For John Offerdahl, the aroma of meat sizzling on the grill stirs memories of his family's barbecues in rural Wisconsin. Even when John grew up and became a linebacker for the Miami Dolphins, he couldn't escape that enticing smell?it would waft into the stadium from fans tailgating outside and the mascots who secretly stuffed their costumes with cheeseburgers. So it was only natural that, after retiring from football, John would once again find himself at the grill when he and his wife Lynn opened Offerdahl's Cafe Grill in 2000. The couple were no strangers to the restaurant business; they had previously owned a chain of bagel shops. This venture, however, would prove more ambitious?they devised menus of classic American cuisine that could be served up fast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a focus on fresh-grilled fare.
Today, Offerdahl's Cafe Grill has expanded to seven locations, but its flavorful, no-frills meals remain the same. "Johnny O's Famous Bagels" still take the starring roles during breakfast, waking diners up with flavors like cinnamon crumb, pumpernickel, and fruit-and-nut. But once breakfast turns to lunch and dinner, the grill takes over. Chefs swiftly cook up steak, chicken, and salmon, serving the proteins over rice, pasta, or salad with homemade dressings. They also grill chicken sandwiches and burgers, in a nod to the caf?'s backyard barbecue roots.
Sabor Latino packs the Incan, Spanish, African, and Asian flavors that influence Peruvian cuisine into a menu of traditional dishes. Plates of fresh ceviche cure pieces of fish, shrimp, or black mussels in lime juice with a mixture of vegetables, and causas stack grilled octopus and other meats between mashed-potato patties. Heartier fare includes lomo saltado, tender skirt steak sautéed with tomatoes and cilantro, as well as corvine a la criolla, a breaded sea bass topped with a salsa of fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime. The cozy restaurant creates an intimate atmosphere as patrons sit around small white-clothed tables. A wrought-iron fence surrounds the brick and stone patio, where guests enjoy refreshing breezes and views of the nearby lake.
Scattered pimento-like across the Boca Raton area, Mitch and Cory Shidlofsky's microcosmic Brooklyns serve teetering deli sandwiches and hearty breakfast fare. Every morning, diners tuck into 20 types of bagels, including egg, sunflower seed, pumpernickel, and marble, and slather them in cream-cheese flavors such as scallion, honey walnut, and strawberry. Sweeter options abound as well, including challah french toast, and Oreo pancakes that help children-at-heart relive their glory days when their heads were the size of cookies. Gloriously messy sandwiches star on the lunch menu—foremost among them the New Jersey sloppy joe, in which roast beef, corned beef, and turkey spill out from under russian dressing and coleslaw.
When you're a regular at Romeu's Cuban Restaurant, you can tell the date by what you're eating. Tuesdays mean beef stew?Wednesdays, chicken fricassee. There's a special menu for every day of the week, complete with different soups and lunchtime sandwiches. But there's a menu of mainstays, too: oxtail, omelets, steaks, and fish?including entire fried snappers, not just the parts that the chef didn't want to eat. The entrees come with the classic Cuban sides of rice, beans, and plantains. And if you'd like something cool and sweet to complement your lamb shanks, try one of the fruit juices. They range from fresh-squeezed orange juice to more obscure drinks like mango nectar and pear juice.
In 1984, Steve Birger needed a name for his new barbecue restaurant when suddenly he found inspiration from a Jim Belushi skit on Saturday Night Live. Although he’s no “Rappin’ Jimmy B,” Stevie B similarly hails from Chicago and infuses Windy City influences into his Southern-style barbecue. At his Weston restaurant—under new management—chefs bake ribs before searing them on a charbroil grill, and shred barbecued beef brisket that can fill a Philly sandwich, moonlight as a delicious toupee, or star on a dinner plate alongside baked potatoes and onion rings. Shoestring fries, creamy coleslaw, and other sides round out each meal.
Inspired by Brazilian gaucho—or cowboy—style of cooking meats, the owners and chefs of Brazaviva Churrascaria opened their restaurant and devoted its menu of endless dishes to the Old-World grilling method. As the restaurant describes it, the wayfaring gauchos roamed the expansive grasslands of Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul, skewering their meat dinners and roasting them over a fiery pit, before carving off thin slices to be shared around the fire.
Holding true to that tradition, the eatery's expert carvers bring skewers of fire-roasted beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and sausage tableside to pile plates high. Guests eat as much as they like, using a card that is green on one side and red on the other to indicate to the friendly staff carvers to keep the feast flowing, or to take a moment's savoring pause. Whatever belly room is left over after all cards go red calls for filling up with one of the eatery's unique desserts that swirl South American flavors such as passion fruit and papaya into rich smoothies and mousses. A collection of fine wines selected specially to compliment the charred flavors of the meats is available to complete the experience.