When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.
Lucky Sailor's Lakeside Grill blends jaw-dropping views of the water and jaw-shutting meat and seafood dishes to scenically savory effect. While you wait for your life's first mate to park the boat on top of the parking lot's dirtiest car, nibble on Nearly Famous Diamondbacks, bacon-wrapped jalapeños stuffed with shrimp and jack cheese ($8), before deep-sea dining on a plate of fiesta-fried gulf-shrimp, crispy morsels fried and served in a spicy cocktail sauce ($17). People born with the heads—and bodies—of parrots, meanwhile, will relish every bite of the Cheeseburger in Paradise, a half-pound of Angus beef lounging on a jalapeno-bun cushion with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles that's best when paired with Lucky Sailor's locally made beers and wines ($8). When the summer weather returns from its vacation in a warmer climate, dine in open-air style on Canyon Lake or dollop a dessert of fried cheesecake and raspberry sauce ($7) with a spot of live music on Sundays and Thursdays.
Anyone seeking an island escape need look no further than Sweet's Restaurant. The kitchen layers jerk chicken with pickled bermuda onions to give a chicken sandwich a Caribbean twist, and fill corn tortillas with mahi mahi and lime-cilantro crema. Pasta dishes get a creole spin without being thrown from a float at Mardi Gras, and regular patrons watch for the restaurant's flag to get hoisted, signaling that a limited supply of fresh oysters and clams are available at the raw bar.
Indecision is a virtue at CG Burgers. It gives diners more time to peruse the menu of build-your-own burgers and design a mental blueprint of the perfect meal. The patties of certified Angus beef, all-natural turkey, or bison begin as blank canvases before diners adorn them with as many as 17 complimentary toppings and condiments. The cooks can also load down burgers with 15 premium fixings, such as avocado or a tiny gold crown. Made using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, the menu of all-American classics also distinguishes itself by including a vegetarian burger patty, zucchini fries, and silken gelato milk shakes. Even the fire-roasted wings present a bit of a spin on the original: they may arrive in a traditional buffalo sauce or glazed with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, herbs, and crushed red peppers.
Fish have to fly in order to reach Bistro. Fresh from Europe, the Dover sole arrives ready for chefs to pan sear, fillet, and artfully garnish with almond potato cakes and asparagus tips. This dish spotlights one of the more literal examples of European influence on the menu, but more subtle influences, according to a 2004 review in the Palm Beach Post, consist of "ingredients you may have at home prepared perfectly in a way you'd never contemplate." The feature emphasizes the "gentle touch" of the chef, whose expertise ensures that the lobster tails from Maine leave the broiler at exactly the right moment.
The same attention to detail has stocked the Zagat-rated restaurant’s expansive wine cellar. Countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and Argentina contribute libations to the list, which pairs robust glasses with entrees to ensure that the flavors of the veal escalope or beef Wellington pop appropriately. A sunny, canary-yellow dining room frames these flavors, gracing eyes with photographs, pressed-tin ceilings, and lamp-clad chandeliers. Outside, a brick patio takes shelter under a pinstripe awning, warming cool nights with space heaters and accompanying meals with the gurgles of a shallow pond and the haunting songs of the abandoned reflections therein.