Cherry Smash
Courtesy Photo

You would be hard-pressed to find an ice cream shop that is more fun than Cherry Smash. First and foremost, the ice cream is tremendous. That said, once you step inside Cherry Smash, you find out exactly why everyone is talking about it. From vintage train sets zipping around on the ceiling to old vending-machine fortunetellers all the way to the back area, where the curtains open up to a magical viewing area that is always themed to the most current holiday, Cherry Smash is different. You almost feel as if you have entered a local store that has re-created a Disney World ride — it's that special.

Misha's Cupcakes likes to say they make "life sweet," but until this past year, residents north of the Miami-Dade County line had to drive a bit to sweeten their lives. That all changed when Misha brought her goodies to Pembroke Pines. Whether you're into chocolate ganache or just have a simple craving for a cupcake topped with vanilla icing, Misha's is the holy grail of bakery-style cupcakes. Misha began cooking cupcakes in her kitchen for friends and quickly realized the demand for more was so off-the-charts, she was going to need to expand. After amazing success with her Coral Gables, London Square, Miami Lakes, and Aventura locations, Misha has finally come to Broward County, and for that, we thank her.

Mojo Donuts

Oh Mojo Donuts, we hail to thee

Salty, crunchy, and sticky sweet.

When I'm on Pines, I must stop by.

Your bacon bar just makes me cry.

Sometimes I go in and then just stare.

Man, there are so many flavors there!

Five, ten, 13 or 20...

I sure wish I had more money.

I'd buy all the donuts in the shop

But then I might get shot.

I stepped on up to take a gaze

But I couldn't choose between the Key lime or the glazed.

I'll have a guava, a monkey, and a sugar patch kids.

Just eight more to pick, I'll be done in a jiff.

Pembroke Pines, you're my kind of town

I'll erect a donut tower and turn you around.

No one will ever say anything bad about you again.

I'll pray for more Mojos, then say an amen.

Fort Lauderdale, you've been caffeinated — thanks to Warsaw Coffee Co., which opened earlier this year. The 3,800-square-foot space has indoor and outdoor lounge spaces, an onsite pastry kitchen, walk-up and drive-through barista bars, and rentable office "flex" space. Inside, pastry phenom Jason Morale creates from-scratch delicacies: cookies, biscotti, and tarts to scones, muffins, and cakes. Sample the guava and cheese pastries or homemade Pop-Tarts — complete with frosting. Or try the affogato, a coffee-based beverage typically made with ice cream or gelato and a shot of hot espresso. Of course, coffee is Warsaw's main focus, offering fresh-roasted beans prepared by nearby Argyle Coffee Roasters. The drink menu includes espresso shots and the standard selections like Americanos, macchiatos, cappuccino, and lattes. If you're looking for fresh-brewed offerings, take your pick of various pour-over methods including Clever, French press, and Kalita. The cold brew even comes in concentrate to take home.

Readers' Choice: Subculture Coffee

Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor Restaurant
Christina Mendenhall

Sadly, last June, Monroe Udell — the man who founded the iconic Dania Beach mecca of sweets, Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant — passed away. Many South Florida residents owe Udell a great thanks. Since 1956, he had been giving us a wonderful place to bring our children, parents, friends, and first dates. Jaxson's is a South Florida landmark, both for its nostalgic interior and for what comes out of the kitchen. Udell would be proud to see that Jaxson's is still flourishing and still pumping out the best ice cream in the South. Stop in next time you're in Dania Beach. Sit, grab a handful of complimentary popcorn, and order one of their classic milkshakes, served in 24-ounce shakers, topped with a swirl of whipped cream. Don't be shy. Get some toppings too. Monroe would recommend it.

Mamacita's Mexican Bar and Grill

It's nice that the proprietor, Maria Narvaez, learned to cook by watching her mother in their pueblo of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and that after a stint in Houston, she and her husband, Jose, ran a restaurant in Chicago named after their son, Marlon. It's even nicer that they moved to Florida and opened an affordable, authentic joint on the Hollywood Broadwalk, naming it after the first words that spilled out of Marlon's mouth when he saw the fine-looking ladies passing by on the beachfront: mamacitas. Today, it's nicer still that this chill establishment offers sports on TV and live music four nights a week (salsa, merengue, bachata) and that a spontaneous dance party is likely to break out on the sidewalk as you wolf down a giant whole fried snapper. But these details are all best enjoyed when sipping on the signature drink, a tequila-drenched frozen margarita topped with lime, a straw, and an upside-down Corona. This concoction is called a "Rompe Nalga" ($15 for a medium, $23 for a large), which translates literally as "break buttock" but means, essentially, it'll kick your ass.

