New Times' annual Best of Miami issue comes out this week, and the paper's staff and contributors showed Broward County some serious love this time around. In categories ranging from Best Dive Bar to Best Lingerie Store to Best Pop Act, Broward stood out from the rest.
Here's a look at this year's winners:
Best Dog Park: Dog Swim at Snyder Park. The only thing cuter than a dog is a swimming dog. And you’ll find lots of them at Snyder Park, one of the few local dog parks with a swimming hole just for pups. When Spot is panting on a muggy Miami day, it’s worth the drive to Fort Lauderdale (and the $1 hourly parking fee) to see him splash with all the other good boys and girls. Plus, this place is weirdly beautiful, with tons of towering trees and water the color of a natural spring. There’s plenty of shade where you can kick back and relax while your pooch romps around with all of his new friends — although you might be tempted to jump in yourself. Just remember: The swimming hole is closed the first Tuesday and Wednesday of each month, as well as 8 to 11 a.m. every Wednesday. 3299 SW Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-828-4585; fortlauderdale.gov.
Best Golf Course: Davie Golf Club. Davie Golf Club, just off I-595, is about a half-hour drive from downtown Miami. It’s a long course — 6,347 yards — with water at every hole. The fairways are well groomed, and the greens are fast. There’s also an aqua driving range, and two Class A PGA pros are available to correct that lousy swing of yours. The course is comparatively cheap during the summer, when it costs $35 for residents and $40 for nonresidents during weekend mornings. Best of all, it’s close to the Miami Dolphins training facility, so while you are swinging away in the rough, you just might get to see some real athletes. Hurry up, though — the Fins plan to move their practice facility to Miami Gardens soon. 8201 Nova Dr., Davie; 954-797-4653; daviegolf.net.
Food & Drink
Best Bar in Broward: The Molokai Bar at Mai Kai. The United States was once filled with roadside tiki bars and dinner-show venues. There, your grandparents would dress up to watch fire dancers and hula girls while dining on crab rangoon and pupu platters and sipping drinks called the Jet Pilot and the Zombie. These days, only a handful of those places remain. South Florida is lucky to boast one of the most glorious examples. Perpetually lit tiki torches welcome thirsty travelers from far corners. Sure, the Mai-Kai offers a spectacular dinner show, but the real fun is at the Molokai Bar. Here, servers clad in bikini tops and sarongs serve classic tiki drinks. You'll find no foams, dry ice, or other trappings of molecular gastronomy here. Instead, you'll sip grogs, rum barrels, and Mai Tais the way they were meant to be enjoyed — from shrunken ceramic heads festooned with tiny paper umbrellas and maraschino cherries in an atomic shade of red. Go ahead and add your name to the lampshades that bear the monikers of thousands of people who came before you, and listen to the thunderous beat of the drums while the show goes on in the next room. Then venture out to the tiki garden for a selfie. It's a slice of Americana that's both fantastic and authentic at the same time. Hours are 5 to about 10 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 5 to about 11:30 p.m. Friday, 5 to about 11 p.m. Saturday, and 4 to about 10:30 p.m. Sunday. If guests want drinks after the show, the bar remains open until everyone leaves. 3599 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-563-3272; maikai.com.
Best Dive Bar: The Dive Bar. When you’re a dive bar and your name is “the Dive Bar,” you’d better be the best in your field. Fortunately, this Fort Lauderdale spot, located on A1A along the Galt Ocean Mile, delivers big time. Cozy up to the expansive wooden bar and pound a few brewskis with the locals at any hour — beers start at just $3. This no-frills spot has a stellar happy hour offering two-for-one well drinks, wine, and domestic beers daily until 8 p.m. ($5 and up). And there’s plenty to keep you occupied here beyond the cold drinks. In addition to playing pool and videogames, you can belt your heart out during a karaoke session or rock out to live tunes throughout the week. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. 3233 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-565-9264; thedivebarfl.com.
