BA Argentinean Bistro
2881 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-533-2013, BA-Bistro.com
You probably don't have to guess. Yes, BA stands for Buenos Aires.
And BA now reigns in this spot — in the ambience, cuisine and hometown of owner and wine sommelier Tomas Trabucco — no longer the Bouillabaisse French Bistro.
Black-and-white photos of Buenos Aires frame the intimate space with black leather chairs and leather banquette, white linens, metallic starburst sconces, opaque pendant lights and a bar tiled in light terra-cotta, all punctuated by modern tango and Latin-inspired music.
"We are in the perfect location to embrace the neighboring businesses and residents in Fort Lauderdale," Trabucco said in a press release. He was general manager at the classy Paradiso Ristorante in Lake Worth. "Our food and wine menu will be reminiscent of the cultural heritage of Argentina with a modern approach and reasonable prices. "
Lunch, Tuesday through Friday, offers a mix of appetizers, sandwiches and entrees, such as prosciutto and fresh mozzarella panini ($9) and sauteed snapper ($14). Dinner highlights, among the multiple steaks and pastas served Tuesday through Sunday, are an empanada duo ($8), grilled sweetbreads ($9), blood sausage with chimichurri ($9), skirt steak ($24), porcini ravioli with shiitake sauce ($18) and pan-seared sesame tuna with ginger-soy sauce ($24).
1400 Glades Road, Boca Raton, 561-923-0847, ShakeShack.com
Sipping Stags' Leap cabernet or Gruet sparkling wine over cheese fries and a hot dog at a fast-food joint?
Yes, that's possible at the New York-based international chain that has unveiled its third Florida outpost — the first outside of Miami-Dade County — in a new triangular building at the east end of University Commons across from Florida Atlantic University.
The 80-seat covered patio is its largest in the country. The company aims to invoke the social feel of drive-ins from the 1950s and '60s, says Zachary Koff, vice president of operations.
The SmokeShack with bacon and cherry peppers ($6.30, single; $8.90, double) shines among the all-natural Angus burgers, and the fried portobello 'Shroom Burger with two cheeses ($6.95) is a tasty option for vegetarians. Five flat-top dogs ($3 to $4.40), shakes ($5.15 to $5.65), wines by the glass or half bottle, and craft beers round out the menu.
Frozen concretes ($4.25, small; $6.50, large) unique to this location are Mizner's Muse, vanilla custard with cheesecake blondie, strawberry, and cinnamon, and Burrowing Banana, a nod to FAU's burrowing-owl mascot with salted caramel banana-cream pie in chocolate custard. And 5 percent of sales from the Glades Donuts — glazed cake doughnut, peanut butter and chocolate toffee in vanilla custard — benefits the nearby Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
"It's one of the best things about opening each location, getting to be playful. The names are a call out to the locals," Koff says.
297 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, 561-353-5888, LifeTastesBetter.com
As this bohemian retreat approaches its first anniversary, the owners have rolled out weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. along with sidewalk seating under a red awning. And a retro-style glass garage door has opened up the funky dining room.
The Baker rum cocktail with bananas, crunchy candied pecans, Frangelico and banana beer ($11) is the perfect pairing for banana brulee French toast with pickled blueberries ($13, add pork belly for $6). Other standouts are egg-white scramble ($12), a smoky pork belly Benedict with bacon-braised kale and chipotle hollandaise ($15), blackened shrimp and grits ($18) and inventive seared scallops with lump crab-sweet potato-apple hash ($19). Each weekend features a different mimosa, such as cayenne, ginger and mango ($7).
Other new cocktails include Jack's Link with bourbon, mesquite, tomato powder and sriracha ($11). "My thing is taking food flavors, such as glazing sauces, and blending them with liquor," general manager Brian Marcotte says of the drinks.
New desserts include Blueberry Sticky Icky Buns and salted caramel creme brulee with rum-soaked bananas (both $8), and a late-night menu has launched with "remedies" such as punch-bowl drinks ($25), liquor snow cones ($5) and munchies.
The next rare drinks pairing dinner at 7 p.m. Monday for $65 will feature liquors such as Hophead Vodka. Subsequent ones will be held every four to six weeks for $40 to $75.
Vinnie's Lobster Bar
5810 S. University Drive, #118, Davie, 954-680-3323, VinniesLobsterBarFlorida.com
This quaint restaurant anchored by a traditional cherry-wood bar has added meat dishes to supplement its seafood-centric menu since opening seven months ago in Lakeside Town Shops.
Now you can find chicken francese, parmigiana or marsala ($15.95) and rib-eye steak ($29.95). Rotating specials are lamb chops ($24.95), filet mignon ($29.95), surf & turf filet mignon and lobster tail ($36.95) and veal chops ($36.95). Another seafood option is Maine lobster pappardelle in brandy sauce ($26.95). Each month offers a special entree as buy-one, get-one free.
Chef/co-owner Vinnie Napolitano, whose first restaurant was in the Bronx more than 40 years ago, grants special requests, such as deboned smelt and tripe. Happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday is now two-for-one select drinks.
More of the white linen-covered tables have become high-tops to be more social, and musicians will perform pop music, primarily soft rock and smooth jazz, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
"We believe there is a serious lack of places for the 40s to 60s-plus crowd to go for entertainment in the area," says co-owner Rich Donato.