VooDoo BBQ & Grill
151 N. Hiatus Road, Pembroke Pines, 954-443-8406, VoodooBBQ.com
This burgeoning New Orleans-based franchise is opening its first Florida location Saturday in the former Crown Wine & Spirits of Pembroke Lakes Square with a Relay for Life fund-raiser 5:30 to 8 p.m. Menu samplings will be offered for a $10 donation.
The first 99 customers at 11 a.m. Sunday will win $10 weekly vouchers for a year.
"It's different than other barbecue because it's infused with the spice, culture and magic of New Orleans," Jack Flechner, managing partner of BBQ Boyz, said in a press release. Fort Lauderdale-based BBQ Boyz purchased rights to operate up to 26 locations in Florida. "When people think of New Orleans they think of Mardi Gras, parties and fun. That's the same vibe you'll find in VooDoo too. I think South Florida will eat it up!"
Cajun-Creole fusion, such as slow-smoked meats ($3.99 to $14.99), gumbo ($3.29 to $5.99), po' boys and other sandwiches ($4.49 to $7.99) and burgers ($3.99 to $7.99), will be served for lunch and dinner daily amid a French Quarter party-like atmosphere with Mardi Gras beads and memorabilia. Umbrellas will shade outdoor tables.
The Beach Grille
3414 Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach, 954-946-6000, TheBeachGrille.com
A husband and wife have opened a small cafe with a New York City vibe 100 yards from the beach.
"There's a renaissance going on in Pompano," says Tom Carrabba, co-owner with wife, Teresa Carrabba, who designed their decor. "There's not a lot of eateries in this area. Usually you have to pack your lunch to go to the beach. So, now you can walk off the beach and have lunch."
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served daily in an open-kitchen design with earth tones and Chicago brick. Sidewalk seating with teal umbrellas beckons.
Breakfast best sellers are croissant French toast ($5.95) and chocolate chip or blueberry pancakes ($8.95). Lunch and dinner favorites are Philly cheese steak ($8.95), grilled chicken wrap with bacon and guacamole ($7.95) and fresh, never-frozen charbroiled burgers ($7.95-$9.95).
The cafe closes at 7 p.m., except on Mondays when it closes at 5 p.m..
Ninja Spinning Sushi Bar
41 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, 561-361-8688
The owners of nearby Yakitori Sake House have unveiled a fun Japanese offshoot in the former Blues FortyOne — an entertaining way to enjoy sushi, popular in California and Tokyo.
"We're a totally different concept. Our sushi bar is revolving, like a Japanese Chipotle on steroids. It's all laid out and you pick what you want. It's fast and quick," general manager and co-owner Lixii Sun says. "We also have a special tapas menu, full liquor bar and sake."
The red-and-black modern dining room with tables on the sidelines is dominated by a large circular sit-down bar with a chain of sushi boats floating by on a stream of water, reminiscent of the rubber-duck game at carnivals. Customers are charged by the color of the plates they pull off the boats displaying classic and specialty sushi rolls ($3 to $7). Selections vary by the day, and made-to-order signature rolls and pan-Asian tapas and entrees can be ordered from the menu, such as lobster & shrimp wonton soup ($6), Ninja rice krispy with spicy tuna ($10) and miso sea bass ($26).
The lychee martini and Asian peartini are two of 10 signature cocktails ($10- $12). A private room for a small group offers traditional zashiki-style seating on the floor with cushions. Dinner is served nightly, and weekday lunch will begin mid-month with $4 specials.
Khong River House
1661 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach, 305-763-8147, KhongRiver.com
Let's be specific: This new darling by the owners of the wildly popular Yardbird Southern Table and Bar is not just Thai — it's northern Thai.
And contrary to misconception, the Vietnamese, Burmese and Chinese influences do not concoct modern fusion; the blend dates back to ancient migration from neighboring countries. Indeed, this is an authentic gem.
So authentic, in fact, that the top three chefs use recipes from their roots in northern Thailand.
"It's a food not really represented in the United States," says co-owner John Kunkel, who lived in Thailand for a couple of years. "I thought this was an opportunity to do something really special and evolve the culinary scene."
The challenge of sourcing the exotic ingredients has been solved by working with a Thai farmer in Homestead.
Rustic Thai touches, such as hanging fish traps and bird cages, corrugated metal ceiling and bathroom stalls, artistic dangling bare bulbs, woven twigs and other multi-shaded wood walls and pallets, are polished in an upscale effect to create a textured look and feel, just like Thailand's famous silks and textiles — raw but soft. Fun '80s music injects energy through the two-floor maze.
You might be tapping your toes as you try Burmese noodle wraps ($12), beef boat noodles ($14), chicken jungle curry ($17) ladled over Burmese yellow sticky rice ($5), and whole Vietnamese-style crispy prawns (market price, about $28).
Dinner and lunch with banh mi sandwiches are served daily, along with weekend brunch.