Tucker Duke's Lunchbox & Market
1101 S. Powerline Road, #102, Deerfield Beach, 954-708-2035, TuckerDukesLunchBox.com
James Beard-nominated chef Brian Cartenuto's late-night snack is a peanut butter Eggo sandwich, so he created fried PB&J bon-bons for his joint in the Panhandle.
Now South Floridians can indulge in his comfort food at his second co-owned location, named after his 110-pound Great Dane Lab.
"It's a Southern-style lunch counter focusing on local, seasonal, sustainable food sources," says Cartenuto, who has appeared on the Food Network. "We make everything in house from ketchup to the other array of sauces."
He reveres his half-pound towering Tucker Duke burger ($10) so much that he forbids substitutions for the American cheese, onion rings, remoulade, tomato and lettuce.
"I'm here to invoke a food memory," Cartenuto says. "We pride ourselves on sassy, snarkiness, having fun and giving the guest something different."
All but one of his 14 saucy burgers are named after his friends' and customers' dogs. Other favorites are the Mondragon loaded with bacon and fried egg ($12) and Charlie White with bourbon pimento cheese ($9), along with 11 sandwiches, such as the pork belly Edward with hoisin barbecue sauce ($9), his take on banh mi. Wine and craft beers are on tap.
Even though desserts may tempt, those bon-bons with a milk shooter ($4) on the snacks section certainly suffice.
Lunch and dinner are served daily amid brick and wood-striped walls, high tops, L-shaped bar, industrial ceiling, chalkboard menu, diamond-plate metal and TVs, along with covered sidewalk seating.
Weekend brunch is expected to start in April.
225 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-523-1407, TsukuroFl.com
Even though it boasts an ocean view, it's tough to decide whether to dine on the raised patio or inside amid the eye-popping geometric design, inspired by the Dutch painter Pieter Mondrian.
A retail store was demolished to build the two glass-façade stories, which look like Tokyo on this touristy beach strip where sibling Spazio and the iconic Elbo Room are steps away.
Indeed, the ultra-mod interior beckons with an indoor/outdoor bar and soaring ceilings. On the second tier, an elaborate raw bar fronts a central sushi bar with discreet TVs. A dehumidifier gifts comfort among oranges and blues that punctuate splashes of metallic silver.
"We're here because we want to change this block and culture of the city. It's about time," says general manager Ian Falconi. "We want a place where locals can have fun."
Complimentary pickled veggies and wasabi nuts kick off the meal. Traditional Japanese sushi selections ($5-$17) contrast fusion dishes with primarily Korean and Chinese influences, such as baked oysters with kimchi and goat cheese ($10), wonton-wrapped chicken taquitos ($7) and a version of Korean barbecue baby back ribs with soy and miso ($9). Sake sangria ($8, glass; $22 pitcher) headlines the cocktails.
"We're trying to borrow Asian flavors," Falconi says. "We're not trying to be authentic. It's the perfect melting pot."
Dinner and lunch are served daily.