National Junk Food Day: What’s your favorite junk food? Here are ours:

Hip-hip-hooray, it’s National Junk Food Day!

And while that shouldn’t necessarily give one carte blanche to gorge on sugary, salty, fatty snacks, do we really need an excuse to discuss our favorite treats from the junk aisle?

We asked around the newsroom: What’s your favorite junk food?

Grippos potato chips. (Photo by Greg Lynch)

Samantha Ragland, digital content strategy manager (things to do):

Grippos potato chips – who doesn’t love a good salty potato chip!

Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies

Larry Aydlette, culture editor: 

Five words: Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies. My love of this gas-station staple is so well known that office workers once unwrapped a pile of Little Debbies and presented it to me for my birthday. With a candle on top. Better than cake, I can tell you that. You know how the oatmeal pies come in a big rectangular box? About 100  pounds ago, I could down a whole box in one sitting. I’m not even sure Little Debbies should be classified as junk food. Oatmeal is nutritious, right? Fiber, etc. OK, that big sugary mass in the center is not particularly healthy. But it is delicious.

Twizzlers

Laura Lordi, digital editor: 

Awww…junk food. Can anything be junkier than Twizzlers?! The strawberry kind is the only way to go. I could eat almost the entire 1-pound package in one sitting!

junk food utz sour cream

Leslie Gray Streeter, pop culture columnist: 

Every region has its own specialty junk food – make that specialty snack item, because even though there is probably little nutritional value in Utz Sour Cream and Onion potato chips, there is nothing junky about their value as primo greasy, salty tummy filler. Based, as many quality snack food is, in Pennsylvania, Utz produces a singularly crunchy, seasoned-just-enough chip with ripples to hold all the sour cream and onionness. Is onionness a word? It should be. I spent many a happy afternoon pairing a bag of these babies with a Diet Dr Pepper, because the “diet” makes it better, or trying not to eat them all at parties where they were poured into a bowl covered with napkins to soak up the grease. And the way the seasoning stuck to your glistening fingers in green specks…to swoon. TO SWOON.

Payday: the perfect blend of salty and sweet

Staci Sturrock, writer: 

A Payday bar, which marks the intersection of salty and sweet, and crunchy and chewy. I’m most likely to indulge in one on a road trip when dinner is still miles away but my stomach is already asking, “Are we there yet?”

Fritos

Liz Balmaseda, food and dining editor: 

Fritos! Frito-Lay has been producing these corn chips for as long as I’ve been alive – and they never get old. I tell myself they’re not junk food at all because they are spectacular with decidedly non-junk dishes, like homemade chili. Crush a handful of them over hot bean chili, or ladle some beef chili into a bag of them for Southwestern style Frito pie. And I know Fritos come in some fancy flavors – like Bar-B-Q and Chili Cheese. You can keep those. I’ll take the original kind. No seasoning or dip necessary.

Trader Joe’s in Wellington. (Madeline Gray / The Palm Beach Post)

Corvaya Jeffries, entertainment writer:

Trader Joes gluten free chocolate chip cookies – As I changed my eating habits, I went from Drake’s Devil Dogs to Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. they’re big, soft and loaded with flavor. I put them in the microwave then squeeze vanilla bean ice cream in the middle of two! SO SO GOOD…especially in the middle of your bed in front of a movie. P.S. you’d never know they’re gluten free.

Memorial Day weekend: Best places to eat and drink in Palm Beach County

Best places to eat, drink and relax for Memorial Day.

Looking for the perfect restaurant or bar to enjoy and relax on your three-day Memorial Day weekend?

Whether you go by boat or by car, we have some great places to choose from:

Ready to dock and dine?

Che at Waterway East in Delray Beach. (Contributed)

Here are the best waterfront spots:

Best waterfront restaurants in Palm Beach County

Looking for a good burger?

Try these best-looking burgers in Palm Beach County!

How about a delicious hot dog?

Food truck Ps561 sells the “Crazy Art Teacher hot dog” — Extra BBQ Sauce, Jalapenos, Cheddar and Frito chips on a hot dog.

