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Dining scene: From chargrilled octopus to baked oysters

Tucker Duke's Lunchbox & Market

1101 S. Powerline Road, #102, Deerfield Beach, 954-708-2035,

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,

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.

Taverna Opa

270 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, 561-303-3602,

This mini Greek chain's boisterous brand of table dancing, flying paper napkins and belly dancing has arrived on this bustling avenue in the former 75 Main.

"Delray is such a vibrant area," operations manager Sophia Theodore says. "We have wanted to be in this market for a long time because our concept is so lively and fun."

Northern Greek native Peter Tsialiamanis, who also owns Taverna Kyma in Boca Raton, founded the Hollywood location in 1998 with mostly his family recipes.

A server muddles chickpeas, olive oil and garlic in a mortar and pestle at the table to make complimentary hummus. Highlights are prawns saganaki with goat cheese and tomatoes ($16), chargrilled octopus ($13), herb-marinated lamb chops ($26), seafood Thallasino pasta with tomato garlic sauce ($33) and a first-rate, aromatic version of mousaka ($15).

The bar from 75 Main has been moved to the side for an indoor/outdoor effect. Pendant lighting dangles from a log ceiling painted white, and potted pink bougainvilleas flank the sidewalk seating. Plans call for opening the back room for an outdoor feel and adding alfresco dining in the alley.

"The signature slate gray flooring is the same as the streets of Mykonos," Theodore says. "The bar is wrapped in white pebble stones like the beaches of Mykonos."

The wine list has been upgraded, and one of the new $11 cocktails is The Spartan with bourbon, honey, lemonade and mint.

Lunch and dinner are served daily.

Mellow Mushroom

25 S.E. Sixth Avenue, Delray Beach, 561-330-3040; 700 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-653-1351,

You have until the end of the month to sample a special menu of employee recipes from around the country that won in the first "Homegrown Picks" contest of this 40-year-old pizza chain based in Atlanta.

Delray Beach line cook Brian Loftus nearly made it with his buffalo chicken salad as a first runner-up. However, his creation ($12.49) is available on the "Unique to Our Location" menu along with other items such as Thai Dye Steak Salad ($13.99) and Caesar pizza ($13.49-$24.79).

"Buffalo chicken, blue cheese, bacon and ranch? These are definitely a few of my favorite things," Loftus says of his recipe.

The national limited-time specialties are blueberry vodka mojito ($7.99), The Pom Pom with vodka and pomegranate ($7.99), cucumber melon cooler ($7.99), the Slow Ridin' Chicken Salad served on garlic toast points ($7.99), Thaidal Wave Hoagie with chicken ($5.99 or $9.99), Chicken Cordon Bleu Calzone ($10.99) and Quirky Turkey Club Pie pizza ($10.99-$22.99).

Email news to or send to John Tanasychuk, Sun Sentinel, 500 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 900, 9th floor, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394.

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