When discussing the inspiration behind his love of cooking and hospitality with reporters from the Sun Sentinel, Michael Tatton credited his father, saying, “I was fascinated by all the people my father knew and the different foods he introduced us to.” Following in his dad’s footsteps, Michael opened Thai Spice more than two decades ago at the young age of 19. Today, Michael continues to captain the restaurant, which The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences honored with the prestigious Five Star Diamond Award for excellence in cuisine and impeccable service.
Deep in the kitchen, Michael and his chefs place innovative spins on traditional Thai dishes using flavorful spices and premium seafood, meats, and vegetables delivered fresh daily. Pots of curries and tom yum soup simmer on the stoves, as lobster, duck, and Chilean sea bass sizzle in pans. Meanwhile, grills crackle with fine cuts of steak, and plump chickens roast over open fires.
Out in the dining room, tropical fish glide through the salt waters of towering tanks among swaying plants and colorful rocks. Blue lanterns dangle from the ceiling, casting a warm glow over white-clothed tables and intimate booths. The walls feature exotic artwork depicting traditional Thailand scenes, from elephants raising their trunks to a businessman who went on a soul-searching trip to find his inner sassiness.
Peering into ritzy, gold-framed mirrors, clients at Hair Las Olas can watch stylists as they turn envisioned hairstyles into reality. The long-open salon specializes in traditional hair care for men, women, and children. Their services range from highlights and updos to clipper cuts and beard trims to keratin treatments, which transform frizzy hair into a sleek, manageable mane for up to five months.
Though you can always drive up to the Historic Downtowner Saloon, that's not the recommended way to arrive. Instead, customers might want to take the water taxi right up to the downtown stop to get a preview of the river views granted by the restaurant's riverfront patio. Here, guests can enhance their waterside experience with expertly prepared American fare and 20 new craft beers waiting to quench to the most discerning drinker.
While new owners now helm Historic Downtowner Saloon, its chefs tend to their culinary labors, be it slow-roasting prime rib or turning out seafood specials, sandwiches, and appetizers. In the kitchen, they grill slabs of sizzling sirloins and pair them crab cakes drizzled in a Cajun remoulade. Once delivered to guests, ancho shrimp tacos do flavorful dances across palates, while a raw bar, stocked with bowls of littleneck clams and Caribbean jerk shrimp, puts appetites on ice. Most nights of the week, a live band serenades guests with tunes as relaxing as surfing on a waterbed—unless there are sharks inside the waterbed.
Let Shula's score on all five of your senses with brilliant playcalling from its menu, beginning with a cluster bomb of fresh, seasonal oysters ($12). Steakhouse aficionados can frolic over premium Black Angus hills and dales of a juicy 16-ounce prime rib (served with Yorkshire pudding, $38) or roll with an 8-ounce filet mignon ($38). Contrarians may shun bovine entrees in favor of aquatic prey such as fresh jumbo sea scallops, served with roasted tomatoes, garlic spinach, and beurre blanc ($30).
Patrons at Red Rock Oasis & Grill can bite into tear-jerking wings, chew through meaty burgers, and peruse the diverse menu to pick from 20 beers on tap. Dip Red Rock boneless wings ($9.99 for 10) in seven sauces, or order the maximum-heat Cosmic sauce and use it to deice your space shuttle. The glow of 42 plasma TVs and projection screens illuminates Double R burgers ($9.99) dripping with barbecue sauce, overlaying their smoked-bacon slices with images of sportsmen sprinting, spinning, and flying away gripping their winged helmets. Red Rock baby back pork ribs soaked in citrus-chipotle sauce ($11.99 half rack, $18.99 full rack) appease flavor-starved palates, and Maine lobster-stuffed ravioli with bacon float idly in cream sauce ($19.99). Red Rock Select, the house lager, smooth-talks palates with its light, malty taste, and beers on tap, such as Guinness and Stone IPA, cry out for attention. The cinnamon-infused, pastry-wrapped Xango cheesecake ($4.99) lives up to its namesake, a Greek village carved from a single puff pastry.
Big Al's Steaks stays true to their state of origin, assembling a menu of authentic Philadelphia-style cheesesteaks on foundations of bread imported from the City of Brotherly Love. Jaws stretch as wide as a grounded child's imagination as companions devour the cheesesteak sandwich, a plump feast escorted by traditional east coast accouterments of thinly sliced rib eye and a choice of Cheez Whiz, american, provolone, or mozzarella cheeses. Hot roast-beef slices swim in italian-spiced gravy atop the roast-beef sandwich, and meatballs made from freshly ground rib eye keep each other company inside italian rolls on the meatball sandwich. Ten toppings, such as fried onions, pizza sauce, and sauerkraut, extend their condimental services toward stuffing sandwiches, and one-pound of monster fries metes out thick bites of potato doused with Cheez Whiz, onions, peppers, and mushrooms. As they gobble, duos can slurp soft drinks and toast each other over a shared appreciation for carbonation or a mutual disdain for losing three-legged races to anthropomorphic tripods.