PB Food and Wine Fest: Five big food stars you’ve never heard of

If you watch Food Network competition shows or Bravo’s “Top Chef” series, you’ll recognize a lot of the culinary talent at this year’s Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, which runs from Dec. 8 through 11. There’s Robert Irvine of “Restaurant Impossible” fame. There’s Jeff Mauro of “The Kitchen.” There’s Marc Murphy of “Chopped.”

But some faces are less familiar, except maybe to in-the-know gastronomes. Here are five big food stars you may not know, but should.

George Mendes

Chef George Mendes (center) poses with fellow stars Mike Lata (left) and Daniel Boulud (right). (LILA PHOTO)
Chef George Mendes (center) poses with fellow chefs Mike Lata (left) and Daniel Boulud (right). (LILA PHOTO)

This New York City chef/restaurateur creates dishes that reflect his Portuguese roots. At his restaurant Aldea, Mendes’ refined touch has earned the spot a Michelin star every year since 2010. Last year, he opened Lupulo, a Lisbon-inspired “cervejaria” (brew pub), which houses a daytime takeout window called Bica. Mendes has been a semifinalist for the prestigious James Beard Award for “best chefs in America” four times.

Mendes is scheduled to appear at the “Sustain” dinner at PB Catch in Palm Beach on Dec. 8. That event costs $170 per person.

Mike Lata

Charleston star chef Mike Lata. (LILA PHOTO)
Charleston star chef Mike Lata at last year’s festival. (LILA PHOTO)

If you’ve flocked to Charleston for the great foodie scene, you may have dined at one of Lata’s acclaimed restaurants. A pivotal figure in the city’s culinary renaissance, he’s the star chef behind FIG Restaurant and The Ordinary. FIG is a local favorite, serving farm-inspired Lowcountry food. The Ordinary is Lata’s “fancy seafood” spot. Lata is a James Beard Award winner for best chef in the Southeast. He was a nominee for the prestigious award twice before. Most noteworthy perhaps: Lata is a self-taught chef.

Lata will participate in three festival events, a dinner at Buccan Palm Beach, a street food competition at the Four Seasons and a brunch with Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud. All three events are sold out.

Lee Wolen

Michelin man: Chicago chef Lee Wolen. (Contributed by Lee Wolen)
Michelin man: Chicago chef Lee Wolen. (Contributed by Lee Wolen)

Here’s a cook with a dream resume. Wolen has worked in the company of great chefs throughout a career which has taken him into the kitchens of some of the world’s finest restaurants, the legendary, late El Bulli among them.

The Cleveland native polished his craft at Eleven Madison Park, the famed three-Michelin-starred New York restaurant. More recently, in Chicago, Wolen earned a Michelin star at The Lobby at the Peninsula, where he was chef de cuisine. In 2014, he became executive chef/partner of Boka Restaurant in that city, helping the restaurant maintain its prized Michelin star for three years. Last year, the Chicago Tribune named him Chef of the Year.

Wolen will appear at the festival’s “Rise and Dine” breakfast at the Eau Palm Beach Resort on Dec. 10. Tickets are $75 each.

Anita Lo

Anita Lo at Annisa, Greenwich Village. (Contributed by Annisa)
Anita Lo at Annisa, Greenwich Village. (Contributed by Annisa)

She’s the chef and creative mind behind Annisa restaurant in Greenwich Village, where the refined dishes reveal Lo’s Asian roots and high-end French training. (Her miso marinated sable with crispy silken tofu in bonito broth is simply divine.) Lo is a Michigan-raised, first generation Chinese-American who as a college student plunged herself into French food, language and culture. She honed her French culinary techniques in top restaurants in Paris and New York, coming into her own with the opening of Annisa in 2000. Almost instantly, she amassed accolades. Then, 9 years later, a fire destroyed her restaurant. Lo spent a year traveling and rebuilding, reopening Annisa in 2010. As the chef returned with renewed inspiration, the raves returned as well.

Lo is set to appear at the “Sustain” dinner at PB Catch in Palm Beach on Dec. 8. That event costs $170 per person.

Jose Mendin

Rock star in the 305: Chef Jose Mendin of the Pubbelly Miami. (Galdones Photography)
Rock star in the 305: Chef Jose Mendin of the Pubbelly Miami. (Galdones Photography)

You may know this name if you’re familiar with Miami’s vibe-y dining scene. Mendin is chef and founding partner of the Pubbelly family of hot and happening restaurants, three of them clustered on one South Beach block. As a chef, he fuses global flavors and ideas into “soul” dishes reminiscent of Mendin’s Puerto Rican roots.

Some of this – like the Pubbelly gastro pub cochinillo (sucking pig) with green apples and fennel and chanterelles and soy butter jus – shouldn’t work. But it does. In many ways, Mendin is the chef who best reflects right-now Miami. In the 1980s, that rather fantastic reflection came from the famed Mango Gang of award-winning chefs. Today, it’s Mendin and his “Pubbelly boys” who translate the 305 dialects most exquisitely onto the plate.

Mendin is appearing at the festival’s “Rise and Dine” breakfast at the Eau Palm Beach Resort on Dec. 10. Tickets are $75 each.

 

On 10th year, 10 reasons to toast the PB Food and Wine Fest

It’s a gem of a little food fest, one that doesn’t subject its guests to hordes or parking nightmares. There are many reasons to celebrate the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival any year, but as the fest turns 10 next month – it runs from Dec. 8 through 11 – here are 10 reasons to raise a glass this year.

