No doubt about it, 2015 was a good year for the South Florida food scene. In the past 12 months, we've welcomed a lot of new establishments into the fold.
Many of them came from familiar restaurateurs like Tim Petrillo, who rebranded Fort Lauderdale institution Bimini Boatyard, debuting it with a reinvented menu and concept as Boatyard.
Still more — like the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's Kuro and the Ritz-Carlton's Burlock Coast Seafare & Spirits — pushed the envelope, delivering dining concepts that are both innovative and unique, offering Broward and Palm Beach residents a different experience.
Here is our list of the best new restaurants to hit the Broward and Palm Beach scene in the past year.
10. Izziban Sushi & BBQ
7225 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Lauderhill. Call 954-368-6767, or visit izzibansushi.com
From the outside, Izziban Sushi & BBQ in Lauderhill doesn't look like much — a mysterious, standalone white stucco building with black-tinted windows. Inside, the vibe changes completely thanks to a large dining room with pulsing neon lights, sporting a back-lit mirrored bar, and TVs synced to stream the latest K-pop hits. It's like a sugar-sweetened, Korean-style Hard Rock Cafe with a menu that rivals the Cheesecake Factory in size and selection. In a move toward more casual Korean dining, the spunky Orlando import delivers a blend of buffet-style fare, à la carte, and all-you-can-eat barbecue in one setting. You can start with the restaurant's specialty: galbi, tender slices of short rib kicked up a notch with the owners' strawberry-sweetened, soy-based sauce. And don't pass up the samgyeopsal — thick-sliced, fatty portions of pork belly marinated overnight in fragrant white wine. No matter what route you choose, be sure to order a bowl of spicy tofu soup, a specialty dish made only at the Lauderhill Izziban, available as a $3.99 add-on when you order the all-you-can-eat lunch or dinner. It arrives in a deep metal bowl, a sweet-and-spicy broth still roiling from a violent boil, steam rising from a miso-rich broth dotted with cabbage melted down to translucent wisps and rice noodles that have cooked to pudding-like density. The final touch: a single egg. It's not ready to eat until it begins to cook, translucent edges turning opaque, then white, and the yolk molding into over-easy territory.
9. SuViche Las Olas
401 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-656-3663, or visit suviche.com.
Peruvian food is all the rage in South Florida right now, and in the past few years, a new style of Peruvian cuisine has emerged from the fray. That includes newly opened SuViche in Fort Lauderdale, where co-owners Aliosha and Andrei Stern are leading the charge with their Miami-based restaurant. Rather than create another in-and-out concept, the Miami natives built something that was neither sit-down nor fast-food nor fast-casual but a seamless blend of all three. The menu represents their take on the new wave of Peruvian cuisine, compliments of Lima-based chef and restaurateur Jaime Pesaque. Through mutual friends, Andrei was introduced to Pesaque, who today stands as the group's executive chef. Our favorite concoction: the SuViche ceviche, diced whitefish marinated in lime juice and one of Pesaque's sauces. It's garnished in the usual Peruvian manner with canchita, camote, choclo, and wisps of thinly sliced red onion. But it's the sauce — a viscous puddle of opaque white liquid that remains after you've polished off the last of the fish — that gives this dish its hook, a milky-smooth marinade that's the ultimate leche de tigre, at once tart and sweet. Diners looking for something lighter will find a reprieve with a side that's all about sushi. Even the rolls have their own twist, presented with atypical ingredients and flavor combinations such as sushi paired with a creamy lomo or vibrant cilantro sauce instead of soy or eel sauce. Finish your meal with a shot of house-infused pisco, Peru's fiery grape brandy.
8. Tacocraft Taqueria & Tequila Bar
204 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-463-2003, or visit tacocraft.com.
Last January, Tacocraft Taqueria & Tequila Bar opened its doors where longtime taco spot T-Mex Cantina once stood in downtown Himmarshee Village. Conveniently located next door to sister restaurant Rok:Brgr, the place was intended to breathe new life into the casual Tex-Mex concept and give it a craft gastropub feel, more conducive to the area's downtown strip. Mission accomplished: Today, Tacocraft has become a colorful and thriving addition to the area. The tiny, 1,200-square-foot space has been revamped with a custom mural by Florida graffiti artist Ruben Ubiera and given a new menu of handcrafted tacos and cocktails to match. And what of the tacos? Built on house-made, hand-formed masa tortillas, they're prepared daily and stuffed with prime meats and specialty cheeses. The crispy shredded pork is the most popular, adobe- and chili-rubbed and smothered with imported cow's milk cotija, a thick house crema, vibrant salsa verde, and diced, charred pineapple. But there is more to this menu than pricey craft tacos. "The Munchies" is a list of starters that includes filling and affordable fare. There are plenty of standard Tex-Mex selections, like a chunky, onion- and cilantro-flecked guacamole served in a hefty stone bowl; or the salsa trio, a selection of three salsas including a vibrant verde, a smoky roasted tomato, and a velvety-smooth mango. Or try the Mexican street corn, here smothered in herbaceous cilantro paste, cotija cheese, and smoked paprika. And crispy, bite-sized empanadas come in an authentic Colombian-style shell, packed with braised chicken, Oaxaca cheese, black beans, and roasted corn.
7. Riverside Market South
3218 SE Sixth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-524-8986, or visit facebook.com/riversidemarketsouth.
There are just a few rules at the new Riverside Market South: Seat yourself, get your own beer, and make yourself at home. It's the same philosophy you'll find at the concept's original location, the original Riverside Market deep in Sailboat Bend, which remains one of the area's most-beloved beer bars, a place where you can self-serve craft beer from a wall of glass-front coolers displaying more than 500 bottles. When it opened in 2009, it was one of the few places offering such a selection. Like its sister establishment, the new location continues with the nautical-boatyard-meets-hip-beer-den charm. The large bar offers a wall of 28 drafts but also 300 bottles in coolers. It's a selection that changes from week to week, owner Julian Siegel working with several distributors to take in three deliveries two times each week for both locations. And what of the food? If elaborate menus immobilize you, this is the place to find refuge. Lunch and dinner are served with a few Riverside proper stalwarts, including the return of Siegel's famous smoked fish dip, a traditional menu staple born from his annual Keys fishing trip. Or try the pair of turkey meatball sliders, three-ounce balls flecked with herbs and spices, pan-seared, and braised in a red wine sauce before being fitted between a toasted egg bun and topped with a dollop of pesto, red sauce, and melted mozzarella. No dessert here, of course. But the owners are still betting you're the sort to prefer a Wells Banana Bread beer over the real thing anyway.
6. Brgr Stop
4301 Coconut Creek Parkway, Coconut Creek. Call 954-975-8459, or visit brgrstop.com.
South Florida loves its burger joints, and newly opened Brgr Stop in Coconut Creek wowed devotees with its over-the-top burgers when it opened in October. These days, that's not all chef-owner Michael Buchinski is known for. Almost everything on the Brgr Stop menu is like a challenge straight out of the Food Network's Man vs. Food, and in a world of food trends driven by healthy eating, special meal plans, and dietary restrictions, Brgr Stop goes the opposite direction. You can start your night with buckets of candied bacon or a tower of onion rings. The restaurant's signature craft burgers are loaded with things like macaroni and cheese or a slathering of peanut butter. And milkshakes are made with a combination of cereal-soaked milk and ice cream. Just hearing the outlandish menu items could give you cardiac arrest, but they're worth it. Try the deep-fried peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich, what begins with thick-sliced brioche and continues with potato sticks, molten peanut butter, and house-made jam for a salty, crunchy, gooey combo. Then, before serving, the whole creation is given a cream-soda-tempura batter (is that even a thing?) and deep-fried for several minutes. And yes, it's worth every calorie.