Do not pity the chicken. Sure, at first glance, its life may seem somewhat bleak. To be raised in captivity with the sole intent of being turned into a nugget may not strike one as a desirable existence. But rest assured, some chickens will go on to fulfill a greater fate. The lucky ones get sent over to the Mason Jar Café in Fort Lauderdale. It is there that they are elevated from simple cutlet to an orgasm-inducing fried piece of tongue candy. Every fried chicken that leaves the Mason Jar's kitchen has been given no less than 30 minutes of intimate compliments. After all, each is rubbed with a seasoned batter that is rumored to come from Julia Child's secret time capsule. Then every one is fried to crunchy perfection and smothered in a gravy so creamy and delicious that it must be kept in a box labeled "booger juice" to prevent sneaky busboys from stealing a taste. Any nincompoop can just drop a breast into a deep fryer and come back in five minutes. But it takes skill — nay, love — to make the best fried chicken.

There's nothing more American than cheap beer, football, and chicken wings. And in the great old US of A, we like options. Seriously, do you know of any other country that dedicates an entire aisle in the supermarket to hundreds of choices of bread? Doubt it. It's called democracy, baby. This local Miami Dolphins-themed sports bar (it was founded by former player Bob "Bru" Brudzinski) takes a cue from the country it represents with multiple options for chicken wing accoutrements — and plenty of inexpensive beer to pair, of course. Wings are available in ten ($9.95), 16 ($14.50), 25 ($23.95), and 50-piece ($41.95) options — screw the half-dozen and dozen selections. Sauces run the gamut, with choices ranging from mild, medium, hot, X-hot, and XX-hot to Triple Threat, a combination BBQ, sweet 'n' tangy, and hot sauce grilled with minced garlic. (Hint: Try the Triple Threat.) Here, it's all about choices. It's like the football fanatic's slice of the American Dream.

A family-owned business for almost 30 years, Rob's Bageland offers New York-quality bagels in a New York-style dining space — that is, rushed, brusque, and bustling. The service is always a bit harried, and you need to spit out your order quick, but with a never-empty steaming coffee cup and chewy, fresh bagel, you will not even care. In fact, between the quality of the bagel and the, err, efficient manner of the staff, you can close your eyes and pretend you're back in NYC. And let's not forget the schmear. At Bageland, you will find both Nova and smoked salmon. You can build your own — layering salmon over gobs of cream cheese with capers, fresh onion, and tomato — or you can ask for the salmon spread, which consists of enormous chunks of salmon stirred into the cream cheese for you. Either way, it's as good as any bagel you'll get in New York. There, we said it!

Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House

They say, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." It's supposed to jump-start the metabolism and prevent binging later on. That's fine and all, but when it comes to breaking the fast on a weekend, it should be all about feeding your hangover and heading straight back to bed — or the beach. This Fort Lauderdale breakfast spot will do the trick. The stick-to-your-bones, heartland-style delicacies are simple, filling, and utterly delicious. Everything is made onsite, completely from scratch, just like Grandma used to make (if she was from the South). The Southern Comfort ($13) is a massive order of homemade buttery biscuits with sausage gravy. The oven-baked pancake ($10), an inch-thick round of sweet airy batter, comes plain or filled with your choice of fruit served with maple syrup and a pat of butter. The East Coaster breakfast ($16) includes a six-ounce grass-fed steak, two eggs any way you like, fresh baked toast, and choice of cheese grits or Yukon gold potatoes. And those are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of traditional gut-busting options. No, it's not the healthiest or the trendiest way to start the day, but perfect never goes out of style. Fortunately, you can drink your mimosa while braving the lines.

Hot and Soul

Sundays are supposed to be the most relaxing day of the week — the Lord's day. And brunch is one of the most chilled-out meals. So Sunday brunch should be a soulful experience (whether you go to church first or not). That's what you'll get at Hot and Soul. The small Fort Lauderdale eatery prides itself on serving an array of international cuisine cooked with passion. Mom-and-pop team Christy Samoy and Mike Hampton have a mixed bag of experiences and background. Samoy's family comes from the Philippines. Hampton hails from Pennsylvania. The two graduated from culinary school in New Orleans and have cooked everything from Italian and Mediterranean to modern American. It's all evident in their menu. Pillows ($6) are NOLA-style fluffy beignets served with condensed milk. What the French Toast?! ($12) combines toast made of rice pudding with coconut almond sauce, mango strawberry glaze, and candied ginger. Steak Your Claim ($18) mixes culotte steak with gnocchi hash and fried egg for a twist on an American classic. And the Philippine breakfast ($16) features tocino (Spanish-style bacon) with fried rice and a fried egg. Yes, it's all over the place, and the names might be strange. But it's all good, and you can actually taste the soul. Consider this your foodie place of worship.