It’s an intimate affair.

At the fest, a civilized toast is possible. (LILA PHOTO)
At the fest, a civilized toast is possible. (LILA PHOTO)

As food festivals go, this one works hard to maintain a level of intimacy. Granted, chances are there will be human traffic jams during parts of the fest’s Grand Tasting finale at The Gardens Mall. But that’s one event – and still it’s a fun one. For the most part, the festival’s dinners and tastings are easy to navigate. That’s because the organizers don’t overbook events. This means fest-goers get the civilized, top-notch experiences they expected when they purchased their tickets.

Can’t beat the backdrop.

Yep. December in Palm Beach. (LILA PHOTO)
Yep. December in Palm Beach. (LILA PHOTO)

Palm trees? Check. Crashing waves? Check. The Breakers’ grand, Italian Renaissance archways and loggias? Check.

The setting for festival events is pretty spectacular. It’s December in Palm Beach – any wonder why the festival lures some big names? And in the past few years, the fest has expanded its reach into the mainland, into West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. This year, two of West Palm’s hottest restaurants (Avocado Grill and The Regional) will host festival events. While these may not be oceanfront spots, they possess the funk factor that many food enthusiasts seek in the county’s fastest rising dining destination. 

Southern food goals are strong.

The Regional Kitchen hosts Southern food stars. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
The Regional Kitchen hosts Southern food stars. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

This year the festival revels in the region by hosting a “Southern Revival” lunch at The Regional Kitchen. The months-old, CityPlace restaurant is where Chef Lindsay Autry gives her native Southern cuisine a global spin. The farmhouse-inspired restaurant, appointed with mementos of Autry’s North Carolina roots, provides an ideal setting for a meal created by a cast of Southern food stars. Joining Autry in the kitchen will be her acclaimed mentor Michelle Bernstein (Crumb on Parchment, Miami), James Beard Award-winning chef Stephen Stryjewski (Cochon and Peche Seafood Grill, New Orleans) and Southern chef/author Virginia Willis. No surprise: The event is sold out.

There’s an all-out veggie feast this year.

Amanda Cohen, of New York's Dirt Candy. (Cox Newspapers file)
Amanda Cohen, of New York’s Dirt Candy. (Cox Newspapers file)

The festival’s “Rustic Root” dinner will bring some top food stars to Chef Julien Gremaud’s popular Avocado Grill in downtown West Palm Beach. Among them is Amanda Cohen, the pioneering chef/owner of Dirt Candy, a New York hotspot serving plant-based cuisine. Cohen, dubbed the “Veggie Czarina” by Haute Living magazine, will be joined by award-winning chefs Elizabeth Falkner and Dean James Max.

This five-course dinner with wine pairings and open bar costs $150 per person. Tickets were still available at press time.

The best of culinary Miami comes to town.

Rock star in the 305: Chef Jose Mendin of the Pubbelly Miami. (Galdones Photography)
Chef Jose Mendin of Miami’s Pubbelly restaurant group. (Galdones Photography)

That chaotic metropolis to our south may have some mighty fine cuisine, but one has to brave gridlock traffic and ridiculous parking situations to enjoy it. For a few years now, the festival has been luring some of Miami’s best and brightest. This year, the 305 delegation is simply outstanding. Coming to the fest:

  • Chef/ restaurateur Jose Mendin, whose Pubbelly group of restaurants mirrors Miami’s vibrancy and cultural depth. In many ways, he’s the chef who best reflects his city right now.
  • Timon Balloo, the innovative executive chef/partner at Midtown’s Sugarcane restaurant.
  • Chef/restaurateur Richard Hales, who brought new Asian flavors to Miami with his Sakaya Kitchen and Blackbrick Chinese restaurants.
  • Chef/restaurateur Giorgio Rapicavoli, who turned a vibe-y pop-up into one of Coral Gables’ hottest restaurants, Eating House. More recently, he opened Glass & Vine in Coconut Grove’s iconic Peacock Park.

Palm Beach Grill opens for lunch.

Hillstone haute: Palm Beach Grill. (Palm Beach Post file)
Hillstone haute: Palm Beach Grill. (Palm Beach Post file)

The festival features “Lunch at The Grill” on Saturday, Dec. 10. This is kind of a big deal. Not only is the Palm Beach Grill a tough reservation to score, the place doesn’t serve lunch. The New American-style restaurant may be part of a national chain (Hillstone), but it’s one of the buzziest spots on the island. No surprise there. Hillstone, after all, was named “America’s Favorite Restaurant” this year by Bon Appetit magazine.

“It’s never going to win a James Beard Award. Or try to wow you with its foam experiments or ingredients you’ve never heard of. But it is the best-run, most-loved, relentlessly respected restaurant in America,” went the intro to the March story.

Tickets to the lunch were still available at press time – 99 bucks gets you a seat at lunch. No famous chefs. But you get four courses with wine pairings and open bar.

It loves a good love story.

Chef Lindsay Autry married festival director David Sabin in June. (Kristy Roderick Photography)
Chef Lindsay Autry married festival director David Sabin in June. (Kristy Roderick Photography)

The festival’s “Chef Welcome Party” was the setting of one noteworthy marriage proposal two years ago. In a quiet, oceanfront spot away from the party crowd, festival director David Sabin dropped to one knee and proposed to Chef Lindsay Autry, his longtime girlfriend. The party morphed into an unofficial engagement bash. Earlier this year, Sabin and Autry had a destination wedding in one of America’s hottest food cities: They were married June 4th in Charleston, SC.

