Three family-friendly eats in Broward
Dining out over the holidays doesn't have to mean sticking to the local fast-food restaurant or leaving the kids home. Here are three Broward restaurants where adults can enjoy a good meal while the children are entertained.
- At Bonefish Mac's, an upscale sports bar in Lighthouse Point, kids eat free on Mondays and Thursdays from a 10-item menu that includes mini burgers, popcorn shrimp, chicken wings and pizza. The staff was more than willing to accommodate a request for basic grilled chicken, and good kids can get desserts like a gummy sundae or cup of mud (pudding with Oreo cookies). There's free face painting on Mondays, and any night, younger kids will enjoy the swinging tables that let you rock while you eat. Parents will also appreciate the fact that a couple of the TV screens can be switched to monitor the video game room in back. The extensive regular menu goes well beyond typical bar food with fresh seafood, entree salads, wraps, pastas and ribs. Portions are substantial and prices moderate. The house-specialty bonefish wrappers are a rich and filling twist on egg rolls stuffed with shrimp, crab meat, cheese, jalapeños and green onions. We also enjoyed a salmon BLT on focaccia and a po' boy wrap with blackened shrimp, bacon and cheese. Sweet potato fries or house-made mac and cheese are well worth the $1 upgrade.
- Joe's Crab Shack has just one Southeast Florida location, in Lauderhill, and it doesn't really feel like a chain restaurant. The outdoor playground makes it a good spot for young children, but they kitschy decor also gives them plenty to look at inside. See how many items they can identify hanging from the ceiling -- a shark, bicycle, boat motor and buoy, to name a few. The kids' menu ranges from basic chicken tenders and pizza to more sophisticated snow crab or grilled shrimp. The real treats here are desserts like the build-your-own sundae sandwich and the paint-a-crab -- a crab-shaped Rice Krispie treat served on a painter's palette with a brush and chocolate, strawberry and caramel sauces. Adults will enjoy the mix of fried seafood classics, Caribbean preparations and old-fashioned New England steam pots. A crab dip appetizer was creamy with a good amount of crab meat, but we would have liked a bigger serving. The light, flavorful Maui Mahi was grilled and topped with a coconut sauce and mango salsa. Next time, we'll sample the steam pots -- crab, shrimp, clams, lobster and sausage with corn on the cob, among other choices -- that are the restaurant's signature.
- With live music and dancing, the upstairs supper club at Nick’s Italian, a 36-year-old Fort Lauderdale favorite caters to an older crowd, but downstairs remains family-oriented yet classy with forest green banquettes, dark woods and Italian paintings. The twist here is that kids get to play chef and build their own pizzas. The server brings dough, sauce, pepperoni and cheese to the table, kids assemble their masterpiece, and it goes straight into the oven. Meanwhile, mom and dad can order an Italian favorite or a pizza of their own. Chicken parmigiana got raves. Nick's Italian egg roll, stuffed with ground beef, pepperoni and mozzarella, was rather skimpy, but we loved the seafood puttanesca with shrimp and scallops sauced with a tangy-salty blend of shallots, garlic, onions, capers and Kalamata olives.