Here’s where you can dine for two without breaking the bank

So you and your significant other, or you and bestie, are looking for some place to eat. Whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner, your requirements are simple: good, but cheap.

This kind of leaves you with a short list, considering the most talked about (and delicious) places can break your shoestring budget. But have no fear. We’ve looked far and wide (across Palm Beach County at least) to find you taste-worthy meals for two for under for $40.

Warning, we are not including you drinking the night away on champagne, indulging in a three-course meal or calorie-splurging on dessert. This is for the savvy foodie, who wants good food, but knows it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

For Breakfast / Brunch / Lunch:

Sara’s Kitchen

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Sara’s Kitchen is a hole in the wall of a very “business-looking” plaza. This place resembles your favorite neighborhood diner where they serve breakfast all day with a smile. You will need Sara’s Kitchen most when you and your BFF had a little too much fun the night before and are looking to solve your problems with comfort food.

  • Must try: Panhandle Benedict with hash browns or grits for $9.49 and Bananas Foster French Toast for $9.99 with a coffee for $2.99
  • Total Cost: Around $27 (including tax/tip)
  • Address: 2000 PGA Blvd., Building A, Suite #3140, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 7:00 am – 2:45 pm | Saturday-Sunday 7:00 am – 1:45 (yes, that is the exact time)
  • More: http://saraskitchenpalmbeachgardens.com/ 
The French House 

With a cozy and cutesy atmosphere, The French House makes the perfect brunch spot for you and your boo to start your day. The warm and helpful staff makes the place really come alive and feel authentic. Bon appetite!

  • Must try: Buffala baguette for $13.50 and splurge a little for the French Brunch for $16.50.
  • Total Cost: Cutting it close, but still making it at almost $37 (tax/tip included)
  • Address: 821 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33461
  • Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00 am – 2:30 pm | Saturday-Sunday 9:30 am – 2:30 pm | Breakfast on Saturday 9:30 am – 11:30 & all-day breakfast on Sundays
  • More: http://www.thefrenchhousecafe.com/ 
Johan’s Joe 

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Most people aren’t familiar with this new-ish, downtown Swedish spot. Or they’ve seen it but are too afraid to try something as different as Swedish cuisine. But hey, Swedes are known for their meatballs, but you may leave loving their pastries. At Johan’s Joe, the décor is modern and clean, there’s free wifi (score!) and a helpful staff.

  • Must try: Savory Crepes for $10.50 and the Classic Swedish Meatball Plate $10.95 and throw in a Frappe Iced Latte for $3.95.
  • Total Cost: Roughly $30 (including tax/tip)
  • Address: 401. S Dixie Hwy. West Palm Beach, FL 33401
  • Hours: Sunday – Monday 7 am – 4 pm
  • More: http://www.johansjoe.com/food
Alaina’s Bake Shoppe & Café 

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If you can make it through the lunchtime rush on Northlake Blvd., reward yourself with a sandwich at Alaina’s. Get a fully-packed Panini or cold sammie, filled with fancy meats and delectable cheeses or for a quick (and sweet) bite, try the specialty cupcakes.

  • Must try: Two Pigs & a Birdie Panini and Peary Good Panini for $10.95 each
  • Total Cost: $26.68 (including tip/tax)
  • Address: 4377 Northlake Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 am to – 5:00 pm
  • More: http://www.alainasbakeshoppe.com/ 
KeKe’s Breakfast Cafe 

If you’re in the mood for a classic, American breakfast, but also want some elbow room for digging in and some colorful art to gaze into after each bite, KeKe’s is the place for you. No, it is not an IHOP or a Denny’s, and yes, the portions are huge. The specialty is pancakes (and this time of year, the pumpkin ones are everything), but the French toast is bomb too.

