If, like Virgil, you "fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts," then Yissou is not the place for you. Every item here is practically a present, from the complimentary skordalia (garlic mashed potatoes) to the rice and ground meat gift-wrapped with grape leaves and beribboned with a froth of lemon sauce. But if, like Thucydides, you "are lovers of the beautiful, yet simple in [y]our tastes and cultivate the mind without loss of manliness," then you will no doubt appreciate the hearty avgolemono soup, rich in egg-and-chicken protein. And if, like Sir Henry James Main, you agree that "except the blind forces of Nature, nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in its origin," then you will run to Yissou for the more organic dishes on its menu, including moussaka, pastitsio, and skewered swordfish -- because after all, you gotta love those Grecians.
Yes, it's a mad, mad, mad cow world. But don't let that stop you from digging into the juiciest burger you've had in years. The "inside-out" burger is a cheeseburger in reverse -- an assortment of cheeses melts inside the beef, then oozes out dramatically when you sink your teeth into it. Indeed we like this sandwich so much we respectfully suggest proprietor Paul Dias change the eatery's name. Gotrocks? Hardly. Gotcheese? Oh, yeah.
Other than your Italian relatives' house on a major holiday, this is the place to be for fresh homemade pasta. The place got its start in 1970 when Joe and Mimi Termine brought a couple of ravioli machines from New York City. Joe figured he'd make some ravioli, maybe sell a bit, and have a nice little hobby. A few years later, he was dragging his cousin, fellow Brooklynite Frank Billisi, down to Hollywood to help him with the business. Billisi then bought the shop from the Termines and has never looked back. The place now boasts all manner of strange machines, constantly churning sauces, kneading dough, and stretching what will eventually become spaghetti. As for those ravioli that gave the place its start and its name: They take Chef Boyardee, tar him, feather him, brand a big MIMI on his butt, and then toss him out of town on his ear.

Along with the tasty Jamaican specialties served up at this Lauderhill eatery -- callaloo; mackerel; jerk pork, chicken, and fish; brown stew chicken; and curry goat -- some of the spiciest yet yummiest hot sauces in the land are made at Hot Pot. This golden-red dew of the gods is full of floating seeds harvested from the Scotch bonnet pepper, each one capable of decimating an entire tongue. The rub that the Hot Pot crew slathers over its jerk meats is plenty blazealicious too, but the Chernobylesque, Three Mile Island-ish, China Syndrome-like sauce is guaranteed to make your eyes water, your scalp sweat, and your life flash before your eyes. It's that hot.

Even the bathrooms at this neon-color monument to all things fattening are deliciously tempting. People flock to the lime green-and-orange ice cream parlor to dare friends and strangers to step behind the clear glass doors of the bathrooms, which are in full view of those waiting in line for their favorite confection. Luckily for those who prefer to keep some parts of their lives private, a mere flip of the switch activates liquid crystals, making the transparent walls safely opaque. The mutable glass bathroom doors are just one reason to visit the dizzyingly cute ice cream parlor across from the public fountain in downtown West Palm Beach. The hot pink décor, which looks like a throwback to the Roaring '20s, is alive with hand-painted murals of cherubs clutching bowls of ice cream and pulling garlands filled with cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, hot fudge sundaes, and banana splits. It's enough to make even the lactose-intolerant among us drool. Lucky for the lactose dependent, relief is in sight. The 25-plus flavors of homemade ice cream, the Heath Bar crunch mousse cake, the toffee, and the caramel bars are even more amazing than the bathroom doors. And according to reliable sources, the extra weight normally generated from eating such delicacies somehow magically disappears -- like the view of the bathrooms.
OK, this place may be best known for its pizza, which blisters your mouth so appropriately. But a slice that would make any New Yorker grin isn't Poppy's only claim to fame. The pizza oven embraces an enormous steak calzone, for example, stuffed with sirloin, ricotta, mozzarella, onions, and peppers. It puts the finishing touches on a chicken, cheddar, and broccoli stromboli. And it lovingly polishes off a dozen different Parmesan dinners, including veal, chicken, sausage, and even eggplant rollatini, each of which is served with a trio of cheese ravioli or stuffed shells, or a pair of manicotti. Not convinced yet? Test Poppy's further by ordering veal Marsala or the perfectly fried large Gulf shrimp, and you'll be as impressed as we are -- and quite frankly you'll also be as full, since truth be told, Poppy is not only a paesano, he's a generous kinda guy.
When you have a taste for some authentic Jamaican fare, do what the Jamaican locals do: Stop by Aunt I's for some tasty jerk chicken, ackee and codfish, or oxtail. Don't be put off by the location, in the middle of a nondescript strip mall; Aunt I's may not have the fanciest digs (maybe that's why it does a brisk takeout business), but it has dibs on down-home island cooking, served up in generous portions with a warm smile. And it's a safe bet Jamaican native Aunt I is busy in the kitchen preparing your food.

The coolest thing about Lester's Diner isn't the vast menu, although it's an impressive one: daily specials, 70 or so different sandwiches (including such quirky combos as meat loaf and fried egg), nearly two dozen salads, homemade soups du jour, 35 desserts "baked on the premises daily," Greek and Italian specialties, a children's menu, and such mainstay entrées as chicken, seafood, steaks, and chops. And no, the coolest thing about Lester's isn't the equally comprehensive "served anytime" breakfast menu, which runs the gamut from simple (ham and eggs) to snazzy (Belgian waffles, eggs Benedict), or the diner's famous 14-ounce cups of Colombian coffee. The coolest thing isn't even the old-fashioned fountain, which dispenses banana splits and ice cream sodas, shakes, and sundaes. The coolest thing about Lester's? The ambiance, which is part classic diner décor, part clientele. The latter, at least in the case of the original State Road 84 site, has to do with location: Situated as it is, conveniently accessible from both I-95 and downtown Fort Lauderdale, it attracts a mix of locals and out-of-towners that gets only more surreal as the hour gets later. On a really good night, you can dine with truckers on their way in or out of Port Everglades on one side and drag queens from nearby discos the Copa and the Saint on the other.
If you want the absolutely best quality margarita around, there are, admittedly, better places than Mexican Cantina. However, there is something to be said for quantity, and this home of the 46-ounce margarita has that in spades. One does not quite grasp what 46 ounces of margarita looks like until that massive glass is set in front of you. A goldfish could live happily -- very happily -- in this glass. And the Mexican Cantina's atmosphere only lends itself to imbibing heavily from the trough of José Cuervo. The whole place fairly reeks of a never-ending fiesta, from the live bands on Friday and Saturday nights to the considerable piñata collection hanging from the ceiling. Put down a couple of these $12 gargantuan potables and you'll be ready to dance to the band and maybe even take a few swipes at the décor.

Javier is behind the bar tonight, not that it would really have mattered. The stalwart drink slingers of California Café are all experts in the art of the martini. "On the rocks or straight up?" There's only one right answer to this question. Upon hearing "Straight up," he nods and flashes a smirk, suggesting that he would have scoffed at any other answer. Good answer. He then properly prepares the vodka -- ask secret agent 007 how this feat is accomplished -- and pours it into the glass. He adds the requested twist of lemon in the form of a slice of rind an inch long, cut to regulatory perfection. He wipes the rind once around the rim of the martini glass, then adds it to the drink. Finally he takes a small atomizer from a shelf near the cash register and adds a fine mist of vermouth -- one spritz only -- as the crowning touch. Javier sets the finished product down on a cocktail napkin and inquires, "Anything else?" How could there be? James Bond would weep.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of