1410 N. University Drive, Coral Springs, 954-227-2828, ZonaFresca.com
This fledgling Mexican chain is still exclusive to Broward County with its new fourth location in Coral Springs, but that will change in the fall with a debut in Delray Beach at 1725 S. Federal Highway.
However, the Coral Springs branch does have a first: It's a franchise.
"It's a convenient place to get fast and healthy food at a reasonable cost; nothing on our menu is more than $8," says Brien Mastriana, franchise co-owner. "Zona Fresca has a family friendly atmosphere, which is why we think our brand will be a great fit with the family oriented community in Coral Springs. "
The chain's new items — braised, shredded machaca beef in a crunchy taco ($2.50) or in a burrito ($7.50), and the Zonarita, a wine-based tequila margarita ($4.95) — enhance the usual favorites, such as beer-battered Baja fish soft taco ($2.95), quesadilla ($5.50), chile rellenos ($5.95) and tostada salad ($6.95).
Lunch and dinner are served daily amid vibrant colors inspired by the Baja California peninsula, vintage light fixtures, Mexican star pendant ceiling fixtures and porcelain flooring resembling light wood. Kick back on the patio with Mexican or domestic beers.
Tarpon Bend Food & Tackle
200 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale, 954-523-3233, TarponBend.com
This American casual eatery, known for its daily fish catches and seasonal raw bar, introduced its latest round of items on the heels of doubling its craft beers on tap to 18.
Its newest promotion gives you the chance to try the expanded beers, along with sliders of pulled pork, shrimp or cheeseburger — all for $2 each from 4 p.m. to close at the bar. Other new drinks are Orange Dreamsicle and Skinny margarita (both $8).
Bestselling new victuals are seared tuna nachos with wasabi sauce ($10), Thai chicken wrap ($10.50) and kale salad with apples, cranberries, pecans and bacon ($9). Rounding it out are shrimp poppers with habanero dipping sauce ($8.50), steamed PEI mussels ($9.50), Mediterranean salmon salad with grilled vegetables, olives and roasted garlic aioli ($18.50) and poached swordfish sandwich with arugula, roasted pepper, chopped egg, tarragon and lemon mayo ($13.50).
"We have a lot of regulars from the neighborhood who come in a lot, and they've been very excited about the new items. The draft beer system has been a hit," manager Ashley Alam says.
Tired of pizza? Then sweeten it up as dessert at this 9-month-old kosher-dairy Mediterranean restaurant, which also has launched summer dishes.
The new twist features Caribbean Vacation pizza with caramel, walnuts, coconut, chocolate and pineapple and Napa Valley pizza with apples, pears, goat cheese, walnuts and balsamic reduction (both $12.95, $17.75).
If that doesn't seduce, then try the same-priced new bianca pizza with mushrooms, two cheeses and truffle oil. Highlights of the 13 summer specialties, which will run through September, include polenta cakes caprese tower with mozzarella and tomatoes ($10.95), hot & cold haloumi salad with teriyaki dressing ($15.95) and blackened tilapia tacos ($11.95).
Nibble on eggplant terrine, eggplant rollatini and stuffed peppers with mint raita sauce (all $9.95) before indulging in three pastas ($11.95-$13.95), lemon-honey garlic salmon ($25.95) or Greek roasted mahi-mahi with olive tapenade and grilled tomato coulis ($27.95).
"Inspiration for our new summer menu comes from the colors of summer and sweet memories of summer trips," said chef Asher Goldstein in a press release. "Every nuance, color, and flavor layer is very pronounced, like summer itself."
Grand Lux Café
Town Center at Boca Raton mall, 6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton, 561-392-2141; 1780 Sawgrass Mills Circle, Sunrise, 954-838-9711; Aventura Mall, 19575 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura, 305-932-9113, GrandLuxCafe.com
This Venetian-themed sister chain of The Cheesecake Factory is serving new eclectic creations for the summer, which could extend past the fall if they prove popular.
Relax with Shoot The Moon with Belgian white ale, whiskey and Apry liqueur ($11) or wild sour cherry margarita ($10) while deciding on beef/chorizo empanadas ($6.95) or chilled house-smoked salmon ($12.95). Then move on to sandwiches such as the wood-grilled BBQ burger ($13.50), grilled steak sandwich ($13.95) and Italian sausage grinder ($12.95), or entrees such as New Orleans shrimp saute with tasso ham ($14.95), chopped beef steak ($14.95) and herb-grilled mahi-mahi with lemon-butter sauce ($23.95).
"I've always felt chopped steaks were one of the most underrated items on any menu. . . . The problem is that they're not always that good. So we decided to create a recipe for a great chopped steak, and we did," says executive chef Bob Okura. "For starters, we don't use any fillers, only CAB (certified Angus beef) ground beef and tender hand-chopped steak with a special blend of aromatic ingredients. And then there are the two complementing sauces: one with red wine and green peppercorns and the other one with white cheddar cheese."
Of course, dessert hasn't been forgotten: warm butter vanilla cake with fruit and ice cream ($7.95).