  • Must try: Create Your Own Combo with pancakes, French toast or waffles for about $10
  • Total Cost: $26 (including tip/tax)
  • Address: 10120 Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 7:00 am to – 2:30 pm
  • More: http://www.kekes.com/kekes-wellington.html
Grilled Cheese Gallery 

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What’s better than a homemade grilled cheese sandwich? A gooey, restaurant grilled cheese sandwich from the Grilled Cheese Gallery (less clean up, duh). You honestly can’t go wrong with grilled cheese, but this place takes it to a whole new level, stuffing it with things like pulled pork, brie and mac and cheese. Yes, I just said that: grilled cheese, mac and cheese.

  • Must try: The Mac Daddy for $8.50 and The Artist for $10.
  • Total Cost: About $23 (including tax and 15% tip).
  • Address: 422 Northwood Rd., West Palm Beach, FL 33407
  • Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm | Friday – Saturday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • More: https://www.facebook.com/GrilledCheeseGallery/

Dinner 

The Dubliner 

Join the likes of famous Irishmen (Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw) as you indulge in a traditional Irish meal at The Dubliner. Although the restaurant is in busy Mizner Park, inside feels like your favorite pub, complete with Guinness, Jameson and Baileys. And guess what? It’s open late.

  • Must try: The Famous Shepherd’s Pie for $16.50 and the McMac and Cheese for $11.
  • Total Cost: For just $34 (tax/tip included) you have a foodie trip to Ireland in Boca Raton
  • Address: 435 Plaza Real (Mizner Park) Boca Raton, Fl 33432
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 4:00 pm – 2:00 am | Sunday: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am
  • More: http://sub-culture.org/dubliner/ 
Kapow Noodle Bar

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Also hidden in the large scope of Mizner Park, Kapow gives a new twist to noodles. Take seat at the indoor-outdoor bar and enjoy a wide variety of small plates, dumplings and ramen. Share the plates to get the most out of your meal.

  • Must try: Pan-Seared Pork Gyoza for $7.50, Short Rib Steamed Buns for $9 and Pork Ramen for $16.
  • Total Cost: Hits close to $40 (with tax/tip included), so maybe save this for a fun date night before drinks and a movie.
  • Address: 431 Plaza Real (Mizner Park) Boca Raton, Fl 33432
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:30 am – 12:00 am | Friday-Satuday 11:30 am – 2:00 am
  • More: http://kapownoodlebar.com/ 
Havana 

Whether you are looking for a big sit down meal, or are having the late night munchies, Havana has you covered. The authentic Cuban food is unbeatable, and the celebs agree. Stars such as Martha Stewart and Sofia Vergara are frequent visitors to the spot on the corner of Dixie and Forest Hill.

  • Must try: Sandwich Cubano for $8.69 and Chicharrones de Pollo for $13.99 or eat your weight in empanadas at the walk-up window. 
  • Total Cost: About $28 (including tax/tip).
  • Address: 6801 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach, FL
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm | Friday-Saturday 11:00 am – 11:00 pm | 24 hour walk-up window
  • More: http://www.havanacubanfood.com/ 
The Counter 

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So The Counter may be in a mall, but it’s a far, far stretch from what the food court is serving up (insert praised hands emoji here). It is a famous burger chain, with locations mostly in California, and some even in Ireland and Malaysia. If you’re splurging, you can create your own burger, but for the best price, it’s best to stick to what they create — whether that’s Brie cheese over American or Crab Cake over beef.

  • Must try: Why the Face burger for $12.25 and BBQ Bacon for $13 with a side of Parmesan Fries for $8.
  • Total Cost: Right at $40 (including tax/tip), so if you want to ditch the fries to save a few bucks, the burgers are still filling enough.
  • Address: 3101 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, Fl 33410 (in the Gardens Mall)
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm | Friday-Saturday 11:00 am – 11:00 pm | Sunday 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
  • More: http://www.thecounterburger.com/PalmBeachGardens_FL/ 
Carmine’s Coal Fired Pizza

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Split at pizza pie (or two) at Carmine’s Coal Fired Pizza. Carmine’s has many different kinds of locations (a market, an upscale restaurant, a burger place and a seafood place), but this location will make you feel warm and cozy, thanks to the intimate interior and wall of brick oven pizzas. Stick to the pizzas, but ask for extra toppings.  