Our favorite hot dogs in Palm Beach County

Need a new brunch spot?

photo sundy house
Brunch offerings at Sundy House in Delray Beach include chicken and waffles with maple-bacon syrup. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)

Looking for a terrific brunch on Saturday or Sunday? Here are the ‘Must-try ‘Sunday Funday’ brunch parties in Palm Beach County’.

Related: Easy eats for your last-minute Memorial Day cookout

Related: 5 best tips for a better burger

Review: Follow the buzz to Lynora’s, north county’s new hot spot

What the heck happened to that formerly quiet block of U.S. Highway 1, the one that would segue sleepily from Jupiter to Tequesta?

Lynora’s happened.

Lynora's sits in Jupiter's new Inlet Plaza. (Contributed by Lynora's)
Lynora’s sits in Jupiter’s new Inlet Plaza. (Credit: Michael Price)

The new Italian restaurant is the north county outpost of a lively Clematis Street spot. And it seems the owners have brought some of that downtown West Palm Beach verve to northern Jupiter.

Just try to walk in and find a table on any given night, even on a weeknight. More than likely, you’ll find there’s a wait. It’s a smallish restaurant that can accommodate 89 diners scattered throughout its main dining room, indoor bar and al fresco patio.

What’s the draw? Certainly not the location. There’s no water view or people-watching potential on the patio. The restaurant sits in a commercial plaza that faces U.S. Highway 1. Sure, it’s a spiffy-new, Bermudian-style plaza, but the view it offers is parking lot and passing cars.

And yet, Lynora’s possesses that “it” factor restaurateurs crave: vibe. It’s an animated spot. You pick up the chatter as you squeeze past the bar and in between tables, feeling like the dinner party guest of a large, merry family. On Sundays, the restaurant hosts a Clematis Street-style brunch replete with red-sneakered servers in “Legalize Marinara” t-shirts and bottomless Bellinis, mimosas, bloodies and Peroni (for $18).

All this in a neo-Brooklyn setting of warm woods, subway tile and simple furnishings.

Old school Italian, re-imagined at Lynora's. (Contributed by Lynora's)
Old school Italian, re-imagined at Lynora’s. (Credit: Michael Price)

The food stands in striking contrast to the hip décor. It’s old-school home cooking, red-sauce specials, comfort grub.

That’s because Lynora’s roots are in a bygone Italian restaurant owned and operated by Ralph and Maria Abbenante, the parents of current owner Angelo Abbenante. That now-closed family restaurant, also named Lynora’s, stood for years on Lake Worth Road. (Lynora’s is named after Maria’s mother.)

Angelo Abbenante wanted to bring back the spirit of that restaurant. He and a partner opened a modernized version of the restaurant, Lynora’s Osteria, in 2014. But that collaboration ended in a lawsuit and the owners went their separate ways. Abbenante and his family remained at Lynora’s, dropping the “Osteria” from the name.

Legal matters aside, the food endured. This is not food that rises to astonishing levels, but it is food that would draw me back again and again. It is simple and well prepared by Lynora’s Italian chef, Mario Mette. The sauces are on-point, the servings abundant. It hits the spot.

On a recent visit, our party of three skipped the varied, classic antipasti offerings (bruschetta crostini, $6, cheese/meat plate, $22, fried rice balls, $8, fried calamari, $14, among other dishes), and started our meal with a shared “piccante” pizza ($14).

Topped with pepperoni, salami, mozzarella and cherry peppers (hence the spicy name), this wood-oven-baked pie popped with flavor. The crust, of medium thickness, puffed up on the edges, sending the toppings toward the middle. Even so, the deliciously chewy dough did not go to waste.

For main course, we sampled Lynora’s homemade pappardelle, wide noodles tossed with duck ragu (pappardelle all’anatra, $26). It’s an earthy dish that’s particularly appetizing on a crisp or chilly night. The pasta is bathed in a brandy-spiked sauce of roasted duck and porcini mushrooms and presents just a hint of truffle essence.

