Some chefs wake up to a steaming pot of coffee, but Glenn Cockburn?s morning fix is Maine lobster, which arrives at his fish house by 10:30 a.m. each day. Informed by his training at the Culinary Institute of America and more than 35 years in the restaurant business, Glenn steams the elegant crustacean whole to release its natural flavors. He unleashes his talents on other seaborne species as well, blackening yellowfin, grouper, and rainbow trout to form dinners as healthy as a jog through a field of wheatgrass. Non-seafood specialties, such as aged new york strip steak, pair nicely with staples from the wine list, including Don Gascon malbec and Ferrari Carano chardonnay. Guests flock to the outdoor patio on sunny days, where they can enjoy lunches of mahi-mahi tacos and desserts such as key-lime pie with raspberry coulis. Lined with ocean-blue accents and reef-themed tile mosaics, the interior summons daydreams about scuba-diving trips and sojourns at Poseidon?s lake house.
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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.
The gourmet pies at Palermo Pizzeria may sport some unexpected toppings, much like a patio set left outside during the annual neighborhood food fight. That's because Drew Galbreath, a seasoned chef for local restaurants, built the menu to shatter preconceived notions about pizzerias. So although customers are welcome to load up pies with pepperoni and mushrooms, they're encouraged to step outside their comfort zones with something like barbecue-chicken or cheesesteak pizza—or entrees such as chicken parmigiano.
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.
Since 1985, when Paul Flanigan opened the first of five Florida locations, Quarterdeck Seafood Bar & Neighborhood Grill continues to ply diners with succulent seafood and delectable libations. Each location’s culinary team crafts handmade burgers, blackens or grills delicate fish filets, and heaps plates with oysters and yellowfin tuna from the raw bar. International wines, martinis, and shooters refresh palates between bites, and when weather permits, sliding windows and doors fill the restaurant with wafts of fresh air. The Quarterdeck complements its oceanic menu with its decor of old-maritime equipment, saltwater-fish tanks, and the understudy shark from Jaws, and its flat-screen televisions and billiards tables entertain through the day and night.