Took the modified Koppelman(R) Gold Coast chow tour while in Boca Raton for a conference this week (see link below) The results:
7251 N. Federal Highway
We both had the pulled pork dinner, and chose sides of black-eyed peas, coleslaw, collards, pork & beans. Corn muffins were also included, and we added an order of hush puppies.
The sauce at Tom's is a classic red, sweet sauce rather than a vinegar or a rub. Sauce comes on the meat: ask for it on the side if you prefer. The pork was terrific, pulled but in larger chunks rather than strips. Good, smoky flavor; tender juicy meat. All sides were great. Hush puppies were just ok. The corn muffin was the best we'd ever tasted. Of the dishes we saw at neighbor tables, the ribs looked *extremely* appetizing. Overall: comfortable place, great food, very good service. Our favorite of the trip.
On Thursday night, for our "nice" night out, we went to Zemi:
5050 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton
Not on the Koppelman trail. Cured salmon rolls with sprouts and caviar were good. Lobster wonton soup was strangely bland. Mussels fine. Best was the kimchi-glazed yellowtail snapper, served whole: terrific. Overall: nice setting (we sat outside on a very pleasant night), good food, but the service wasn't on par with the price.
On Friday we did a little tour of small, ethnic joints, starting near McNab and Pine Island in Coral Springs, and ending up at the junction of 441 and 595 in Fort Lauderdale.
El Buen Gusto Colombian Bakery
7227 Pine Island Road (north of McNab)
A bakery with a variety of other Colombian lunch and dinner items. We went in search of arepa. Ordered the chorizo con arepa (sausage and corn cake) and the chicharron con arepa (fried pork and corn cake). The former was best, a spicy, flavorful sausage. The latter was good but earthier -- a long strip of pork meat and pork fat, deep fried. No mistaking that you're eating part of a pig. Ask for the large arepas. Overall: Tasty food, simple storefront-type place, nice-looking bakery items, homey feel, friendly staff. Also incredibly cheap (about $5 total).
2070 N. University Drive (Firestone Plaza)
Ordered jerk chicken and curry chicken dinners, and a bottle of coconut water. Plates included Jamaican rice and a small green salad: commercial bottled dressings (and hot sauces) on the table. curry chicken was mildly spiced and good; jerk was excellent. Both benefited from a few drops of hot sauce and a coconut-water chaser. Overall: Very good.
Though we were pretty sated at that point, we decided to tour 441 between McNab and 595 just to see the range: Jamaican, Mexican, Cuban and other places along the way. ISO a Cuban sandwich, we stopped at the end of our drive (near 595) at Vila's:
Vila's Mexican-Cuban Restaurant
2027 South State Road 7
The cubano on offer was a sad affair, with all the required ingredients but nothing to recommend it. The bread was particularly weak: a soft, limp variety with none of the usual crusty goodness. Flabby. Overall: kind of like a Denny's with beer and bad cubanos. Avoid.
Well, we couldn't end on such a low note, so we decided to hit Flip's Ice Cafe on the way back to Boca:
Flip's Ice Cafe
2233 Atlantic Blvd
Flip's has ice cream, "water ice" (like Italian ice), gelato, sorbet, and more. We got two "half-pikes" (about two large scoops each) of water ice, including mango, blue raspberry, and black raspberry. Not being east-coasters, the water ice concept is relatively unfamiliar to us, and we loved it. Overall, great place, great ice.
Also, for the record, Chauncey's at the Boca Raton Resort (our base for the conference) did a very nice lunch of grilled jumbo shrimp, arugula and couscous. Our room-service pizza (artichoke, peppers, mushrooms, chicken) was also surprisingly decent: crisp crust, nice blend of toppings.
Apart from having to take one for the team (at Vila's), we had a great chow experience. Thanks to Koppelman and others for recommends.
Link: [BROKEN LINK REMOVED]