Bay Bay's Chicken and Waffles
Nicole Danna

Since opening in mid-September, the 2,000-square-foot red stucco building a mile west of I-95 has garnered a unique and devoted crowd hankering for a taste of Bay Bay's signature dish: chicken and waffles. Sure, the waffles are good, but it's owner Israel Johnson's fried chicken that makes this dish a knockout. The family recipe includes a special blend of spices and breading; that poor chicken goes through an elaborate (and top-secret) 11-step process before being fried and plated for your enjoyment. Johnson produces the absolute most flavorful, crispy chick-chick around — so good, you won't even need the waffle and syrup.

Royal Treatz

To plan a proper bachelorette party, you need a stripper, party hats, and cupcakes that inform the bride-to-be that it's time to say farewell to all other penises. This Pembroke Pines shop doesn't specialize in penis cupcakes, but it does sell them special order. And the best part isn't even the silly private-part shapes but the actual cake. The people of Royal Treatz are cupcake geniuses. Their cakes are about a thousand times better than Magnolia's famous desserts. This is not an exaggeration. Even if you're staying home, it wouldn't hurt to order a dozen of these crotch-inspired treats and call it a satisfying night.

Mojo Donuts

It's summer in South Florida. Driving to work is like enduring an extended stay in a sweat lodge. And bright, 90-degree mornings, they suck the worst. Except for one very sweet exception. At 6 a.m., a scent beckons. The aroma is of fresh fried dough, warm sugar, and crispy bacon. The wise thing is to follow it to its destination: Mojo Donuts in Pembroke Pines. The little shop is filled with endless flavors, and not only the trendy maple bacon donuts types but tropical tastes like guava 'n' cheese, piña colada, and dulce de leche. For the traditionalist, there's Boston cream, red velvet, and apple fritters. And they're all absolutely, mind-numbingly delicious. The heat suddenly fades, and not just because of the A/C but because who the hell cares? This is what perfection tastes like! The "fancy" ones only $1.09, gourmet are $1.39, and the biggie is $1.75. Pair with a cup of coffee and eat until there's none left and the doors close. This is the best way to start the day.

First things first: Tacos are the working man's food. Unpretentious. That's exactly why they are best served on the side of a road, next to a dive bar, out of a truck. Cue Tropical Tacos. The truck is placed right smack dab on the seedy strip of road that makes State Road 84 the ideal environment for taco enjoyment. Just place your order at the window and take a seat at the communal table — you might make some new friends ranging from men in suits to migrant workers in coveralls. Just $2.25 gets you an al pastor taco — juicy pork marinated in chili, spices, and pineapple on a corn tortilla with onions and cilantro. The truck accepts only cash, but if you find yourself paperless, don't fret. The neighboring American legion has an ATM — and beer — on hand for your convenience.

Salt Life Food Shack

Fish tacos are best enjoyed in a beach shack. If, however, you find yourself stuck out west with no way to get to the beach, you do have an option. And a damned good one at that. Beachy décor, tropical drinks, a fish tank, and surfing videos aside, Salt Life Food Shack in Coral Springs knows a thing or two about the "Salt Life." The ocean-inspired restaurant takes recipes and dishes from coastal areas around the world and brings them to the western suburbs. So it comes as no surprise that the spot would have the best fish tacos in town: grilled fish on warm flour tortillas lightly topped with cabbage slaw, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, and a super-refreshing cilantro and lime cream sauce. Not a bad deal for $9.99.

Havana Hideout
Christina Mendenhall

When an establishment changes hands, small (and sometimes ridiculously large) tweaks can be expected. Your favorite appetizer is removed, replaced with something boring. That side sauce you loved so much is altered just enough to make you melancholy for a condiment. Even your go-to bartender is no longer there, the result of a staff makeover. But Shelly Jent and Ben Earhart were former employees so devoted to Havana Hideout that they bought it when founder Chrissy Benoit moved her focus to Little House last November. And it seems they've made only improvements. Today, the new system of daily prep work means almost everything on the menu is "now made fresh daily," which includes the guacamole. The guac also comes made-to-order using all farm-fresh local ingredients (with the exception of the Hass avocados). Light seasoning, tomato, onion, and cilantro make it flavorful without too much spice. The kicker? The black bean tortilla chips made by local Boynton Beach-based artisan tortilla maker WrapOlé.

