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Mar 6, 2009 09:26 AM

Tall order: 1st time ever in USA, what do I HAVE to taste?


I realize this is a huge question, but I am coming over for the 1st time ever in November. We are staying at Lake Worth and hiring a car. So -

*What are the foods I HAVE to taste while in Florida??*

We love our food (obviously!).

I dream of tasting lobster and stone crab for the 1st time, also hopefully lots of other seafood.

I like burgers, french fries and fast food in general (should I hang my head in shame now?). Beef if well done. I love pork when it is extremely tender, maybe with crispy bits. So, ribs will be one thing to try?

Also, I like chicken and wings with spicy sauce.

I like spicy foods, Indian and tex-mex (well, what do I know, I´ve only tried it here in Finland!) and anything barbecued.

And, ha! As I am a woman I luurve chocolate and biscuits, candy & pastries.

So, here´s a challenge - I have two weeks, an once-in-a-lifetime trip, and really really want to enjoy my food.

Which dishes to try?

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  1. Dear Annesurfs,

    Welcome to the United States! You are going to be on the East Coast of Florida and I am a West Coast guy, so I will leave most of the recommendations to my fellow Chowhounders from the East Coast. However, for stone crabs, you must try Joe's Stone Crab, 11 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach 33139. Telephone: 1-(305)-673-0365. Note that you only have to dial the 673-0365 if you are in the Miami area when you call.

    These crabs are outstanding, although messy to eat and, despite being precracked, require some work to eat. However, I think that overall, you will be very pleased. Note that this is a landmark place, so reservations are adviseable.

    8 Replies
    1. re: gfr1111

      Joes does not take reservations

      OP: you need to say where you are going to be in florida. I hope you have a nice trip here.

        1. re: Icantread

          I guess we should switch monickers :)

        2. re: tpigeon

          You see? That's what happens when a West Coast guy tries to advise you. Sorry, Annesurfs, but it's still a good place to go, even if they don't take reservations!

        3. re: gfr1111

          Joes is great but expect huge wait unless you go for lunch or early dinner. Also, you do have to dial the area code 305 when in Miami.

          1. re: gfr1111

            sorry, coming in late on this thread...I noticed the Joe's reccomendation, and I heartily endorse it. However should you not be able to get down to south beach, there is a place in Boca called "Monte's" who also serves a really good stone crap. They're also a little less dear in the $$$ department. I don't know where you are coming from, but if Sushi is not popular where you are from, there are many great Sushi places. Also.. Cuban food is a MUST! At least a Cubano sandwitch and a cup of cuban coffee. Have a great time in our country. eat, see, enjoy and have fun!!

            1. re: RichieT

              If you are talking about the Monte's Stone Crab that was on Executive Drive, they closed several years ago. It is now Season's 52.

              1. re: Alfred G

                OOPS! Sorry about the old information but Monte's was great anytime I went there, and it sure did not seem like several years!!.....there must be other places within an easy distance to where they're going to be, in case they're unable to get down to south beach...

          2. You need key lime pie...and lots of it! You might enjoy some conch chowder (kinda spicy), fried conch or conch fritters (you should be able to find them in Florida). If you like both burgers and seafood, you'd probably love a fried grouper sandwich. Stone crab for sure...but only if it hasn't been frozen. Barbecued baby back ribs (preferably with a side of onion rings). Be sure to dig into a big American breakfast...maybe some eggs benedict and homefries...washed down with a mimosa, of course!

            1. from Lake Worth go to Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach (about 15 mins south) and for wings try Bru's room just off the Avenue.

              Cuban food can be great, Key Lime pie is good, don't forget Jewish delis - plenty of them in south Fl for huge portions and sandwiches.

              have fun, - don't bother with Indian in this area, it's awful here.

              16 Replies
              1. re: smartie

                Thank you guys!!

                Yes, we´ll be staying at Lake Worth, but will be happy to drive ~1 - 2 hours for a great meal. Easily.

                So, my list so far:

                1. Joe´s for stone crabs
                2. Barbecued ribs
                3. Key lime pie
                4. Wings
                5. Conch, as chowder and / or fried
                6. Fried grouper burger
                7. American in a traditional diner??

                Is grouper a fish or, as I think from the message, some kind of seafood?

                I do not need Indian food while over there, I just told you that to give some idea of what kind of food I like. Eh..spicy, crunchy, greasy... sounds bad doesn´t it...Well I DO cook a lot of spicy vegetarian also, and I do enjoy fresh fruit hugely! I´d also love to buy lots of different flavoursome tomatoes and eat them just like that.

                BTW one dream is to visit a citrus grove and eat a sun-warmed orange or such...I have already saved some addresses.

                Also, I need to taste some fresh pecan-chocolate pie or such.

                An off-topic question, I understand you always tip at least 15 % in restaurants. But, I have read you do not have to tip at a takeaway like Joe´s takeaway, is this true? (Even though I read they have some tables there, too?) The whole tipping thing is new to me, but I am of course most willing to do the right thing!

                What would Jewish delis offer, sounds interesting?

                I have only ever tasted fresh oysters, prawn (or shrimp?) and crayfish, which I love. So, I expect I´ll love stone crab, too, right?

                I´d love to have at least 10 foods on my "must" list, even more, if you come up with more "musts"!

                THANK YOU I really appreciate your advice!!



                1. re: annesurfs

                  Grouper is a fish. Make sure you get REAL grouper, as this is the most faked fish in Florida.

                  Pecan pie? That's more of a Georgia thing. You see, even though we're further south, you need to go north from here to get to "The South." Stick with seafood and citrus.