Best Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale: Anthony's Runway 84. Anthony’s Runway 84, by the owner of the Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza chain, is airport-themed, but the restaurant feels more as if Epcot opened a restaurant based on the quaint Brooklyn of yesteryear. There’s a dining room, but if you really want your evening’s entertainment, have dinner in the lounge. False cockpit windows have you coming in for a landing as you peruse the menu filled with red-sauce Italian fare. Women with teased hair wearing leopard-print dresses and large diamonds on their red lacquered fingers drink pink martinis while Sinatra croons in the background. Your bartender takes your drink order and then sends a different server for your food order (for some reason, you’ll also get separate checks for food and drinks, but just go with it). Before dinner, a basket of warm, fresh bread arrives with a dish of olive oil festooned with garlic and grated Parmesan cheese. If you’re on a date, agree to both go with garlic breath out and scarf that bread down — it’s worth it. Meatballs arrive with a dollop of ricotta ($12 for lunch, $14 for dinner), Sicilian peppers are stuffed with more cheese and garlic ($11), and clams oreganata ($12), baked with breadcrumbs in a garlic and lemon sauce, are authentically Sheepshead Bay. The civolata sausage is presented with broccoli di rabe and roasted peppers. The sausage is spicy, but the peppers are sweet, and the combination is classic ($15). Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 4:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday. 2330 W. State Rd. 84, Fort Lauderdale; 954-467-8484; runway-84.com.
Best Restaurant in Hollywood: Le Tub. Hollywood is undergoing a renaissance of sorts. A few years ago, Margaritaville opened as a celebration of all things beachy keen. On Saturdays, you can find dozens of kids lined up to catch a wave on its FlowRider, while parents wait for frozen margaritas at a makeshift bar inside an Airstream trailer. That’s all fun, but if you’re hankering for something more authentic than resort food, you’ll find it a few blocks away at Le Tub. Located inside a former gas station, this place looks like it was decorated by a plumber on a bender. Painted toilets and bathtubs have been converted into planters, leading the way to what can best be described as a classic beach-town dive. A bright-yellow toilet seat invites you to “seat yourself.” The dark wood-laden interior is decorated with foam boat floaters, old license plates, and assorted knickknacks. Service can be slow and the crowd can get loud, but if you’re craving the best burger in town, you’re in the right place. Made from beef ground daily in-house, the thick patty is crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. Each burger ($12) sports a poppy-seed bun and, for 50 cents or $1 more, a gleaming square of American or Swiss cheese. Fries, an obvious add-on to your burger and beer, are cooked in peanut oil and arrive supercrisp ($4 to $5). Sure, there are other items like fish dip and a grilled chicken sandwich, but when the burger touted as supreme by both GQ and Oprah is in your backyard, you go for the burger. It doesn’t hurt that Le Tub overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway and comes with an amazing view. Sorry, Jimmy Buffett — this is the real cheeseburger in paradise. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. 1100 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood; 954-921-9425; theletub.com.
Best Food Instagram: The Succulent Bite. Nico Arboleda, known online as the Succulent Bite, is not just any Instagrammer but a member of an elite club of food photographers who can earn thousands of dollars for posting a single picture of a piece of cake or an ice-cream sundae. With more than 400,000 followers, Arboleda posts elaborate photos and videos of overindulgent foods, ranging from a graham cracker dunked into a piping-hot skillet of s’mores, to the step-by-step process of making wood-fired pizza. Though Arboleda won’t disclose how much money he makes from his posts, large followings can equate to hefty sums of cash for so-called influencers. Because of the attention elite Instagrammers command, the value of sponsored posts can range from $700 to more than $50,000. According to some estimates, an influencer can expect about $100 per 10,000 followers. instagram.com/succulentbite.
Best Restaurant Worth the Drive: Dune. A 30-minute drive north is a small price to pay for paradise. Muted tones accessorized with lush greenery make the Fort Lauderdale restaurant Dune a Zen-like getaway. Dune is the East Coast newbie for luxury brand Auberge Resorts Collection, best known for its Michelin-starred Napa Valley restaurant, Auberge du Soleil. Much like its West Coast sister restaurant, Dune draws inspiration from its seaside setting. Dishes such as red snapper with rock shrimp, fennel, leek, and saffron ($33) elevate traditional seafood offerings. If meat is your thing, the lamb with sumac, charred cucumber, and tzatziki sauce ($29) and prime Delmonico rib-eye served with Yukon gold potato purée, béarnaise, and watercress ($45) are unique enough to warrant the drive to Broward. Maybe take a ridesharing service, though — a wide selection of Californian wines is available by the bottle or glass. Though Dune is in Fort Lauderdale, you can get a taste of Napa Valley there too. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 2200 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-900-4059; dunefl.com.
