with Wine Spectator magazine's Award of Excellence make Hobo's one very classy joint.
It's about time we found a place where both you and the kids can let down what's left of your hair. This low-profile Lauderdale landmark tucked along the downtown stretch of the New River is just the place. Here, by the dockside restaurant (a more formal dining area is upstairs), the kids can cannonball into the decent-sized pool and eat $3.25 hamburgers -- or chicken fingers for the same price if you're watching their waistlines -- and you can clock back at the bar, watch the boats idle by, and pretend you're young again. On Sundays, there's live music, and the performer is happy to let the whippersnappers get up and karaoke to their fave tunes (beware the American Idol wannabes). Meanwhile, you can explore the bounties of the well-stocked bar, banter with the lively and capable wait staff, delve into the sandwiches-salads-and-baskets menu with its reasonable prices and play-it-safe choices, and generally put your feet up and your mind at rest. Caution, however: One of you adults will have to lifeguard at the pool. But there's always a price, isn't there?

This place wins for personality and service hands down; it's an added bonus that the food is tasty. And the Horizon's got history too. This location opened a year and a half ago after its namesake on Davie Boulevard burned to the ground on Christmas Day. Owned by middle-aged Greek couple Spiro Passakos and his wife, Thecla (known to the regulars as "the Boss"), and staffed fully by members of the family, you'll think of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Housed in a nondescript little space on one of the less attractive stretches of U.S. 441, the joint is set up in classic diner fashion: booths along the windows and stools at the counter, and prices are good too. Typical diner fare with an emphasis on Greek cuisine: moussaka (think eggplant parm with way less sauce, $5.95), spanakopita (spinach pie, $3.75), gyros (for the last time, it's pronounced "yee-ros," $5.95), and souvlaki (pork or chicken chunks on a stick, $6.25). Of course, if you want a club sandwich, burger, or BLT, they got those too.

You are not a number; you are a human being. Now try telling that to the hostess at one of the big chain delicatessens that are to Palm Beach County what automobile factories once were to Detroit. It's true that the assembly-line pastrami sandwiches at these places are usually flawless, but you can get the same perfect specimen at Poppie's without having to wait for the three-digit number on your little white ticket to be called. During season, there are lines to get into Poppie's too, but once seated, you'll be treated in the most civilized fashion: a basket of bread and a bowl of pickles at dinner and a seasoned waitress asking, "What can I get you, bubbaleh?" Well, lessee, try some chicken soup, a knish, a side of creamed herring -- or gefilte fish? A corned beef platter with creamy potato salad -- maybe a side of chopped liver instead of the herring? A Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, one of those shiny black & whites from the pastry department, halvah, cup of coffee with no cream or sugar (you have to watch your weight), and a loaf of Poppie's delicious seeded rye to go. Save the smoked fish and bagels for another day.

Readers' Choice: Too Jay's

Tie pins, French cuffs, the finest wools, complexions aglow from heavy gym-time and stock options -- all are as prevalent as Britney before a CD release at this 4-year-old bastion of the New Lauderdale, which packs a Wayne (Huizenga)-meets-Terry (Stiles) degree of clout rarely seen locally outside the Tower Club. Modeled after the old chophouses of New York City and Chicago and offering mezza-Italia presentations of pastas ($10 to $11), panninis ($9 to $13), and seafood ($13 to $15) among the veal and chops, this spacious set of dark-wooded dining rooms-plus-bar leaves fuss at the front door. It provides a staff so accommodating that only their ages make you doubt they might be ex-Up with People singers. Better yet, one need not give the chauffeur the day off to afford lunch (unless you're going for a dinner-sized portion of a chop, which can run you up to $29).

Yes, Betty's turns up on winner's lists all over the place, and yes, it might be great to find a new champion, but who can argue with the royal richness of the Red Velvet cake or that reasonably priced ($8.25) but unreasonably good fried chicken (done up in heart-conscious canola oil)? Then there's the fun of the three televisions staging channel battles in various corners of the room and those waitresses who can still sashay while bearing four orders of superb biscuits and sweet potato pie ($2.50 for all desserts). These are only a few of the reasons Betty Taylor's 20-year-old, ten-table-plus-lunch counter watering hole still reigns as the queen of the fast-emerging Soul Food corridor along Fort Lauderdale's Sistrunk Avenue. Some others? It opens for breakfast at 6 a.m. (closing's at 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, midnight on weekends), the neighborhood doesn't make a white man jump, and there's a jukebox with selections that may give even you rhythm.

A fascinating cultural collision plays out daily at Joy's, a bustling East-meets-West Indian restaurant tucked in a corner of the Lauderhill Mall. Delicious curry goat would be the standard (and most popular) option at $7, but chicken, oxtail, shrimp, conch, beef, and veggies are also available, rolled up in paper-thin Indian flatbread. At only a buck, you gotta try some of the other tasty items on the menu: aloo pie is a puff-pastry filled with potatoey goodness, for instance. Or have a go at a plate of phulowrie, battered balls of split pea and saffron. Shout out your order over the booming sound system and take a number. Regardless of whether you grab a roomy booth to enjoy it there or get your food to go, you'll have plenty of time to down a bottle or two of Carib (Trinidad's favorite beer) or a shandy (half beer, half ginger ale) while you wait. After all, you're on island time, mon. The place has seven comfortable tables. So relaaaax.

The traditional Spanish regional cuisine at Cafe Seville is cooked to order, which means you may have to sit awhile in the quaint dining room, sipping one of the restaurant's excellent wines, perhaps snacking on tapas or a cold platter of Spanish Serrano ham, manchego cheese, chorizo, and stuffed olives. Soon enough, your patience will be rewarded with mouth-watering dishes like a bright rendition of Andalusia's renowned gazpacho; roasted leg of lamb, leg of pork, and rabbit with rosemary; corvina swimming in a sauce sharked with garlic, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, and white wine; a bold cazuela de mariscos, duck, veal, chicken, or steaks. Then there's a paella so well-stocked with shellfish, chicken, and pork that it's not quite right to call it a rice dish. The robust cuisine, crisp service, and charming Old World ambiance suggest an extravagant bill, but Seville's prices are moderate, with just about every entrée under $20.

Smack in the middle of what may be the hippest little shopping center in South Florida (if we need to tell you the name, you're over), Tipico boasts a menu that says it all: "American Style -- Mexican Flavor -- Spanish Flair," with selections that jitterbug from Mexico to Cuba and on to Kansas City (cheeseburgers, caesar salads?), flaunting a catholic sense of cuisine as confidently as do all the other local Mexican-and-more places. Milton has his version of paradise. This is ours, with a $9.95 chili relleño in place of an apple. The light streams through the lace café curtains onto the polished wooden floor; the white-shirted staff smiles at you with something other than dollars in their eyes. There's hep-cat '80s rock on the sound system, and you're scarfing down a Veracruzana combo (chicken tostada, cheese enchilada, beef taco for $10.95) so spunky and fresh, you'll swear the Central American chef knew you were writing this. Churrasco steaks ($11.95), carnitas ($9.95), arroz con pollo ($9.95), and the wonderful campeche burro ($8.95) are highlights. Open most days from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., the $10-average prices don't make you feel like you're paying by the square foot, but during peak hours (7 to 8 p.m.), you may want to trade in your Navigator for an Escort when wrangling for a parking place (try the street behind the shopping center). Don't be discouraged. La comida es perfecta!

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of