Avowed city dwellers though we are, we recently set out to enjoy a quiet weekend at the lake at nearby Lake Anna, VA. A little fresh air, a little sunshine, and some swimming in a nice, cool lake sounded like just the thing for a June weekend. This did not go as planned.
Over on our Travel Page, we’ve posted our travelogue of our weekend at the lake. Check it out to see why Kathleen hates Air BnB, why we had an unforgettably disturbing dinner, and how we ended up bringing home 6 bottles of wine, 12 cans of beer, and a crap load of delicious cider.
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Recently, I was chatting with a new friend I’d made on Twitter (and seriously, you should follow us there @FoodAndDINK if you haven’t already), and my Twitter friend mentioned plans to spend part of the upcoming summer in South Florida. Now, it just so happens I grew up in South Florida, and even though I no longer live there, I do visit regularly. And what do I do when I visit? I eat everything in sight, obviously.
I thought this would be the perfect place to share some of my favorite dining choices back in my hometown. From a 24 hour donut shop with some of the best breakfast options in town to world-class seafood, these are the places I absolutely must visit whenever I return home.
Where to Eat Breakfast
Dandee Donut Factory
During our last visit to Florida, I think we ate breakfast at Dandee Donuts at least four times—it’s that good. They have a couple locations, but the one in Deerfield Beach is about a two-minute drive from my family’s house, making it not only delicious, but convenient. Their donuts are absolutely perfect (though Kathleen complains they are too rich).
But the donuts are just the beginning. They also make a number of breakfast dishes—our favorite being the Jersey pork roll sandwich. If you’ve never had pork roll (also called Taylor Ham), just think of thick-sliced bacon, thrown on a griddle and caramelized to meaty perfection. Add in some perfectly-cooked eggs and melty cheese and you have a breakfast sandwich you’ll never forget.
We tried Sticky Bun for the first time during our last visit, but it immediately made its way on to my must-eat list. This place is typically packed, with good reason. Their homemade biscuits are a marvel, as is their house-made bacon. They also made the best mimosa I’ve ever had—basically a glass of Champagne with just a hint of orange juice. They even have a lot of outdoor seating, for those of you insane enough to want that kind of thing even in the Florida heat.
Where to Eat Lunch
Home to more than a few transplanted New Yorkers, it’s no surprise that you can find excellent NYC-style food in South Florida. The absolute best example of this can be found at V&S Deli. Beautiful fresh meats, flavorful Italian cheeses, and the most remarkable fresh bread are the hallmarks of this gem. Still the best meatball sandwich I’ve ever had, this place will take you straight back to your favorite classic Italian deli. If for some reason you don’t have memories of a favorite Italian deli, let V&S make new ones for you.
New York Grilled Cheese Co.
I don’t know why this place is called the New York Grilled Cheese Co., unless it’s an attempt to appeal to the aforementioned NYC transplants. If New York is famous for grilled cheese, that’s news to me. Nevertheless, this place makes fabulously melty grilled cheeses. Stuffed full of a variety of ingredients to please just about everyone, the sandwiches here never disappoint. My favorite is stuffed with mac and cheese—because I am a glutton.
Where to Eat Dinner
Miami is home to the finest Cuban food in the country. But making the hour plus drive from Broward County isn’t always feasible. Luckily, Little Havana in Deerfield Beach is a more than worthy alternative. For many years I lived in places where it was very hard to find good Cuban food, so I would have to get my fix whenever I visited home. Most of the time, this meant a visit to Little Havana. They satisfy all the Cuban cravings, most especially their amazingly-flavorful roast pork.
Calypso Restaurant and Raw Bar
Calypso is so damned good, they’re not open on weekends! This is definitely a sign they’re doing something right. The thing they’re doing so right is seafood. Their conch chowder is the best I’ve ever had, and that’s only the start. The famous Calypso Cutter is one of the most memorable sandwiches you’ll ever encounter. Shrimp, garlic butter, melty cheddar cheese, and mushrooms (which I skip), this thing is rich, decadent seafood perfection.
