Tarks of Dania Beach
Photo courtesy of Tarks of Dania Beach.

Those in the know don't go to glorified wing houses for the best chicken wings in town. They go to a kitchen painted sea-foam green and sit (that is, if you can find a spot) or stand drumstick distance from fellow in-the-know diners. Tark's has been a Dania Beach institution for 45 years, so the folks there know chicken wings as well as their local seafood. Order the meaty drumettes "hot" and be prepared to discard your outer layer. Get 'em "terminator" and prepare to say hasta la vista to your shirt. But the best flavor, which meets all prerequisites for glorious deep-fried wings, is simply "garlic." Crispy, saucy, and flecked with minced clove, these hunky bundles are so juicy, they sweat. Best of all, ten wings come free with a purchased pitcher of beer on Wednesdays.

Midmornings at Giorgio's Bistro & Market in Hollywood attract anyone looking to relax. Sitting outside on the dock, diners sip on strong coffee while admiring the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway. They come early for freshly baked breads and pastries and likely return later for oven-baked pizzas, sandwiches, or pastas. But the pastry sure to keep them all coming back is the croissant — layers of rich, buttery dough formed to a mammoth crescent. The amber-brown top blisters with bubbles of air that burst with the lightest fleck of a finger. Even the birds at Giorgio's know good pastry — they patiently wait for fallen morsels along the wooden deck. Once you taste a breakfast croissant, you may try to find ways to sneak it into a meal later, maybe with a salad or substituting the baguette in the smoked salmon sandwich.

Betty's Soul Food
Candace West

Success in creating a delicious piece of fried chicken requires many trials and, often, age-old family recipes. And Mississippi-born Betty Taylor knows just how to master this culinary feat. At the mom-'n'-pop eatery with walls adorned with pictures of MLK and Obama, fans are grubbing on some of the country-style favorites like oxtail, chicken livers, and the delicious golden-fried chicken. Betty smothers the fowl in flour loaded with secret recipe seasonings before it crackles in the deep fryer. Once fried to perfection, a gustatory shield of crispy, savory skin gives way to meat so juicy, it appears to be crying. This is the kind of fried chicken that will have you crying too.

YOLO Restaurant and O Lounge

Sure, maybe it's a sign that food trends have gotten a little out of hand when we begin ordering $10 platters of potato chips at tres chic eateries. But you only live once after all, so who gives a flip if potato chips are considered cliché, fattening, or pedestrian? Sort of like transforming an uninspired bowl of ice cream to a champagne granita, YOLO's version of the homemade potato chip breathes new life into the fat kid's after-school snack. Each slice of crispy fried potato is topped with melted dollops of blue cheese. These tasty suckers are completed with a liberal daub of crisp salty bacon and flecks of rosemary and thyme. Our chubby inner child is squealing.

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There are so many factors that make this timeless diner along Dania Beach's antique row a worthy breakfast pit stop. For starters, the place has been baking its own breads, cakes, pastries, and pies since it opened in 1957. Slide into one of its age-worn booths and order breakfast (served any time of day) and the first thing that happens is the waitress will serve you a complimentary order of Grampa's famous fresh-baked danishes. She'll pour you a tall, hot cup of coffee and treat you as sweet as a slice of Grampa's cherry pie. The breakfasts too are a kind of no-fuss perfection: two eggs over easy, crisp bacon, crunchy toasted rye bread with plenty of sweet cream butter; fluffy blueberry pancakes bathed in syrup and butter; colossal omelets with all manner of meat, cheese, and veggies; eggs Benedict, homemade biscuits with sausage gravy, and some damned fine French toast. Did we mention Grampa's also has a bar? Two, in fact: One has wine and beer; the other is the sort of diner-style counter top you might share with a guy in a trucker hat who swears he's been eating here every day for 15 years. Man, you can almost taste the nostalgia. Now that's a breakfast.

St. Bart's Coffee Company

Why spend Saturday morning eating freezer-burned waffles in front of the telly when you could watch some hardbodies play volleyball while you stuff your face with banana French toast? St. Bart's Coffee Co., located in two great people-watching locations on Fort Lauderdale beach, offers a better way to start your day. If you're not a morning person, have no fear: A massive mug of the café's hazelnut cappuccino will have you up and at 'em in no time. The restaurant has a variety of menu items, from hangover-curing smoothies and egg croissants in the a.m. to fresh Greek salads and tasty prosciutto wraps in the afternoon. Whether you are recovering from a long night of partying or gearing up for a mind-clearing jog on the beach, St. Bart's has got you covered.

Pelican Grand Beach Resort
Courtesy of Pelican Grand Hotel

A brunch riddle for you: What has an unobstructed view of the Atlantic, an omelet station, a carving station, and unlimited drinks and costs only $34? Brunch at the Pelican Grand. It takes the phrase "have it your way" to new levels if "your way" includes several bloody marys, sweet pillowy cheese blintzes, steaming hot eggs Benedict, freshly carved ham, and a seafood display with shrimp and smoked salmon. And the woman at the omelet station is a sweetheart! If you have guests in town or if you want the most elevated brunch for your buck while on staycation, this is the perfect spot to keep in your back pocket.

Kubo Asiatic Cuisine
Candace West

Calling Kubo chef Roy Villacrusis' exquisite creation "Liver Surf 'n' Turf" is like calling Queen Elizabeth "Lizzie" or the Hope Diamond a mere hunk of compressed carbon. This double-barreled shot of terrestrial and seafaring opulence unites two of the most luxurious ingredients you could ever put in your mouth, gilding them with the kind of breathtaking creativity that has earned Kubo this year's Best Restaurant in Palm Beach and Villacrusis Best Chef honors. "Turf" is Hudson Valley foie gras, a quickly seared lobe with a plush, almost molten texture set in a pool of spiced chocolate sauce flanked by twin marbles of caramelized banana. "Surf" is monkfish liver — foie gras of the sea — with a delicate briny flavor and rich, creamy texture, both accented by a citrusy yellow miso sauce and a scattering of feathery microgreens. Don't call it Liver Surf 'n' Turf.

Call it Unspeakably Delicious.

Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor Restaurant
Christina Mendenhall

(Sing to the tune of "My Favorite Things")

Chocolatey syrup and marshmallow fluff

Handfuls of ice cream with mounds of yummy stuff

Sparklers light up this dessert made for kings

The Kitchen Sink has everyone's favorite things.

Homemade flavors topped with whipped cream

This dessert concoction is truly a dream

A few bites will cure any ice cream cravings

The Kitchen Sink has everyone's favorite things.

When your hunger calls

When your stomach stings

When you're feeling sad

Take a bite out of the Kitchen Sink and then you won't feel so bad.

Indus Indian & Herbal Cuisine
Candace West

The word buffet conjures unappetizing images of blue-haired old ladies and no-haired old men doddering around a giant steam table piled with muddy-colored substances that might once have been food. There's nothing unappetizing about the lunch buffet at this swanky-looking Indian eatery, though, especially not its all-you-can-pig-out-on-for-a-penny-squeezing $10 price tag. The dozen or so dishes lined up on long tables at the bar taste fresh and well-made and are replenished often. There's good variety too, from a basket of puffy, garlicky naan to rajma masala (a deftly seasoned stew that turns the humble kidney bean into the uncommonly plush-textured Legume of the Gods) to the classic chicken tikka masala, which bathes chunks of tender clucker in a riotously flavorful tomato and cream-based sauce so indecently rich and luxurious that it would cause your average French saucier to set fire to his toque... while he was still wearing it. You gotta admit, that alone would be worth ten bucks.

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