To take a look into this Israeli deli, you'd never know it's "new." The place is always so full of loyal customers it might as well be called Old Tel-Aviv. The eatery's signs and menus are written in both Hebrew and English, and the place is Glatt kosher. That means you won't find any dairy on the premises, but you'll hardly miss the milk when you taste creamy tahini that substitutes beautifully for dairy-based toppings. With the lamb shishlic, beef kebab, and chicken schnitzel sandwiches, you'll find plenty of protein to fill your belly. Salads -- hummus, baba ghannouj, Israeli, and Turkish -- are tangy and flavorful. And those are just for starters. Tel-Aviv also carves up a mean pastrami on a kaiser and offers fresh whole fish. If you stop by on a Tuesday, you can even score some couscous. Just don't expect to get brunch Saturday mornings.

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This being South Florida and all, the competition for this category is fierce. Particularly this year, given that the exceptionally dry weather has pushed almost all of us diners firmly out-of-doors. Aficionados of the alfresco thing make much ado of water views, sea breezes, and lots of shade. Tails complies with all those qualifications, going a few steps further with a pool, a deck, a dock, and an outdoor bar. The venue is ideal for outdoor sipping and supping unless, of course, the sky is spitting rain. We should be so lucky.
Cap's Place Island Restaurant and Bar
The ferryboat to Cap's Place is interesting (think of a refurbished, polished, and well-covered African Queen), and it's free. It's not a long ride, just a nice jaunt across the Intracoastal, but once you get there, you're going back a long way. Meyer Lansky and other gangsters still haunt the place. In the bar you can almost still smell the unfiltered cigarette smoke and hear the dames giggling over their martinis. Cap's Place is all about South Florida history, full of rum, illicit gambling, hoodlums, and good times. Eugene Theodore "Cap" Knight, an unabashed bootlegger, opened the place in 1928. The restaurant is actually made from an old barge. Back then, it was called Club Unique, and you could visit for a fish dinner, a stiff (and illegal) drink, and a game of blackjack, roulette, or craps. But Cap had class -- drawing statesmen as easily as crooks. The list of famous patrons is too long to recount, though the fact that FDR and Winston Churchill dined together here should give you an idea. But that's enough of this story. Go out there, have a highball, and soak up some more tales. They're hanging on every wall, carved into every post, soaked into every floorboard.

John Bull English Pub
When you say that this place is a trendy, traditional British pub, that's no bull -- and it's no oxymoron either. On the trendy side are salads -- such as the Tuscan garden with smoked turkey, comprising artichokes, roasted peppers, button mushrooms, and bacon-mustard dressing -- and main courses including fresh fish of the day with Creole rémoulade and toasted orzo pilaf. On the traditional side are appetizers -- cheese boards for two with aged cheddar and country bread -- and one-dish meals such as shepherd's pie or Saturday roasts with Yorkshire pudding. Trendy? An Undurraga Chilean merlot is the house red. Traditional? Bass, Newcastle, and Harp ales are all on tap. Trendy? The live jazz and rhythm-and-blues music. Traditional? The fireplaces (yes, in South Florida). This may not be your father's or grandfather's pub, but it will certainly be yours.

Tout Sweet Ice Cream Parlor
In a time when so many restaurants reluctantly provide one highchair or maybe a booster seat, Tout Sweet is a godsend. Not only does this restaurant and ice cream parlor offer succor for adolescent dietary stress with an appealing kid's menu, it mitigates parental economic stress with "Kids Eat Free" on Sundays. Tout Sweet also runs generation-gap specials such as "Mom and Me" or "Dad and Me." The place is so munchkin-minded that the National Single Parents Resource center, located in Boca Raton, holds its events here, the profits of which go to creating programs to assist single folks in dealing with everything from infants to teenagers. Even better, the eatery, which serves light sandwiches, waffles, and homemade French custard ice cream, is right next door to the Regal Delray 18 movie theater, so solo caretakers can plan an entire evening's entertainment with ease. Talk about one hand washing the other.
Brewzzi
Restaurant breweries are about as hard to find in South Florida as wool sweaters. The dearth of handcrafted brews here isn't really that surprising, as subtropical climes tend to foster a thirst for icy, fruity drinks like rumrunners and margaritas. But we like beer, dammit, and that's where Brewzzi's comes in. Granted it doesn't have much competition (it's the only independent restaurant brewery in Palm Beach County), but it's still first-rate. Because the joint is located in western Boca Raton, you might assume it's a vile place -- snobs drinking snobby beers. You'd be wrong. The six microbrews, for one thing, are affordable, at less than $4 a glass. They are also award-winning and downright delicious, from the stout to the American pale ale to the brown to the blonde (though we aren't really partial to light microbrews). The service there is darn good, the food simple (lots of great pizzas and open-faced sandwiches) and tasty. By the time we pulled ourselves away, we'd had enough of their beer to make us a little wewzzi. Our date was so hammered, she started acting like a flewzzi. So, thanks to Brewzzi's, our night was a dewzzi.

