Monday, December 7, 2015

Eating BIG in South Florida Pt. 2

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- Caribbean, South American, and Fresh Seafood in the Sunshine State

Was back down in the Sunshine State this past Thanksgiving. Check out my previous trip HERE. Same base as before and basically the same itinerary as far as exploring. I can only sit around doing nothing at the pool for so long, so we were down in Miami a couple nights and also did the Keys. Some people will tell you there's lots of hot garbage when it comes to the food in Florida but those are the same people who seek out Gibsons and Pizzeria Uno when in Chicago. I agree that most of the nicer higher end restaurants are very vanilla and don't get me started on the cocktails I could've mixed back in grade school, but the strip mall eats are strong. Because of the weather and what not Florida attracts people from all over the globe so there's lots of different options as far as food but it's the Caribbean and South American eats you really want to seek out. Those and the places slanging fresh seafood bought off the boat that morning. Lets roll.

 Sunny South Florida
________________________________________________________________________________

Kersmon Caribbean Restaurant

Greenacres, FL

Aside from Cuban food, Jamaican is probably the most common Island cuisine down here. I didn't get a chance to snap any pics of what might've been the best thing I ate while leaving a club in Miami in the wee hours of the morning. There was a guy on the sidewalk pushing real deal jerk chicken grilled over pimento branches. Amazing. Then there was this place up in Greenacres. Perfect scores on Yelp with lots of praise heaped upon the food and the ladies who make it. I agree with all of it. Extra tender oxtail in a deep brown sauce with some of the best rice and peas I can remember. The type of place I could be a regular at.

Oxtail With Beans
________________________________________________________________________________

Aunty Sue's Roti To Go

Margate, FL

I had intents of uncovering a few Trinidadian spots but two of them were closed for the week due to the Holiday. Luckily for me this place was in the next strip mall over from one of them. Lots of Caribbean-Indian eats in this suburb here. My goal was to finally try a Bake and Shark sandwich which along with Roti and Doubles are the staples of Trinidadian food. Doubles being little sandwiches with fried flat bread filled with channa (curried chickpeas). Usually spots ask if you want "Peppa" which means hot sauce, which usually means straight fire and not for the weak. Love me a double or two and this was a really good one but man that peppa sauce was hell.

A Trinidadian Double

Bake and Shark sandwiches are hugely popular all over the island but they're especially associated with Maracas Beach. Kind of in the same way jerk chicken is always linked to Boston Beach in Jamaica. The "bake" part of it is fried flatbread which makes as the bread while the shark part is just that. After waiting maybe 40 minutes I was too hungry to ask questions and forgot to inquire about what type of fish they were using. Bake and Sharks are typically dressed with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, peppa sauce and other condiments such as ketchup and garlic sauce. I asked for mine with whatever is typical and got this big ass sandwich I could barely finish. I have no other Bake and Sharks to compare it to since the other spots were closed but it was enjoyed.

Bake and Shark Sandwich
________________________________________________________________________________

Hammond's Bakery

Lauderhill, FL

Here's a mostly Jamaican town down the road from Ft. Lauderdale. I know some people from here and they were home for the holidays and took me to their favorite snack spot. It was about 5p when we arrived so there was a line out the door from the after work crowd though it moved surprisingly fast for a Caribbean joint. They had the days Daily Gleaner up on the wall for those wanting to get the current events back home while waiting in line.

a peek inside

Pretty typical Jamaican bakery, might as well have been in Jamaica. The patties here come with a much more flaky crust than most others I've tried, which are all flaky but these were so much so Head and Shoulders needed to be called in. Excellent quick snack option for those that live near.

Jamaican Beef Patty
________________________________________________________________________________

Havana

West Palm Beach, FL

Here's your stop for food at all hours as they're open all day and night. They have a walk up window for the after hours crowd which I took full advantage of after a holiday party at a local watering hole. Much like Italian Beef theres more bad Cuban sandwiches than there are good ones and this one fell somewhere in between. It seems like most everyone that makes them forgot that there's a balance you need to follow. Too much of one thing takes the flavor profile away from where you want it to be. This sandwich had way too much ham and the mustard was poured on with no regard. That said I'm a Cuban Sandwich elitist so I'm way more pickier than most because this was still a damn good sandwich considering what the other options to eat around town at this hour were.

Cuban Sandwich
________________________________________________________________________________

Juana La Cubana

Fort Lauderdale, FL

I'd heard about some top of the chain vaca frita aka fried beef being served here and made a mental note. I rode over for lunch one day and assumed google maps steered me in the wrong direction when it said I was close and all I could see was a lake with homes around it. Then I spotted a sign and sure enough there was a restaurant. I wasn't sure about the vaca frita when I saw the guy take a piece of cooked steak out the fridge but it was all smooth sails from there. They cook the beef and then slice it until it's barely intact. It then goes on the flattop and gets bathed in mojo and other oils before some onions get the same treatment. End Result is a flavor profile similar to corned beef hash which I love so I adored their take on this classic Cuban dish. I'll be back for it next time I'm in town.