Chicken Francese on a recent night at Lynora's Jupiter. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chicken Francese at Lynora’s, Jupiter. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

The Pollo Francese (chicken in lemon sauce, $24) did not disappoint. A lightly battered chicken breast was served on a bed of linguine in the bright Francese sauce. Mounded beneath two pounded chicken fillets on a flat plate, the pasta seemed incidental on this dish. The shape of the plate made it difficult to twirl and scoop up the linguine, so much of that delicious sauce remained on the plate.

We also sampled the Braciole con Gnocchi ($24), which is listed as one of Lynora’s classic dishes. This rolled-up meat favorite is made with pork that’s folded with prosciutto, garlic and Parmesan, braised in a light tomato sauce and served with small gnocchi dumplings. This is a homey, rib-sticking dish, but the monotone flavors of the meat and pasta could have used some contrast, perhaps from a pop of bitter greens.

Eggplant Parm is offered as an appetizer at Lynora's Jupiter. (LibbyVision.com)
Eggplant Parm, offered as an app at Lynora’s Jupiter. (Credit: LibbyVision.com)

Dessert time brought us a couple of memorable bites: a classic tiramisu stacked high with ladyfingers and mascarpone layers ($10), and a warm and sinful Nutella lava cake ($10) that was served with a tumbler of vanilla ice cream on the side.

Our dishes were delivered promptly, as, despite the bustle, service is brisk and professional. However, I did feel rushed. And our server did that “I’ll take this when you’re ready” thing, dropping off the check before we could request it.

Sometimes, I take the check nudge as an opportunity to ask for something else, say, a cappuccino. But, truth be told, I didn’t want a cappuccino, and I didn’t want a perfectly nice dinner to end on a sour note.

The service slip will not keep me from returning to the restaurant. Untimely check aside, Lynora’s is a fetching spot that brings a little buzz where it’s needed.

REVIEW

Lynora’s Jupiter

FOOD: B

SERVICE: B-

ADDRESS:  1548 U.S. Highway 1 (Inlet Plaza), Jupiter

TELEPHONE: 561-203-2702

WEBSITE: Lynoras.com

PRICE RANGE: Moderate

HOURS: Open for dinner daily at 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards

RESERVATIONS: Taken only for parties of 8 or more; can reserve at 561-203-2702

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, including restrooms

NOISE LEVEL: Lively, more manageable on the patio.

FULL BAR: Yes, and there’s a separate bar area. A happy-hour menu is served daily from 4 to 7 p.m. at the bar, with a late night happy hour offered from 10 to 11:30 p.m.

WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:
A — Excellent
B — Good
C — Average
D — Poor
F — Don’t bother

Openings: New York’s chic Sant Ambroeus debuts in Palm Beach

The long-awaited Palm Beach outpost of Sant Ambroeus, the Milanese restaurant and pasticceria with locations in New York City and Southampton, will debut at dinnertime Saturday, according to a publicist for the fashionable spot. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Pastry palace: Sant Ambroeus, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, is beloved for its sweet tooth. (Credit: Sant Ambroeus)
Pastry palace: Sant Ambroeus, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, is beloved for its sweet tooth. (Credit: Sant Ambroeus)

The pretty-in-pink ristorante has slipped into the island’s newly renovated Royal Poinciana Plaza, which is home to Hillstone’s popular Palm Beach Grill. It inhabits part of the space where Del Frisco’s Grille operated from 2013 to 2015.

Beloved for its espresso bar, pastries and gelato selection, Sant Ambroeus brings wide-ranging menu options and extended hours (by Palm Beach standards) to the plaza. The restaurant will open every day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

On the menu: classics including Vitello Tonnato, saffron risotto, Cotoletta alla Milanese, plus dishes inspired by Florida’s coastal ingredients.

Classics at Sant Ambroeus: Spaghetti all'Arrabbiata. (Photo: Nicole Franzen)
Classics at Sant Ambroeus: Spaghetti all’Arrabbiata. (Photo: Nicole Franzen)

“The menu will focus on seafood and will incorporate local citruses and herbs to accentuate the fresh, luminous surroundings that encompass Palm Beach,” said Executive Chef Marco Barbisotti via news release.