There’s a party in the ‘burbs.

Star chef selfie: (from right) Johnny Iuzzini, Robert Irvine and Marc Murphy, at The Gardens Mall. (LILA PHOTO)
Star chef selfie: (from right) Johnny Iuzzini, Robert Irvine and Marc Murphy, at The Gardens Mall. (LILA PHOTO)

The festival’s grand finale event, the 10th Annual Grand Tasting, happens at The Gardens Mall in Palm Beach Gardens for the second year in a row. For eight years, the tasting event packed both floors of Palm Beach’s 150 Worth shopping complex. By moving the event to the more spacious Gardens Mall, the festival tapped into an important dining market: north county.

The cachet mingles with the commercial.

The fest brings together TV star chefs and Michelin starred chefs. (LILA PHOTO)
The fest brings together TV star chefs and Michelin starred chefs. (LILA PHOTO)

In the mix of personalities, fest-goers will find familiar faces from Food Network, James Beard Award winners and the occasional Michelin star-decorated. Take Chicago chef Lee Wolen. He’s worked at a succession of Michelin-starred restaurants, first at New York’s venerable Eleven Madison Park, then at Chicago’s Lobby at The Peninsula, where he earned a Michelin star, and most recently at Chicago’s Boka Restaurant, which has won stars three years in a row. He’ll be cooking breakfast at the Eau Dec. 10 with James Beard semifinalists Mendin and Rapicavoli from Miami. That morning, over at the Four Seasons Resort, fest-goers can mingle with Food Network stars Robert Irvine, Marc Murphy, Jeff Mauro and Travel Channel host Adam Richman at the day’s events there.

Tickets were still available for that Eau Resort breakfast. They cost $75 per person.

It’s not South Beach.

SoBe's Grand Tasting Village gets swarmed. (Palm Beach Post file)
SoBe’s Grand Tasting Village gets swarmed. (Palm Beach Post file)

Nothing against that big, bodacious fest to our south. In fact, that fest is like 20 festivals in one. It puts on more events in a day than Palm Beach puts on in its entire four-day duration. But Palm Beach has little interest in becoming South Beach, fest-wise – and that’s a good thing. The 561 festival is manageable and offers a sense of intimacy. A food enthusiast can have a proper conversation with a visiting chef. Eight of the 14 events are sit-down meals. The vibe is more lively dinner party than packed disco.

A Northerner’s guide to dining in Palm Beach County

You come for the sun, the sea and the right to wear shorts in January, dear Northerner. But no amount of South Florida stone crabs can fix your cravings for the foods of “home,” wherever in the frozen tundra that may be.

This one’s for you: our local picks for tastes of New York, New Jersey, New England, Maryland, Philadelphia and Montreal.

Did we leave out your go-to favorite? Let us know in the comments section!

NEW YORK/ NEW JERSEY 

Creamy, dreamy: Cheesecake is Junior's most iconic dish. (Photo: Junior's Restaurant)
Creamy, dreamy cheesecake: Junior’s iconic dish. (Photo: Junior’s Restaurant)

Junior’s Restaurant and Cheesecake

409 Plaza Real (Mizner Park), Boca Raton; 561-672-7301

This “Sixth Borough” outpost of the Brooklyn favorite serves cheesecake that dreams are made of. So, yes, you come to Junior’s Restaurant for the cheesecake. But first you gorge on a Reuben, maybe some potato pancakes and matzo ball soup. The menu is extensive.

New York state of mind at Dorrian's Red Hand. (Meghan McCarthy/ The Palm Beach Post)
New York state of mind at Dorrian’s. (Meghan McCarthy/ The Palm Beach Post)

Dorrian’s Red Hand

215 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-355-1401

The family behind the Upper East Side fixture opened a West Palm Beach rendition in May, setting out to create a New York pub vibe. As an occasional special, Dorrian’s on Clematis Street even brings in Katz’s Delicatessen pastrami from the iconic New York deli.

Slice of Brooklyn at Grimaldi's Pizzeria. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)
Slice of Brooklyn at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave. (Downtown at the Gardens), Palm Beach Gardens; 561-625-4665

This Arizona-based pizza chain has Brooklyn roots serves delicious, thin-crust pies. The menu is simple here – pretty much, pizza, salads and dessert – but it hits the spot.

Coming soon: The deli of Burt Rapoport's dreams. (Photo: Emiliano Brooks)
Coming soon: The deli of Burt Rapoport’s dreams. (Photo: Emiliano Brooks)

Rappy’s Deli

Coming by mid-December to Park Place plaza, 5560 N. Military Tr., Boca Raton

Granted, the place doesn’t open until December, but already it screams “New York.” Restaurateur Burt Rapoport took inspiration from his grandfather’s lower east Manhattan deli, Rapoport’s, for this long-dreamed spot. Unlike his grandfather’s place, Rappy’s is not a strictly dairy restaurant. The menu puts a modern spin on some of Rapoport’s favorite comfort dishes.

Italian combo, Manzo's style. (Samantha Ragland/ The Palm Beach Post)
Italian combo, Manzo’s style. (Samantha Ragland/ The Palm Beach Post)

Manzo’s Italian Deli

2260 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-697-9411

This popular deli brings Northern soul to Italian favorites. Mike and Mia Manzo operate the 21-year-old, family-owned spot. Mike makes killer red sauce every morning. It jazzes up his homemade lasagna, the meatballs and other dishes. As for sandwiches, Manzo’s big seller is the chicken salad sub – they sell almost 200 pounds of chicken salad a week.