Diner By-the-Sea

Congrats! You've just won the lottery. OK, it was the scratch-off, but hey! You're still ten bucks richer than when you started. Take that sawbuck over to Diner-by-the-Sea and get a good, hot meal. This teeny hole-in-the-wall is a time machine out of a Twilight Zone episode. Pop in one of the cheery yellow vinyl counter stools or cozy up in a booth and order lunch. The menu? Strictly out of Mel's Diner — tuna melts ($7.89), Reubens ($8.29), chili dogs ($4.99), or a quarter-pound burger with fries for $6.99. All made fresh by a real, live, short-order cook. Eavesdrop on a dozen conversations. Locals will bitch about taxes and the fish that got away as you bite into your tuna melt, savoring the crunch of the toast and the creaminess of the cheddar cheese, feeling like the winner you are.

Croissan-Time French Bakery

The French take their food seriously. Years of tradition, strict accreditation programs, and general food snobbery all go hand in hand with the quality of the nation's famous baked goods. You're certainly not going to find any premixed cookie dough over there. Arrogant? Yes. Worth it? Definitely. That's why it should come as no surprise that our favorite provider of confectionery delights would be French. Croissan'time in Fort Lauderdale has been churning out the tastiest, butteriest, most decadent pâtisserie since 1986. Plain croissants ($2.95 for large) and chocolate or almond filled are the closest to any Parisian croissant you can possibly find within the confines of South Florida. Specialty cakes are stunning. Baguettes to die for. Counting carbs? Just forget about it. Croissan'time is open Tuesday through Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Slow Food Truck
Alex Broadwell

No, Slow Food Truck does not necessarily mean you can outrace these guys when you see them on the highway. The truck is named after the slow-food movement, which strives to use as much locally sourced product as possible. SFT's owners, Oren Bass and Zachary Schwartz, both graduates of Johnson & Wales University's culinary program, use local tomatoes, proteins from small ranches, and bread from a Fort Lauderdale bakery. Don't confuse fresh and local ingredients with bland "health" food, though. Well, not unless you think a slow-braised short rib sandwich with cheese and crispy shallots ($9) is your idea of a diet. Or truffle fries ($7) are the key to eternal youth. But really, who the hell cares about a diet when a buttery lobster roll ($15, in season), filled with chunks of sweet, pink crustacean meat, is being placed in front of you? It's not necessarily good for your arteries — but it is good for local farmers, and that, combined with a pulled pork sandwich, feeds the soul.

Green Owl Restaurant
Christina Mendenhall

The Green Owl, one of the oldest restaurants in Delray Beach, sits on some prime real estate. But while the city has gentrified around it, the Owl remains a classic diner in the most basic sense of the word. It serves breakfast and lunch. It is open only until 3 p.m. on weekdays and noon on weekends. The décor is delightfully shabby (not the artificial, look-at-how-we-sandpapered-the-edge-of-this-table shabby — but actually shabby!), with fake wood wallboard like you'd find in your grandma's basement, and lots and lots of owls. You might ask yourself why an establishment on hip Atlantic Avenue would function this way, why it would not work to step up its game. The answer is: It doesn't have to. On weekends, there is a line around the corner of people trying to get a table before the kitchen closes. The dishes are simple, and you can even create your own order. You want three eggs and four pieces of bacon and that's it? Done. There is zero pretension here, and customers range from blue collars covered in tattoos to yoga moms with babies in Bjorns to well-heeled retirees in their Sunday best. It accepts only cash, but that's OK, because the food is cheap!

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