Vaca Frita
________________________________________________________________________________

Eats Good 33

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Another gemmer in Ft. Lauderdale, also in an obscure area, this time surrounded by warehouse businesses. We don't have many Venezuelan options in Chicago but I sure wish we do. Well I wish we had more arepa shops anyway. I highly recommend Eats Good 33 for breakfast as their arepas were outstanding. This one has bacon, egg, white cheese, and black beans and if the option to eat it was near me I'd have breakfast more often. I got great service from the family that owns the place and just loved their offerings on the popular Venezuelan snack.

Arepa with Bacon, Egg, Cheese, and Black Beans
________________________________________________________________________________

Los Bobos Cafeteria

Doral, FL

The suburb of Doral sits right next to Miami and it's a hub for Latin American eats particularly Venezuelan. Though I'd heard good things about this Cuban cafe and stopped on the way to the Keys. Their Cuban sandwich was ranked in Miami's Top 10 by the Miami New Times and it's picture spoke to me. Said to have some extra flavorful roast pork in their Cuban I ate one for breakfast but couldn't really tell. There was way more ham so that's what I tasted. As always the bread was the best part of it. A suitable snack but nothing to make me think the options here are better than those in Tampa.

Cuban Sandwich
________________________________________________________________________________

Pepitolandia

Doral, FL

Post-booze food in Doral. I couldn't believe how many families were eating here around Midnight. Popular spot in a strip mall with a few other Venezuelan businesses including a place that specialized in Tequenos which is a Venezuelan style cheese stick. Here they practice the Pepito sandwich which is basically those crazy South American hot dogs with infinite toppings in steak sandwich form. I asked the beauty working the register which one was her favorite and ordered it. I believe it was called the bistro and I believe I needed about 7-8 more mojitos on top of the 7-8 I drank to enjoy this. It had as much cheese as a slice of deep dish along with infinite amounts of mayo based sauce and potato chips and everything else on it I couldn't taste including the beef somewhere in there.

Pepito Sandwich
________________________________________________________________________________

Finka Table & Tap

Miami, FL

Here we have what's supposed to be one of Miami's hottest restaurants according to the people over at Eater. It's away from the hustle and bustle of South Beach so I thought it would be a good spot to hit up post Keys on our way back to Boynton Beach. Surprisingly the cocktails were pretty good here. The drinks I ordered were well balanced and boozy which is what I want. The food is a mixture of Cuban, Korean, Peruvian and it was good. Nothing to get too excited over though the fried rice did have righteous wok flavor. I'm pretty much done with the trendy dining scene in Miami. Next time in I'll further explore the strip malls of Dade County.

Cuban Fried Rice
________________________________________________________________________________

Hullabaloo

Popular Italian Spot in West Palm Beach: Roasted Pork Sandwich with broccoli rabe and pickled onions (pictured) was very good and the zucchini chips they came with were stellar. A mushroom gnocchi dish was also on point but the cocktails were awful.
________________________________________________________________________________

Mai-Kai

Fort Lauderdale

Had to stop in to the world famous Mai Kai which was named the best tiki bar in the world by members of Critiki. Florida isnt all that old so they don't have establishments going back a century and what not but Mai Kai is a glimpse into 50 years ago. It opened to the public in 1956 and much of it remains the same, though it has to have grown. The place is huge and they still do dinner shows and all that other hoopla but the best time to go is probably Happy Hour when the drinks are half off from their normal prices which float around $15. We sat at the bar and enjoyed a few boozy albeit fruity drinks. This isn't Lost Lake (Chicago), Smugglers Cove (San Fransisco) or even Foundation Tiki (Milwaukee) but the drinks were better than say Hala Kahiki which I know isn't saying much.

a peek inside
________________________________________________________________________________

Fish Shack

Pompano Beach, FL

First time here but it wont be my last. Another hidden spot away from the water but well known with locals and those willing to do a little research. The space is very small with 5 tables and maybe 8 seats at the bar. No wait on this visit but I'm sure they get pretty busy. Fish Shack is a classic Florida style fish shack which is a no frills bar in a beach community with a mainly local seafood menu, cold beer, and wings. The original Hooters up in Clearwater was one before becoming a behemoth.

Buffalo Tiger Shrimp

Tempted by their wings, which smelled great, we opted for an order of Buffalo shrimp which is a guilty pleasure of mine at Hooters. These were made with fresh local tiger shrimp and a classic style buffalo sauce that hit the spot with what I was looking for. As soon as I saw Hogfish on the specials board I knew what else I wanted as it's one of my favorite tastes of fish. Two thumbs up for lunch.