  • Must try: Pizza Pesto (medium) for $15.95 and the White Pizza (medium) $15.95.
  • Total Cost: Coming to a close $39 (including tip/tax), but come on, you’re getting two pizzas with the works.
  • Address: 4575 Military Trail, Jupiter, Fl 33458
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00 am – 10 pm | Friday-Saturday 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
  • More: http://www.carminescfp.com/index.html
Rancho Chicos

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You will never find a faster meal than at Rancho Chicos. Take a seat in the eclectic dining room that looks like it belongs in a theme park and munch on endless (warm) chips and (spicy) salsa until your meal arrives. The beans and rice, which in most Mexican restaurants are discarded to the side due to lack of flavor, are killer at Chico’s and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you finish them.

  • Must try: Combination Cheese Enchilada & beef burrito with rice and beans for $10.25 and the Dos Spinach Enchiladas for $9.99.
  • Total Cost: $24.61 (including tax/tip).
  • Address: 6390 Indiantown Rd., Jupiter, Fl 33458
  • Hours: 7 days a week 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • More: http:/http://www.ranchochico.net/ 
Thai Lotus 

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One of the best things about Thai Lotus (other than the fact that it is delicious) is the big portions. It is the perfect place for you and your beau to share a dish or two. Try a curry! A noodle! A roll! A soup! Whatever your heart desires — just make sure you get two. And get ready for some heat. Thai Lotus ranks “spiciness” on a scale of 1-4 stars, 1 being easy to digest and 4 being fire dancing on your tongue. Believe it or not, 3 stars is perfect.

  • Must try: Massamun Curry with tofu for $11.95, Pad Thai with beef for $10.95 and the Crunch Roll $9.95.
  • Total Cost: Just hits the $40 (including tax/tip), but if you share it all, it’s one heck of a meal.
  • Address: 201 North U.S. Hwy., Jupiter, Fl 33477
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm | Saturday 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm | Sunday 5:00pm – 9:00 pm (no sushi)
  • More: http://www.thailotusflorida.com/

What meals did we miss? Comment below with your favorite cheap (but tasty) eats in Palm Beach County!

Acai Bowls: They’re the best and I don’t want you missing out

Let’s stop pretending we know how to pronounce the darn thing. If you’re saying ‘acai’ right, it sort of rhymes with ‘how about me?’

As for where you’ll find it — not in Whole Foods ‘Fresh Picks.’ Acai can’t be bought in its true form, a berry from palm trees that grow in the Amazon rain forest in Central and South America. When an acai berry is picked, it’s taken to a lab, processed, sometimes frozen, and then sent to the United States.

Why is it healthy af?

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That’s simple. Acai berries are high in fiber and antioxidants which are known to help balance cholesterol levels.

If you’re anything like me, of course you care about long-term health benefits, but what really makes you happy is knowing what foods and drinks are good for your body almost instantly. Acai does that. Its energy boost is just what you need to get going in the morning.

Acai bowls and all their glory… kind of.

The good news is that acai bowls are packed with protein. Shops and cafes add granola, seeds and butters to almost every bowl. Most are topped with berries other than acai like blueberries and strawberries which makes them “a nutrition powerhouse,” said Sandy Livingston, a registered nutrition and licensed nutritionist in Palm Beach County.

The bad news? Some acai bowls are high in sugar and sodium content.

I’ll put it like this: Sambazon, Acai Roots and Tambor are three popular brands of acai that are shipped to the U.S. and used in nutrition-conscious businesses like Jaya Nutrition in Juno Beach and Celis and The Bee in West Palm Beach. Half a cup of Acai Roots acai sorbet in a bowl has about 65 mg of sodium and 16 grams of sugar. That doesn’t include the sugars your body will consume from the added layers of almond/peanut butter or yummy honey that top a standard acai bowl.

