In the kitchen at Mark's Prime Steakhouse, cherry and pecan flicker and pop in a wood stove. The smoke penetrates into thick cuts of U.S.D.A. beef and fresh seafood brought in from Mayport in Jacksonville. For filets, strips, or bone-in rib eyes, chefs singe a flavorful crust over each chop's juicy center before plopping it onto a plate sizzling with butter.
Servers with black vests and bow ties escort the prime proteins to diners' tables, where their conversations dance over dinner music by mid-century crooners, and light from the ceiling's stained-glass dome splashes onto dark woods. Nearby, martinis, classic cocktails, and a wine list—which has garnered Wine Spectator's "Award of Excellence" every year since 2004—rest on a vintage bar. Salvaged from the La Concha Inn in Key West, the tiger mahogany bar was built in 1873 during an era when bars were called saloons and bears were called mega-squirrels.
The DeLand Stockyard is renowned for its steaks, which earned the “Best Steakhouse” vote from Hometown News readers in 2012 and a Best of the West award from The Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2010, 2012, and 2013, as well as for its history. The restaurant’s structure was built in the 1920s, and its rich wood paneling and stately décor, replete with black and white photos and mounted portraits on the wall, reflects this storied history. Atop dark wood tables, the wait staff sets down steakhouse staples, from juicy burgers and grilled seafood to the hefty porterhouse, which weighs in at 24 ounces of char-grilled goodness.
A lonely fire flickers in the night, punctuating the vast expanse of Brazil’s southern plains. A spitted side of Nelore beef roasts over the flames; from that famed beast and this timeless fireside scene, Nelore Churrascaria takes its name, recipes, and spirit.
Nelore Churrascaria’s chefs draw inspiration from the gauchos of South America, piling plates high with carvings of 15 spit-roasted meats. The spirit of the southern plains remains alive and well in the dining room, where wrought-iron chandeliers and a dark hardwood floor evoke rustic elegance as a warm breeze filters in through the front doors. Veggies, fine cheeses, and pastas fill more than 40 basins at the salad bar, whose glistening glass protects the trays from grazing cattle and errant horseshoe tosses.
In the midst of nightly live jazz, diners feast on a plethora of dishes made from premium ingredients, including Japanese Kobe beef and hand-foraged mushrooms, while sipping sommelier-recommended wines from an award-winning selection. To gear up gustatory glands, patrons can dive fork-first into the sesame pepper-crusted Hawaii bigeye ahi tuna partnered with pickled cucumbers and seaweed salad ($18). Served with french fries and chimichurri sauce, the Kobe skirt steak ($29) comes from cows raised according to the strict laws in Hyogo Prefecture, which forbids cattle to date until they graduate high school. Alternatively raised in free-spirited rivers and music festivals, the wild-caught salmon shares plate space with tuscan potato salad, capers, arugula, and a citrus-fennel purée ($34). Similarly sating, the double cut Australian lamb chops are bathed in a zinfandel reduction sauce and paired with rosemary-garlic mashed potatoes ($44).