Sweetwater Bar & Grill
Christina Medenhall

Sweetwater in Boynton Beach, what could be considered the catalyst of Palm Beach and Broward counties' craft cocktail movement. The year 1933 has special meaning here, not just as a nod to the year Prohibition ended but also to the good times that ensued. Owners Clint Reed and mixologist Sean Iglehart don't want you to think of their establishment as a speakeasy; it's just a good, old-fashioned watering hole where you're meant to kick back, relax, and toss back some damned good drinks. Here, the bar program is second-to-none, run by a staff of highly skilled bartenders who collaborate on a rotating menu of seasonal specials that changes every few months. The menu also offers a number of signature concoctions, each expertly crafted with house-made syrups, bitters, liqueurs, and a rainbow's worth of fresh herbs, fruits, and spices. Behind the bar, you'll find everything from an authentic wooden swizzle stick to a topnotch arsenal of rare, expensive, or small-batch liquors. Pull up a bar seat, and let the show begin.

Brimstone Woodfire Grill

Brimstone Woodfire Grill sits on the westernmost stretch of Pines Boulevard in Pembroke Pines, a sprawling, 200-seat dining room at the corner of an open-air shopping mall. With a large, covered outdoor patio and Americanized menu offering a mix of seafood, steaks, sushi, and flatbreads, it's one of the area's best spots to spend the day outdoors with a cold beverage in hand. Whether you take a seat at the spacious interior bar or grab a stool under the shade of a new patio awning outside, the restaurant presents the perfect place to enjoy a craft cocktail, beer, or glass of wine. The best choice, however, is the margarita flight created by beverage manager Jodi Patten. Order up and you'll get a tower of four margaritas including a pineapple mango, strawberry, blood orange, and classic take. Each is made with a generous pour of Casamigos tequila; homemade sour mix combining fresh-squeezed lemon, lime, and orange juices; and a vibrant fruit purée that lends a touch of color and flavor. All are available in full-sized versions for a few more dollars, but it won't be easy to choose just one. The blood orange is a house favorite, however, the tart citrus providing the perfect balance to the margarita's salty finish.

Readers' Choice: Rocco's Tacos

Grille 401

Nothing says "happy hour" like a well-crafted martini. And nothing says well-crafted martini quite like Grille 401 on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale, the stylish eatery with a buzzy bar scene and outdoor patio offering an extensive drink menu paired with New American plates. During happy hour at Grille 401, you can find BOGO deals on any of its 15-plus craft cocktails, along with a side of live music and a view from the outdoor patio. This year, the restaurant's cocktail offerings expanded with three new cocktails featuring innovative ingredients, including Kappa Pisco liquor, blood orange, and jalapeño-cilantro purée. Of the many rotating and seasonal specials, one drink in particular has made the cut to full-time and has become a crowd favorite: the Red Cougar. Served in a chilled martini glass, the bright-pink drink is a simple yet refreshing combination of Stolichnaya vodka, fresh-muddled strawberries, basil, simple syrup, and lemon juice.

Mind Your Manors

By now, we all know a glass of wine here and there can be good for you. In addition to red wine's heart-healthy antioxidants and resveratrol, recent studies show those who drink two glasses of wine a day are slimmer and 40 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Cocktails can be good for you too — especially if you're frequenting a bar that looks more like an apothecary than a happy-hour hot spot. At Mind Your Manors in Wilton Manors, they are offering drinks with an extra-special ingredient: spirulina. According to owner Bobby Del Campo, the spirulina behind this bar isn't your average (and awful-tasting) green powder. Instead, the bar uses Spirulina Ice, a frozen product grown by a private farm and developed to preserve the nutritional benefits of this powerful superfood — without the harsh, grassy, bitter flavor often associated with dehydrated products. A potent source of plant protein and amino acids, this blue-green algae can be added to almost any drink. The real supersipper at Mind Your Manors is the spirulina bloody mary. It isn't backed by any scientific claims, of course, but we're guessing you're getting a good dose of essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid, chlorophyll, calcium, B-12, and bio-available iron with every sip.

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