Best Antiques Shop: Vintage Vault. Vintage Vault deals in antiques, but this charming Oakland Park store has a way of making everything feel fresh. Inside the bright and spacious store awaits a treasure trove of expertly curated curiosities, all of them beautifully arranged. Atop a midcentury-modern sideboard might be a gold-encrusted typewriter, a floral perfume bottle, or a cigarette machine. A few feet away, an old leather gymnastics beam might double as a bench, or a pair of wooden waterskis may lean against a brightly painted wall. There are vintage neon signs and gas pumps, Moroccan rugs, pastel-colored scales, and old-fashioned bug sprayers. It’s evident everything was chosen with a skilled eye and placed with care. Just wandering amid it all is a treat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. 1510 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Oakland Park; 954-314-7781; vintagevaultfurniture.com.
Best Lingerie Store: Fetish Factory. Lingerie is meant to be sensual, but it doesn’t have to be limited to lace, satin, or embroidery. Since 1995, Glenn Catapano and Donna Leone’s showroom in Fort Lauderdale has maintained an overtly kinky edge. Fetishists and fashion insiders alike visit the store seven days a week in search of latex bondage corsets ($125), open-bust mini-dresses ($71), gladiator kilts ($69), leather bullet harnesses ($109), and more. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly no matter how personal or out-there a patron’s inquiries may be. The store also sells a variety of adult toys and hosts epic erotic theme parties such as Horns & Halos, Back 2 School, the monthly Alter Ego & Xtreme Fetish party, and the annual Florida Fetish Weekend, a bacchanalian marathon hosted over the course of five days and featuring all things BDSM and kinky, including a full hotel dungeon, a club, and parties. Store hours are noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. 855 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-563-5777; fetishfactory.com.
Arts & Entertainment
Best Actress: Anna Lise Jensen. Many audience members at the Carbonell Awards this year had not seen Slow Burn Theatre’s The Bridges of Madison County the previous winter. So when Anna Lise Jensen agreed to perform the musical’s nearly six-minute opening number, the supportive but seen-it-all crowd of old pros was mesmerized into surprised silence by her plaintive, heart-rending narrative of an Italian immigrant making a new life in Iowa. It wasn’t the first time. The newcomer to South Florida has repeatedly impressed audiences in the region, from her role as a yearning housewife in Bridges, to the lesbian looking back on her self-discovery of her sexuality in Zoetic Stage’s Fun Home, to playing the accordion and singing in Actors’ Playhouse’s Once, to horsing around in the same company’s One Man Two Guvnors. She’s hard to miss because of her statuesque presence, wide smile, red hair, and flashing blue eyes, but Jensen remains unforgettable in her ability to rip emotions from her guts and channel them through a liquid voice that ranges from operatic to sensual. Her range will be on full display in her role as Aldonza in MNM Theatre Company’s Man of La Mancha this September. annalisejensen.com.
Best Place to Meet Single Men: Brightline. A speedier commute is the most obvious reason to ride the Brightline express train connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. But when you book your next ride (starting at $17), know that you might just be purchasing a golden ticket to the relationship of your dreams. Brightline stations are comfortable, airy, and bright, easing nerves when you’re breaking the ice. You’ll have a plentiful and diverse pool of potential candidates to choose from, so make sure you’re paying attention when one of them glances up from that cell phone or laptop. Another pro of making this your new place to meet single men: There’s no need to go anywhere else for a drink: The Brightline offers passengers a list of libations for purchase. gobrightline.com.
Best Pop Act: Love, Abbey. Abbey Loren’s vocals glide effortlessly on her single “Winter Air.” “Can you hear what they say?/About me and you, babe/They’re wondering if you will fall/For me like they did back in the day/Baby, it’s your call.” On the song, the Fort Lauderdale singer known as Love, Abbey channels equal parts Lana Del Rey and Gwen Stefani. But fast-forward to her latest cut, “IKYMM,” and she’s more like Ariana Grande. That is to say, Loren, who is in the early stages of her career, is still experimenting with her sound, but her vocal chops are unquestionable. And if South Florida already birthed one pop-vocal powerhouse, who’s to say it can’t do it again? The odds are definitely in Loren’s favor. She grew up around music thanks to her parents, who own 42nd Street Recording Studios in Oakland Park, where her father is a sound engineer. “[My dad] was always very harsh on me with pitch and tone and really trained me to be a well-rounded musician,” Loren told New Times in 2018. Well, it seems like that tough love paid off. loveabbeymusic.com.