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.
Cubes of marbled bleu cheese tucked beside half-moons of Spanish chorizo decorate the wooden platters that rotate around Tapas Latin Fusion's tables—as do razor-thin slices of bright red carpaccio topped with curls of arugula and roasted peppers. Heralded by TCPalm as “wonderfully focused,” the restaurant's tapas reflect artistry and adherence to traditional Spanish cuisine. The attention to detail extends to its cocktails and sangrias, which are enhanced by muddled mint leaves, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and local honey. Additionally, dining companions can enjoy occasional live music against Tapas Latin Fusion's Mediterranean backdrop, accentuated with tiled art, wrought-iron chandeliers, and shipwrecked yacht captains.
Patrons take a seat at The Chef’s Table, where husband-and-wife culinary team Adam Fatigate and Katie Groffman Fatigate appease appetites with gourmet American cuisine prepared with local ingredients. Though the menu may change based on seasonal ingredients, its offerings—such as a rack of lamb with tangerine-glazed carrots and the fish of the day—always tempt taste buds. Diners can savor midday meals Monday–Wednesday or a prix fixe dinner Thursday–Saturday, depending on the time of year or whether it's Martha Washington's birthday. Along with its indoor and outdoor dine-in options, The Chef’s Table offers prepared gourmet foods for takeout until 6:30 p.m., and stocks home fridges full of wines and artisanal cheeses, including Beecher's handmade cheese from Pike Market.
Cooks stoke brick ovens to bake specialty pizzas crowned with roasted red peppers, prosciutto, and gorgonzola cheese in the kitchen at Carmela's Brick Oven Pizza and Wine Bar. Their darting hands scatter cheese, ladle on sauce, and gently rest sheets of pasta as they craft lasagna. The murmur of conversation drifts from the high-topped tables in the dining room, where glasses clink together making the sound of a knight trying to get out of a Volkswagen. Behind a bar hewn from gleaming wood, bartenders reach up to shelves stacked high with bottles of wine, pairing vinos from the extensive list with lobster ravioli or signature white pizzas topped with mozzarella, ricotta, and garlic.
All Spiced Up augments patrons' culinary efforts with a taste-bud-tickling assortment of gourmet spices and other cuisine enhancers purveyed and explained by a knowledgeable staff of seasoned spice peddlers. Shoppers can peruse shelves lined with jellies, jams, and sauces ($5.95–$14.99), including Fat Toad Farm caramel sauce, or snatch up tins filled with Republic of Tea artisan leaves ($11–$15) for their brewing or soothsaying needs. Home chefs battling bland recipes can spruce them up with spices and rubs from Rub with Love and All Spiced Up's house brand, or measure out custom-size pinchings and purchase their seasonings by the ounce. On-site libations available include espresso, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and hot teas ($1.50–$3.50), while chef sightings occur all month long at scheduled events, evening cooking classes, and hairnet fittings.