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Denverite's lengthy report on S. FL

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Denverite's lengthy report on S. FL

fyodor | Jan 29, 2002 01:21 PM

1. Looked for Bimini Pescaderia way out west on Flagler based on Vitalinfo's fond but hazy recollection, found it to be closed, probably permanently. The other half didn't like the neighborhood, so we went east 30 blocks seeking out Bahama's Fish Market at 7200 SW 8th St, which I thought may actually have been the Latin seafood place Vitalinfo had been thinking of. Either way, I highly recommend this place for good and cheap seafood and a lively, fun atmosphere! The oysters were surprisingly bland, but the conch fritters were fine, and the broiled dolphin was very good (for under $8!) and the lobster in creole sauce was very good too. I even liked the Hatuey beer, which hails from Peurto Rico, and which I had never had before. Lively, bright and fun atmosphere, with cooks teasing laughing waitresses--all in Spanish, of course!

2. The Buttonwood in the Flamingo section of the Everglades NP. Tolerable cheapish NP food. The conch chowder wasn't half bad.

3. Herbie's in Marathon, on the Keys. We were looking for a casual seafood place for a quick but delicious lunch, and this fit the bill to a tee! Long picnic tables made it easy to meet other diners, and we met an elderly couple from Alabama who come to the Keys every year and always stop at Herbie's for the peel 'n eat shrimp. We shared the fried fish (dolphin or grouper, I think) with lots of fries and the jerk scallop. The latter was very good, even if the scallops were a bit overcooked compared to what the expensive seafood restaurants in Denver do, and the fried fish was fine. The only negative was that they were out of Key West beer, so I had to settle for Sam Adams, poor me. Recommended.

4. The Conch Republic in Key West. Man, the royal red shrimp appetizer special was OUT OF THIS WORLD!! The best dish we had on the trip, IMO!! Otherwise, though, it was only pretty good. Conch-stuffed mushroom appetizer very good, red snapper special surprisingly bland although very very tender, shellfish pasta had a good sauce but the shellfish were of erratic quality.

5. Monte's on Summerland Key, the biggest disappointment of the trip. AAA said it was a casual place with fresh seafood, and that sounded good. But the entree prices were almost as high as the Conch Republic. I should have smelled a rat when the only beers were Bud and Michelob! I shrugged off my disappointment with the shrimp appetizer as an inevitable letdown after the previous night's shrimp delicacy. The stone crabs were bland, and I wondered if they're all like that. My girlfriend really wanted to sink her teeth into some conch cause she had pleasant memories of a conch cocktail in the Yucatan. Luckily, I suggested the special which allowed us to order a mixture of the fried conch and crab filled grouper. Unfortunately, it was 90% rubbery conch and one small piece of grouper, which was by far the best food they served us, but we only had about two bites each. The waitress apologized and admitted they skimped on the grouper because it was cheaper than the conch. Not recommended, although if you stuck with the grouper, it might not be bad.

6. Las Culebrinas at 4700 W. Flagler. After camping for five nights, we were all grimy and ready for some down to earth Cuban gruel for lunch. I thought I had read this was an authentic Cuban place, and although I chose it because of its "extensive menu," I was still surprised to find it to be more fancy than funky, and probably as much Spanish as Cuban if not more so, though I'm no expert. Everyone else was dressed up. And clean, unlike us! No matter, we were treated like royalty and the food was fantastic and still cheap for what it was. Rabbit in wine sauce for $12.50 and chicken with pear-yogurt sauce for $8.95. Yum. It was great!! Highly recommended, and easily our happiest surprise of the trip.

7. Addison at 2 East Camino Real in Boca. This was a party my brother was throwing for my folks' 50th anniversary; good thing I wasn't paying for it! I don't usually eat at super-fancy places like this, so it's a little hard to judge it on those terms, but hey, the food was sure great! Several appetizers were passed around the table: the fried calamari was great, the crab dip very good, and the one bite I had of the stone crab was enough to put Monte's to shame! No, stone crabs are NOT all bland! The seared tuna, my mother's favorite dish, was terrific. The mahi-mahi (guess they're too chic to call it dolphin there!) was good, although not necessarily worlds better than what we had at Bahama's for a fraction of the price. Neat salad and fun atmosphere--there was a wedding across the way, and the irony was not lost! Good wine too, guess we can credit my brother for that--as well as for the whole party, of course! Thanks, bro!

There you have it, hope someone makes it all the way through. One additional note, my father scorns the Boca version of Wolfie's Rascal House in favor of a deli called Nestor's, though I didn't get a chance to eat there myself...........

fyodor

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