South Florida's restaurant scene is growing — fast. Each month, restaurants across Broward and Palm Beach counties open their doors, fueling the expansion of our culinary scene.
It's difficult to look into a crystal ball and come up with what restaurants will connect with the hearts and palates of our counties' denizens; these days, it takes a lot more than a famous chef, good cocktail, or over-built burger to appease our populace. Luckily, gastronomes and cuisinomanes have a lot to look forward to in 2016.
In the coming months, a number of local celebrity chefs, established restaurateurs, and even a few Miami imports are getting ready to unleash their creative genius on us in the form of food and drink. Yes, South Florida, 2016 is going to be quite delicious.
With that in mind, here are the top 12 South Florida dining concepts to look forward to in 2016:
1025 S. University Drive, Plantation. Visit sliderz.com.
They say size doesn't matter — and that's certainly the case for the Miami-based restaurant group known as Sliderz, a fast-casual mini-sandwich dining concept coming to Broward County in 2016. Founder Buzzy Sklar recently announced he'll be opening the second South Florida Sliderz location in Plantation. The new 2,500-square-foot restaurant is set to open in April and will introduce its own breed of mini-burgers — AKA sliders — as well as a number of made-to-order, American-style, tapas-sized sandwiches. The menu features a variety of options including beef, fish, pork, chicken, and vegetarian sliders, many topped with homemade sauces. Traditional options include some bite-sized hot dogs, or a blackened mahi, Buffalo chicken, and meatball parmigiana sandwich.
11. Tucker Duke's Lunchbox
1658 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
We could all use a little more burger and beer in our lives, especially up in Palm Beach County. Luckily, Tucker Duke's Lunchbox is coming to the rescue: South Florida restaurant partners Jay Oakes and John Cortes recently announced plans to bring chef-founder Brian Cartenuto's craft-burger eatery to Palm Beach County with a new location set to open later this year at 1658 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton. The 3,200-square-foot space — formerly Italio — will be the second South Florida Tucker Duke's Lunchbox location following a west Deerfield Beach restaurant. Cartenuto, a two-time winner on the reality cook-off competition Cutthroat Kitchen, opened the original Tucker Duke's several years ago just outside his hometown of Niceville, Florida. In 2014, Cartenuto chose Deerfield Beach for the second location of his casual eatery, partnering with childhood friends Oakes and Cortes to expand his concept into South Florida. Now, the trio is looking forward to opening yet another in Boca Raton, giving Palm Beach County a taste of Cartenuto's Southern-style, blue-plate specials, sandwiches, and burgers. The menu will offer a few local twists, says Cortes, including several seafood entrées you won't find at the Deerfield location. Of course, we're looking forward to a few of the signature Tucker Duke's, a half-pound patty of Florida Seminole Pride beef arranged in a multilayered Jenga pile of fried onion rings, melted American cheese, mixed baby greens, and celery-salted tomato on a toasted, onion-encrusted bun.
250 State Road 7, Suite 100, Royal Palm Beach. Call 561-899-0111, or visit eatbolay.com.
Outback Steakhouse cofounder and Palm Beacher Tim Gannon thought maybe he'd take a break from the fast-casual restaurant business after he helped to open the locally based South Florida chain PDQ in 2014. But once a visionary, always a visionary. Gannon, alongside his son Chris, is now ready to unleash his latest enterprise, Bolay, what he says is modeled after the build-your-own restaurant model. The first Bolay is set to open in the next few months in Royal Palm Beach, and the duo will be pairing cutting-edge technology — along with a good dose of old-fashioned hospitality — to its design-your-own-salad-bowls. Choose from a number of nutrient-rich ingredients, with grains like black rice, gluten-free noodles, and quinoa; antioxidant-rich vegetables like kale, sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, and roasted butternut squash; and proteins including tuna, chicken, steak, pork, or tofu. From there, bowls can be customized with a specialty sauces, from soothing lemongrass to a spicy carrot-ginger. Thirsty? Pair your meal with a cold-pressed juice (or a local craft beer and wine on tap).
9. Lost Weekend
526 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.
The first Lost Weekend opened in 1993 off Olive Road in downtown West Palm Beach. A divey sports bar with nothing but some pool tables, old school video games, and an awesome jukebox, Lost Weekend was the original hipster cool spot to be at the time. So cool, in fact, the place had a successful decade-long run before the concept was forced to close and change locations. The second Lost Weekend reopened in 2008, a smaller version located above Dr. Feelgoods (now the Pawn Shop), where it remained for another five years. Now, restaurateurs and founders Rodney Mayo and Scott Frielich are bringing Lost Weekend back for a thirdtime, and expect it to be better than ever before. Frielich tells us the third incarnation will have all the necessary Lost Weekend accouterment including pool tables, old-school video and arcade games, and a jukebox that will keep it fresh (you'll find a curated selection of music, which will rotate monthly). But what makes this spot an anticipated restaurant? Tacos and beer. Lost Weekend will have an in-house taco truck housed in a converted milk truck that will feature a selection of street-food-style Mexican tacos priced at $2 each. Oh, and there will also be a brewpub. In addition to a selection of more than 100 craft brews (both on draft and by bottle), Lost Weekend will also have its own in-house brewing facility where local brewer Allan Bowron, best known for his award-winning coconut curry porter, will be making a rotating selection of seasonal brews available only on tap at the West Palm Beach bar.
