Las Colinas Restaurant
Eric Barton
You know you're getting an inferior diner breakfast when you get the toast. It's dry and almost cold. Next to it on the plate are a couple of fresh-from-the-fridge butter patties. At Las Colinas, the bread comes straight from the iron sandwich grill -- la plancha -- with the butter melted inside the crusty Cuban bread. Hot enough to sting your fingers. Then comes the breakfast, an array of egg dishes served with fried potatoes and, the South Florida kickstarter of choice, Cuban café con leche. You can have straight-ahead ham and eggs ($3.50) or a variety of Caribbean-style concoctions. Our favorite is the Desayuno Las Colinas ($4.99, the most expensive item on the breakfast menu), a couple of fried eggs on a thin slice of steak, with a ladle of Creole sauce. The coffee is always piping hot, a little syrupy, and -- watch out -- highly addictive. (Just the coffee and the toast? $1.90.) Las Colinas ("the hills") is owned by Michael Park and his Nicaraguan-born wife, Maria. Opened three years ago, it's Latin-style, with nearly a dozen ceiling fans, wooden chairs and tables, and a stand-alone sandwich station that turns out all those iron-flattened Cuban delights.
Ugly Tuna Saloona
They're $8, lack jalapeños, and the chips sometimes come singed. But, lawdy, if you want to make a meal of nachos, you've found the right place. Start with a pile of red, white, and blue chips, toss on chunks of mesquite chicken, Monterey jack cheese, two kinds of olives, and a mortar-like layer of spicy beans, then top it with an eruption of pico de gallo and sour cream. The whole mélange arrives in a skillet, which has exactly the sort of walls you need to scoop up stray beans and sauce using a single corn chip, as nature intended.

Blue Anchor Pub
Liz Dzuro
Why do the Brits fare so well with pub grub when they strike out so often with the rest of culinariana? (Bubbles and squeak? Boiled parsnips?) But here's one place where the Limeys can fly as many Union Jacks as they want. The building's 19th-century façade, including eight-foot-high English-oak front doors and stained-glass windows, was on London's historic Chancery Lane and was shipped across the pond in 1996. On nights when the Brit rock band Mad Cow is shivering the timbers of this Atlantic Avenue English pub-with-a-pedigree, you might find it hard to concentrate on the top-flight fish and chips in front of you. But persevere. Take a bite of just-right filet, get up and move to the beat, and then get back to your booth and try one of the homemade meat pies (suggestion: steak and mushroom) or Scottish fish cakes or even bangers and mash. Take a sip of one of the dozen imported beers (suggestion: Newcastle Brown Ale). Booty-shake a little more. Then finish with one of the fine fruit crumbles or a sherry trifle, followed by a glass of port and a hearty wedge of aged English Blue Stilton. There now. Life isn't so bad after all. And not one boiled parsnip in sight.

Simply Delish
Forget the usual mega-brunches, with their prix fixe prices, "whatever"-service, and trips back to the empty salvers. Here in this two-room corner cafe that throbs with highly caffeinated conversation, major hallooing, and some of the wisecrackingest service this side of Rosie on a roll is yet more proof that the gay gene extends to the concept of brunch. On a late Sunday morning, it seems that wise straights have discovered this reasonably priced (average $8 per meal) little secret too. It all works thanks to the sensible kitchen, which turns the usual brunchly ducklings -- taffy-pull pancakes and omelets Firestone could patent -- into swans. The cook even gets the temperature of the food right, dish after dish turning up neither retro-warmed nor colder than winter in Murmansk. Helping it all go down is coffee as fresh as a slap. While eavesdropping on dialogue worthy of Carson on Queer Eye (tables are that close), admire the Liberace-meets-Auntie Mame décor. Rarely has more been better. Typical of brunch, timing is everything, and during peak hours, lines can form faster than a face-lift on Joan Rivers, but be patient -- the waiting ones disappear just as quickly, sucked into this happily spinning vortex of the well-toned and quick-tongued.

Does this lawyerly eatery have an impressive tort-quashing track record? Or maybe a helpful friend at the small-claims courthouse?