BOSTON/ NEW ENGLAND

Lobster roll at Boston's on the Beach. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
Lobster roll at Boston’s on the Beach. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

Boston’s on the Beach

40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach; 561-278-3364

Consider this your south county, oceanfront spot for New England clam chowder, lobster bisque, Ipswich steamers, New England clambake and Maine lobster. To wash it down, there’s a specialty cocktail named The Patriot, of course. Plus, there are more than 30 TVs to watch the big game.

Chowder Heads: where chowdah is love.
Chowder Heads: where chowdah is love.

Chowder Heads

2123 U.S. Highway 1, Jupiter; 561-203-2903

What began as a green market kiosk selling creamy clam chowder and lobster rolls evolved into a popular Jupiter restaurant. The warm lobster roll stuffed with lobster chunks that have been sautéed in butter and sherry is particularly delicious, as is the chowder. The seafood-centric menu is extensive enough to keep you coming back. Chances are, however, you’ll order your favorites again and again.

That's just the start of it at Spoto's Oyster Bar. (Palm Beach Post file)
That’s just the start of it at Spoto’s Oyster Bar. (Palm Beach Post file)

Spoto’s Oyster Bar

4560 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-776-9448

This seafood restaurant, consistently good in food and service, serves a mean New England clam chowder and a pretty terrific lobster roll.

PHILLY

Baldino's is cheese steak city. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)
It’s cheesesteak city at Baldino’s in Tequesta. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)

Baldino’s Italian Restaurant

791 N. U.S. Highway 1, Tequesta; 561-743-4224

The logline for this restaurant is “A Taste of Philly,” and that’s evident from the menu at Baldino’s, which boasts no fewer than four Philly cheesesteak sandwich varieties.

They root proudly for the Philadelphia Eagles and run game day contests (win a free pizza if you’re the first customer to guess the winner and score).

Pennsylvania Dutch-style pretzels are popular among Philly natives. (Photo: Cox Newspapers)
Pennsylvania Dutch-style pretzels are popular among Philly natives. (Photo: Cox Newspapers)

Phlorida Pretzel

168 NW 51st St. (Boca Teeca Plaza on Yamato Road), Boca Raton; 561-910-1846

This Boca Raton shop bakes a variety of doughy Philly-style pretzels, from twists to pretzel dogs to pretzel sandwiches, including a pork roll and cheese-stuffed sandwich. Phlorida Pretzel also offers a good mix of party trays that are perfect for tailgating. (And, yes, this is Eagles territory.) 

Alfresco dining is offered with an ocean view at Caffe Luna Rosa. (Palm Beach Post file)
Alfresco dining with an ocean view at Caffe Luna Rosa. (Palm Beach Post file)

Caffe Luna Rosa

34 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach; 561-274-9404

At brunch/lunch, this Italian spot by the sea serves Philadelphia-style scrapple, a pan-fried loaf of pork trimmings and flour. (Hey, Jersey folks, Caffe Luna Rosa also serves Taylor Pork Roll as a brunch side.)

BALTIMORE/ MARYLAND

Jumbo lump crab cakes at Kirby's. (Palm Beach Post file)
Jumbo lump crab cakes at Kirby’s. (Palm Beach Post file)

Kirby’s

841 Donald Ross Rd. (La Mer plaza), Juno Beach; 561-627-8000

This sports grill is popular with Baltimore Ravens fans as well as with fans of proper crab cakes. Kirby’s rendition are cakes chockfull of crab, not bready filler.

A Maryland-style crab restaurant in Lantana. (Palm Beach Post file)
A Maryland-style crab restaurant in Lantana. (Palm Beach Post file)

Riggins Crabhouse

607 Ridge Rd., Lantana; 561-586-3000

This restaurant not only bills itself as a Maryland crab house, the menu delivers on that promise with Maryland crab soup, Maryland-style crabs steamed in beer, vinegar and spices and Chesapeake references.

Tapping into Baltimore at True, Boca Raton. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)
Tapping into Baltimore at True, Boca. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)

True

147 SE 1st Ave. (next to Royal Palm Place), Boca Raton

Pure Baltimore inspiration built this spot, and a love of crabs keeps it going. The cream of crab soup at True carries hints of sherry, shallots and Old Bay. The True Blue sandwich layers a Maryland-style crab cake, lettuce and tomato on a Kaiser roll. There’s a crab dip that’s topped with cheddar and the Homesick Soup with plenty of Old Bay love.

MONTREAL/ QUEBEC

Poutine, a French Canadian street dish, is a heap of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. (Contributed)
Poutine, a French Canadian street dish, is a heap of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. (Contributed)

Poutine Dog Café

17 S. J Street, Lake Worth; 561-766-2281

What’s so Montreal about fries, gravy and cheese curds? Everything. And this café serves it in abundance and with plenty of bling. There are at least nine ways to top your poutine here.