Papa Hughie’s Seafood World
Want to dine on some of the finest seafood anywhere? Head to Seafood World in Lighthouse Point. Now, I should acknowledge my bias here—our family has been going to Seafood World for years. They’ve catered major family occasions, and several dishes on the menu at the adjoining Papa’s Raw Bar are named after members of my family.
That being said, seafood doesn’t get much better than this. Want to feast on Florida stone crab? Hint: you absolutely do! You’ll find the freshest fish, prepared in many delicious ways. Go here and experience the pinnacle of Floridian seafood.
Bonus Floridian Eats
Want to eat like a true Floridian? I’ve got two more suggestions that all Floridians know about and enjoy often.
First, at the local grocery store, you’ll find some of the best subs anywhere. What makes a Publix sub so damned good? I’m not sure, but I have loved them for almost forty years now, and it’s still at the top of my must-eat list when I’m in Florida.
Finally, there’s Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill—another place I’ve loved since childhood. We’ve written about Flanigan’s here before, and I still stand by it as one of my go-to restaurants in South Florida. Is it flashy? No. Is it good? Definitely. There’s a reason you’ll often find a long wait at many Flanigan’s—it’s affordable, it’s delicious, and it’s quintessentially Floridian.
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There’s nothing quite like your first trip to Europe. For us, it took months of planning, multiple changes to our itinerary, and a great deal of narrowing down where to visit (wanting to experience it all). The result: a two-week whirlwind through France, Spain, and Italy, including a seven-night Mediterranean cruise aboard the Norwegian Epic.
We enjoyed that dish so much, we set our minds to coming up with more tasty things we could stuff in wonton wrappers. We came up with a version stuffed with a spicy crab dip, making a homemade version of a classic Crab Rangoon. Click here to check out the recipe!
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Our neighborhood, the Carlyle section of Alexandria, doesn’t have a lot in the way of restaurants. It’s been primarily a commercial zone, populated with chains and lunch spots designed to satisfy the nearly 10,000 people who come to work here each day.
That’s started to change, though, as more and more residences pop up in the surrounding area. It’s now becoming less necessary to make the 30 minute walk to Old Town in order to have a good meal. We got a new French bistro this summer (review to come), and, most exciting of all, a new spot for seafood and whiskey just opened up a short walk away from our apartment.
Whiskey & Oyster is just as the name implies; they serve oysters in a variety of preparations, and they have a whole crap load of whiskeys on offer. We dined there for the first time last weekend and wrote a full review of our experience. We will undoubtedly be back often. Welcome to the neighborhood, Whiskey & Oyster!
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We’ve watched Top Chef for years, all the while hoping we’d one day get to taste some of the offerings by our various favorite contestants. That day finally happened a couple months ago when we dined at one of D.C.’s hottest restaurants, St. Anselm.
Run by Top Chef alum Marjorie Meek-Bradley, the food on offer at St. Anselm was just as good as you would expect from a former Top Chef powerhouse. We ate a lot—to the point where passing staff commented on our epically full table. Our feast included one of the most unique (and delicious) seafood dishes we’ve ever encountered, and much, much more. Check out our full review over on our restaurants page to read all about this fantastic meal.
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It’s Memorial Day. People are right now firing up their grills, jumping in their swimming pools, and doing a lot of outdoor drinking. It’s a time for people to get excited for the start of summer. But here’s a dirty little secret for you: summer fucking sucks.
Yes, we can now go outside and grill meat, but at what cost? Humidity, bugs, the sun—no thank you. I can’t for the life of me understand why people look forward to the worst part of the year like it’s some kind of treat. “I just love warm weather!” Fuck you.
Kids are out of school, making summer the worst time to travel. Europe in particular is overrun with crowds in the summer months, which is one reason we almost always travel in the fall and winter. I literally can’t think of anything less fun than standing in a mass of humanity…in a building with no air-conditioning…in the middle of July.
So go ahead and celebrate your precious summer. Convince yourself that it’s your favorite season. As for me, I’ll be dreaming of Alpine villages, colorful leaves blowing in a crisp autumn wind, or basically anything that can make me forget that we have four more months of this shit to deal with before we get to the good part of the year.
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