The stainless steel restaurant is a true classic, having been manufactured in 1953 by Mountain View Diners, a New Jersey company that was one of the nation's premier eatery makers. Father-and-son team Denis and Steve Grenier bought the place back in 1989 and have steadfastly maintained the diner's throwback vibe. Their main ingredient: a 73-year-old chef named Louie, whose specials include two stuffed mushrooms and two stuffed shrimp for the bargain-basement cost of $8.95. Prices for other victuals range from 94 cents for coffee to $9.95 for fried, broiled, or stuffed jumbo shrimp in four different combination platters. Now Denis is pondering retirement, and Steve is considering a career in law enforcement. Though Jack's is on the market, along with a building next door, that doesn't stop a multitude of coaches, cops, and Québecois from filling this place almost around the clock. (Restaurant hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.) Indeed, even on a weekend morning, you can find five or ten people lighting up cigarettes in true French-Canadian style while they down their eggs and coffee. If you don't smoke, heck, head for the back room, where such unhealthy behavior is prohibited.

Yes, we named this place last year, too. But when something is the best, it's the best, and that's all there is to it. Krispy Kreme rules the donut world; all else is just fat-fried dough. Arrive when these deliciously soft, airy treats are fresh out of the oven, and you'll finally understand why the good Lord gave you taste buds.
Owners Suzie Ludlow and Jon Robichaud have been serving cranky drivers from this charming little stand for seven years. They peddle edible chocolate and almond cigars, which are delivered every morning from Protano's Bakery in Hollywood, as well as low-fat muffins, apple turnovers, and coffeecakes from local distributors. But it's the coffee that makes drivers line up around the block every morning. Ludlow and Robichaud purchase 42 varieties of the stuff from a local roaster whose beans are picked up fresh from the docks of the Miami River. They have one huge espresso maker, one huge American coffee machine, and two smaller devices for regular and decaf. Their most popular item is a 12-ounce cuppa joe called Morning Express: a Viennese roast Colombian blend with a bit of cinnamon for $1. "Coffee and driving go together," Susie comments. "We don't cater to the Starbucks clan. We serve just straight coffee, no foo-foo stuff." That formula seems to be working just fine.
The restaurant prefers to call them "sunset specials," which made more sense before the end of daylight savings caused the sun to set at, oh, 8 p.m. or so. But why quibble? The fact remains that this eatery, which opens daily at 4 p.m., offers a great gourmet deal: soup or salad, main course, potato and vegetable of the day, nonalcoholic beverage, and dessert. Prices range from $11.95 for a perfectly roasted chicken in lemon-thyme broth to $16.95 for herb-marinated lamb chops. Then there's the Wiener schnitzel, the potato-crusted salmon, and the duck in wild berry sauce, all of which are freshly prepared and served with an extra dose of friendliness -- and plenty of sunshine.

Michael Gadaleta, a former car salesman who describes himself as an "American-Italian-Argentinean from Brooklyn," opened Empanada Only in 1997. "Once I was the best car salesman in the nation, I'm not bullshittin' you," he declares. "But here I don't have to worry about managers or lawyers. I'm my own man." Indeed he owns and operates the shop by himself; he makes his own dough; chops the onions, peppers, and olives; grinds the beef; bakes the empanadas; and sells them from behind the counter. Articles about the one-man wonder and his store wallpaper the tiny shop just off Hollywood Boulevard. The empanadas are available about every way imaginable: frozen or baked, by the dozen or one at a time. His specialties include a whole-wheat variety stuffed with pineapple or pumpkin and less-unusual ones with guava and cheese, apple slices, or broccoli and cheese. He declines to explain the process: "I can't tell you how I make them, because then everybody will do it," he says. "Who knows, maybe I'll sell a franchise and have 20,000 of these, like Colonel Sanders."