8. Pompano Beach House
300 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach.
Pompano Beach is quietly becoming one of South Florida's new seaside vacation destinations thanks to a recent rash of new restaurant and brewery openings including the Foundry, 26 Degree Brewing, and Bangin' Banjo Brewing in the past several months. But the dining destination locations don't stop there: This year, expect the addition of two new custom-built oceanfront restaurants. Since 2009, more than $10 million has been invested to revitalize and modernize Pompano Beach Boulevard between Atlantic Boulevard and NE Fifth Street, including a revamp of the city's oceanfront stretch near the pier, a development project known as the Pompano Beach Fishing Village. Here you'll find Pompano Beach House, the latest concept from Ohio-based Anderson Real Estate, the same hospitality management group that owns and operates Brimstone in Pembroke Pines, Grille 401 in Fort Lauderdale, and Piñon Grill in Boca Raton. The restaurant, currently in the design stages, will be a two-story establishment with a rooftop patio, bar, and lounge space. During the day, expect a beach-friendly vibe with a relaxed, casual ambiance and a menu offering easy-to-order appetizers, flatbreads, burgers, and sandwiches. Beachgoers may even be able to walk up to a lower-level concession area, where they can order takeaway food and drink options. Come evening, the vibe will change, giving patrons a more upscale experience paired with a more traditional menu featuring steaks, seafood, sushi, and a raw bar.
7. Regional Kitchen & Public House
651 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-366-1000, or visit EatRegional.com.
South Florida chef — and Top Chef season-nine finalist — Lindsay Autry is partnering with restaurateur Thierry Beaud to open the Regional Kitchen & Public House in downtown West Palm Beach's CityPlace. The New American restaurant, slated to open later this year, has been nearly a year in the making, says Autry, who is looking forward to her first venture into restaurant proprietorship. The North Carolina native is best-known in South Florida for her Southern-meets-Mediterranean cuisine, which she debuted when she began working with Michelle Bernstein in 2009. More recently, she worked as executive chef at the historic Sundy House in Delray Beach, a position she left in late 2013. "Ever since I left Sundy House, I've been looking for the right partner to create my own restaurant," says Autry. "The concept here will be American cuisine with a Southern influence, a very ingredient-focused menu that will rotate according to the seasons." According to Beaud, the Regional — located in the former Las Pampas Grille space — will feature dishes that reflect the restaurant's name with regionally sourced ingredients from farms that represent the Southeast. The 10,000-square-foot space will offer a 120-seat dining room and private rooms that can accommodate anywhere from ten to 100 people. The "public house" will come into focus with a spacious 80-seat bar and lounge that empties onto an adjoining indoor patio, adds Autry, and a small open-pantry kitchen that offers counter service.
6. Shaker & Pie
305 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Call 561-939-2520, or visit ShakerAndPie.com.
Later this year, Subculture Group — owners of Kapow! Noodle Bar, the Dubliner, and Tryst, among others — will open the doors to its new high-end pizza joint in Boca Raton's Mizner Park. The new concept will take over the former Cheese Course space next door to Tanzy iPic, and will combine the vibrant Subculture bar scene with high-end pies and classic craft cocktails, says Subculture partner Scott Frielich. The concept has its roots in cofounder Vaughan Dugan's organic pizza business, Pizza Fusion, which will lend its Earth-friendly ethos to Shaker & Pie's intimate, sit-down concept. Pizzas will be made in a wood-fired oven alongside affordably priced Italian gastropub-type entrées and snacks. Expect to see items like pastas, house-cured meats and cheeses, and seafood and steaks. As for the vibe: think a speakeasy theme with a hopping, bustling bar scene and a list of more than 20 cocktails featuring organic spirits, house-made fruit infusions, small-batch bitters and tonics, and a variety of fresh garnishes from the restaurant's own cocktail "salad bar."
5. One Door East
620 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-523-5767.