To put this into perspective, a woman should only consume 25 grams of sugar a day, while a man should have 37.5, according to AuthorityNutrition.com.

Still interested despite the devilish side?

That’s okay. Me too. Between you and me, acai bowls make up 50 percent of my “eating out” budget! I love them all, from the healthier bowls (low in sugar content and 100% organic) served at Jaya Nutrition bar to the sugar rush I get from a bowl at Field of Greens in downtown West Palm.

Check out this guide to my 5 favorite bowls around town.

Fill up for a few hours at The Bee

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Fruity Acai Bowl at The Bee in Downtown West Palm Beach. Corvaya Jeffries / Palm Beach Post

Toppings like homemade granola (to die for) and fresh raspberries please me more than the acai does. This is because it’s blended with banana and mylk (milk substitute) so the taste of the tart berry is not as potent and melts really fast. Trust that you’ll be served a hearty amount of deliciousness, though. More than enough to fill you up until your next meal.

Location: 123 Datura St, West Palm Beach

Cost: $12 or $13

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Field of Greens

Lil Root is my go-to bowl at Field of Greens. It’s cheap and small enough to eat on the go. The nutella on top of the freezing cold acai is all the sweet I need, so I usually skip the drizzle of honey on top.

Location:  412 Clematis St, West Palm Beach

Cost: Between $5 and $10

Have a healthier bowl over conversation at Jaya Nutrition Bar

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Dakota, server at Jaya Nutrition Bar making an acai bowl. Corvaya Jeffries / Palm Beach Post

Jaya Nutrition Bar is as beautiful and welcoming as its owner, Cecile Alfonzo-Antoine, who designed the place herself.

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Cecile Alfonzo-Antoine, owner of Jaya Nutrition Bar. Corvaya / Palm Beach Post

Your acai bowl will be served in a white paper container with a handwritten, motivational phrase on it — a conversation starter for anyone. The bar’s acai has no coloring agents and is low in sodium. All of these elements make me happy.

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Location: 869, Donald Ross Rd, Juno Beach

Cost: Between $6 and $10

Up your immunity at Juice Buzz

I upgraded from the Cacao Crunch Bowl to the Green Cacao Crunch Bowl. You know, something a little more green with added superfood powder, kale or spirulina. It’s not as sweet as some of the other bowls on this list but still tasty and undeniably healthy.

Location: 6 NE 5th Ave, Delray Beach

Cost: $11

Enjoy every spoonful at Celis Produce

The freezing cold, perfectly textured organic acai is what I love about the bowls at Celis. Prepared with acai ahead of time, when you order your bowl, all they have to do is add peanut butter, hemp/flax granola, honey, bananas, strawberries and kiwi. It allows for a bit of everything in every bite.

“Customers love our bowls because of the quality of our ingredients. The fruit is always fresh, never frozen and the granola we use is airy and crunchy,” Alex Celis, Co-Owner of Celis Produce, said.

Bonus Points: Celis is just a few steps away from The Palm Beach Post building, which is a gift for my taste buds and a curse for my pockets.

Location: 2814 S Dixie Hwy d, West Palm Beach

Cost: Between $10 and $12

Get your superfruit serving Whole Foods 

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Servings of aca in drinks sold at Whole Foods. Corvaya Jeffries / Palm Beach Post

You won’t be able to order an acai bowl at Whole Foods, but you can get your acai fix through various drinks, bars and supplements.

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Acai supplements sold at Whole Foods. Corvaya Jeffries / Palm Beach Post

Personally, I can’t imagine skipping out on a bowl for a drink that costs just as much, but hey, that’s me.

For anyone who has been skeptical about the hype hovering over acai and acai bowls, I get it. Everything in the bowl can be thrown into a blender and taste just as good as a smoothie.