Just a stuffed grape leaf's throw from the county courthouse, Adib Salloum's little gem of a store would be worth the trip for the fresh pita alone -- earthy, chewy, and delicate all at once. The fresh hummus and tabbouleh are terrific; big barrels of imported olives from all over the Mediterranean take up the shop's center stage. The cooler case to the rear holds feta and kasseri cheeses from a similar broad selection of lands. A shelf of tapes by the register is stacked with a nice selection of Middle Eastern music. But the best entertainment is Adib's younger brother Tony: This good-natured kibitzer would sell you your own rug off your floor if he got the chance -- and make you think you got a bargain in the process. Check the parking lot for signs of the Palm Beach ladies who venture over the bridge to do some grocery shopping here. If those people deign to cross the Intracoastal for Middle East Bakery, the place must be something truly special.

Yes, it's a classic, this link of a very popular, worldwide chain of high-end Italian restaurants. And yes, some of the menu items -- carpaccio, for example -- tend toward the tried-and-true. The restaurant is also loud, crowded, and filled with socialites. But really, when you're talking about receiving such delicacies as squid-ink ravioli filled with minced fish and seafood, or air-dried beef with black olives and cherry mozzarella, or veal chop in port wine sauce, it's hard to argue that this isn't some of the finest Italian fare around. Plus it's certainly expensive enough to qualify: Appetizers alone range from $16 to $80.
Careless falafel fabrication can result in a deadly dry, throat-clogging orb -- asphyxiation by ground chickpea. But at the improbably named Tuti Fruti, Shehab Breish and Jamal Masoud whip up before your eyes falafel that is crunchy, moist, and beyond palatable. The Palestinian duo took over the Health Food Cafe earlier this year and introduced Middle Eastern fare at reasonable prices. The falafel sandwich costs $2.99, the platter with salad and tabbouleh only another buck and a half. If you're a hard-core falafel freak, you can bypass the accouterments and order a bucketful at 50 cents apiece. The falafel is made from scratch, fried in vegetable oil, and filled with just enough spice to let you know you've taken a bite. Oh, and the joint's name? It comes from the lengthy list of fruit smoothies on the menu.

Most farmers' markets in South Florida don't have much "farm" in them, eschewing the raw in favor of the processed. The West Palm Beach GreenMarket is no exception. Not to imply an utter lack of fresh produce, but the quality of the prepared foodstuffs available every Saturday morning from mid-October through April makes this farmers' market truly superior. More than 50 vendors offer dense grainy breads; nuts and candied fruit; teas and coffees; and spices, herbs, and rubs. Mama Duke's vends only homemade banana bread, Turtle Creek Dairy sells goat cheese fresh from its Loxahatchee herd, and the Olde Pickle Barrel ships its puckery pleasures in from New York. This being Palm Beach after all, one can also purchase elegant blooms by the stem from Extra Touch Flowers. There's even free parking in the Banyan Street garage for GreenMarketgoers.
Hidden away in Port Everglades, in a very green space carefully decorated as if for a special post-Sunday Mass occasion, Manila Shangrila churns out some of the best -- and most unusual -- dinner dishes ever to emerge from the Philippine islands. Lumpia (spring rolls) are chock full of hearty ingredients like potatoes, shrimp or various meats, and vegetables, served with a garlic-vinegar sauce, and sure to please both first-time tasters and folks who consider this home-style comfort food. Another tasty use of garlic and vinegar is adobong, a stew made with either perfectly fricasseed chicken or marinated cubes of pork. The eatery also puts out variations of sinigang (a tamarind-based soup), pancit (noodles with various meats or veggies), and fried whole tilapia, among many entrées. The adventurous can try meals flavored with bagaoong, a fermented shrimp paste recommended only for those with iron palates. During the week (the restaurant is closed Mondays), business is pretty slow. Fridays and Saturdays, the joint is jumpin' (and smokin', in case you're picky about that sort of thing) -- especially with the giant karaoke machine smack-dab in front, where merchant marines and whole families strive to entertain one another.

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