Let's talk about poutine. It's time we had this conversation, America. What is it? Why is it? How is it? There are many questions we must ask ourselves, but first, let's dive into the facts. Poutine originated in Quebec, Canada. We're not off to a good start so far. The only thing Quebec has ever given South Florida is bad drivers and tiny man Speedos. But bear with me. Poutine is a dish consisting of French fries, topped with hot gravy and fresh cheese curds. Wait, could it be? Quebec has made something... American. Fries? Check. Cheese? Check. Gravy? Check. How did we not invent this? These are hard questions we must face as a nation, but in the meantime, head to Poutine Dog Cafe in Lake Worth to sample the dish yourself. Let's claim this dish for the good ol' U.S. of A.

Readers' Choice: Tap 42

Anthony's Runway 84

There are times when the inevitable happens and you find yourself hungry without a friend or date to join you for dinner. Instead of pulling up to some fast-food drive-through and scarfing a value meal in your car in desperation, try dining at Anthony's Runway 84's lounge. The airplane-themed room is designed to make you feel like you're in a jetliner. As you settle into a seat, you can just imagine your flight attendant announcing that the takeoff was perfect and to settle in for a lovely flight as you look at a perpetual twilight sky out of mock airplane windows. As Sinatra softly croons in the background, order a glass of wine or a martini and peruse the menu. Your food order will be taken by a different waiter. The menu is classic Italian — gigantic meatballs served with ricotta ($12), a spicy coil of sausage with broccoli rabe ($13), and a chicken Parm to die for ($24), but it's the Sicilian peppers — stuffed with capers, cheese, bread crumbs, and anchovies ($10) — that are the jewel in Anthony's crown. The bar is always lively, filled with a mix of young professionals and old-timers, and no one is alone for more than a few minutes. On a recent Saturday, a man out alone for the evening was persuaded to join a party of women, while two couples compared (and shared) meals with one another. Think of it as Cheers, owned by a guy named Tony.

Sybarite Pig

We love bars. We love great restaurants. Let's combine the two! There hasn't been a no-brainer this obvious since the peanut butter deliveryman crashed his unicycle into the jelly truck. But though it's easy in concept, man, is it hard to execute. When you have to worry about great drinks and great food, the quality of one side is usually going to take a hit. But some gastropubs manage to dodge this all-too-common trap. The Sybarite Pig is one of those. The definition of "sybarite" is "a person devoted to pleasure and luxury." In most cases, this is not a good thing. But at the Pig, it's an attitude responsible for dishes like roasted bone marrow, "Hellswine" sausage, and duck-fat-roasted potato salad. Now, all that stuff alone would be enough to pack the place, but when you toss in a beer menu that looks more like a novella, it creates a perfect storm of gastropub.

Let's face it: Buffets can be scary. In most American buffets, you have to thwack your way through aisles of love handles just to get to the fried chicken. You're likely to get forked in the wrist if you reach for the last shrimp. And the only thing left for you to pick from are green beans that look like a shriveled Shrek wiener. But don't write off buffets completely until you've been to Kyojin for lunch. Now, $16.95 may not sound like a cheap lunch to some, but consider what you're getting. The Kyojin lunch buffet offers an assortment of fresh sushi, Japanese and Chinese cuisine, hibachi, and desserts that include the surprisingly delicious green tea ice cream. You won't leave Kyojin hungry. You won't leave Kyojin resembling anything close to hungry. You won't want to think of food for at least 24 hours, until — of course — lunchtime the next day. Then you'll want to go to Kyojin again.

The inside of this place is nothing special to look at — but you don't eat with your eyes, do you? Dang it if your belly won't be delighted after 30 minutes in this shopping-plaza treasure, featuring traditional Japanese and Asian specialties (spare ribs, tempura shrimp), a hibachi grill (ask for your dinner made to order), and sushi, sushi, and more sushi. The service is basic but friendly; they can deliver a Sapporo or a sake just fine, but you otherwise help yourself. Lunch costs $9.95; dinner, $18.95 for adults ($16.95 Monday to Thursday), $9.45 for kids ages 3 to 10. We dare you to resist the dessert table, with a wonderland of fruits and eight flavors of ice cream (including green tea — hell yeah!) that you scoop and accessorize with whipped cream yourself.

Every town has at least one farmers' market. In West Palm Beach, it's a posh affair overlooking the Intracoastal. In Hollywood, Yellow Green Market is a tented, sprawling expanse of farmers, crafters, and food vendors. But Food in Motion is South Florida's only after-dark farmers' market. The monthly event, which takes place every second Friday, started in fall of 2014. Free and dog-friendly, Food in Motion is in the heart of Flagler Village, the burgeoning arts district that's also home to the FAT Village Artwalk and a growing number of third-wave coffee and beer bars like Laser Wolf. It's a farmers' market for a new generation that is creating this new downtown, and its mission is perfectly in tune with the ethos of the artists, musicians, and creative types who populate the area. So in addition to the fresh produce, there are food trucks, vegan vendors, gourmet baked goods, locally made products, and, let's not forget, free craft beer.

flaglerfoodinmotion.com

Amazing how much better a cherry tomato can taste  if you pick it yourself right off the vine. Between the bountiful acres of strawberries and the indoor farmers' market, there really is something for everyone at Bedner's. Kids can mine for gold or pet a goat; then adults can walk them through a vast field of green and red peppers and have fresh dinner on the plate later that night. Bedner's is a festival you can go to every weekend, with food trucks and specials that constantly take place, even when it's not picking season. Farmers' markets are cool, but playing farmer for a day is even cooler.

With a craft-beer selection that never disappoints and its lively staff, Duke's has been a fast-rising restaurant for a while now, but this past year, its popularity has soared. The increased attention is a mixture of things that make Tucker Duke's special — and one of those things is definitely the fried PB&J bonbon appetizer. The PB&J balls-of-goodness are made up of fried peanut butter, seasonal jam, and a milk shooter; yeah, it's legit. The fun-sized app goes down perfectly with a dark beer while you're waiting for your meal or doubles as a dessert once you've worked up the munchies.

A few years ago, cupcakes became a "thing." They were the go-to, trendy dessert that dethroned self-serve frozen yogurt as the hot young sweet on the block. Now, both cupcakes and froyo are still around, the same way that Britney and Christina are still around. But if you want to be eating the chicest new portable dessert, these days you reach for a macaron. Every stylish avenue in South Florida boasts a macaron shop, and well they should. No place does them better than Bakery of France, a lovely Gallic café and bistro offering quiches, pressed sandwiches, pastries, café, and even escargots. It serves an exquisite Sunday brunch on its elegant patio, and it is all just lovely. But whatever else you eat, do not leave this establishment without a small white box of macarons. Far from a humble cookie, macarons should have a fragile shell glazing the outside, protecting the airy interior of the two pastries sandwiching the smear of creme in the center. And that is exactly how Bakery of France prepares them. You could get them in more familiar américain flavors (chocolate, vanilla, etc.), but don't. Go full French and order a pistachio, a rosé, a lavender, and a café sans regret.

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.

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