As the sun dips below North Lake, strings of lights bordering Taverna Opa?s patio flicker on, casting a warm glow on the water below. The crepuscular calm lasts only a few moments at Taverna Opa: once night falls, live DJs take to the stage, furnishing belly dancers with a throbbing beat by which to shimmy and undulate. Waiters often lock arms and break into traditional zorba dancing. And, if the night reaches a fever pitch, patrons may smash their plates and toss their napkins in the air. This raucous atmosphere has earned Taverna Opa the spotlight in a slew of media publications. But though revelry is paramount, Taverna Opa doesn?t shirk cuisine: chefs marinate fresh seafood and lamb in fresh herbs and roast them on a wood-fired grill, and bartenders pour Greek wines well-suited for the succulent meats or postmeal Trojan horse christenings.
In the world of Italian eating, few things pair with dinner as well as company. This is something Mama Mia's owner and head chef Joseph Franco takes to heart, and for more than a quarter century he has been striving to fill his restaurant with the best of both. Homemade pasta stuffed or tossed with Ovalini mozzarella, fresh basil, whipped ricotta, or South Florida seafood complete a mosaic of traditional Italian dining when set alongside stuffed meatballs and grandma's engraved lobster hammer. And for every entree there's a wine: reds and whites from Europe and America that line the walls on wooden racks.
Together these flavors, coupled with a breezy dining room and outdoor patio speckled in red and white, draw in guests. Mama Mia's has been host to the Miss Florida pageant as well as a range of other local events, including a special Valentine's Day celebration.
Seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., Downtown 28 fuels its motley mob of sports fans, pool sharks, and hookah-huffers with a menu of sizzling American pub grub accented with Tex-Mex flourishes. Nibble on zesty chicken wings ($7.95 for 10) or join jalapeños, bacon bits, sour cream, and inch-high mountaineers in an attempt to summit a heap of Texas cheese fries ($5). Large flat-screen TVs awash with stunning home runs and brutal croquet brawls keep diners enthralled as they wait for shrimp ceviche ($8) and Smokehouse burgers topped with bacon, barbecue sauce, and onion rings to converge on their table ($8). More voracious appetites may seek out the half roasted chicken, a rare breed of one-legged, one-winged bird typically found nesting in onion rings or fries ($14). A full bar drenches dry esophagi throughout an extended happy hour (noon to 8 p.m.) that generously bestows tequila to shot glasses ($3) and overflows tankards with import drafts ($3).
Dedicated to upholding the casual ambiance and meticulously presented cuisine found in the bistros of Paris, Bistro 1902's team of chefs channels French culinary traditions as they assemble Gallic dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With an eagle eye refined during 25 years spent forging fare in four- and five-star establishments across France?including the The Jules Vernes restaurant at the Eiffel Tower?the head chef inspects each dish for aesthetic quality and likelihood of revealing secrets before it leaves the kitchen. Culinary gurus bustle about the restaurant galley architecting traditional noshes such as crepes, escargots, and tarte tatins alongside updated classics such as a filet mignon and a foie gras burger.
The house?s creative burgers, baguettes slathered with sweet olive butter, and fresh scallops made the Sun Sentinel take notice, along with the chef's meticulous eye to tableside detail. Amid the dining room's exposed-brick walls laden with Parisian-themed art prints, affable servers wend in and out of tan-colored booths and sleek black tables to ensure that hungers remain sated and thirsts quenched. Meanwhile, staffers keep patrons hydrated as they refill goblets with selections from the extensive wine list, ensuring the perfectly paired washing down of decadent bites and the rinsing of hands after finger-painting re-creations of Monet's Water-Lily Pond on the tablecloth.
The aromas of spice-rubbed meats, curries, and simmering coconut milk mingle in Ginger Bay Cafe's dining room, giving visitors a taste of the tropics as soon as they enter. These vibrantly complex scents only grow stronger when orders arrive, such as plates of curried-chicken spring rolls with pineapple-ginger chutney, creole lobster, or jerk chicken with a secret blend of spices.
Inside the dining room, mottled orange and yellow walls evoke the look of an ocean sunset or really cool geometry book. The restaurant comes alive at night as live jazz bands and dance parties with reggae, R&B, and Caribbean soca rhythms echo throughout the space.
A native of La Mure, France, Chef Laurent Tasic's culinary passion began in his grandmother's farm kitchen, where the young Laurent helped her put together homemade country dishes. After honing his cooking and restaurateur skills in Europe, the French Antilles, and the Cayman Islands, Chef Laurent relocated to Fort Lauderdale, where he draws on his homeland's flavors at two Sage Oyster Bar & Restaurant locations. At his Fort Lauderdale eatery, he expands upon the traditional French countryside dishes of his youth by stuffing onions with veal and provolone, coating roasted duck with honey-raspberry sauce, and filling crepes with wilted spinach and goat cheese. Meals take place on a covered outdoor sidewalk or inside a dining area modeled after a romantic European bistro, where tastings of the restaurant's extensive wine collection and flavored floorboards occur every first and third Tuesday of the month. At his Hollywood location, meanwhile, Chef Laurent focuses on French-seafood preparation, serving oysters baked with roquefort cheese and pizza topped with Maine lobster from the kitchen's brick oven. The ambiance draws upon a similarly romantic aura, with soothing, dramatic lighting that illuminates the artfully arranged plates emerging from the kitchen.