Several years ago, a family of new owners planted their spatulas at Cheng's Chinese. They're from Fujian, China, a province known not only for its oolong tea but also for its diverse array of fresh fish. Perhaps this familiarity with seafood is why one of the most popular menu items is the lunch buffet's fried shrimp, which careens through a blizzard of rice flour before it briefly hurtles into a hot pan. Chefs also wrap egg rolls, simmer soups from scratch, and make their own dumplings and wontons.
Crafting notably delectable frozen treats in small batches, Marble Slab Creamery utilizes ingredients from around the world and fresh dairy from local farms to percolate palates with super-premium ice cream. Just like tax forms, chef-inspired concoctions are prepared on frozen marble slabs to ensure optimal freshness and easy customization. The frozen slab enables expert dippers and mixers to gently incorporate your choice of candies, nuts, and more into the ice cream on the spot. Grab a heaping dish of original flavors ($3.79 for a regular size) such as pumpkin, honey, bubblegum, mango, and amaretto, or opt for the hefty Big Dipper size ($4.89), which comes standard with one mix-in such as cashews or Kit Kat pieces ($0.59 for additional mix-ins). Enjoy your custom creation in a cup or a freshly baked waffle cone, which can also be painted orange to mark off hazardous potholes in living-room floors.
The cooks at Ichiban Hibachi Buffet prepare a bounty of Japanese and Chinese dishes served hibachi- or buffet-style. Seasoned hibachi chefs cook Japanese and Chinese dishes on tabletop grills, flipping entrees in the air to dazzle patrons and momentarily alarm the janitor. Diners can peruse dozens of sushi rolls and sashimi varieties at the sushi bar—made with shrimp tempura, avocado, eel, or spicy white tuna—or enjoy helpings of dishes such as roast-pork lo mein and moo goo gai pan.
Although the 12-ounce Delmonico steak is the house specialty at The Blue Grotto, the baked stuffed flounder is the owner's favorite dish on the menu. Guests have their choice of sitting in the azure dining room, where the decor is inspired by the Blue Grotto sea cave on the island of Capri, or the dog-friendly outdoor deck that overlooks the marina. The venue turns into a nightclub in the late-night hours, with DJs, dancing, and free drinks for manatees.
Since 1946, Norwood's Restaurant and Wine Shop has complemented fresh-caught seafood and aged Angus beef entrees with a well-stocked cache of fine wines and drinks. While basking in spacious dining environs that feature rustic wood architecture, diners cure deep-sea cravings with fish dishes that permit a choice of seven different preparations: salmon fillets dressed in mango-salsa disguises ($20) can have their cover blown by prying forks, and hog snapper might get infused with the sweet slathering of a pineapple chutney ($25). The staff serves fish entrees alongside yukon-gold mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley. Diners on a strict pasta-only diet, or in need of an object soft enough to preclude serious repercussions after throwing it at a vice principal, can enjoy the supple shrimp-and-scallop alfredo ($18.50).
Diners at Dolphin View Restaurant often sense that they are being watched. The feeling is far from paranoid or unwelcome, however, as the prying eyes belong to seabirds and jumping dolphins. These creatures are common sights in the waters that border the eatery, where open-air seating affords views of their play. Wooden tables stand on the slats of a dock or the sandy expanse of the beach, framed by cloth canopies and hanging plants. In these environs, guests feast on plates of grilled fish, shrimp, and signature sandwiches, such as the Dolphin burger. The menu also features less ocean-centric options, including burgers, chicken entrees, and glasses of salt-free water.
For an even more immersive mix of food and scenery, guests can reserve spots on one of Dolphin View Restaurant's dinner and river cruises. Each experience begins with an all-you-can-eat buffet at the open-air pavilion. After dinner, passengers embark by boat through the waterway, marveling at the coastal scenery and wildlife as they sip beer or wine.