East City Grill
You could say it was a victim of greed. One of the most popular fine-dining restaurants on Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard and the eatery credited with revitalizing the area, East City Grill got unceremoniously kicked out of its space this past year. The landlord decided to sell the lot to a condominium builder. Goodbye pan-Asian/fusion fare, hello prefab apartments. No matter in the end, though. Proprietors Oliver Saucy and Darrel Broek will soon assuage our grief by rebuilding the Grill -- or opening something similar -- in Weston. Go west, young(ish) men!
Betty's Soul Food
Candace West
Few places offer a taste of black Southern cuisine as complete and inexpensive as this place tucked between Sistrunk Boulevard and 22nd Road. Lunchtime brings local businesspeople together while Matlock reruns mime on two muted televisions and gospel classics rotate on the jukebox. The dining area is kept cool, and regardless of where you sit, you can't miss a big illuminated sign announcing Betty's as an NAACP sign-up spot. Menus aren't reliable as far as specials go, so ask your server what the chef has going. The menu boasts pig tails, catfish, fried chicken, and of course chitterlings. Try the oxtail with collard greens, pillow-soft cornbread, and candied yams (the last of which should be offered as a dessert), all for $7.99. Betty's also caters any size gathering and will customize the order according to your specifications.

Totoritas Restaurant
Gustavo Rojas
You can't miss the place: An oversize red-and-white Peruvian flag, nearly always stretched taut in the breezes that whip across the North Perry Airport, perches atop the smallish storefront eatery, serving as a beacon for all lovers of the Andean nation's sophisticated cuisine. Inside the tiny, wood-paneled dining room, which is lined with medieval-style paintings of saints, this third outpost of the Las Totoritas chain (the other two are located in Miami-Dade County) serves up a dizzying variety of Peruvian specialties. The embossed-leather menus boast such stick-to-your-ribs fare as lomo saltado (sautéed beef with onions and tomatoes) and chicharrón de pollo (deep-fried yet delicately flavored chicken chunks), as well as numerous soups and appetizers. But of course any Peruvian restaurant is only as good as its seafood; by that measure Las Totoritas is fantastic. The jalea is a mouthwatering mound of gently fried squid, octopus, shrimp, and corvina (sea bass) tossed with red onions, tomatoes, and a handful of fresh cilantro. The same fruits of the sea show up in the cebiche mixto but are instead marinated in lemon juice for at least a day, giving them a tart tenderness perfectly complemented by the brightness of the onions and cilantro that accompany this dish, truly a (South) American beauty.

Granted, the name of the venue is a little confusing. Formerly one of two West Broward places known as Parrilla's Latin Grill, the restaurant's neon sign still reads Parrilla's. But the billboard advertising the eatery now calls it Rumba's, since the Parrilla's partners split, each keeping one restaurant. And you might be a touch baffled by the menu, which lists a zillion dishes with a dozen different Latin-American influences ranging from Mexican to Argentine to Cuban. But you won't be a bit bewildered when the fare is served: Beef is the name of the game here, and the quality of the meat is uniformly excellent. Skirt steaks are marinated and grilled to juicy perfection, while vaca frita is shredded and pan-fried, then tarted up with a bit of lime and dressed with white onions. Looking for a little gringo action? Check out the ropa vieja potato skins followed by an inches-thick sirloin. Unlike most steak houses, Rumba's does not offer side dishes à la carte, which means that every enormous serving of meat is accompanied by red or black beans, a scoop of buttered white rice, and sweet, caramelized plantains. In the end there's really no question of befuddlement at all: Walk into Rumba's -- or Parrilla's, whatever you want to call it -- and you'll roll out in a carnivorous daze.

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