Put down the beef; pick up the veggie.
We've been hearing about the dangers of the Western diet for quite a long time. Heart disease, stroke, obesity: All can stem from gorging on burgers, fries, and ice cream. And although we know we ought to eat mostly plant matter, we've all had that veggie burger that is strangely reminiscent of cardboard.
Fortunately for South Floridians, the food scene has been changing rapidly over the past couple of years, with a surge in health-centered restaurants. A lot of new joints are using fruits and vegetables in creative ways, and even meatcentric restaurants are offering lighter options and creative veggie dishes. The salubrious fare sprouting up at these wellness hot spots won't benefit just your waistline; it will excite your taste buds as well. From vegan to gluten-free to just plain wholesome food, some nourishing grub can be found at our favorite nutritionally sound eateries. Get a bite.
1901 N. Military Trail, Boca Raton. Call 561-417-5836, or visit farmerstableboca.com.
Hotelier Mitchell Robbins and chef Joey Giannuzzi teamed up to open this healthy and ethically conscious upscale Boca Raton eatery in November. The sophisticated, rustic-inspired dining room and bar gives way to a menu of fresh whole foods devoid of excess salt, fats, antibiotics, and hormones. Seafood and meats are sustainable, and local produce is sourced as much as possible; the "dirty dozen" fruit and vegetables are always organic. While those buzzwords -- "sustainable," "local," "organic" -- sound expensive, the proprietors are cost-conscious. "The food makes us different," says Robbins. "A lot of organic restaurants come at a high price tag; here, Joey developed a restaurant with reasonable price points. We wanted people to feel that the Farmer's Table could be their healthy choice for eating out." With a bar program offering locally sourced, cold-pressed juice cocktails and a lively atmosphere, it's a sure bet for a fun -- and nutritionally sound -- night on the town.
1431 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-615-1431, or visit sublimerestaurant.com.
When some people think "vegan," they conjure images of dirty hippies with dreadlocks eating granola in a park. Sublime counters that notion with elegance and class. Long hailed as the grandmother of the South Florida vegan scene, Sublime serves animal-free fare in an upscale environment. Owned by Nanci Alexander, founder of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, this place gives plant eaters a refined option for a night out. "I wanted meat eaters to be able to dine on vegan cuisine and feel like it was sublime," says Alexander. "They have to get their foot in the door to give up eating animals; we're seeing that grow." The wide selection of cocktails and wines from around the world is sure to pair well with any meatless dish on the menu.
1040 Bayview Drive, Suite 100, Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-338-5651, or visit myapapaya.com.
Having quietly opened in November 2012, this mom-and-pop counter-order shop is owned and operated by Adam, Michelle, and namesake toddler Mya Kanner. Adam, a former private chef, envisioned creating a community of health-conscious eaters. With the first cold-pressed juicery in Broward County, it seems he's accomplished his goals -- those juices have become quite the trend. The brightly colored (and tasty) liquids aren't the only reason to go; the food will appease a range of diets, from vegan to gluten-free to dairy-free to ethical. We can all thank baby Mya for the delectable wholesome fare -- the Kanners wanted her to be around a lifestyle based on real foods made from scratch. "I don't really consider us healthy," says Adam. "We do good whole foods with no butter; we follow more of a Mediterranean diet with olive oils and such. We focus on organic and all-natural the best we can." Kanner sources free-range meats and sustainable fresh fish as well as organic produce whenever possible.
1075 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-533-7507, or visit greenbarkitchen.com.
One year old now, this vegan and gluten-free hot spot has been steadily garnering a wide fan base, from yoga instructors donning matching Lululemon outfits to carnivorous men in polos and khakis. Chalk it up to the transformative power of wholesome food that tastes good to bring people together. Co-owner Elena Pezzo, who operates the restaurant with her life partner, chef Charles Grippo, has had firsthand experience with the healing ability of superfoods. When her older brother Anthony was left speechless and unable to move after a stroke, she nursed him back to health by intravenously feeding him omega-3 fish oil, green juices, and other supplements. "Let food be thy medicine," says Pezzo. "If I left it up to the doctors and hospital, they didn't care if he was alive. Doctors wanted to keep giving prescriptions. It's so important to know what you're putting into your body and make sure it's as organic as possible. Let it heal you." Now Pezzo and Grippo are tending for Fort Lauderdale residents with their nutritious and delicious menu.
1637 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-763-3344, or visit freshfirst.com.
Gluten is in loads of foods, from soy sauce to soup to cheese. For anyone aiming to stay away from the allergenic substance, going out to eat can be a nightmare -- but not if you come here. Together, mother/daughter partners Mary and Francesca Siragusa have created a full-service casual restaurant that is 100 percent gluten-, corn-, and peanut-free. It's a safe haven for anyone with dietary issues, as the team offers a wide range of options: vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, dairy-free, raw. While Mary oversees the kitchen, Francesca creates the baked goods, such as pumpkin spice cupcakes with bourbon cream cheese frosting and vegan cookies -- she's been referred to as a "Genius gluten-free baker" by the Sun Sentinel. The pair pride themselves on being able to help those who suffer from dietary restrictions. "We're about healthy food and a healthy attitude," says Mary. "It's a whole balance of things together. For us, this doesn't feel like work."
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.