With its sunny, coastal lifestyle and sunny mix of flavors, Palm Beach County has no shortage of good bites.
It’s no secret that the county’s diverse dining districts are rising to destination levels. In south county, the Atlantic Ave. and Pineapple Grove dining districts have transformed downtown Delray Beach into an utterly crawl-worthy destination. In central county, downtown West Palm Beach is abuzz in new restaurants and bars. In north county, diners flock to the PGA Boulevard corridor for good eats and a lively scene.
Of course, too many options can boggle the senses, especially when there’s always a risk any one dish may not survive a picky chef’s menu.
With that in mind, we share some favorite local bites that are worth seeking out:
Who doesn’t love a good cup of joe! And we all have our favorite place to grab some coffee. Based on your feedback on our social posts asking for your favorites, we compiled the following list of coffee spots. Now it’s time to vote! We’ll announce the winner in the coming weeks.
Here are some of our previous Readers’ Choice winners:
It’s an inspiration he relegated to back-burner status for decades: the familiar embrace of a Jewish deli.
Restaurateur Burt Rapoport knows that embrace better than most. His grandfather owned a deli for 50 years. His father managed it for many of those years. The lower east Manhattan establishment was home to Rapoport and his family – literally so. They ate most of their meals there, and they lived upstairs.
The vintage Rapoport’s deli was a traditional dairy restaurant, meaning it served no meat but plenty of blintzes, breads, fish dishes and potato soup. This is where a young Burt would grow up (on bowl after bowl of that hearty soup) to be a third-generation restaurateur and an influential figure in Palm Beach County’s hospitality world.
Now the restaurateur behind some top south county concepts (Deck 84, Henry’s, Burt & Max’s and Bogart’s Bar & Grille) has a deli-themed spot on deck in Boca Raton, inspired by those old Manhattan memories.
Rappy’s Deli will open in November, says Rapoport. The newest member of Rapoport’s Restaurant Group will debut in Boca’s new Park Place, a soon-to-open plaza on Military Trail, between Yamato and Clint Moore roads.
“I felt it would be great to go back to my roots,” Rapoport said in an interview this week.
Named after his late father, Ray “Rappy” Rapoport, the new restaurant is more “deli-themed restaurant than classic deli,” he says. He describes the concept as “soulful Jewish food with a modern interpretation.”
The casual spot will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and will boast a 30-foot deli takeout counter as well as a full, indoor-outdoor bar, says Rapoport, who laments that true Jewish delis are few and far between in the country.
But there’s good news to be found amid the “glorified diners with zero atmosphere,” he notes.
“Now you see this resurgence with younger people who are reinventing delis all around the country,” says Rapoport. “So maybe the time is right to do this thing.”
The menu will mesh old school Jewish food with “a lot of fun items,” he says.
Expect franks in a blanket wrapped in puff pastry that’s sprinkled with “everything bagel” seasoning, deli-style sushi in the form of nova-wrapped tuna salad, pastrami spring rolls and house-smoked pastrami dishes. Also on the menu: classic chicken in a pot, corned beef and stuffed cabbage, plus homemade mustard, malts, boozy shakes and sweets.
The spirit, sounds and flavors of Jamaica will bounce through the lounge at PB Catch Palm Beach Saturday night. That’s when The Shack, the lounge’s summer pop-up series, turns its focus to spicy bites and laid back island music.
On the menu at this “Jamaican Seafood Fest:” conch souse (marinated conch with citrus, chili, cilantro, $16), crispy whole yellowtail snapper (with braised callaloo and spiced sweet potato, $34), Jamaican banana fritters (with Blue Mountain coffee and crème fraiche, $10), among other a la carte items.
In the backdrop: a reggae band playing live tunes.
Each summer, the seafood-centric restaurant turns its lounge into a beach-themed “shack” that serves as a backdrop to island-y sips, bites and tunes.
PB Catch’s Jamaican Seafood Fest
When: Saturday, from 5 p.m. to midnight
Where: “The Shack” lounge at PB Catch, 251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach; 561-655-5558; PBCatch.com
The mega event, which is more “flash mob” meets “white party” than a foodie feast, returns Friday, Nov. 4, organizers announced Tuesday.
The location will not be announced until the day of the event, but Diner en Blanc West Palm Beach organizers say the new outdoor venue will accommodate more than 1500 participants.
“For this new edition, we have once again searched the city high and low to find a venue that will ‘wow’ and render this night unique and magical as well as welcome more guests,” Nora David, one of the event’s co-hosts, said via news release.
Dubbed the “world’s largest dinner party,” Diner en Blanc follows a tradition launched in Paris in 1988 as a casual picnic for friends to reconnect. It has now been replicated in more than 60 countries.
Attending this synchronized fashion spectacle is not as simple as purchasing a ticket. You must be invited to attend. You can get yourself invited by following the local Diner en Blanc folks in social media or schmoozing up a committee member or event volunteer.