Side Bar
So you just ate the best meal of your life, but you're not sated. You still need that little buzz that makes a damn good meal perfect. You could smoke a cigar, but that's not allowed these days. Pot? You crazy? So how about a snifter of the finest French cognac? No better place to try this final step toward gastronomic paradise than Side Bar at the Himmarshee Bar & Grille. They have the three top brands -- Courvoisier, Remy Martin, and Hennessey -- in both VSOP and top-drawer types. Side Bar is connected to the restaurant -- which is fantastic -- so you can just walk around the corner for a toot or drop in after eating somewhere else. Prices range from $9 to $25. So relax, whirl it around a little, and let the fumes make your head spin, then sip slowly. All is well with the world, no, mon ami?

South Florida is a long way from home for the several thousand Finns who spend the winters in Lake Worth. For a little taste of the motherland, many of them come to Scandia Bakery, which has become something of a city hall for snowbirds from the Helsinki hinterlands. They discuss news from the north over custard-filled Danish at breakfast, plates of meatloaf ($6.75 for a whole meal) for lunch, and cabbage rolls (two for $4) at dinner. Specials are written on paper plates taped to the back wall, and a shelf of goods displays all things Finnish, including bags of ultra-strong coffee that would make those Scandinavian winters bearable. After lounging for a few hours on the L-shaped couch under the front windows, you can buy a warm of Russian sourdough from owners Aune and Taisto Kaanto. And you'll be glad you did. All of it is a lot easier to digest than the Finnish language. Example: Thank you is pronounced kiitos. The place is open for breakfast and lunch but closed during the summer.

"Don't be a chickenshit!" "Smack my ass and call me Sally!" These are two of the more involved names of the 12 sauces (four regulars and eight rotating ones) in the bar at Tijuana Flats Burrito Co., daring you -- make that double-daring you -- to "Give heat a chance." As soon as you walk in the door, you're seeing red; the walls are a deep shade of it and decorated with photos of hot-sauce survivors. (If you're a glutton for punishment, try the aptly named "Ass in Hell.") The sauces, of course, are all there to accompany Tijuana Flats' budget-conscious menu, which includes drool-inducing dishes like the toasted blackened chicken burrito ($5.75) and the spinach artichoke quesadilla ($5.50). In fact, the most expensive thing on the menu comes out to a whopping $7.75. But your pockets won't be the only thing paying.

Florida Tap Room
With 14 draft beer choices (among them, the 1988 British Grand Champion Old Thumper and a crisp, dry Shipyard Light Ale) and a no-strangers bar, the Tap Room defines itself as winningly as Charlize Theron negotiating the red carpet at the Oscars. While this may not be high dining, its score of tables hugs the Bahia Mar Marina. Just finishing its first year, the Tap Room can be proud of its have-no-fear menu, which accents appetizers such as crab cakes ($9.95), highly decorated burgers and sandwiches ($6 to $9), and a list of entrées ($16 to $19) that boasts a swanky piece of salmon served on a cedar plank. All of this good food, a sunset remindful of Key West's Mallory Pier, and the chance to rub elbows (and more?) with some of the owners of the 90-foot yachts docked a few feet away make this spot one of our favorite new dining additions. Best indication of the quality: Even the staff likes to eat here. Readers' Choice: Dada
Rustic Inn Crabhouse
Candace West
Face it: Our primordial ancestors had the right idea about how to eat shellfish. They'd find a handy club or fist-sized rock, smash it down on the calcium carbonate-layered sea creature, and finger out the fleshy parts. Early in our lives, however, too early to resist parental persuasion, Mom and Dad thrust a spoon and fork between our fingers and opposable thumb at mealtime. We're witless and soon come to accept those cursed utensils as the proper way to deliver food to the ol' piehole. That's why the Rustic Inn is such a fine place to get in touch with your inner Neanderthal. Tucked away in the industrio-wasteland west of the Hollywood airport, Rustic Inn staff spread newspapers over the wide tables and equip diners with wooden mallets. The crab meals -- blue and golden garlic -- begin at $21. More expensive crabs include the blue steamed, Jonah, queen, and king. For the ultimate meal, order the $63 king colossal crab, which comes with parsley potatoes and veggie (as if you'd have room for one). Once the heaping bowl of crab legs arrives, you just bash away. Forget the fork; dig that meat out with your seawater-soaked hands. Suck the tiny pieces out until you're blue. A caveman paradise. Open Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10:45 p.m. and Sundays 2 to 9:45 p.m.

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