Pictured: Gilbert's 17th Street Grill, best burger -- Michael Laughlin / Sun Sentinel
BEST BAR Treasure Trove 2933 SE Fifth St., Fort Lauderdale, 954-522-8385, Facebook.com/iwftt
When the doors are open and the wind is right, with the sun fading (or, perhaps, closer to rising than setting) and in-house troubadors such as Catfish and Peter White are picking out some Neil Young or the Allmans, well, no bar better captures the sadly elusive South Florida flip-flop vibe than Jeff Rudds little slice of Islamorada (though the bathroom is all CBGB). Its location a block off the beach means only the riffraff can find it: local politicos, random NFL stars (local and otherwise), wayward Rio Vista parents, lost tourists and the odd bachelorette party bus. Pretty much any time of day you'll find someone standing at the bar (on either side) with an interesting story to tell. That's elusive, too. BEST BURGER Gilbert's 17th Street Grill 1821 Cordova Road, Fort Lauderdale, 954-768-8990, Gilberts17thStGrill.com
Recently, they've been doing this burger special with pesto that is just lights out, but, really, every Gilbert's burger -- their cheeseburgers can come dolloped with Brie, bleu or goat -- has something magically satisfying about it. Yes, the ingredients are abundantly fresh, and they arrive at your table with the sizzle of the grill still faintly apparent, but theres more. The secret is right in front of your face: Lenore Gilbert, her son, Richard, and the staff (from the guy with the spatula to your server) have an uncanny way of welcoming every guest that will convince you you're part of the family. Like, Lenore might actually give you the keys to the car if you had to run out for a quart of milk. Special burgers, special place. BEST RAPPER Eric Biddines Facebook.com/EricBiddines
The Delray Beach-raised Biddines has the gold grill and has rapped authoritatively on a series of EPs and singles about broads, rims and bootleg juice, but always with a wink, suggesting his vision is far more ambitious. In 2009, Biddines released "Walkin'," a deliberately paced essay on the virtues of, yes, walking, reflecting and being mindful of life's quiet virtues. Could there be a more radical statement in car-crazed South Florida? In March, Biddines' full-length album "planet coffee bean 2" included a bookend track: "Coffee Cup" is a soulful urban ballad (the video was filmed in New York) about the joy of caffeinated rituals, but as Biddines sings, "It's way more deeper." Biddines is clearly unafraid of tainting his street cred with candor, vulnerability and intellect, and he is deserving of a much wider audience. BEST BURRITO The Whole Enchilada 745 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-306-6218, TWEFreshMex.com
The Bob burrito we get at the Whole Enchilada is pretty straightforward: chicken, Mexican rice, black beans, jack cheese, salsa, guacamole, lettuce and sour cream on a flour tortilla, to which we add a liberal sprinkling of jalapenos, fresh-cut cilantro and chunky tomato salsa. But the experience shares an essential ingredient with our favorite burritos in Austin: ambience. The newer location in downtown Fort Lauderdale was created from a car repair shop (Ice Cold Auto Air), and the former garage's large, roll-up doors and the picnic tables out front give it the air of a classic Texas Hill Country ice house. All we need now is space for horseshoes and cornhole. BEST FREE EVENT The SunTrust Jazz Brunch New River at 201 SW Fifth Ave., 954-828-5363, FortLauderdale.gov
On the first Sunday of every month, we are reminded that outdoor entertainment in South Florida need not require sand and sea, swimsuits and sunblock, or even the shore at all. The SunTrust Jazz Brunch unwinds from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a gentle bend in the New River, in the shadow of the again-changing skyline of downtown Fort Lauderdale, with rewards both tangible and more fanciful: shade trees for your Sunday paper-reading, vendors with champagne and eggs Benedict, footloose seniors on the dance floor showing you how it's done and, against the sparkling backdrop of the river, a confluence of South Florida's remarkable demographic diversity. A community in repose.