Crispy rice with spicy tuna

Crispy rice with spicy tuna and the new watermelon cucumber refresher are happy-hour specials at Katsuya¿s Dragon Lounge in the SLS Hotel South Beach. (Benjamin Rusnak / Courtesy / May 16, 2013)

Red Cow

1025 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-652-1524, RedCowFtl.com

Don't call this new spot in the former Texas Hold'Em BBQ a barbecue joint, which is brought to you by the owners of Coconuts, G&B Oyster Bar and The Foxy Brown.

Co-owner Elliot Wolf points out his restaurant serves not only barbecue, but also a variety of choices — with inventive twists on classics. "We're doing things more upscale using better products," he says. "We're taking time with those products to make sure it's right."


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Indeed, they spend two weeks brining, dry-rubbing and smoking the pepper-crusted pork-strami sandwich ($12). The braised, smoked flanken beef ribs ($21) is an example of a nicer product — a three-bone thicker cut.

Other standouts include the house-smoked tequila Smokey & The Bandit margarita ($10), moist iron-skillet corn bread made with creamed corn, cheese and chili ($9), sweet potato grits ($4, dinner only), cowboy mashed potatoes with bacon, cheese and sour cream ($4), watermelon salad with jicama and jalapeno vinaigrette ($11) and their own pomegranate barbecue sauce. Homemade tasso ham appears in the derringer poppers ($8).

The Backyard Banh Mi with pork, pickled watermelon rind and jalapenos ($10) brings "flavor out of left field," Wolf says. "People are adventurous now and willing to step out of their box. Once they try it, they love it."

Lunch and dinner are served daily amid a western theme with saddle bar stools, lone stars, corrugated metal, and an American flag painted on brick behind the bar — all punctuated by fire-engine red chairs.

American craft beers are on tap for $6, and the bar offers a selection of bourbons.

Mr. Bistro

4933 N. University Drive, Lauderhill, 954-617-3388, MrBistro.com

This 2-month-old American bistro in the Los Maderos Plaza is launching Sunday jazz brunches July 14 with a concise menu of items such as Jack Daniel's pulled pork pancakes and lobster benedict, along with homemade nitrate-free bacon, bloody marys, sangria and mimosas.

In addition, alfresco dining with 42 seats is coming in the fall to complement the intimate French-influenced dining room with warm colors of cranberry, gold and coffee, accented by a granite-and-cherry wood wine bar.

"It's an establishment that uses only local ingredients and introduces people to the farm-to-fork world," says managing partner and executive chef Steven LaCroix, who trained in Paris. "Our niche is great, simple food with an eclectic twist. We stand out as a place that gives great food at a great value — generous portions and quality."

Highlights are Bistro flatbread with mission figs, caramelized onions and gorgonzola ($10), fried green tomatoes with goat cheese ($7), truffle parmesan duck fat fries ($6), skillet-roasted brussels sprouts topped with bacon and triple-cream brie ($8), balsamic BBQ pork shank ($16), shrimp and grits in a tomato broth ($14) and pot roast French dip ($12).

The lunch/dinner menu is served daily, except Sundays, and a guitarist entertains Friday and Saturday nights.

Steve's Wood Fired Pizza

9180 Glades Road, Boca Raton, 561-483-5665, StevesWoodFiredPizza.com

This 13-year-old Italian nook, one of the first gourmet pizza places around when a shrimp scampi version was surprising to discover, is unveiling weekend breakfast in late June and adding sandwiches made from bread baked in the wood-fired oven.

Breakfast will feature mostly egg dishes and omelets fired in the oven. "They come out really fluffy," says owner Steve Greenberg, whose 16-year-old son, Matthew, works alongside him. "The oven hasn't been getting its full potential."