The chefs at Tapas Lantana source produce from an Indiantown farm and also dry-age their own beef in-house. These local ingredients help lend homey flavors to the menu of Spanish-influenced small plates such as sliders with ground beef, chorizo, and shoestring plantains. The chefs can also customize paella for a whole table of guests by infusing the rice dish with paprika, garlic, and the diners' choice of four ingredients, such as chorizo, scallops or wild mushrooms.
Dark wooden tones, candelabras with drips of dried wax, and an immense marble-topped bar help to create a rustic ambiance inside what Boca Raton magazine described as "one of the prettiest dining rooms this side of the Mississippi." Along the sunset-orange walls, an extensive selection of Spanish, Italian, and South American wines rest in cubbies, like pet dragons during first-grade naptime.
Fifty years is a long time to run a restaurant, but Grandma Pearl isn't done yet. Although the 99-year-old founder of Pearl's Next Generation Restaurant has passed along many of the duties of the business to her family, she still exerts her influence, stopping in now and then to make sure the place is up to snuff.
Not that the three subsequent generations who have taken over operations are complaining. For them, the restaurant serves as a family dining room, a place they can come to enjoy each other's company and Pearl's original home cooked recipes. Visitors, too, can stop by for patty melts, meatloaf, and spaghetti and meatballs. They can also join Pearl, her family, and her staff in the family-friendly sports bar to catch a game, enjoy some home cooking, and maybe sip from a pitcher of beer. Pearl's particular specialty remains desserts, though. She whips up brownies, cakes, and cookies beloved by her entire family, and her great-granddaughter swears by the rice pudding.
The name of the restaurant is Tony's Pasta & Pizza, but another good name would have been Tony's Giant Menu. That's because the chefs pull more than 15 types of piping-hot pies out of the oven?along with a build-your-own option. They slide these pizzas next to trays of homemade lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, and garlic-roll appetizers. For those who lunch, the team also prepares gourmet sandwiches such as philly cheesesteaks and cold Italian subs.
The hookah's natural habitat is not a nightclub with crashing music and empty drinks slamming against tables. The hookah experience, according to Kimm Smith of Hookah House, should be unrushed and mellow. "It's very meditative," she says, "and should be shared with people you care about." This was the atmosphere in which co-owner Zo spent his childhood in Algeria, where people would spend long hours gathering with friends and families in hookah lounges. He and his Bostonian wife, Michelle, wanted to bring that aspect of Algerian culture to the United States, both to spread a feeling of community and as an homage to the marriage of their distinct backgrounds.
As the fruit-tinged smoke of shisha rises from between murmuring visitors, it passes rich fabrics, which drape the exposed-brick walls, and bright lanterns dangling from a marigold ceiling. Stories seem to overflow from the furniture and textiles, gathered during the couple’s travels in Algeria or preserved from Zo's former life as a sommelier in Paris. This is where patrons linger, resting shoeless feet on bright cushions and pillows as they converse or check email on the free wireless internet. Atop inlaid tables, servers place Turkish coffee, house blends of Moroccan tea, and small plates of Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
On some weekend evenings, live jazz stirs guests to twist among tendrils of smoke before a DJ steps up to spin a range of music, from Earth, Wind & Fire to Jimi Hendrix. Belly dancers, with bells and scarves for all to borrow, demonstrate to patrons how to pass lie-detector tests with just their hips. A psychic-in-residence reads coffee grounds most nights, translating the earthy onyx shapes into predictions about the drinker's future.
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 Jamaican-born family members who own and operate Big Taste Caribbean Restaurant have created a visual and culinary oasis reminiscent of their native island and its neighbors. Basking in the vivid rays of a wall-length mural of a smiling red-and-orange sun, chefs craft small batches of traditional oxtail with plantains along with their own recipes for signature jerk sauce and curried shrimp. The aromas of chicken grilled over an open flame and Fridays' yard-style fish fries invite passersby to experience the cooking of the tropics. As day sets into night, cues clink on the golden pool table and a ceiling fan lazily goads the air into circles simulating a Caribbean breeze or a coconut's whispered plea to be turned into a piña colada. Live DJs and dance performances occasionally sway the straws sticking out of a Jamaican Red Stripe lager to the beat of reggae, hip-hop, and dancehall music.