But it’s satisfying to spend a little more time with colorful (and healthy) variety of textures that melt in your mouth, airy granola that has the right amount of crunch or thick and handmade almond butter that sticks to the roof of your mouth.

A bowl from any of the locations on this list are at least worth a taste test, but don’t rush through it. Challenge yourself to pay attention to your tastebuds and your mood, then tell me what you think.

Sign at The Bee in Downtown West Palm Beach. Corvaya Jeffries / Palm Beach Post

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Acai Bowls: They’re the best and I don’t want you missing out

Feast on five of our favorite juicy local sandwiches

Today we talk about the infinite possibility of fillings than can be stacked between two slices of bread, tucked into a bun, celebrated for its majesty. Today is the day for exploring the contrast of flavors and textures, and the way the fillings in a Vietnamese banh mi teach a baguette how to be spicy, crunchy and rich all at once. Today is for marveling at how a Cuban sandwich made miles away, in Tampa, could possess a certain smoky-spicy layer, thanks to Genoa salami.

We present five of our favorite local and more unique sammies:

The Jibarito

Behold the Jibarito. And, yes, those are tostones in place of bread. (Photo: Samantha Ragland)
Behold the Jibarito. And, yes, those are tostones in place of bread. (Photo: Samantha Ragland)

This is where paleo meets Puerto Rico: a sandwich that swaps out the bread and swaps in two enormous, smashed and crispy-fried green plantains. Tucked between those tostones is a choice of steak or chicken, crisp lettuce, tomato and mayo. It’s a regal idea rooted in peasant life. The name of the sandwich is derived from the word jíbaro, which in Puerto Rico means humble dweller of the countryside. It costs $8.95 and it’s served at Don Café restaurant, 136 N. Military Tr., West Palm Beach; 561-684-0074.

The Gordo Burger

A gordo burger prepared at La Perrada del Gordo. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)
A gordo burger prepared at La Perrada del Gordo. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

This Colombian-style colossus is more super-sandwich than burger. It starts with a beef or chicken patty, then layers on the sauces: garlic sauce, pink sauce, pineapple sauce and a Colombian fast-food classic called “showy” sauce, plus ketchup and mustard. Stack some tomato slices, bacon, cheese and a crush of potato chips and you’ve got the Gordo.  It costs $6.75 and it’s offered at La Perrada del Gordo, 2650 S. Military Tr., West Palm Beach; 561-968-6978.

The Chimichurri

El Unico's juicy version of the Dominican "Chimi." (Photo: El Unico)
El Unico’s juicy version of the Dominican “Chimi.” (Photo: El Unico)

Not to be confused with the garlicky Argentinian or Uruguayan sauce. This sandwich hails from the Caribbean. You can call it a Dominican beef sandwich, but that doesn’t begin to do it justice. It starts with toasty bread, then it’s stuffed with either thin-sliced beef or a hand-patted beef patty, sautéed onions and cabbage slaw. The “Chimi” is dressed with a proprietary, mayo-based sauce and sold for $7.95 at El Unico restaurant, 6108 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-619-2962.

The Hullabaloo BLT

All hail Hullabaloo's BLT sandwich. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
All hail Hullabaloo’s BLT sandwich. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

This is not your boring, room-service BLT. Chef Fritz Cassel has created a shrine to the BLT concept: It starts with challah bread, then stacks on some thick, house-smoked pork belly, heirloom tomato and arugula and adds a smear of red pepper aioli. It’s served at lunchtime for $11 at Hullabaloo, 517 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-833-1033.

