Back in 1945, Coopertown Airboat Tours was founded on frog legs. When John Cooper would take his airboat out frogging in the Everglades, observers often asked for rides in the unique machine. The demand became so great that he built a passenger airboat—and today, the company has a fleet of seven. Coopertown itself has a population of only eight, and is a largely wild slice of land on the edge of the Everglades, making the popular airboat tours a main source of traffic.
The airboats that depart from Coopertown head deep into the wetlands, where sawgrass covers the water and gators are plentiful. Guides point out a wide variety of wildlife, ranging from herons and turtles to endangered species such as the snail kite. For a more intimate encounter with nature, they also run private tours, voyaging into areas that are only accessible by smaller airboats. Tours typically culminate by the Coopertown restaurant and gift shop. There, guests can snack on the frog legs that started it all, or sample other swampland delights including gator-tail nuggets and catfish.
Moonlite Diner transplants stomachs into the middle of a 1950s high-school date or a Norman Rockwell painting, with hearty platters of comfort food and sleek red and white décor. Tucked within a streamlined dining-car exterior, munching molars can grind up selections from Moonlite Diner's massive menu. Rev up for a day of lifting steam engines and rescuing Roombas from trees with the body builder, which stuffs an egg-white omelette with grilled chicken, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, and mushrooms ($9.99). Midday noshers can anchor incisors in a bevy of sandwiches such as the grilled tuna melt, where tuna salad, tomato slices, and a hearty duo of swiss and american cheeses bridge the gap between two pieces of grilled rye ($8.99). Comforting portions of homemade meatloaf snuggle up with sides of warm smashed potatoes, veggies, and brown gravy for an evening treat ($12.99), and Moonlite's smattering of burgery delights sates appetites anytime. Cool off after a marathon meal by slurping down a sundae or splashing your face with a milkshake.
By day, Diner By-The-Sea is just that—a classic American spot for good grub, where visitors will often find the owner, Billy, manning the grill or refilling coffees. In the morning, the cooks turn out piles of crispy, browned home fries next to eggs benedict draped with creamy hollandaise, and midday, they match soups and sandwiches with sides of slaw or salad. When the lights dim in the evening, the restaurant transforms into Checkers Old Munchen, Tuesday–Friday, and the kitchen shifts its focus toward German cuisine, serving up classics such as Wienerschnitzel dinners.
Scattered pimento-like across the Boca Raton area, Mitch and Cory Shidlofsky's microcosmic Brooklyns serve teetering deli sandwiches and hearty breakfast fare. Every morning, diners tuck into 20 types of bagels, including egg, sunflower seed, pumpernickel, and marble, and slather them in cream-cheese flavors such as scallion, honey walnut, and strawberry. Sweeter options abound as well, including challah french toast, and Oreo pancakes that help children-at-heart relive their glory days when their heads were the size of cookies. Gloriously messy sandwiches star on the lunch menu—foremost among them the New Jersey sloppy joe, in which roast beef, corned beef, and turkey spill out from under russian dressing and coleslaw.
Pappas Restaurant's epicurean owners craft hearty meals from family recipes, which entice palates from a mouthwatering menu of traditional Greek and American dishes. Regional Greek specialties such as a flaky chopped-meat-and-eggplant moussaka ($9.95) square off in a fight for diners’ affection against italian vegetable lasagna ($9.95). Lunch-farers satiate stomachs with coleslaw- flanked corned beef and pastrami sandwiches ($8.95) or gyro platters ($7.95), which excite incisors more easily than a piñata made out of pita bread. Dinner-feasters can tuck into Hungarian goulash with tender beef, vegetables, and savory sauce over a noodle bed ($11.95).
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Sundy House tempts diners with a menu of seasonal fusion cuisine served in an intimate indoor/outdoor dining area overlooking lush gardens. Appetizers, such as the pork belly seared with maple-soy glaze, tantalize taste buds, and crisp salads, including a toasted pistachio, heart of palm, and red-oak lettuce creation, can be glued to diners' faces to create seamless forest camouflage. A hefty entree of filet mignon arrives at tables emblazoned with grill marks and served alongside foie gras butter and a fingerling potato cake, and Mountain River wild-boar tenderloin accompanies a smattering of sautéed brussels sprout leaves and pickled apples. Diners can cleanse palates between bites, courses, or acts of a Shakespearean play with sips of red or white house wine.