Blackened Hogfish Sandwich
________________________________________________________________________________

Tark's of Dania Beach

Dania Beach, FL

Another popular small Florida style seafood shack. I didn't like this place as much as the one up above. The Conch salad was listed as a specialty and it was good when the pieces were tender but when they were chewy not so much.

Conch Salad

Wings and Clams are the other often ordered menu items with the flouring station right there in the open. We watched as the guy breaded each belly up and then fried them to a light golden hue. They were tasty but not on the level of the ones we had in Maine and Massachusetts this past summer.

Fried Clam Bellies
________________________________________________________________________________

Captain Charlie's Reef Grill

Juno Beach, FL

Last night in town we rode up A1A and got dinner at this crowd-pleasing seafood stop. We got a seat at the bar after about a 20 minute wait a few doors down at A Few Doors Down. If you like to be in on the action the bar is a good place to sit as the open air kitchen extends around it. The menu is ever changing but the staples fished out of local waters are almost always available and served in a few different ways. Lots of people make an entire meal out of the small plates which isnt a bad way to go. We were in good hands with Rusty the owner and also a regular who's name I forget but so I was told eats there a few times a week. Everything pictured below was $92 along with a beer and a wine. Pretty fair pricing for these parts I thought, we ate more than most need to.

Tempura Fried Grouper Cheeks - Some of the best fried fish I've ate of it. Loved the pile of acidic cole slaw laying underneath the cheeks.

Crab Cakes - Basically all meat. We had to get an order of these after seeing another go under the broiler. Just what we wanted.

Blackened Yellowtail Snapper - This was her choice and it was a good one. I thought the fish was as good as any piece we had this trip.

Grilled Wahoo - A tad bit undercooked but I didn't really care as I wasn't going to wait for another plate and what it was wasn't going to kill me. Black beans and Rice are a nice side to go with the fresh fish options.

Peppered Tuna - This was our dessert as recommended by Rusty. Cooked rare as requested it's got both vinegar and blueberries amongst other stuff and I never would've thought to order it but man was it good. I'm glad it was rec'd.
________________________________________________________________________________

Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Grill

Key Largo, FL

The plan was to make a triumphant return visit to Knaus Berry Farm in Homestead for a box of their cinnamon buns which remain the greatest baked treat I have ever had. I've seen some absurdly long lines at places like Franklin's Barbecue in Austin and The Clam Box in Ipswich but what I saw at Knaus was insane. At least 300 people in line. We drove by and headed to the Keys. Though I found myself wondering about all the Mexican taco stands alongside the road, usually paired with a fresh juicery as this is citrus and berry country. Something for my next trip in. This trip consisted of a pitstop at Key Largo Fisheries where they have a grill in the back on the water. We hadn't had any grouper yet so a sandwich of it was in order. It hit the spot like they all do down here.

Blackened Grouper Sandwich

Of course last but not least is some Florida stone crab as it is the season. I think they were going for $24/lb for the mediums on this day. All sizes taste the same its just a matter of how much work you want to do in getting the sweet luscious meat out of the shell. I ate two pounds there and bought another two on the way back as it was a bit cheaper than the spots in Key West. Speaking of which I almost exclusively did repeat food visits while there. That's it for this trip.

Florida Stone Crab
________________________________________________________________________________

Kersmon Caribbean Restaurant
4622 Jog Rd
Greenacres, FL 33463
(561) 968-5656

Aunty Sue's Roti To Go
2718 N State Rd 7
Margate, FL 33063
(954) 532-4958

Hammond's Bakery
4224 NW 12th St
Lauderhill, FL 33313
(954) 583-3554

Havana
6801 S Dixie Hwy
West Palm Beach, FL 33405
(561) 547-9799

Juana La Cubana
2850 SW 54th St
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
(954) 985-8899

Eats Good 33
6882 NW 20th Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
(954) 956-4480

Los Bobos Cafeteria
5600 NW 79th Ave
Doral, FL 33166
(305) 592-8774

Pepitolandia
5900 NW 102nd Ave
Doral, FL 33178
(786) 431-5399

Finka Table & Tap
14690 SW 26th St
Miami, FL 33175
(305) 227-8818

Hullabaloo
517 N Clematis St
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 833-1033

Mai-Kai
3599 N Federal Hwy
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
(954) 563-3272

Fish Shack
2862 NE 17th Ave
Pompano Beach, FL 33064
(954) 586-4105

Tark's of Dania Beach
1317 N Federal Hwy
Dania Beach, FL 33004
(954) 925-8275

Captain Charlie's Reef Grill
12846 US-1
Juno Beach, FL 33408
(561) 624-9924

Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Grill
1313 Ocean Bay Dr
Key Largo, FL 33037
(800) 432-4358

No comments:

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails