By Mike Mayo
Sun Sentinel Dining Critic
The question I hear most these days is, “What’s the best restaurant in South Florida?”, or its cousin, “What’s your favorite restaurant?” In a region with 14,000 restaurants, it is impossible to narrow the answer to one. Food is inherently subjective – one diner’s paradise may well be another’s purgatory. Some may be drawn to hip and trendy, others favor hole-in-the-wall authenticity. Some seek cutting-edge creativity, others want comforting classics. What makes a meal memorable: food, ambience or service? Is cost or value a consideration?
In my restaurant explorations – and the written critiques that come after my unannounced visits – I try to explain why a particular restaurant works (or doesn’t) and give a sense whether it might align with a reader’s taste and sensibility. Then I award stars, on a four-star scale, based on the overall experience. Restaurants that earn four stars (extraordinary/excellent) and 3 ½ (very good, highly recommended) are doing something right. They are not necessarily fancy but true to themselves, places with integrity that exhibit flair, flavor and hospitality. They are the places that I would gladly return to spend my own money.
The following is a list of restaurants in Broward and Palm Beach Counties reviewed in the past year that I’ve awarded 3 ½ or four stars. The time restriction means some worthy favorites are not included (such as Valentino Cucina Italiana in Fort Lauderdale, Monkitail at The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Bubbles + Pearls in Wilton Manors, JWB Prime Steak and Seafood at the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort and Tropical Acres in Dania Beach).