Then there’s a labyrinthine registration process, which happens in three phases. And yes, even if you are approved, you pay an admission charge. (See details below.)
Finally, you must pack a full, formal picnic, a table, chairs, and table setting, all of which you must schlep into the venue. (Shuttle buses to the venue are available for registered participants.)
Diner en Blanc is a rain-or-shine event. Those who attended last year were greeted by a deluge of rain, which cleared and ushered in a pleasant night. And for all the stated formalities, the event itself turned out to be far more relaxed than anticipated, in terms of fashion and food.
DINER EN BLANC WEST PALM
When: Nov. 4
Where: Secret location, to be announced Nov. 4, shortly before the event. Participants will meet at an assigned location and will be escorted to the outdoor venue by a Diner en Blanc volunteer.
Registration: Visit westpalmbeach.dinerenblanc.info/register to register. This is a three-phase process. Phase 1 is for those who attended last year’s event. Phase 2 is for new guests who are referred by Phase I people. Phase 3 is for those who sign up online by Oct. 21 to be on the waiting list.
Small print: Once you are confirmed, you must attend (or you will be barred from future Diner en Blanc events). It’s a rain or shine event.
Dress code: “Elegant and white only,” organizers say. “Originality is encouraged as long as it is stylish and tasteful.”
Table setting: Must be all white. You must bring a table with two white chairs, white tablecloth, stemware and white dinnerware, a picnic basket packed with “fine” food. Only wine or Champagne are permitted (must be reserved through online e-store). No beer or hard liquor. Organizers ask that guests refrain from bringing their own alcohol.
Catering option: Will be offered onsite for a charge. This option can be reserved through the website.
Clean up: After it’s over, take everything with you – including litter.
Experience some of the best dishes and drinks West Palm has to offer — and walk off the calories at the same time. Don’t worry, this isn’t a marathon or a competition. It’s the Downtown West Palm Beach Food tour.
We’re talking about a lovely mile of easy walking, eating and learning. And it all starts this Tuesday, Sept. 20.
From learning how to open a coconut and tasting amazing pizza to checking out the artsy murals and taking pictures of historic buildings, this short journey offers a great opportunity to experience what life is like in West Palm Beach. It features 13 food and drink tastings at six different restaurantsand offers alcoholic beverages for an additional cost.
This is an activity for the entire family as the tour makes plenty of air-conditioned stops along the way, just wear weather-appropriate clothing. The capacity is 12 guests per tour so bring your crew!
So if you’re ready to learn about those historic buildings that you probably pass by everyday and taste local specialties, here are the details:
It’s a good sign when a hotel restaurant is bustling, so much so that reservations are strongly suggested, if not required. And it’s an even better sign when that restaurant is busy despite heavy competition from neighboring hot spots and some of the county’s most popular dining districts.
Sandwiched between the hum of Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach and the stir of eastern Boca Raton’s dining hub, Latitudes is a local sensation. Yes, it doesn’t hurt that the seafood-centric restaurant is perched by the ocean and that daytime views are sparkling.
But I’ve seen my share of empty or half-empty oceanfront resort restaurants. Located in the Delray Sands resort in Highland Beach, Latitudes is decidedly different. And there is one culinary reason for this: Executive Chef James King.
The former Four Seasons Resort chef is well known for creating dishes that are both stunning and delicious. His attention to detail and refined hand is evident in even the simplest dishes.
King arrived at the Delray Sands shortly after the resort (a former Holiday Inn) underwent an extensive remodeling in 2014. He has given the place cuisine to match its sleek, new look. Now it not only reflects the colors of the sea but the flavors as well.
It is here that his team serves some of the best coastal cuisine in the county. It begins with a selection of chilled seafood starters that carry global flavors.
Find interesting local-meets-global touches in the Scallop Tiradito, a sashimi-like dish that’s scented with saffron, key lime honey, citrus, fried olives and micro cilantro. The Corvina Ceviche brims with kicky Peruvian yellow pepper. The Mini Ahi Tuna Tacos ($15) pack a punch of Asian flavors, thanks to wasabi aioli, citrus-soy vinaigrette and a tangy ginger-scallion salad.
A local favorite is King’s Tuna Poke, a raw yellowfin tuna dish he calls “a hot, hot seller.” His rendition of the Hawaiian classic takes its sweetness from mango, its crunch from macadamia nuts, its deeper hits from fish sauce and rounder flavors from sesame seed butter. (That’s the gray swoosh on the plate.) He adds crispy wonton chips to help scoop up all the goodness.
Those craving a warm starter will find yummy comfort in Latitudes’ Lobster Bisque ($10), a version that’s not overly rich. Deepened by a touch of smoked paprika oil, the bisque is swimming with lobster chunks.