Poutine gets a fancy touch at Chez l'Epicier, Palm Beach. (Contributed by Chez l'Epicier)
Poutine is served in a stylish setting at Chez l’Epicier, Palm Beach. (Contributed by Chez l’Epicier)

Chez l’Epicier

288 S. County Rd., Palm Beach; 561-508-7030

Set in farmhouse-chic décor, this Palm Beach restaurant offers a most compelling reason for a Montreal fan to visit: The chef is a food star there. Chef Laurent Godbout, who runs Chez l’Epicier with his wife Veronique Deneault, renders artistic yet soulful plates. And, yes, he offers a mean poutine.

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

saras

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

How to get ‘happy’ during election day in Palm Beach County

By Julio Poletti – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

This has been the longest presidential battle in history. Not literally, but it sure feels like it. Whether you’re pumped for the election or sick and tired of the gossip and Facebook arguments, one thing is for sure: People will be glued to their TVs today, Nov. 8, to see who becomes the next President of the United States.

» RELATED: Live reports from Palm Beach County polls on Election Day

If you’re not into watching the election results alone, drinking alone or both, we’ve put together a list of places in Palm Beach County where the happy hours are too sweet to be beat. Check ’em out:


Harbourside, Jupiter

The Woods

The bar area at The Woods Jupiter at Harbourside in Jupiter Monday, August 10, 2015. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
The bar area at The Woods Jupiter at Harbourside in Jupiter Monday, August 10, 2015. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Happy Hour: 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close | $8 Appetizers and cocktails | $7 Wines 

Two Words: Tiger Woods. This waterfront steakhouse/sports bar is top notch when it comes to quality and service, just like its owner. The relaxed, sports bar vibe totally works and is ideal watching the election feeds. Our food editor Liz Balsameda recommends the bone-in pork chop and prime burger.

The burger patty flavored with bacon and onions, has to be good.

» RELATED: Dining Guide to Harbourside

Address: 129 Soundings Ave, Jupiter, FL 33477
Contact: 561-320-9627

Calaveras Cantina

Calaveras Cantina at Harbourside Place in Jupiter on September 20, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Calaveras Cantina at Harbourside Place in Jupiter on September 20, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Happy Hour: 4 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close | $2 Tacos! | $8+ Appetizers

Love it or hate it, Mexican food is here to stay. This vibrant, Hipster spin on Mexican cuisine has one of the best taco specials in the county and serves freshly made churros with cajeta (Mexican caramel). Viva Mexico!

» RELATED: “Eat the Boulevard: The PGA Dining Guide”

Address: 125 Dockside Circle, Jupiter, FL 33477
Contact: 561-320-9661


Palm Beach Gardens

The Cooper

The Cooper Bar (Thecooperrestaurant.com/ Gallery)
The Cooper Bar (thecooperrestaurant.com/ Gallery)

Happy Hour: Bar and high-tops both inside and outside between 3 p.m. and 6:00 p.m & 9 p.m. to close | $6 Cocktails | $5 Wine by the glass

For Election day only: Triple the points on lunch and dinner for Cooper club members.

Talk about sophistication. Every plate’s picture looks ridiculously stunning and delicious. This American brasserie promises to make you love in fall with the place as soon as you look at the menu. From charcuterie to cheese boards, yummy bar snacks, dining, cocktails and brunch, you’ll want to try it all.

Address: 4610 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
Contact:  561-622-0032

Spoto’s Oyster Bar

Blue Point oysters are served at Spoto's Oyster Bar in Palm Beach Gardens. (Palm Beach Post file photo)
Blue Point oysters are served at Spoto’s Oyster Bar in Palm Beach Gardens. (Palm Beach Post file photo)

Happy Hour: 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. | $3.50 House Wine | $4 Cocktails | $5 > Appetizers

Enjoy seafood classics such as oysters, shrimp cocktails, clam chowder and lobster risottos all in one place. This seafood heaven also offers a wide variety of appetizers all under $5. Our Food Editor’s pick is the Key Lime Pie.

Address: 4560 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
Contact: 561-776-9448


Clematis & CityPlace, West Palm Beach

Maurice and Rachel Costigan enjoy a couple of pints of their new 20th Anniversary Stout at O'Shea's in downtown West Palm Beach on September 17, 2014. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
Maurice and Rachel Costigan enjoy a couple of pints of their new 20th Anniversary Stout at O’Shea’s in downtown West Palm Beach on September 17, 2014. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

O’Shea’s Pub

Happy Hour: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. drink specials and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. food specials | $5 Captain Morgan
$3 Domestic beer | $4 Imports | $4 All appetizers 

O’Shea’s Pub could pretty much be West Palm’s landmark. This Irish restaurant has been serving the community for the past 21 years. It claims to have only the best traditions and recipes from Ireland.

Address: 531 Clematis St, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Contact: 561-833-3865

Copper Blues

The main bar and tap lines at Copper Blues inside Cityplace in West Palm Beach on July 25, 2014. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
The main bar and tap lines at Copper Blues inside Cityplace in West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Happy Hour: 3 to 7 p.m. | $30% off most liquor and food | $4 house wine

Executive Chef Chris McKinley prepares all the meals daily, from bar food to his own unique creations. Just ask him what you want, and expect nothing but the best.

Duffy’s Sports Grill

Jets fan Jamie Frye (R) of West Palm Beach celebrates after the Jets deny the Dolphins a fourth quarter touchdown during an early game in London Sunday morning, October 4, 2015, while Dolphins fan Jason Young (L) and his mother Lisa (C) of West Palm Beach show frustration inside Duffy's Sports Grill on Okeechobee Blvd. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)
Frustration inside Duffy’s Sports Grill on Okeechobee Blvd. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Happy Hour: All day | All Drinks: 2 for 1.

