Miracle of miracles department: This gorgeous space hosted a seemingly never-ending series of restaurants that all bit the dust after a few months. Then, about four years ago, a Syrian family moved in and lifted the curse. Ferdos Grill has thrived and prospered (as it should -- it's one of very few Middle Eastern restaurants in these parts) and shows no signs of abating. The falafel here is astounding and comes in three styles. It's made from chickpeas and fava beans that must've grown up listening to classical music; first, they're ground and shaped in small, wafer-shaped patties; then they're fried in a loving, gentle, oily environment. The appetizer version comes with hummus that is perhaps the finest ever produced by man (try the version with the grilled sirloin tips), and the pita-bread sandwich and the falafel salad ($5.95 each) are both noteworthy. The place is called "home of the kebab," and the belly dancers are a big draw. But when falafel is the question, the only answer in town in Ferdos.

Though Nikki Marina claims it is "knot just a place to dock your yacht," it wouldn't hurt to arrive in one. Granted, you can pull into a slip with whatever showy marine vessel you managed to inherit from Daddy, be it a catamaran or a Cigarette, but don't dare pull up in a Boston Whaler and expect the staff to run to you with martinis and oysters on the half shell. Come here when you want to be seen relaxing with the leisure class, lounging in linen accouterments, sipping mojitos, and noshing on Nikki's Delight of the Sea; this $200 platter is stocked with Alaskan crab legs, Maine lobster, poached shrimp, oysters, crab claws, Volcano coconut tiger shrimp, and sushi. Polish it off with a tres leches meringue ($8), if you still have room available in your belly. No doubt you'll wish to linger a while, mesmerized by the rhythmic lapping of the Intracoastal waters and the soothing crash of a large fountain. On a sunny Sunday, take in the brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with its sushi, salads, pasta bar, fresh-made waffles, and omelets ($37.95 per person). There's nothing more Florida-chic than eating right near the boat slips without a bothersome umbrella or a drunken bunch of catfish-feeders around.

Fernanda's International Market
Tabatha Mudra

Home cooks, foodies, wine aficionados, sandwich lovers, party-throwers, vegetarians, marooned Manhattanites, and second-generation Italians far from Mama's kitchen all know where to find the magic missing from their lives: Fernanda's. To purchase a slice of mascarpone torta ($29.99 a pound -- bliss doesn't come cheap) and eat it right from the box in your car, without ever leaving the parking lot, is as close to pig heaven as most gluttons are ever likely to get. If the torta's too rich for your belly and your pocketbook, an array of sautéed vegetables like caponata Pietro ($9.99 a pound), Italian roasted peppers ($9.99), broccoli rabe with lemon ($8.99 a pound), roasted eggplant ($12.99 a pound), marinated mushrooms ($6.99 a pound), garlic mashed potatoes ($4.99 a pound), and macaroni and cheese casserole ($4.99 a pound) make for more wholesome chow. Fish lovers can sink a line and reel in Pietro's seafood salad ($12.99 a pound), Maryland lump crab cakes ($4.99 each), grilled swordfish pistachio ($16.99 a pound), or a tin of beluga caviar (market price). And culinarily challenged bachelors or bachelorettes can put together a multiculti party of Fernanda's breaded veal cutlets, sausage and peppers, meatballs, fried tortellini, proscuitto pasta salad, stuffed grape leaves, mushroom pirogues, spicy chicken wings, and fresh foie gras (24 hours' notice on the goose liver). If you're planning a picnic, Fernanda's dozen varieties of black, green, and stuffed olives, plus their selection of 18 sandwiches (all $7.99, from the Muffeletto to the "Don Quixote" with thin-sliced Serrano ham) sure beat that standard loaf of bread and jug of wine.

Brook's

This place takes its seafood seriously. Though the menu is merely two pages long, there are so many succulent selections that it may take you and your lovey some time to decide. Choices include delicately steamed Prince Edward Island mussels marinière ($7), shrimp cocktail served with a nontraditional zesty mustard sauce ($8.75), Maryland lump crab cake kicked up with black bean/tomato/corn salsa ($8.75), and Atlantic salmon served cold smoked with crème fraiche and a small, light, buckwheat pancake ($8.75). You can also get the salmon sautéed with cucumbers, dill, capers, and lemon ($22). Plus, you can add a broiled, stuffed Florida lobster tail with drawn butter to any entrée (four ounces, $9; eight ounces, $18). Pure marine mayhem for the taste buds. A real treat is the tuna lovers' tasting menu, which includes the moist, ruby red slices starring as sashimi, tartare, and spring roll filling with wakame ($8.50). Not into the raw stuff? Take heart. The basil risotto with shiitake mushrooms and grilled shrimp, scallops, and mussels is simply heavenly ($24). Regardless of what you choose, Brooks will get it right. After all, the place has been serving seafood to South Floridians for nearly a quarter of a century.