                  Seafood around here means crab claws (in season right now), scallops, and shrimp. Lobster and crab legs are not from around here; they're northern waters.

                  Citrus is falling off the trees in neighborhoods all around you. Drive down an ally, and pick an overhanging tree. Nothing tastes or smells like fresh off the tree. BTW, the supermarkets still sell California oranges, so you can pass on those if you want fresh. Florida oranges, the juice oranges, are a little past prime right now. Valencias and navels aren't quite ripe yet, but they're OK.

                  If you can find starfruit, kumquat, or loquat (Japanese Plum) tree, you're in for a treat. They're easy to find, if you're know what they look like.

                  Where in Florida are you going?

                  1. re: streetman

                    I will stay in Lake Worth, will visit Sansibel island, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, etc!

                    That was a good tip re- crab claws vs crab legs!

                    I thought Florida or spiny lobster would be local?

           chance of "soul food" in Florida, eithe

                    You really think I can just pick an orange / citrus like that, they are everywhere? WOW! :o0?

                    1. re: annesurfs

                      Doc Fords in sanibel was the best place we ate there last year oct.....and we tried about 6 other places
                      too bad Nov. is too early for plant city strawberrys
                      Pine Island close to Sanibel has wonderful tropical mangos but nov might be too late
                      Sanibel is wonderful....enjoy

                      1. re: o.lynne

                        Another vote for Doc Fords, both the restaurant & books by Randy Wayne White!

                      2. re: annesurfs

                        Sanibel is great for a visit with some cute restaurants. However I was not really wowed by any of the restaurants there. That being said, if you are going there you of course will need to eat. Gramma Dots has some good, fresh seafood that is simply prepared and is one of the few places that has a water view - albeit docks, but water nonetheless!

                        1. re: annesurfs

                          When I think of South Florida, I think of a cross-section of Latin America - Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Central America, South America, plus Haiti - unlike anything else in the United States. I always look forward to visiting Miami because I can experience another world without the expense or hassle of international travel!

                          However, if you want to try "soul food", you should be able to find it in the Miami area. It just won't be as prevalent as it is in the Southeastern US (Jacksonville, FL to Washington, DC and west to the Mississippi River). You may need to venture into African-American neighborhoods that can be dangerous - go at lunchtime when the troublemakers are still sleeping off the night before and keep your wits about you like in Naples (Italy, not Florida!) or the outer districts of Paris. But it's worth the effort to eat real Southern American fried chicken, pork ribs, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, corn bread...

                          I live about 1500 KM north of Miami, so I don't have any specific recommendations, but maybe someone local can help with that!

                          Good luck!

                        2. re: streetman

                          Other Florida seafood- Apalachicola bay oysters, warmer water fish like red snapper, mahi-mahi (aka dolphinfish), pompano, cobia, amberjack.

                          Alligator occasionally shows up on some menus as a novelty. Can't say I'm overfond of it because so very few cooks get it right, but if you see it, might as well try it once.

                        3. re: annesurfs

                          Re: Jewish Deli...Pastrami on Rye Bread Sandwich, potato pancakes, chopped chicken liver, sour pickle & rugalah for desert. He's going to Miami, so someone down there must know a good Jewish Deli to send him to, right?

                          1. re: cavandre

                            "She"..Annesurfs = Anne = "she" ;O)

                            Thwe Jewish deli food sounds like something from a movie to me, yes SURE I´ll have to try it!


                            8. Anything and everything from a Jewish deli!



                            1. re: annesurfs

                              there are Jewish Delis all the way from Boynton Beach south to Delray, Boca, Ft Lauderdale and Miami. In Delray there is Poppies, 3G's, Boynton and Boca have Flakeowitz, also Boca has Toojays.

                              1. re: smartie

                                Thanks Smartie! I have saved your tips.

                                1. re: smartie

                                  Let's not forget Ben's Deli in Boca Raton. Very, very good.

                                  Ben's Kosher Delicatessen
                                  9942 Clint Moore Rd, Boca Raton, FL 33496

                            2. re: annesurfs

                              "I have only ever tasted fresh oysters, prawn (or shrimp?) and crayfish, which I love. So, I expect I´ll love stone crab, too, right?"

                              Not necessairly, to some people they are completely tasteless. The only way to find out is to try them yourself. You get them with mustard. Far superior than butter.

                              If you end up at Joes, you should try the key lime there too. As far as crab claw size goes, get the selects.

                              1. re: tpigeon

                                Hi anne, I have lived in Lake Worth for 25 years. Welcome. Our downtown is wonderful. Many fine restaurants. But may I suggest if you are looking for something that you may not have tried, go about 3 miles south to , Try the raw oysters and the softshell crab sandwich. This is not a fancy place. I go for the great food. Shorts and t-shirt will suffice. Looks like you got here in time for a beautiful week of great weather, have fun.

                                1. re: HotMelly


                                  I am not a fine dining kind of person at all, somehow I always feel as if I am not fine enough myself...

                                  And, yes, the food matter the most, not the white linens (which I always fear I´ll spill on) or the multiple silverware.

                                  Also, I´m not rich, so need to find inexpensive places to eat, mostly...but I will certainly have to splurge a couple of times and try e.g. Joe´s crabs, as it may be the only chance ever for me!

                          2. Not sure about Florida, but it's crawfish season in Louisiana. Fresh boiled are going for $2.99 a pound. Some places now offering an all-you-can-eat dinner with boiled corn and potatoes for $12.99.

                            1. All these suggestions sound great, but it seems many have missed the fact that the original poster is arriving in November. That would make a huge difference, from now, for local produce, some seafood, local festivals, and the weather! Many ideas will still work then, of course, but would hate to get her hopes up with out-of-season opportunities.