You can’t go wrong with Duffy’s. If you haven’t been here before, get ready. This place gets crowded, loud and filled with fanatics. If you like fun places, this is it. But if you’re actually trying to listen to election updates on TV as they come, this might not be the place for you. Then again, it is on a Tuesday night so it might not be as busy. Your call.

Address: 225 Clematis St. West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Contact: (561) 249-1682

City Tap House

A view of the outdoor bar at City Tap House at CityPlace in West Palm Beach. (Contributed by City Tap)
A view of the outdoor bar at City Tap House at CityPlace in West Palm Beach. (Contributed by City Tap)

Happy hour: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. | $1 Oysters | $3 Domestic Drafts | $4 Select Craft Drafts | $7+ Small plates

This place looks great on the inside and the outside. As you can see, they have many items on happy hour on Tuesday, November 8th. $1 Oysters, seriously? This American restaurant offers anything from bar food to seafood, salads and a wide variety of gluten-free options. Check out our review: City Tap House brings eclectic beers and eats to CityPlace

Address: 700 S Rosemary Ave West Palm Beach, FL 33401 (City Place)
Contact: 561508.8525

Downtown Lake Worth

Dave’s Last Resort on Lake

112611 (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post) - LAKE WORTH -Visitors to downtown Lake Worth sit on the sidewalk at Dave's Last Resort on Small Business Saturday.
LAKE WORTH -Visitors to downtown Lake Worth sit on the sidewalk at Dave’s Last Resort (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post) –

Happy Hour: 2 to 7 p.m. – $3 Domestic beers, house wine & well drinks. | $0.99 Oysters/each, one-dozen minimum order  |  $0.89 wings/each, 10 wings minimum order

If you like options, this is the place for you. Their menu is immense with all kinds of foods, desserts, beverages and cocktails. Their deals? ridiculous —a must visit.

Address: 632 Lake Ave. Lake Worth, Fl. 33460
Contact: 561-588-5208

 Rhum Shak

Patrons enjoy the bar at the Rhum Shak on April 3, 2014. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Patrons enjoy the bar at the Rhum Shak on April 3, 2014. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Happy Hour: Drinks 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Food 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. | $1.00 off import bottles and craft beers | $2.50 wells, domestic bottles and drafts | $2.00 of all other alcohols and specialty drinks | $10.95 Dinner Special: 2 lbs full rack baby back with side.

This friendly sports bar has so many TV screens that at least one of them is bound to broadcast the elections. If you’d rather watch something else, you can do that too. Facebook reviews gives it a a 4.6/5 stars on Facebook.

Address: 802 Lake Ave, Lake Worth, FL 33460
Contact: (561) 755-7486

Atlantic Avenue, Delray

Salt Water Brewery

Co-owner Peter Agardy, left, stands with brewmaster Bill Taylor inside the SaltWater Brewery in Delray Beach on July 29, 2014. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Co-owner Peter Agardy, left, stands with brewmaster Bill Taylor inside the SaltWater Brewery in Delray Beach on July 29, 2014. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Happy Hour: 12 to 6 p.m. | $4 Drinks (excluding special releases) | 25% Off growlers’ beer refills

There’s a certain vibe when you go to a brewery. Nothing is more refreshing than sipping on some good beer and talking smack with your buddies. Breweries are a lifestyle — a lot different than going to a sports bar. You can either buy your growler or bring your own; they’ll still refill you with 25% off.

Related: Delray brewery crates eco-friendly, edible six pack beer rings

Address: 1701 W Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, Florida
Contact: 561-865-5373

Brule Bistro

Jason Binder, 30, chef de Cuisine at Brule Bistro, Tuesday Oct. 27, 2015, in Delray Beach. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)
Jason Binder, 30, chef de Cuisine at Brule Bistro, Tuesday Oct. 27, 2015, in Delray Beach. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

Happy Hour: 3 to 6 p.m. | $4 Spirits and Wine | $3.50 Draft | $5 Fried pork cheek pizza and other appetizers under $10

This French-American restaurant has a very industrial yet classic feel. It’s not too dark, not too bright. The bartenders are friendly, and the Moscow mule is so strong, you’ll be done after one. The food is good, from small European-style tapas to more Americanized dishes. There’s also the chef’s local market menu.

Address: 200 NE 2nd Ave Delray Beach, FL 33444
Contact: 561-274-2046

Presidential election heartburn: What do the candidates eat?

What fuels the presidential candidates, other than mutual hostilities?

If you’re a certain part-time Palm Beacher, it’s drive-thru cuisine.

If you’re his opponent, it’s hot chiles.

But we already know that. We already know Donald Trump loves Big Macs and fries and Hillary Clinton keeps the hot sauce close.

And like too many of this year’s election-related topics, this one is likely to give us heartburn. But isn’t it better to focus on someone else’s food choices as you fizz up those Alka-Seltzer tablets? It’s no time to think about that pizza you scarfed down last night. With Election Day less than a week away, this may be your final chance to deflect from the junk food guilt you’ve been lugging.