You're kicking yourself for not investing in Whole Foods five years ago -- you could be retiring to your villa in Provence right about now. Here's a tip: A little independent operation called Village Marketplace is the dark horse that's going to give Whole Foods a run for its money. Owner Joseph Macchione is making his mark in the grocery biz in South Florida with a midsized market -- smaller than Publix, bigger than the corner deli -- that sells gourmet chocolates, organic half and half ($3.29), Guatemalan coffee ($8.99 a pound), fresh produce, prepared foods, specialty cheeses ($3.77 for a wedge of ricotta salata), imported wines, tuna (a can of Ortiz is $4.99), and olive oils. But that ain't all. Bathroom tissue, frozen pizza, muffin mix, tomato sauce, and strawberry jelly are for sale too. It's one stop for your ravishing bouquet of lilies, your Gardenburger, and your Bounty paper towels. Macchione cut his teeth on jobs with Wild Oats and Fresh Fields; he's clearly taken the best ideas of both. The original Marketplace in Plantation closed this year, but only to retool; Macchione says they'll reopen in Lauderdale, possibly in another location, at a more manageable size. They're steadily adding organics as they see what sells and what rots on the shelves; they're already selling free-range chickens from Ashley Farms. A small café turns out wholesome lunches. The cheese and charcuterie sections offer enough variety for a year's worth of antipasti; a yummy, whole-grain bread ($3.49 for a loaf) comes from their bakery; and bottles of wine and sake boast Wine Spectator ratings. Macchione says he's committed to keeping prices fair. Sounds like a great marketing concept.

OK, it's not the place to dine solo if you're planning to slog through another chapter of Finnegan's Wake. But if you're reasonably pulled together (leave the fanny pack at home) and arrive somewhere between happy hour and midnight, you're bound to find yourself inexorably drawn into the crowd that congregates at Las Palmas. Brush up on your rendition of "Feelings" for the late-night karaoke session. Slide up to the sushi bar under what is "the largest tiki hut on the east coast," according to the website. Dancing eel rolls here go for $9, volcano rolls for $14.95. Bide your time while pleasure boats unload their bevies of beauties at the dock. Your Polynesian pork chops might set you back $17.95, but you could find yourself eating it next to a table full of Miss Florida USA hopefuls. Big difference between being alone and being lonely, isn't there?

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
Cristian Costea

Don't be stupid enough to jump on the mechanical bull at Tequila Ranch after polishing off oak-smoked ribs at Renegade Barbeque Co., chili fries at Johnny Rockets, sushi at Tatu, oysters at Bluepoint Ocean Grill, and a pretzel from Wetzel's ($2.55). What may spring from deep inside you will make others run into Hooters for the distraction of surgically enhanced bustlines. Instead of bull riding, enjoy all those delicacies on successive nights of the week and follow them up with some java from Bad Ass Coffee Co., Chunky Monkey ice cream ($2.78, cup or cone) at 2 a.m. from Ben & Jerry's, and some Pepto from CVS on your way home. You'll be OK. We promise.

Old Florida Seafood House

Grandpa's in town for the season, and it's clearly time to get the old coot married off again. You could pour through Google listings for Golden Years dating services, but here's some advice: the 70-something eye candy at Old Florida Seafood House ought to give him an excellent excuse to refill that Viagra scrip. This three-decades-old Lauderdale institution, complete with busy raw bar, stuffed sharks on the walls, and threadbare carpet, is a favorite with the finest local ladies of a certain age, who arrive on a Sunday evening decked out in their best duds, coifed and manicured and presumably perfectly weddable. You and Gramps can discuss their assets over an appetizer plate of shrimp Florentine ($8.95) and a bowl of oyster stew ($8.95), an entrée of freshly caught fish -- broiled, baked, or sautéed ($18.95 to $21.95), or a plate of sautéed veal with lobster tails (in season). The early-bird special is rather pricey between 4:30 and 5:30 (the three-course meal costs $17.95 Monday through Thursday, $19.95 Friday through Sunday), but it does give the erstwhile ladykiller ample opportunity to linger long enough to get noticed.

Cap's Place Island Restaurant and Bar

The cousin-from-Camden contingent has arrived, half a dozen nippers in tow, and by day six, you've stage-managed everything from airboat rides in the Everglades to daytrips to Disney. Worse news is in store: Your loud-mouthed sister-in-law has dropped in for a surprise inspection. Drastic times require drastic measures, so raise the salty old ghost of Cap Knight. Cap's Island Restaurant, which is set in two 80-year-old buildings on an island at Lighthouse Point, can be reached only by ferry. And it boasts enough nostalgic charm and locally caught seafood to stifle the in-laws -- at least for as long as it takes 'em to down a glass of chablis at the hand-built bar, peruse a couple of hundred old-Florida photos, and read all about how Cap and his wife ran a gambling and bootleg rum operation on the premises. If you still need a little distraction, introduce them to the Knight family -- a sister and two brothers who still run the place. Then all of you can polish off a plate of broiled dolphin ($24.95) and a slice of lime pie ($5.95). Sate them with histories, stuff them full of house-made fish dip, and for pity's sake, send them home on the next 747.

Harrison's Wine Bar

Red wine is full of reservatrol -- a potent fighter of cancer, high blood pressure, strokes, and bad cholesterol. This is one reason the French can smoke packs of unfiltered Gauloises, eat two pounds of butter daily, and stay thin and mean as minks. For optimal cardiovascular health, ignore the puritanical U.S. recommendations (One glass of red wine a day for women? Puuleeeze!) -- European doctors prescribe a moderate three glasses daily for the ladies and four for the guys. Drinking alone isn't good for you, however, so a place like 3-year-old Harrison's Wine Bar, very European in style and sensibility, is an excellent locale for a good workout. There's a wine list of more than 100 bottles here. The Santa Emma Merlot from Chile is $8 a glass; Silver Oak Cabernet is $150 a bottle (presumably spiked with extra reservatrol at that price). So you won't ever have to stick your tongue in the same bottle twice, owner Richard Duncan is committed to mixing things up: Lately, he's hot on the Stonehedge Zin, a Mont Gras Cab, and a Bearboat pinot. Harrison's tapas and cheese menu will give all that wine something to work with.

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