In our Old Florida-loving hearts, we pray there will always be places like this: a rustic, open-sided structure that serves some delicious hot dogs.
Not all of Dune Dog’s hot dogs are franks, mind you. The Sea Dogs, for instance, are fish fillets fried crispy and tucked into toasted New England-style rolls.
Of course, if you’ve come to this 21-year-old establishment for a meaty dog, belly up to the counter and go for a Chicago Dog, flanked by long slices of pickle, then topped with tomatoes, raw onions and a sprinkling of celery salt.
Grab a spot where you can find it and settle into let the shack’s cross-ventilation chase away the humidity as you focus on the finer things in life, like Dune Dog’s five-napkin Junkyard Dog (chili, cheese, diced onions, sauce).
Dune Dog Café: 775 Alternate A1A, Jupiter, 561-744-6667; DuneDog.com
The daily fish special that’s featured on Chef James Mills’ menu at this neighborhood gem of a bistro is fresh caught and expertly prepared. Ditto for just about everything that steams out of his kitchen.
In addition to his stellar fish dishes, Mills turns out one comfort dish after another, from schnitzel to ravioli to étouffé to chicken fried chicken.
For the pairing, he offers a well-curated selection of excellent wines.
The place is worth the detour from the Atlantic Avenue bustle. Slip into this bistro, and expect good grub and good service.
Within a cozy, comfortable space, Chef Michael Rolchigo creates some of the best fine-dining dishes in north county. He pays close attention to detail, from appetizers to desserts, each course exquisite. It’s no wonder the former Jupiter Island Grill chef has brought in quite a following to this Tequesta space. His food is inspired and creative, but it’s also accessible to the mainstream palate.
The eatery reopens with a new menu Thursday after a month of vacation. Among the highlights are a pistachio-crusted Colorado rack of lamb with goat cheese mashed potatoes, a king salmon with a kale-cashew crust and red quinoa and a bouillabaisse that’s swimming with fresh scallops, shrimp and lobster and served with an optional Pernod mister at the table.
Hours: Krave will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays (5 to 10 p.m.) until full season hours (Mondays through Saturdays) start in November. Reservations are a must.
Like Buccan, its wildly popular big sister next door, Imoto (which means “little sister” in Japanese) prizes quality ingredients, preparation and presentation above all else.
Nothing less is expected from chef/co-owner Clay Conley, who fashioned the bar and eatery from his experiences working and living in Japan. The local star chef, who just reopened Buccan after a massive, 11-day makeover, is set to open a third concept in mid-November, an Italian eatery in West Palm Beach named Grato.
At Imoto, the menu features crispy starters, crudo (raw) small plates, wood-fired items, rolls and raw fish in various forms. While you decide, try a uni and oyster shooter with a quail egg, sake and ponzu – it’s the umami-rich sip we call “the sea in a shot glass.”
There’s nothing like a sparkling water view to remind us we live where many others vacation. Add a menu of expertly prepared seafood dishes and you’ve got a destination spot.
Hudson Delray presents a solidly American menu with notable flair, thanks to executive chef Paul Niedermann, a past winner of “Hell’s Kitchen.” His lemony, olive oil-poached shrimp hum with hints of jalapeño and his crab cake rendition is chock-full of crab meat.
Those delicacies come at a price – this is not an inexpensive eatery. But with a newly debuted outdoor bar, Hudson has rolled out drink specials to greet football season. They’ve got game day covered on their many TV screens and promise to pour you a free draft beer if you wear your team’s football jersey.
Happy hour is also a good time to check out the outdoor and indoor bars – it runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, serving half-price drinks.
Hudson, at Waterway East: 900 E. Atlantic Ave., #22, Delray Beach; 561-303-1343; HudsonDelray.com
It’s easy to understand why this small daylight eatery does a brisk take-out business: The food is fresh and delicious.
Chef/co-owner Michael Hackman’s daily special are posted online every morning, and they tell the story of an inspired local cook devoted to local ingredients. Hackman, who operates Aioli with his wife, Melanie, gives a luxurious touch to a strip-plaza, Dixie Highway lunch. Sample the light-yet-creamy custard of his daily quiche and you’ll know this is true.
In addition to breakfast and lunch offerings (hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads, fresh juices), the chef also prepares a “dinner to go” option daily for those who crave Aioli at night. Recent dinner options include whole roasted free range chicken, roasted tomatoes stuffed with Moroccan couscous, beef lasagna, roasted veggie lasagna and house-made veal cheek ravioli.
Aioli: 7434 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-366-7741; AioliWPB.com
Oh, sure, this place is great at night for Palm Beach people-watching amid black lacquered walls, shiny leather banquettes and leopard print carpeting. But there’s more to the Leopard than the lounge and dinner scene. There’s excellent service, the “welcome” of hot rolls tucked into a basket, and delicious lunch.
The chicken schnitzel ($22) is a thing of beauty: Chicken breast that’s tender and juicy chicken beneath a crispy, buttery crust is topped with lemon béchamel sauce and served with haricot vert and French fries. Order the schnitzel as part of the Flavor Palm Beach lunch menu during the month of September and you can get an appetizer (like shrimp cocktail) and dessert (like double chocolate Belgian cake), all for just $20, plus tax and tip. That’s something to purr about.
Leopard Lounge: 363 Cocoanut Row (in the Chesterfield Hotel), Palm Beach; 561-659-5800;ChesterfieldPB.com
I am not quite done devouring 2015, but I have feasted on my share of excellent dishes. Here’s my half-time report on my favorite reviewed restaurants so far this year.
JEREVE CULINARY STUDIO
They call this West Palm Beach eatery a studio for good reason:The food is a work of art. But beyond the stunning presentations on the plate, the food is delicious.
The restaurant is tucked into the multiuse EmKo art space on South Dixie Highway in the Flamingo Park neighborhood, and its positioning makes sense: beautiful, thoughtful dishes served in a setting where creativity is celebrated and encouraged.
Jereve: 2119 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-227-3511; EmKoPB.com
Chef-restaurateur Sean Brasel’s hard work has paid off, as have the countless miles he’s logged between the 10-month-old restaurant and its original Meat Market location in Miami Beach. Start with a fresh tuna tartare and a glass of chilled wine at the bar, where happy hour is a refined affair. Then settle into a seat at the dining room for an extraordinary meal. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth the splurge.
The chef’s Southern roots – he’s a Palm City native – are evident throughout District Table’s eclectic menu. Whether it’s his Sweet Tea Fried Chicken and jalapeño-cheddar waffle, his deviled yard eggs or his insanely good beef tartare, the chef’s talent is revealed daily in dishes that are worth driving many miles to enjoy.
District Table: 900 SE Indian St. (heading north on U.S. 1, turn left on Indian Street), Stuart; 772-324-8357; DistrictTableAndBar.com