Not all good bites here are seafood-centric, as evidenced by the Braised Short Rib Empanadas (two for $15), fried hand-pies overstuffed with ancho chile-spiced beef and served with pickled red onions, a swirl of chipotle aioli and a thimble of herb-y, garlicky chimichurri dipping sauce. One empanada – or even half of one – is large enough for an appetizer.
An appetizer that’s large enough to be an entrée is the Scampi Style Maine Lobster and Shrimp ($16), a large soup bowl filled with shrimp, lobster chunks, peas and slivered garlic in rich, saucy scampi goodness. The dish is served with toasted ciabatta slices and a large wedge of lemon for brightening the bite (not that it needs any adjustments). This might have been my favorite bite of the night.
Entrée options are well varied, ranging from “simply prepared” fresh fish served with a choice of flavorful butter, sauce or relishes. For those who want something more than simple fish, there’s a simply Grilled Seafood Trio ($32) that combines a fillet of local fish with tiger prawns and jumbo scallops. A light citrus beurre blanc is offered for dipping along with fresh veggies and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. The entire combo, a popular dish on the menu, is pristine and perfectly cooked.
Not so simply prepared but just as delicious: the Crab Crusted Florida Grouper ($35), a moist fillet made even more flavorful by a layer of toasty-golden crab. It’s served atop a creamy white polenta with a toss of sweet corn and smoked bacon, braised baby spinach and whole carrots. A pool of Florida citrus butter deepens and pulls together the flavors.
And there’s a Branzino in Paper ($30) that takes the moist, flaky factor to another level. Because it’s roasted in parchment, the fillet’s delicate flavors are amped. It’s given a Mediterranean treatment with Israeli couscous, Kalamata olives, roasted fennel, confit tomatoes and Meyer lemon tanginess.
It was this dish that became our vehicle to learning about the quality of service at Latitudes. When it was first presented to our table, the paper seemed slightly burned. When the server opened the package, parts of the fillet appeared to be overcooked. A taste of the edges proved our hunch. But before we could say much, our server spirited the fish away.
“I can’t leave it here,” he told us. “This is not an example of who we are or what we do.”
Moments later, he returned with a perfect dish.
Amid the weekend night bustle, this server made sure our glasses were filled, our table was cleared of empty dishes and our whims were met.
All this in a setting of soothing lines and leisurely chatter. The dining room was filled with a mix of diners, a crowd that skewed more Boomer than young hipster. It’s a sexy spot, nice for date night or special occasions, particularly when it’s early enough to catch the last of the day’s sunlight.
It’s a good place for lingering over dessert. At our table that dessert was a batch of hot, puffy beignets ($7) with a blueberry compote and a bourbon creme anglaise, and a dense, sinful praline tart ($9) that made the feast complete.
ADDRESS: At the Delray Sands Resort, 2809 S. Ocean Blvd., Highland Beach
Cholo Soy Cocina, a tiny space with epic dreams, is set to open next week on West Palm Beach’s Antique Row, says its chef/owner Clay Carnes.
Carnes, who left his spacious Wellington restaurant, The Grille, to pursue his street-food-joint goals, expects to open Friday, Sept. 23.
He describes the concept as “neo-Andean, Ecuadorean,” inspired by his years working as a hotel chef in Cuenca, Ecuador. On the menu: interesting snacks, small dishes, handmade tortillas crafted of organic, non-GMO white corn grown in Alachua County.
“The thing I’m most excited about is that I can finally start making these tortillas,” says Carnes, who also will be smoking and braising meats and frying tempura fish for taco fillings.
He has designed a menu that’s varied enough to please a range of tastes and diets.
“We will have food options for everybody. We’ll be able to accommodate dietary preferences naturally because our menu is for everybody. If you’re vegan, we have you covered naturally. Whatever crazy trend you’re doing, you’ll be able to do it here,” says Carnes, who will also offer a selection of beer and wine as well as locally brewed kombucha on draft and locally roasted coffee.
Carnes, a Food Network “Cutthroat Kitchen” winner, plans to grow his own herbs, peppers and other veggies on Cholo’s patio, which will likely hold the spillover crowd from the 600-square-foot indoor space. Inside, there will be four tables seating eight to ten guests, plus limited room at the stand-up counter. Patio benches can accommodate another 25.
The cozy, communal factor is all part of Cholo’s street-stand vibe.
Cholo Soy translates to “I am cholo,” Latin American slang for mixed race or mestizo.
Hours: Opens Sept. 23 and will keep the following hours: Open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.
The unexpected can happen when National Guacamole Day falls on a Friday (which would be today). The craving for blinged out, creamy avocado dip and those unruly TGIF thoughts can build – and before you know it, you’re swigging micheladas and diving into a bowl of green goop.
Then again, the unexpected can involve something less basic. It can involve ginger, as does the Ginger Guacamole at Avocado Grillin downtown West Palm Beach.
How does one use ginger in guac? We’ve got the recipe. TGIF, indeed!