So here’s a glimpse of what may be on the candidates’ plates:

Donald Trump, as he leaves a farmer's round-table event in suburban Boynton Beach last week. (Lannis Waters/ The Palm Beach Post)
Donald Trump, as he leaves a farmer’s round-table event in suburban Boynton Beach, last week. (Lannis Waters/ The Palm Beach Post)

From Trump’s scandalous former Mar-A-Lago butler, Tony Senecal, we know the boss preferred his burgers and steaks severely overcooked, with ketchup. From his former Mar-A-Lago chef, Aaron Fuller, we can surmise the kitchen staff catered to the rock-hard-steak requests. (Bound by a confidentiality agreement, Fuller would not discuss the food choices.)

“The best time I’ve had in my career is when I’ve made the client happy. It really comes down to what the client wants,” Fuller said when asked for his culinary opinion on overcooked meat. “We all have different opinions about how we like our meat. That doesn’t mean mine is one that is better than the other.”

Trump’s fast-food habits have been well documented as he’s been caught on camera ready to devour some KFC aboard his plane, snapped with a questionably timed taco bowl at the office and immortalized with heaping amounts of fries.

Those hard-cooked steaks he so loves? They once had culinary promise. We learned during one of the candidate’s local appearances that Trump steaks were actually steaks purveyed by Bush Brothers, the 91-year-old West Palm Beach provision company known for supplying some of the best beef in the country.

In an interview last year with Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect,” Trump issued this confession: “I love steak and hamburger and pasta and French fries, all of the things that we shouldn’t be eating.”

He also admitted he can’t resist bacon and eggs. “I eat what I like,” he said.

Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Cincinnati this week. (Cox Newspapers)
Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, during an appearance in Cincinnati this week. (Cox Newspapers photo)

As for Clinton, while she was spied holding a pork-chop-on-a-stick at last year’s Iowa State Fair – and, yes, that was Clinton seated before two tempting cheesecakes at Junior’s restaurant in Brooklyn in April – the former secretary of state is more disciplined in her food choices.

She eats like a world traveler, one who has learned to eat well and eat selectively, rather than to simply eat and be done with it. Then again, as the Huffington Post notes, she was the most-traveled secretary of state in history, having visited 112 nations and clocking more than 950,000 miles.

Earlier this year, she played food critic for Thrillist.com, penning a review of “not-to-be-missed dining experiences” across New York state. Her picks included a few references that reveal some foodie tendencies: Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster in Harlem, Fox Run Vineyards boutique winery on Seneca Lake (for riesling and a light lunch), the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse.

Closer to her Chappaqua home, Clinton is loyal to Crabtree’s Kittle House Restaurant & Inn, where she gathered with locals on the night her nomination was announced in Philadelphia. It’s also where she celebrated Chelsea Clinton’s baby shower.

The place serves farmhouse-fancy food and tempting, Hudson Valley-inspired dishes, including grass-fed Angus beef cheeseburgers and NY strip steak with buttermilk Vidalia onion rings. Of course, Clinton might order them many shades rarer than overdone.

Diner en Blanc: what to pack in your picnic basket?

You may not know the location of Diner en Blanc yet, but you’ve got your snazzy white outfit and “tablescape” planned for Friday night’s big outdoor feast, to be held somewhere in West Palm Beach.

But here’s the question: What kind of food does one pack for an event that’s part pop-up dinner, part synchronized picnic?

Matthew Levi, right, of West Palm Beach, smiles with family and friends after helping decorate during Le Diner en Blanc in downtown West Palm Beach on November 10, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Matthew Levi, right, of West Palm Beach, smiles with family and friends after helping decorate during the 2015 Diner en Blanc in downtown West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

We attended last year’s secret, massive affair and have few tips to share on the topic.

READ: Nine things to know about Diner en Blanc

First, keep in mind this is an outdoor event, which means it’s vulnerable to the elements. Second, keep in mind you may have to lug your supplies for many yards.

With those two things in mind, here are five ideas on what to tuck into those picnic totes:

1. Cold or room temperature and crispy is fine: think crisp veggies, good crackers, breadsticks, even room-temp fried chicken. Hot and crispy, not so much. Your crispy duck might not survive the schlep, neither will your warm, toasty garlic bread.

2. You can’t go wrong with fancy charcuterie.

A charcuterie and cheese board is as fancy as its components. (Cox Newspapers)
A charcuterie board is as fancy as its components. (Cox Newspapers)

Here’s how: Pack great cheeses – oozy ones, sharp ones, aged ones, even beautifully stinky ones. Tuck in some fine Spanish ham, Italian salumi, hot mustard, elegant jams or honey. Add baggies of fresh fruit and nuts. After you set up your table, you can arrange them on a nice platter with those crispy crackers or hearty bread.

3. Whip up some sophisticated chilled soup, like Chef Michelle Bernstein’s White Gazpacho.

Michelle Bernstein's White Gazpacho is luxury in a shot glass. (Palm Beach Post file photo)
White Gazpacho is luxury in a shot glass. (Palm Beach Post file photo)

Here’s how to make it: In a high-speed blender, add 1 ½ cup Marcona almonds, ½ teaspoon fresh garlic, ½ tablespoon peeled shallot, 2 cups of peeled and chopped English cucumbers, 2 cups seedless green grapes, 1 tablespoon fresh dish and 1 ½ cups cold veggie broth. Puree until very smooth. With blender running, add 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and 2 tablespoons dry sherry wine. Slowly drizzle in ½ cup quality extra-virgin olive oil. Blend for at least 4 to 5 minutes, until velvety smooth. Chill until ready to sip. Garnish with sliced grapes, crushed almonds and dill. (Recipe serves 4.)

