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Dine Out Lauderdale dishes out the deals

Broward County restaurants are about to put themselves on sale.

Starting Tuesday through Nov. 7, about 40 restaurants will offer $35 three-course meals during the seventh annual Dine Out Lauderdale.

At some spots, that's almost a 50 percent savings from regular prices. Check out the menus at

Some advice: Read the fine print. Most restaurants don't offer the Dine Out deal on weekends. Many put things on hold from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7, during the 54th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

From steak to sushi, gumbo to grilled mahi mahi, there's something for everyone. Looking for suggestions? Here are seven where you can't go wrong. For a map of more locations, go to

Cafe Maxx, 2601 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach, 954-782-0606, You don't run own a successful restaurant in South Florida for a quarter-century without some real skill. The skillful ones, in this case, are Darrel Broek and chef Oliver Saucy, who succeed by delivering consistent food and an American menu that's always been tweaked. The Dine Out menu includes starters such as escargot-and-wild-mushroom pot pie and crispy Thai calamari salad. My choice for entrees would be either shrimp and lobster enchilada or barbecue-pork tenderloin with cheesy stone-ground grits, roasted-corn sauce and tomato salsa. Classic Key lime pie with blueberry sauce or triple-chocolate brownie are perfect sweet endings. Entrees on the regular menu hover about $40, so this represents one of the best Dine Out deals.

Ireland's Steakhouse, Bonaventure Resort & Spa in Weston, 250 Racquet Club Road, Weston, 954-349-5656, The westernmost participant in Dine Out also gives diners a choice of knives with which to cut their steaks. Too bad the only steak on the Dine Out menu is a 6-ounce filet. Otherwise, it's chicken, tuna or salmon. Who wouldn't want to start with the Wedge? It's iceberg, Maytag bleu cheese, smoked bacon, tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers and bleu cheese dressing. For dessert, New York cheesecake and Key lime pie are served.

3030 Ocean, Harbor Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, 3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale, 954-765-3030, Chef Paula DaSilva started her career at 3030 and recently returned after a few years in Miami Beach. Her Dine Out menu will change daily, but the sample menu gives diners a good sense of DaSilva's philosophy of fresh ingredients and international flavors. I can't wait to try her grilled Brussels sprouts "Caesar" with Parm-Reg, crispy anchovies and garlic croutons. Pan-roasted halibut with pork-fried rice, pickled vegetables and boy choy with a soy vinaigrette is the only entree on the sample menu. For dessert, here's hoping she serves roasted banana creme brulee.

Dos Caminos, Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, 1140 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-727-7090, The only Mexican restaurant participating in Dine Out presents its food more elegantly than typically found with this kind of food. Start with plantain empanadas or a Mexican chopped salad with romaine, grilled corn, poblano chiles, apples, pinto beans, green olives, tomato, añejo cheese, crispy tortillas and toasted cumin vinaigrette. There’s seared mahi mahi or grilled sirloin, both prepared with Mexican panache, for main courses, and flan or a dark-chocolate tamale for dessert.

Mai-Kai, 3599 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-563-3272, If you live in South Florida, you have to go to the Mai-Kai at least once. And I know plenty of people who go there for the food as much as for the kitschy, Polynesian interiors and floor show. Start your Dine Out meal with a pupu platter that feeds two: Shanghai chicken, egg roll, crab rangoon and Tahitian cheese tangs, a kind of croquette. The teriyaki combo entree gets you chunks of beef tenderloin, chicken and shrimp with mushrooms and pea pods. Oven Hawaiian pork tenderloin also sounds like a winner served with pork-fried rice. Dessert choices include three nonfat yogurt flavors and Key lime pie. It’s another $10.95 per person for the Polynesian Islander Review. But again, you gotta see it just once.

McCoy's Oceanfront, Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort and Spa, 1200 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach, 954-782-0100, The ocean view alone is worth the price of a Dine Out dinner at this newcomer to the dining scene. Executive chef Francy Deskin, formerly of Mark’s Las Olas, focuses her menu on seafood and sustainable ingredients. Her Dine Out menu includes a starter of classic vegetable soup au pistou with chick peas and Parmesan. Blackened salmon with roasted broccoli and cauliflower and eggplant-tomato relish sounds like a solid entree. So does a chicken breast with cauliflower mash, garlicky rapini and warm tomato-anchovy vinaigrette. Unfortunately, two menu items require upcharges — $10 for a scallop appetizer and $20 for beef tenderloin — which doesn’t seem in the spirit of Dine Out.

Bongo’s Cuban Cafe, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 5733 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954-791-3040, Two years ago, Miami music power couple Gloria and Emilio Estefan opened another outpost of their Cuba-inspired restaurants at the Hard Rock. This one’s decidedly more chic — and unlike any other Cuban joint — with its own rooftop lounge. It’s Cuban food Bongo’s-style. The Cuban combo appetizer includes pork tacos, papa rellena and crispy, bite-size pork bites. Jumbo shrimp in garlic sauce is among the entrees, but so is a trio of meats called Tour of Cuba: shredded chicken, roasted pork and shredded beef served with Cuban mojo. Never end a Cuban meal without tres leches. or 954-356-4632

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