La Bodeguita de Vero curates a diverse menu of traditional Cuban meals and specialty drinks, served up family style. Stuffed tostones ($7.50) jump-start digestive engines by delivering sizzling jolts of shredded beef, ropa vieja, or beef in salsa criolla. Placate growling stomachs with savory fillets of grilled salmon sidled next to boiled veggies ($13), or tooth-wrestle the fricase de cerdo–tender cuts of pork simmering alongside potatoes in a special Cuban sauce ($13.50). Sandwiches ($6+) volunteer to occupy restless jazz hands with meaty stacks of steak, fish, and chicken. To offset piquant mouthfuls, diners can corral energy-packed gulps of cortadito ($1.50) or a Cuban mango milkshake ($3.50).
Every day, Vittorio's Pizzeria & Restaurant's proficient pie twirlers construct pizzas, hot sandwiches, and Italian specialties from scratch. The restaurant's modern, mostly horse-and-buggy-free interior harbors a kitchen from which emerge calzones and strombolis overflowing with molten cheese. The culinary team hand tosses the fresh dough that forms the foundation of each pizza, including nine specialty pies, in addition to preparing spaghetti and chicken parmigiana swimming in pools of marinara. The staff also delivers bottled beer and pours glasses of imported wine, cooling tongues better than the unity of a flagpole, a midwestern December, and a school principal's mandate to discipline his hecklers.
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.
The infectious aromas of sizzling steak, fresh chopped cilantro, and spicy peppers flow through Costa Azul Mexican Restaurant, heralding the arrival of generous Mexican feasts. Chefs furl these fresh ingredients and more into tortillas to create tacos, flautas, and burritos. Guests savor the juicy nuances of tender marinated pork carnitas or the perfectly balanced flavors of the restaurant's signature paella. Tangy margaritas and ice-cold brews extinguish mouth fires caused by spicy fajitas or mid-meal freestyle raps. Costa Azul's chefs will also whip up their Mexican cuisine to help their guests celebrate special events, family reunions, and weddings with ease.
Overlooking the Indian River, the tiki-thatched roof of The Original Tiki Bar and Restaurant houses an expansive menu of fresh seafood, certified Angus burgers, and hearty sandwiches brimming with Caribbean flavors. The lightly fried Bahamian-conch fritters ($8.99) beckon utensils to vote the dullest knife off the table before juicy rib-eye steak arrives, resting atop a bed of mixed greens, pillowed by roasted peppers, onions and soft blue cheese in the steak salad ($14.99). The cuban sandwich makes roasted pork and smoked ham hobnob with swiss cheese, pickles, mayo and mustard within the tight confines of hot-pressed cuban bread ($8.99), and the mahi-mahi sandwich ($13.99) tops a kaiser roll with a blackened, grilled, or fried fillet swimming in tangy tartar sauce that recites Barbados’s national anthem twice before each bite. The Tiki Treasure plate ($19.99) buries sautéed lobster and shrimp in a heaping mound of diced tomatoes, mushrooms, scallions, and linguine, setting the trove off to sea aboard a garlic-bread raft. Diners can cool off their overworked mouths with a frozen concoction, such as piña colada or strawberry daiquiri, from the bar’s extensive drink menu.
With swinging wood saloon doors, hanging lamps made from cowboy hats, and local ranchers' brands seared into each tabletop, Cowboys' Bar-B-Q & Steak Co.'s three locations make visitors feel as though they've just stumbled in from the Texas lowlands. Many of founder Jim McCoin's self-devised recipes come from years of careful cooking while on the professional barbecue-competition circuit, which regularly led his team "Big Daddy Q" to victory. Wings strut across plates dressed in up to 20 sauce flavors, compelling tongues to quench thirst with 10 draft beers or Western-themed margaritas. Beverages are served in mason jars, carried past decorations such as photographs representing local ranching families. For outside eaters, Cowboys' supplies its hearty grilled fare through take-out and catering each day of the week.