Sushi Thai Siam Kitchen
English clergyman Sydney Smith claimed, "Soup and fish explain half the emotions of life." Spot-on, Syd. Since at least half of the menu at this pan-Asian place is one or the other and since at least five are among the best liquids you'll ever swallow (a tom yum seafood soup will send you into a swivet), this 2-year-old transplant from the 79th Street Causeway in Miami-Dade County is one moving experience. Here are curries ($12 to $17) that will make your mouth -- not your eyes -- water and a selection of Thai noodle dishes that would qualify for Madame Nuh's last supper. Sushi-Thai is longer on atmosphere than many of the very good competitors. Servers here never ask "Is everything all right?" but glide by discreetly at just the right times. The place is a lucky charm on a bracelet of local Thai spots. Lunch, dinner, and delivery too.

West Palm Beach Green Market
Browsing through the produce section of your average supermarket, you have to wonder: What the hell are we eating? What is all that white stuff on apples and plums? And who sat on the tomatoes? The more sensible thing, however, would be to do your weekly fruit and veggie shopping at the West Palm Beach GreenMarket. Not that produce is all the place has to offer; there's also lots of fresh tea, pastries, nuts, and pastas, as well as an assortment of plants and flowers from more than 60 vendors. But before the shopping begins, start your morning off with a cup o' joe from Cappuccino Express ($1.25 small, $1.75 tall) or a nice pancake breakfast courtesy of Tuxedo Gourmet Catering ($4 plain or with strawberries), which has a booth set up in front of the City Hall building. Or if you prefer something a little spicier, go get some jerk chicken ($5, kabobs) from the nearby Jamaican food vendors. Either way, you'll be serenaded by live music while breakfasting in the shade. Afterward, you can check your health with a free blood-pressure screening by West Palm Beach Fire-Rescue. Try getting all of that at Winn-Dixie. The West Palm Beach GreenMarket is open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. from mid-October through the end of April.

The Whale's Rib
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.

What most "gourmet" markets fail to understand is that the finest foods needn't be fancy; they just have to taste good. Laurenzo's Oceanside lets the competition focus on the fusion of multitudinous, multinational imports, instead carving a nice niche for itself as the best purveyors of old-world Italian specialties -- truth be told, the only store in South Florida to do as good a job is the original Laurenzo's in North Miami. It's not that there is anything wrong with pistachio-crusted meatloaf with wasabi mashed potatoes, but if you want a takeout dinner to lend the comfort of home cooking, might as well get the real thing. Like manicotti, stuffed shells, and lasagna prepared with Laurenzo's ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Like Italian sausage and peppers, eggplant parmigiana, and meatballs that would make Tony Soprano cry. We're talking one-stop shopping too, as you can turn your main course into a full meal by picking up some antipasti from the prepared foods section, freshly baked Italian bread from a North Miami bakery, a bottle of appropriate wine from a well-priced selection, fruit and salad greens from the produce department, and freshly stuffed canolis for dessert. Yes, it's all a bit pricey but still a bargain compared to what you'd pay for the same dinner in a restaurant.

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.
Looking for a ten-hour votive candle? A tortilla maker? You could go to Sedano's in Hollywood, as so many of the ordinary do, but why, when a visit to this muy amable grocery in the middle of Fort Lauderdale's version of Little Havana proves you're the cultural adventurer you think you are? Owned by the Linares family for seven years and patronized by people who know from marinating sauces and chorizos, Santa Barbara Grocery packs more variety of selections in its few hundred square feet than most larger "power" markets do in 10,000; it also boasts a neighboring bakery with superb café cubano and a nearby "Latin Sounds" CD store that blasts the latest salsa from an outdoor sound system worthy of Juan Peron. On the Santa Barbara grocery counters, you'll find choices of dried beans and rice, enough types of spices for an Indian wedding feast, and hundreds of Food World mysteries. The meat selection may cause most gringos to pull out their dictionaries, and some basic Spanish won't hurt you when approaching the friendly staff. But how hard is it to say "¿Que es?" when you're holding a package of what looks like corn husks? Go ahead. Ask. They really are corn husks.

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?

The etymology of romaine is about what you'd expect, given that it sounds like a Frenchman's lip-squishing pronunciation of Roman. The stuff dates back, you know. Likewise, romaine tastes about as you'd expect it to, given that it's lettuce. As lettuce, if it's to taste like more than the popped polysaccharides of a plant cell wall, you've got to pour on the dressing. The Deli Den does that fine and then goes Caesar one better by adding splinters of grated parmesan, dense croutons, and mandarin-orange sections like plump wads of knuckle skin. Slap some chicken ($8.95) or salmon ($9.95) on that baby and heap it all in a bowl like an upturned umbrella and you're ready to top off the gratis pickles, slaw, and soup (try the matzo ball) that arrive just after the ice water.
Horizon Diner II
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.

Poppies Restaurant & Delicatessen
Liz Dzuro
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.

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