4. Rice salads (or other grain salads) served room temperature can be luxurious.

Fancy grain salad: black rice with roasted squash. (Cox Newspapers)
Fancy grain salad: black rice with roasted squash. (Cox Newspapers)

Here’s a variation: Make a pot of your favorite rice. Separately, sauté onions, garlic and celery in olive oil until just tender, adding a sprinkling of curry powder or ground turmeric and ginger. Add the rice to the sauté by the spoonful, tossing to coat the rice in the aromatics. Add a handful of frozen peas and stir. Shut off heat and allow mixture to sit until the peas are tender. When cool, add your choice of raw, chopped veggies, like diced zucchini, seeded tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh herbs. You’ll have a mix of textures and flavors in one hearty bowl.  If you prefer a hot meal, pack soups, stews or chili in Thermoses.

5. The takeout option: Order dinner from your favorite West Palm restaurant and pick it up before you get to the meet-up location. Once the location is announced Friday afternoon, you may have a better idea of nearby restaurants. You’ll only have to bring your dinnerware and table setting.

Fancy dinnerware spotted at the 2015 Diner en Blanc. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Fancy dinnerware spotted at the 2015 Diner en Blanc. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

It may sound like a mission – and it can be, depending on how you take on the night. But relax. It’s a party. It’s a picnic. Pack what you love to eat in your fancy duds. If that means Fritos in a martini glass, rock on!

9 things to know about the secret dinner tonight in West Palm Beach

Part pop-up dinner, part synchronized picnic, Paris’ Diner en Blanc is headed to West Palm Beach — and it’s a massive undertaking.

Dubbed “World’s Largest Dinner Party,” the famously secret dinner is happening Friday, Nov. 4 at an undisclosed West Palm venue.

photo diner en blanc
Samantha Bense, right, of Palm Beach, arranges flowers at her table during Le Diner en Blanc in downtown West Palm Beach on November 10, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Here are 9 things to know about the secret dinner that’s a cult favorite across the globe:

ONE: The location is a secret

The dinner location is not revealed until moments before the event starts. Guests are transported by charter or public shuttle to the event site. Each table has a leader who assigns seating arrangements.

TWO: You must wear white

Yes, even after Labor Day (not that Floridians should care about such things). This alfresco dinner is less about food than it is about aesthetic impact on a public space. As a Diner en Blanc guest, you are part of a grand, moving and breathing art installation, one where order and a sense of style and symmetry are important. A signature part of the choreography: Once all tables are set up and seats taken, guests swirl their crisp, white napkins in the air to signal the start of the meal.

RELATED: Check out the photos from West Palm’s Diner en Blanc 2015

THREE: Your table must wear white

You must bring a nice, white tablecloth to cover your table. The table itself does not have to be white, but it does have to be square, foldable and easy to carry, as you will be toting it across the public space to your designated spot. Tables must measure between 28-inch by 28-inch and 32-inch by 32-inch. Dining chairs must be white as well.

photo diner en blanc
Examples of table settings for Diner en Blanc WPB were on display at a pre-event party at the Palm Beach County Convention Center Tuesday, October 20, 2015. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

FOUR: Bring a well-stocked basket

For the table, the Diner en Blanc International website asks you to bring a picnic basket filled with “quality menu items and china dinner service” and “proper stemware and flatware.” Translation: no plastic or paper goods. (Food can be ordered from an official online shop before the event for delivery during the dinner.)

FIVE: Leave the booze at home

Wine is available for purchase from Diner en Blanc’s official online shop. You pick up the wine when you arrive at the secret location.

SIX: You must bring a date

Registration is taken for two people at a time. But as the Diner en Blanc site points out, your date can be a friend, a partner, a relative, a spouse, or “even a blind date.” The event seats men on one side of the table, facing the women, who are seated on the other side of the table. “Same-sex couples are not requested to follow this guideline,” says the website, which explains the gender lineup this way: “Le Diner en Blanc is a highly photogenic event. Color, style, but also the symmetry of men and women are important components of (the) aesthetics.”

Participants have a seat at their decorated tables during Le Diner en Blanc in downtown West Palm Beach on November 10, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Participants have a seat at their decorated tables during Le Diner en Blanc in downtown West Palm Beach on November 10, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

SEVEN: Ladies get a better view

This is thanks to the event’s orchestrated seating. “There is always a guest perspective which is more pleasing to the eye than the other. This first perspective is always given to women,” according to the website.

EIGHT: Once you confirm, you must attend

Or prepare to be blacklisted by the white party. “Once confirmed, the presence of each guest thus becomes essential and mandatory, whatever happens and regardless of weather conditions,” state the event rules. Speaking of weather conditions, guests should prepare for rain by bringing a white raincoat or a transparent poncho, or a white or clear umbrella. Diner en Blanc does not look kindly upon guests who are spooked by the weather. Those deterred by “ominous clouds” won’t be invited to future events and their names and email addresses will be placed on a black list that bars them from registering again.

NINE: Diner en Blanc has humble beginnings

In 1988 Frenchman Francois Pasquier organized a casual dinner party to reconnect with old friends after having spent several years abroad. But his home garden could not accommodate all who wanted to attend, so he asked friends to gather at the Bois de Boulogne park in Paris, and he asked them to wear white (so he could find them). “Bring a meal, and bring a new friend,” was his request that year, according to the event’s website. The concept endured and evolved into what Diner en Blanc is today. It has been replicated in some 60 countries.

Twitter: @LizBalmaseda

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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).