TocToc’s Pork Arepa Sandwich

TocToc's pork-stuffed arepa sandwich. (Contributed by TocToc)
TocToc’s pork-stuffed arepa sandwich. (Contributed by TocToc)

Here’s a guilty pleasure worth diving into at the Saturday West Palm Beach GreenMarket: a Venezuelan/Colombian corncake (arepa) stuffed with shredded pork and a big, juicy tomato slice. You can find this sandwich at the TocToc Arepas booth. Yes, it’s a simple pleasure, but it’s one that resonates with flavor contrasts – the sweet arepa, the rich pork, the fresh tomato. It’s sold by TocToc for $7.50 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the GreenMarket on the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront (eastern end of Clematis Street).

 

Here’s why your craft beer may taste different these days

With the air getting cool, it’s the perfect time of year to warm your body with a tall glass of beer. Even Pumpkin beer if you’d like.

Whether you’re a true fan with a sensitive palate or not, the current state-of-hop-emergency may affect your buzz.

But before we go there, you need to know what a hop is?

A hop is used to flavor a beer, and the flavor you get depends on when you add the hops. If you add them at the beginning, the beer will be bitter; if you add them toward the end of a boil, they will produce more of an aroma than a taste.

EVERCREECH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Jazz Tupman holds up some hops which are used to brew beer at the Wild Beer Co brewery at Lower Westcombe Farm on February 11, 2016 near Evercreech, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
EVERCREECH, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 11: Jazz Tupman holds up some hops which are used to brew beer at the Wild Beer Co brewery at Lower Westcombe Farm on February 11, 2016 near Evercreech, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Hops sound pretty great, right? So why are we in a state-of-emergency? Well, the craft beer world is currently suffering from a major hop-shortage. Last year, Europe experienced a serious drought, which didn’t allow farmers to grow the hop-crop, causing this hop-tastrophe.

Our favorite beers all come from hops, even our famous, locally-brewed ‘Chancellor’ from Tequesta Brewing Company, who ironically, just celebrated its yearly, ‘Hop Week’. Tequesta Brewing Company (big sister to Palm Beach Garden’s Twisted Trunk), explains that Europe’s drought has not only made it hard to find European hops, but has also caused the price of American hops to rise.

Tequesta Brewing Company brewer and owner Matt Webster started home brewing at age 21. He has been brewing professionally since 2008, and keeps six to seven beers on tap at all times. TBC brewery and bar is located on U.S. Highway One in Tequesta. (Bill Ingram /The Palm Beach Post)
Tequesta Brewing Company brewer and owner Matt Webster started home brewing at age 21. He has been brewing professionally since 2008, and keeps six to seven beers on tap at all times. TBC brewery and bar is located on U.S. Highway One in Tequesta. (Bill Ingram /The Palm Beach Post)

TBC also says that it is much harder to acquire mosaic, citric and galaxia hops — three of the most popular varieties.

The brewery has a hop-purveyor who gets European hops for them, brew-master Matt Webster explained. The crop was so bad that the purveyor couldn’t complete the order, and the brewery had to turn to American hops.

Not that there is anything wrong with American hops. In fact, other Palm Beach County breweries like Due South in Boynton Beach aren’t affected at all by the hops shortage because they already brew with American hops from places like Yakima, Washington. For TBC, though, German hops is go-to source and they want to stay who they are.

Left to right: Ashley Doane, Delray Beach, Ashley Hayes, Laurie Schuster, Nancy Colman and Michelle Hershey, all of Boca Raton, gathered at the Saltwater Brewery bar following their yoga class at the Delray Beach craft brewery on Sunday, August 23, 2015. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)
Left to right: Ashley Doane, Delray Beach, Ashley Hayes, Laurie Schuster, Nancy Colman and Michelle Hershey, all of Boca Raton, gathered at the Saltwater Brewery bar following their yoga class at the Delray Beach craft brewery on Sunday, August 23, 2015. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

So are we in a hop shortage? Yes. Will our favorite local breweries still produce our favorite drinks? Yes. Is Tequesta Brewing Company still putting out great beers? A for sure, yes.

And finally, should we worry about the lack of hops? Not just yet, so head over to your favorite local craft brewery and grab a pint, especially while your favorites are still on tap.