Ten Reasons To Cross The County Line

Ten reasons to cross the county line

Some of our Broward friends lament the county's quieter dining scene. While they complain, we're stuffing our faces.

Let's appreciate what the 954 does have: a panoply of enticing, unfussy restaurants offering the likes of roti, chaat and Korean barbecue.

Our favorite strip-mall gems are best for take-out or a casual meal, and thus they are well suited to spontaneous visits. Going north on I-95, the Turnpike or I-75? We've provided the nearest highway exits for ease.

EASTERN BROWARD: OFF I-95

The dish: Narutomaki

Exit: 29A at Sunrise Blvd.

Why we love it: The narutomaki ($7.50), wrapped in thinly shaved, fresh cucumber, is both filling and hydrating. Choose between uber-fresh salmon, or tuna with avocado and masago. There are just a few counter seats at Fort Lauderdale's Sasaya Japanese Market, so plan on carrying the food out.

The dish: Chicken Adobo

Exit: 31 at Oakland Park Blvd.

Why we love it: The menu at the five-month-old Hot & Soul leaps from New Orleans to Italy to the Philippines–our favorite stop on the menu, seeing as one of the chef-owners is Filipino-American. Chicken thighs steeped in a sauce redolent with peppercorns, ginger and vinegar draw us back to Fort Lauderdale.

The dish: Bobotie Pie

Exit: 32 at W. Commercial Blvd.

Why we love it: Oakland Park's Meal in a Pie specializes in the South African version of a turnover. The bobotie hand pie ($6), stuffed with curried ground beef and fruit chutney, sways between salty, spicy and sweet. Sprinkle on Nando's Peri-Peri sauce ($3) for added heat.

Bobotie pie at Oakland Park's Meal in a Pie

DOWN THE MIDDLE: OFF THE FLORIDA TURNPIKE

The dish: Banh Mi Dac Biet
Exit: 58 at W. Sunrise Blvd.

Why we love it:  Pho 78's sandwich ($6) overflows with strips of grilled chicken and pork, a fried egg, cucumber, pickled daikon radishes and hot peppers. Savory juices drip from the warm ingredients, tempering the bite of the radish and pepper.

The dish: Roti

Exit: 58 at W. Sunrise Blvd.

Why we love it: At Joy's Roti Delight, a hole in the wall located among Lauderhill's car dealerships, you can choose from proteins like curry chicken ($8.50) and oxtail stew ($10) to be wrapped in roti, a delicate cousin of paratha and pita breads. Boneless chicken costs a dollar extra, but we'd recommend going bone-in for a more traditional experience.

The dish: Salt-Baked Crab

Exit: 62 at W. Commercial Blvd.

Why we love it: Salt and a thin layer of breading encrust a jumble of blue crab pieces tossed with aromatic jalapeño rounds and scallions ($13) at Silver Pond Chinese Restaurant. Be prepared to get your hands dirty; the sweet, delicate crab meat is worth the effort.

The dish: Galbi Gui? and Daeji Jumul Luk

Exit: 62 at W. Commercial Blvd.

Why we love it: Gabose is best suited for a group, so gather friends for a field trip. Grill marinated beef short rib ($25) and pork ($21) on the tabletop charcoal barbecue, then furl romaine lettuce leaves around the smoky meats. Enjoy it all with a slew of banchan. Eat, repeat and let the friendly, knowledgeable staff guide you through the menu.

Indian spices (Photo: Sarka Sevcikova)

WESTERN BROWARD: OFF I-75

OR SAWGRASS EXPY.

The dish: Coconut-Black Bean Soup

Exit: 9A at Pines Blvd.

Why we love it: J's Garden Café has offered vegan Caribbean dishes for just over a year. Order the creamy coconut-milk-and-black-bean soup ($4.50 to $6) with soft, doughy dumplings ($.50). Have the soup as a meal, or make it a prelude to mains like spicy ginger tofu drenched in ginger-coconut cream.

The dish: Sogogi Soondubu
Exit: 15 at Royal Palm Blvd.

Why we love it: The ground beef and silky tofu soup ($12) at Weston's Myung Ga Tofu & Barbecue arrives at the table at a roiling boil, accompanied by an raw egg and a plethora of condiments (banchan). Crack the egg into the chile-stained broth; we dare you to exercise enough patience to avoid burning your tongue.

The dish: Chaat 
Exit: 
5 at West Commercial Blvd. off Sawgrass Expy.

Why we love it: The chaat menu at Woodlands Indian Cuisine in Lauderhill offers seven street snacks. Try potato patties with a sweet-and-spicy sauce (aloo tikki, $6) or wheat crackers topped with chickpeas and potatoes (papri chaat, $5). But why stop at just two?