is the Sun Sentinel’s audience development editor and bi-weekly restaurant reviewer. He’s a lifelong Floridian, save for the year he spent in New England deprived of sun and sand.
At the edge of the Everglades near I-595 is your best and last chance for an incredible steak before venturing onto Alligator Alley. Tucked inside the Hyatt Bonaventure, Ireland’s is the fine steakhouse that has so far ruined me for all others in Broward County. If the perfectly grilled slabs of beef don’t entrance you, then leave it up to the succulent side dishes or the memorable selection of stylish steak knives.
Most of my newsroom colleagues know I have an unhealthy obsession with the meatball sandwich at Noodles Panini, a small bistro-like spot on Las Olas Boulevard near Southeast Ninth Avenue. The gargantuan sandwich, which is served with a steak knife, features deliciously tender meatballs, topped with a wad of mozzarella, sprinkled with basil, and perched atop fresh-baked bread that sits in a pool of red sauce.
John the Baker garlic rolls
The times I’ve lived in other parts of Florida, it was always John the Baker’s garlic rolls I craved when I came to visit. These starchy, oily balls of dough are topped with generous amounts of shriveled-up garlic all over. A lifelong customer of John’s, I even worked two days as a garlic roll maker at one of his former restaurants. I had to call it quits after my then-girlfriend repeatedly complained that I reeked of garlic. The girlfriend is long-gone, but the garlic fixation lingers.
Las Colinas (Wilton Manors), Casavana (Miami Lakes), La Viña Aragon (Hialeah), Las Vegas and Don Ramon (all over the place)
After spending a year in Cuban-deprived Connecticut, I grew to appreciate the fact that excellent, inexpensive black beans and rice can be found a short drive away from nearly anywhere. The gooey flan, rich yuca, thin-sliced mariquitas … it’s rarely done right outside of South Florida. And don’t ask me for a favorite; I could deliberate it all day.
This is my family’s secret sanctuary in Broward County, the place we visit on a Saturday afternoon after a trying week. Tucked away on a quiet marina off State Road 84, Rendezvous is as close to the Florida Keys as it gets in Broward, all while being a stone’s throw away from I-95. It’s not particularly a foodie mecca – just an out-of-the-way, relaxed place to stare at the water and grab an always-good bite and a beer.