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L.A. Chowhound in withdrawals! Moved to Ft. Lauderdale

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Hi all,

I have recently moved my family from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale and I find myself lost and longing for Chowhound restaurants.

I love inexpensive ethnic and American restaurants (who doesn’t). There is so much water in Florida there must be some good restaurants with a view. Occasionally I want to spend a few more bucks but I prefer finding a deal. It’s easier to spend $100 and get a good meal than $10 and I like a challenge. I will eat almost anything but really love Chinese, Indian, Diner food, Middle Eastern not the biggest fan of seafood or Mexican.

I am also looking for other Chowhound ish things to do. Farmers Markets, U Pick Them farms, picnic places, great hideaways, always in the mood for great ice cream (Kilwins is pretty good) and seeing as how I’m from Great Britain I’m always up for a good cuppa.

So far I have been to Tom Jenkins BBQ (liked that a lot), Jack’s Hamburgers (sorry, but what’s all the fuss about, much prefer an In ‘n’ Out burger), Egg and You (plain food but you’ve gotta love that they been around for 50 years), Gyros Express (terrible name for a full service restaurant but run by a lovely couple who put out very reasonably priced, good Greek food in a plain setting), J. Alexander’s (chain restaurant that has consistently good service and a decent basic menu a la Houston’s), Madras Café (really as good as the best in LA or London), Croissanttime (the worst name ever but a really decent croissant and café au lait) and Kitchenetta (loud, sometimes brash, trendy in a city way with large portions of good Italian food).

I look forward to hearing from other South Florida Chowhounds and sharing a good story or two.

-Clive

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  1. For good, interesting ethnic stuff, a great deal of it is in the suburbs to the west and other working-class corridors, because that's where most of the larger immigrant communities are and it's where the run-down, affordable strip malls are. I'd imagine it's the same dynamic in Southern California. That's why Madras Cafe is where it is on Powerline, f'rinstance.

    SR7/US441 is arguably the central chow corridor. Roughly from Oakland Park Blvd. to McNab (and a bit beyond) along it are some decent HK-style Chinese shops and restaurants (see past entries on Hong Kong City, Silver Pond, Maxim's (Chinese) bakery, the A Dong Sino-Viet market), a few adequate Vietnamese places (particularly Saigon City, the oddly-named Saigon Deli and a branch of Pho Hoa). Roughly contiguous, and continuing a bit further up and down 441 is a stretch of Caribbean restaurants, roti shops, bakeries, grocers, butchers, etc. One I'd suggest elsewhere is Annie's, which I think is on NE 4th Av. just off Sunrise, near the Home Depot. Share an entree -- they're huge -- so you don't miss the cakes, which I wouldn't be surprised to hear come from a home kitchen.

    For more diverse Chinese, South Florida is no Southern California, but Dragon City (on Stirling a little west of 441) and even more so, Peppers (way out at Pines and Palm in Pembroke Pines), have more diverse menus. The latter does respectable stabs at authentic Szechuan and Taiwanese.

    There's some other worthwhile Indian: India Grill on Oakland Park east of Pine Island is good all around if not quite Madras Cafe. They do have some Indian-style Chinese food if you're interested in that sort of thing, and they make a terrific carrot halwa. At the corner of Oakland Park and Pine Island there's Nirala Sweets BBQ, a loose outpost of a Middle Eastern and Pakistani minichain of Indian sweet shops. Very good sweets, all made on the premises by a very hound-ish owner, but an infathomably strange restaurant last time I was there.

    Along University Drive near Sunrise and Commercial respectively are two good South Indian veg restaurants, both branches of places elsewhere in the country: Udipi Cafe was the better of the two and nicer, but Woodlands was plenty fine.

    If you liked Tom Jenkins, a terrific contemporary barbecue place, you need to go to its complement, the 50+ year old Georgia Pig directly across town on 441 just south of Davie Blvd. it's all about the chopped pork sandwich (extraordinary) and a terrific Brunswick stew. Ribs are respectable (but I prefer Tom Jenkins for that). Other sides are nothing amazing. The pies are right out of an early-1960s time capsule. Other worthy barbecue includes Scruby's (in Pembroke Pines and Davie) for ribs and chicken and Texas Hold-'Em on Sunrise near Powerline, a onetime gas-station parking lot barbecue operation gone indoors. Not the best quality meat, but plenty of soul. Good sides and when they have it, the rare worthwhile beef brisket in the area. Keep your eyes peeled for roadside (or parking-lot) barbecue in some historically African-American neighborhoods, especially on weekends. There are some good ones out there.

    I can't say much for Middle Eastern. There's a Saudi(!) place in Plantation, I think, that I've heard lots of good things about. The Tel Aviv Restaurant is bare-bones Israeli kebabs, closed on the sabbath, in the plaza at the SW corner of Pine Island and NW 44th. The shawarma is fantastic, the falafel very good. The market next door is useful for Israeli groceries and bulk spices. Good selection of olives. The 11-screen multiplex in that plaza, incidentally, shows art-house and foreign films on about half the screens. Less than a half-mile to the east in a largely Indian plaza (where there used to be a Bollywood theater, btw) is the Pita Pan Bakery, also Israeli and closed Saturdays, which makes superb pocket pitas that must be refrigerated or frozen if unused within two days of purchase There are other middle eastern grocery stores scattered around the county, especially in the northwest and in Hollywood. I know of Lebanese, Turkish and Syrian one specifically.

    Another good French bakery is Bonjour, in the Quay shopping plaza on the 17th St. Causeway.

    Hope this was a helpful start. I recently left the area, so I won't be too useful for much longer. I'd advise developing an enthusiasm for Latin American cuisines; they're probably the area's greatest strength. You can get some very good Peruvian, Argentine, Salvdaoran, Cuban, Colombian and Brazilian among others, in Broward.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hatless

      WOW. Thanks so much for thaking the time for such a complete answer. This gives me many choices to start with. THANK YOU!!

      1. re: clivesolomon

        As for a place to pick a few berries or a few veggies I have been going to
        Batten's Strawberry Farm for many years. Its off Davie Rd. just south of Griffin Rd. don't forget to grab a shake while you are there all flavored with real fruit they are great on a hot Florida summer day.

        Now if I could only find a really great fish monger and butcher down here I would be happy....

        1. re: quad150db

          Hollywood has some places to consider. Downtown has La Barraca for Spanish tapas and flamenco dancing on weekend nights. Sushi Blues for very good Asian fusion and blues and jazz entertainment. Chocolada on Hollywood Boulevard is a Russian bakery with live music also on weekend nights. Very crowded and a lot of fun. Nearby on Hollywood Blvd. is Dolce Vita for killer Italian gelato. Boulevard also on Hollywood Boulevard downtown has good food with fair prices. Their Bayou Shrimp is outstanding. Hollywood Vine on Harrison Street is a good wine bar with free tastings on Tuesday nights. Coral Rose on Young Circle is good for breakfast and lunch. Hollywood Beach has Las Brisas for Argentine food. Love their country chicken and mixed grill. Get a table overlooking the beach. Next to Las Brisas is Sugar Reef for Caribbean cuisine. Also near is Istanbul for Turkish kabobs. There is a farmers market on the beach at Harrison Street. You will not find California style farmers markets in South Florida. We have looked and there are none. Capones Flicker Light and Le Tub are fixtures on the Intracoastal in Hollywood. Pizza or burgers outside as you watch the boats go by is not bad. Giorgios Bakery is also on the Intracoastal for casual breakfast or lunch. Have not tried them for dinner.

          A little further there are numerous Russian places in Sunny Isles Beach. We like Lulas at about 180th and Collins. Bissaleh Cafe at 174th and Collins has very interesting Yemenite (Kosher) food. Only dairy dishes and salads. Their Israeli appetizer platter is wonderful and is served with a fluffy bread called lafa. On 163rd Street next to Outback is El Gran Inka for outstanding Peruvian food. IMHO the best ceviche in Miami. We usually only order appetizers so we can try different dishes. If you want New York bagels, Sage on Hallandale Beach Blvd. is the best.

          Hope this helps. Enjoy.

          1. re: quad150db

            Unforunately Batten's "Strawberry" Farm no longer grows strawberries. Go figure!

        2. re: hatless

          I live right by Peppers. I have to say although the hot pots are good, the only "Taiwanese food" they serve that resembles the real thing is the names on the menu. The dishes themselves carry a less than 5% resemblance to the authentic ones they serve in Taiwan.

        3. Here are 5 recommendations in the same area as some of the one's you've experienced.

          Try Tipico in the Gateway center for Mexican; Suhko Thai for Thai, Canyon for sit down Southwestern (pricier), and Monster Sub for carry out subs.

          A little further south, since you like diners you have to try Lesters on State Route 84.

          1 Reply
          1. re: PCC

            After reading about Tipico a while back, I ate there with a friend and did NOT have a good meal there...so i truly think you should skip Tipico ...it's not "typical" of the wonderful places in South Florida.
            Think for Thai -- you'd prefer Thai Spice (on Commercial) or the newish Bangkok Palace on 441 south of commerical; Indian -- madras cafe still the hands down best; Concur with Chinese -- Silver Palm quite authentic (always wish I knew Chinese cause always feel like missing out on the specials) and has different items from which to choose including the fresh fish from the aquariums; In the past have enjoyed La Turca for Turkish in Hollywood (hope it's still there);
            Just had pretty good Greek at My Big Fat Greek on Griffin Road on
            Hollywood/Ft Lauderdale "border". Reasonable prices and good service. Liked their taramosalata, fried smelts, greek horatiki salad, and their rice pudding among other things. The menu is wide, good music, and dancing and tasty food. Think Taverna Opa in Hollywood is too loud and overpriced -- go only for the hanging out/dancing on the tables not for the food.
            Have tried all the local Vietnamese places -- and they're not bad depending on what you order, but if you're up the road around Lake Worth, do try the vietnamese menu at the Saigon Tokyo place on Jog Road north of 10th. Crispy grilled pork with noodles, stir fries, fish in a caramel sauce cooked in a clay pot, all the familiars, along with numerous phos -- huge portions, fresh veggies, and soooo very cheap! Also tried the Russian restaurant in Sunny Isles -- Lula's Kabob -- around 182nd street (this is not the "grill" in the same strip) -- lots of russians in large groups after about 8 pm drinking chilled bottles of vodka. If you can get an english speaking waitress or feel comfortable pointing to the menu, can recommend their steamed dumplings stuffed with lamb and onions (kind of like dimsum) -- use the white vinegar provided for a whole different taste; their fried phyllo dough stuffed with beef or the one with lamb (even better) sprinkled with fresh dill weed; their herring -- a small whole fish marinated and served cold with thinly sliced red onions and hot dilled potatoes; their lamb stew; and most especially try their whole cornish hen split in half and flattened and cooked with garlic and paprika -- yummy! If you go early you will get a table...

          2. skip Hollywood Beach's Taverna Opa and Giorgio's Restaurant. Food quality and service have gone down so badly, it's not worth losing your money and complaining. Giorgio's Bakery is run by another Mgr entirely, and the food is quite decent.

            1. fish monger.... Penn Dutch Food Market in Hollywood. Go see Robert for the freshest fish in town. go early when he's cutting up the fish!

              1. Sounds like you're in my neck of the woods...
                -Umbertos of Long Island on Commercial Blvd has great pizza.
                -Our favourite diner for breakfast is Duffy's Diner on Cypress Creek Rd (don't bother with their lunch menu, but the breakfast is very good.)
                -If you hike further north, Antony's Coal-fired pizza is good (pizza and wings, don't bother with anything else)
                -Ferdos on Federal Highway has pretty good Middle Eastern/Mediteranean food.

                1. If you are up for some travel -- head down to Hy Vong on SW 8th St. in Miami -- hole in the wall, but some of the best Vietnamese food (or best food period.) you will ever have. And as a bonus versailles is down the block - so you take smoe cuban to go.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: green chower

                    Relocated NYC foodie here. Just some train of thought, i'll probably add to the list.

                    Greek Islands Taverna (not Taverna OPA!!) is the best Greek i've had in SoFl.
                    http://www.greekislandstaverna.com/

                    Anthony's is very good NY style pizza (well done and thin). They have a few locations east and west now. Worth trying.

                    Thai Spice is excellent too. Try the crispy calamari.

                    Finally a favorite of my wife and I:
                    By Word of Mouth in Oakland. A wonderfully cozy and charming restaurant where you pick your food selection standing in front of a case and sit right outside the kitchen. I can't recommend this place enough. It is small and get there early because they do run out of items.

                    Season's 52 in the Galleria Mall is good too. They focus on low fat cooking, but it is consistently good and fresh. (more of my wife's favorite than mine

                    )

                    There is a nice little Indian place right off 441 and Griffin, but i can't remember its name. It had India in it though ;)

                    1. re: Jagg

                      It has "Royal" in the name also, just before the "India" :) It's a great option if Madras Cafe is out of range.

                      East of Royal India is UMI Sushi Lounge, a small hipster-hideaway type place that has the slickest atmosphere a storefront on Griffin Road can muster. Reasonably good sushi, and the lunch menu is a great bargain.

                      Continue east a few blocks to The Field for Irish specialties that are at least as authentic as the wait staff's accents. Great Irish stew and fish & chips.