Just as the rest of the food world — and world in general — is going on about "craft" this and "artisanal" that, the java world has followed suit. And when it comes to straying from the mainstream in South Florida, one name comes to the forefront of the underground world: restaurateur and bar owner Rodney Mayo. Earlier this year, he teamed up with West Palm Beach coffee aficionado Sean Scott, founder of Habatat Coffee, to start a coffee shop and microroasting facility right on Clematis. Beans are painstakingly sourced from the best coffee regions around the world, ranging from South America to the South Pacific, and are served in every fashion imaginable, from fancy pour-overs to a plain old cup of coffee. And as good as the beans may be, the atmosphere is just as au courant. The vintage-inspired interior is filled with stylish coffee fanatics, college students, and hip folk conversing over steaming hot cups of brew until the wee hours of morning.

Myapapaya Juicery + Kitchen
Sara Ventiera

For decades, juicing was associated with crunchy-granola-macro-dieting hippie types while the mainstream was stuck on the whole Tropicana O.J. bandwagon. Over the past ten years, though, cold-pressed juicing has been gaining steam across the country. The method crushes and presses fruit and vegetables for a higher yield of liquid and maximum enzyme and nutrient extraction. Proponents claim that ingesting the brightly colored juices cleans, detoxifies, and purifies the body. While mail-order cleanses and cold-pressed juices have been on the market for quite some time, Myapapaya Juicery + Kitchen brought the concept to Fort Lauderdale a year and a half ago, and the trend has since blown up, with numerous cold-pressed juicers having sprouted up. They're all good, and they're all good for you, but the originators certainly deserve some more cred. Chef Adam Kanner, who formerly worked as a private chef, has created combos that are as flavorful as they are nutrient-dense. Try the Go Go Green ($10): It combines kale, spinach, romaine, celery, parsley, cucumber, lemon, ginger, and apple for a mixture that is rich in beneficial chlorophyll and phytonutrients. If you're looking to go big, the spot also offers a number of cleansing options starting at $65 per day.

When it comes to longevity, this place is king. Sitting at the same West Palm Beach location for more than half a century, Howley's opened its doors the same year the modern credit card came into existence (1950) — who would've thought both would still be so relevant today? While the essence has remained much the same, the spot has had some upgrades since Patrick J. Howley's days; in 2004, Sub Culture Group (owners of Dada, Kapow!, Tryst, and more) took over the property, restoring it to its original glory while bringing in some modern comforts, like a digital jukebox, flat-screen TVs, live music, and, more important, a full bar. Even so, it still boasts diner classics at a price tag that's not going to break the bank — in the 21st Century, anyway — with dishes like steak and eggs ($11.75), Momma's Hot Cakes ($5.95), and country fried steak ($14.95).

Master Cake Bakery
Sara Ventiera

Everyone was attempting the croissant-doughnut hybrid invented by that famous bakery in New York City, but Master Cake has one that will put you in a sugar coma. Large, flaky, deep-fried, and absolutely covered in sugar, the "dossant" (not Cronut — that's trademarked) is a carbaholics dream, but it's far from the only thing the kosher Master Cake Bakery has to offer. Run by Israeli-born, European-trained pastry chef Mickey Grunberger, Master Cake opened in September 2013 with a wide variety of pastries, custom cakes, breads, and other baked goods ranging from danishes and croissants to rugelach and challah bread. Sunday through Friday, the bakery also serves breakfast, lunch, and coffees — complete with kosher milk.

Bombay Cafe

So you want to get away from your office, but you don't have a lot of time. You want to sit down to a hot meal, but you don't want to pay for the service. Most important, you want something beyond the usual fare you'll find at most speedy lunch service spots. A good (read: cheap) buffet can split the lunch-quandary atom perfectly, and Bombay Cafe in Fort Lauderdale is just the spot. This is some of the best, authentic Indian cuisine you'll find in these parts — including vindaloo, marsala, butter chicken, and curry — and from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every weekday, you have access to the entire buffet for about ten dollars. You'll indulge your inner foodie on the cheap, hidden in the cool, dark recesses of the restaurant and then suddenly jet back out into the sunlight, back to work and real life.

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