Head to Hallandale for American, Italian & Mexican classics
It's been more than three months since the Village at Gulfstream Park opened its doors, and the area is slowly turning into a nighttime destination. With more openings this summer, there are sure to be plenty of places for an evening of strolling, dining and shopping. The mix is designed to offer some-thing for everyone from young families to those looking for a night of partying. Here are three restaurants we tried...
- Judging from its first South Florida location, we hope the Cadillac Ranch chain of upscale sports bars expands in South Florida. The setting is comfortable with lots of big red booths, a large center bar area, 36 flat screen televisions and two outdoor fire pits. There's also plenty of energy with a live band Thursday through Sunday and mechanical bull riding. The dramatic decor is part western and part rock 'n' roll with half of a Cadillac decorating the main dining room along with dozens of guitars and pictures of rock legends like Bruce Springsteen and Elvis. The food is classic American: burgers, steaks, sandwiches, salads and pastas. Appetizers like the oversized plate of fresh-made kettle potato chips are best for sharing. If you're on a budget, pass on the pricier entrees. A Black & Bleu Salmon salad was fresh, but lacked the flavor we were expecting. The Ranch Mac 'N Cheese did not disappoint, with truffle oil adding a finishing touch to the rich combo of blackened chicken, mushrooms and cheese sauce. We're coming back with a larger group so we can try the house-made Mile High Ice Cream Cake. With layers of cookies, ice cream and fudge, it's worth blowing the diet.
New York-style pizza meets the 1960s at American Pie amid bright yellow walls, large peace signs and old Rolling Stone covers. The thin-crust pizza has just the right combination of sauce and cheese -- definitely one of the better ones we've tasted in a while. The house pie, a whopping 22-incher for $19.95, is an economical way to go for large parties. Along with our pizza we ordered a chicken Caesar salad that was impressively presented on a rectangular white tray with serving tong, though the taste was pretty generic. We wanted to try some of the grilled chicken wings, but they were out. While pizza is the big seller, the menu also includes a limited mix of other Italian favorites including subs, calzones, pastas and entrees like chicken or eggplant Parmesan.
- If you're coming to Cantina Laredo on a Saturday night, make a reservation. This restaurant is drawing some of the biggest crowds at Gulfstream. Even after 10pm, people were waiting for tables. The sleek, modern setting is much nicer than Laredo's old location in Plantation, with no kitschy Mexican decor. The lighting is dimmed for an intimate atmosphere in the evening, but poor acoustics make it difficult in some spots to talk over the noise. The chain bills itself as gourmet Mexican. Even standards like enchiladas and tacos are given out-of-the-ordinary sauces and preparations. With the majority of the entrees under $20 and large portions, there's good value for the money here. Start with their signature guacamole, made to order at your table. The lime and spices add just the right zest. Two complimentary salsas are more flavorful than most, particularly the spicier version with a nice smoky undertone. We went for the combo platters to get the most variety. The Cantina platter offered a tamale, chile relleno, enchilada and taco al carbon. A flavorful combination, but not for a light eater. The Monterrey enchilada combo wasn't quite as heavy. We were particularly fond of the Veracruz and the mole, although we needed extra mole sauce.
Sauteed shrimp, mushrooms, onions and monterey jack inside a poblano pepper wrapped in a carne asada steak on a bed of chimichurri sauce at Gourmet Mexican food restaurant Cantina Laredo in Plantation.