We've been waiting — and waiting — for the opening of a new restaurant concept coming to Fort Lauderdale from Valentino chef-owner Giovanni Rocchio, named New Times Broward-Palm Beach 2015 best chef. Rocchio and partner Elke Quintana announced the groundbreaking of their latest concept six months ago, which means we are most certainly ready for a 2016 grand opening of One Door East, located next door to the chef's longtime Fort Lauderdale establishment, located at 620 S. Federal Highway. Rocchio and Quintana describe the concept as a globally inspired tapas restaurant. The concept will focus on sharing-sized plates, with some larger dishes with influences from across the globe: Spain, Asia, Africa, and the United States. The goal for Rocchio is to explore different flavors and style of cooking. Expect to see a few signature dishes, however: paella, house-made charcuterie, and artisan cheese platters; wood-fired meats and fish; and a unique spin on a burger. Although the focus will be on the food, Rocchio says One Door East will boast a bar and late-night scene. With an industrial-vibe decor — think steel and reclaimed wood — the space will offer a comprehensive beverage program with chef-driven drinks paired with a large selection of craft beer, some sakes, and wine by the glass. The vibe isn't the only thing that will be more easygoing: Prices will be also be easier on the wallet, about $50 to $60 per person versus the $90 to $100 at Rocchio's cutting-edge Italian eatery.
4. Lemongrass Hot Pot
Hollywood. No address yet.
Taiwanese import Lemongrass Hot Pot has found a lot of success with its first stateside restaurant in Boca Raton. The superfocused concept is popular in China, and it's the sort of place where people go for healthier dining options. The name refers to several East Asian varieties of do-it-yourself stew where simmering metal pots of stock are used to cook everything from meats and seafood to fresh vegetables. At the new Lemongrass Hot Pot coming to Hollywood later this year, you'll be able to choose from several broth bases, including the signature organic lemongrass, hot and spicy, or tomato-based broth — and an unlimited selection of raw meat, seafood, and vegetables — priced at $25.50 per person. Still hungry after an all-you-can-eat dinner? Belly up to the dessert section of the buffet bar for some sweet treats, including green tea or red bean ice cream. It's all included, all the way up until 1 a.m. on weekdays (and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights). Who said eating late at night had to be boring — or bad for you?
3. Spring Chicken
2400 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale.
Broward County is about to get to jump on the nationwide fancy fried chicken train. Spring Chicken, a concept by Miami-based 50 Eggs Hospitality, is about to bring Yardbird Southern Table & Bar's award-winning chicken to Broward — but in a fast-casual format. Slated to open sometime in March, the eatery will feature a selection of fried and grilled poultry, salads, biscuits, and other baked goods, including what CEO John Kunkel says is an impressive scone. The original working name for the fried-chicken-focused restaurant, Llewellyn's, was a nod to Kunkel's granny, who would brine her birds for 27 hours before covering them in a cayenne-peppered flour and frying them. The Fort Lauderdale location will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the eatery will also feature made-to-order items like breakfast ham-and-cheese biscuits, and a number of grab-and-go dishes. Check averages should be in the $12 to $14 range for food.
2. Bar Rita
1401 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-463-4900.
Just when you thought you'd heard all the news there is to hear about Tap 42 founders Sean and Blaise McMackin doing big things in South Florida — from Blaise's new coffee shop, Warsaw, to the new Tap 42 locations in Boca Raton and Coral Gables — the members of the restaurant team are most looking forward to their latest concept: Bar Rita. Rather than beer and coffee, however, Bar Rita will be all about modern Mexican cuisine and handcrafted margaritas. The restaurant is slated to debut later this spring, opening in the two-story custom designed building located on the Tap 42 property located off South Andrews Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Here, you won't find the usual Tex-Mex suspects like nachos, enchiladas, or burritos, but rather a unique interpretation of the what its creators are calling "modern Mexican bar food." The best part: The 5,500-square-foot, two-story establishment will have a rooftop margarita bar.
1. TRP Taste
1 W. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale.
We couldn't be more excited to hear about plans for Tim Petrillo and the Restaurant People's (TRP) upcoming — and possibly first — rooftop lounge, slated to open in downtown Fort Lauderdale later this year at the corner of Andrews and West Las Olas Boulevard. Guests will have breathtaking views of both the city's downtown skyline and the New River, says Petrillo, who hopes to open by the end of summer. But wait, there's more. The group has also taken the ground-floor retail space in the same building for a new restaurant concept it's dubbed TRP Taste. Petrillo isn't giving us too many details, but he's calling it a "show kitchen" that will highlight a number of ideas the South Florida market hasn't seen yet aimed at creating a new trend in dining out. "Our goal is to invite our loyal guests in to taste some new menu items that we are dreaming up for one of our restaurants, invite other chefs in from around the area and nation to collaborate with TRP to create an incredible, one-of-a-kind dining experience available regularly throughout the year. We may even host some cooking exhibitions and classes in this space. The idea is to have a restaurant that will help cultivate the culinary community."
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.