Forget the big-name restaurants making headlines these days. Some of the area's tastiest fare hails not from these shiny new restaurants but instead from the random, tiny, divey spots you'll find scattered across Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
Many are family-owned businesses that locals have grown up with. Others are rather new but still offer the distinctive hallmarks of the definitive hole-in-the-wall with plenty of affordable homestyle fare served within a small, unpretentious space.
No matter what your preference, here are a few of our favorite cheap eats from places that serve what South Florida does best: seafood.
7. Conch Krawl
2600 S. University Dr., Miramar; 754-703-5981.
This four-month-old seafood dive is serving some of the best conch salad around. The snug seafood joint has a charming, homey island atmosphere. The owners serve a number of Caribbean-style fish dishes with plenty of conch options that range from crack conch (calamari-style fried pieces of conch meat) to ceviche-style conch salad, conch fritters, and conch burgers. Nassau's famous takeout-ready Chicken in da Bag is a favorite here too: fried chicken legs and thigh meat tossed together with ketchup-covered fries, served in a snack-sized bag.
6. Buster's Doughboy's and Clam Cakes
4305 N. Pine Island Rd., Sunrise; 954-765-6665; bustersdoughboys.com.
As the name suggests, the specialty here is the doughboys, tiny balls of fried dough that are made from scratch and fried to perfection before being rolled in granulated, powdered, or cinnamon sugar. When it comes to seafood, however, this hole-in-the-wall is all about rare New England treats, specifically clam cakes (fritter-sized balls of clam-riddled dough made in-house and cooked to order) and stuffies (baked and stuffed hard-shell clams known as quahog). You can also find fish tacos and cod sliders; traditional fish and chips; Manhattan-, New England-, and Rhode Island-style chowders; lobster and clam rolls; and fried oysters, shrimp, or scallops.
5. The Twisted Fish
511 NE Fourth St., Boynton Beach; 561-806-5441; twistedfishevents.com.
A live music tiki-bar spot in Boynton Beach that opened off NE Fourth Street previously known as the Backyard is now a seafood eatery and bar known as the Twisted Fish. Timothy Collins, founder and owner of the Fish Depot seafood market just a few miles north on Federal Highway, purchased the place with his son, their first professional partnership together outside the Depot. Thanks to the nearby seafood market, the Twisted Fish serves some of the freshest seafood around, from the "famous" Twisted Fish dip, crab cakes, and conch salad to the signature specials like rum caramel scallops, whole fried yellowtail snapper, and tea-glazed Scottish salmon. Insider tip: If you're looking for a good fish taco, the blackened/fried/grilled fish tacos feature the freshest catch of the day topped with a perfect combination of Thai chili slaw, balsamic pico de gallo, and sliced avocado.