A third-generation Chinese restaurateur, Dragon Star owner Francisco Cho takes taste buds on a journey through Cantonese- and Szechuan-style cuisine, which his chefs make entirely from scratch and to order. Under the soft flicker of paper lanterns, amid four flat-screen TVs, guests lounge atop plush seats and nibble favorites such as kung pao chicken, sweet 'n' sour tofu, sesame beef, and barbecue spare ribs while imbibing BYOB drinks. Most of Dragon Star's cuisine is also available for takeout, provided customers have secured reservations at their dining room table.
The menu at Seaweed Asian Cuisine flits across the globe like a migratory bird, landing in Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines to scoop up each region's culinary treats. Fresh fish make an appearance in sushi rolls and the spicy-tuna nachos, which are served on crisp wontons and flavored with baby octopus. Seafood also takes center stage in the Filipino-style whole snapper and Thai-inspired spicy volcano shrimp. Seaweed's chefs also concoct original creations, melding together aspects of various Asian cuisines with dishes such as roast pork with veggies and honey garlic chicken. Their culinary prowess won them the 2013 Reader's Choice Award from Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers.
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.
You can travel through the entire Indian subcontinent with just one meal at India Grill & Bar. Chefs showcase the flavors of northern India by preparing tandoori specialties. They place options such as tiger prawns in a garlic marsala marinade or chicken slathered in yogurt and spices inside a cylindrical clay oven to impart the cuisine's slightly charred grilled flavor. They blend together spices to create a Goa-style vindaloo that emulates the flavorful curries of the south; they also craft pan-Indian flavors with their herb-infused basmati-rice biryanis. Chefs even borrow some key ingredients from the neighboring China to create Indian-Chinese fusion dishes such as gobi manchurian. The desserts also vary by region: northern Indians enjoy the honey-dunked pastries known as gulab jamun, whereas others cool off with kulfi—an Indian ice cream made from alphonso mango pulp, pistachios, and saffron.
Since they first arrived on the Mayflower in 1620, Linda Bean's family members have only ever lived in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Bean, who is the granddaughter of the famous one—L.L., not the Chicago sculpture—has traveled to four continents but maintains enormous pride in her New England heritage. She names Maine as her favorite place on Earth, and when she started a business in her 60s, she sought to convey this state pride through its tastiest signature export: lobster.
Within just a few years of its inception, Linda Bean's Perfect Maine was in front of QVC cameras, on top of Walmart shelves, and filling a 26-foot "lobstermobile" purchased when Bruce Wayne was rebranding. Of her quintet of proprietary restaurants, only one is outside Maine, but all fill bellies with sea-fresh lunches and dinners. Linda's herbed lobster roll is the star—its two buttered buns hug a quarter pound of meat that's been sprinkled with an herb blend whose classified recipe she refuses to disclose.