Desserts will include Italian pastries as well as homemade pies and cakes. The drink selection is varied as well, thanks to a full bar: regional wines, cocktails, specialty coffees and teas.

All this in a setting inspired by Italy’s vintage caffe culture. The 174-seat restaurant will serve various roles during the day: It’s a fine dining restaurant in the principal dining rooms, but at the bar it transitions into coffee-bar and cocktail mode.

With roots in 1936 Milan, Sant Ambroeus has seven locations: the original Madison Avenue restaurant, locations in SoHo, the West Village and Southampton. The SA Hospitality Group also operates Sant Ambroeus coffee bars at New York’s Loews Regency Hotel and Sotheby’s. Another coffee bar is planned for the Hanley Building in New York’s Upper East Side.

SA logo
The restaurant has its roots in 1936 Milan.

Now there’s Palm Beach. The location made sense, according to restaurateur Dimitri Pauli, a partner at SA Hospitality Group who owns a home in Palm Beach County.

“We had long considered opening out of New York, but nowhere resonated with our brand until we saw this opportunity at The Royal Poinciana Plaza,” he said via news release.

Sant Ambroeus already has something very Palm Beach-y going for it. It’s pink and gold branding. Think flamingo, with sunscreen.

Sant Ambroeus: Opens at 6 p.m. Saturday at 340 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach

 

 

 

 

New restaurant news: The Regional Kitchen rolls out new weekend brunch

West Palm Beach mimosa-seekers, there’s a hot new brunch in town. The Regional Kitchen quietly expanded its weekend hours recently to include an a la carte, big-city brunch.

On the brunch menu at The Regional: cornmeal flapjacks with bourbon-blueberry jam and salted butter. (Contributed by The Regional Kitchen)
On the brunch menu at The Regional: cornmeal flapjacks with bourbon-blueberry jam and salted butter. (Contributed by The Regional Kitchen)

Unlike some unruly, dancing-on-tables brunches, this is a civilized, soulful affair. Chef Lindsay Autry has created a menu that’s just large enough and eclectic enough to satisfy most midmorning appetites.

Related: 50 must-try ‘Sunday Funday’ brunch parties in Palm Beach County

On the savory side, there’s loaded mill grits with cheddar, scallions, bacon and roasted jalapeños ($11; add poached egg for $2, barbecue shrimp for $7), country-style sausage ($11), steak and eggs ($18), fried chicken thighs ($9), and broccoli and cheese frittata ($14).

Steak and eggs, Regional-style. (Contributed by The Regional Kitchen)
Steak and eggs, Regional-style. (Contributed by The Regional Kitchen)

On the sweet side, there’s cornmeal flapjacks with bourbon-blueberry jam ($12), and buttermilk waffle with spiced apple butter ($12). Rounding out your options, there are smaller bites (roasted tomato pie, $11), salads, sandwiches, entrées (herb roasted Scottish salmon, $22), and homey side dishes (table-side pimento cheese, $11).

Fan favorite: The Regional's roasted tomato pie. (South Moon Photography)
Fan favorite: The Regional’s roasted tomato pie. (South Moon Photography)

Brunch-y drinks include classic mimosas, daily special mimosas ($11 glass, $30 pitcher), Frosé (a spiked, slushy rosé cocktail, $12 each) and The Regional Bloody (a well-garnished Bloody Mary, $11 each).

Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations are suggested at 561-557-6460.

The Regional Kitchen & Public House: 651 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

ON THE HORIZON: New lunch coming in 2017

Stacked: Table 26's signature burger. (Contributed by Table 26)
Stacked: Table 26’s signature burger. (Contributed by Table 26)

Long a popular spot for dinner, the restaurant will open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. To reserve a spot, call 561-855-2660.

Owners Eddie Schmidt and Ozzie Medeiros are still finalizing menu details.

Their announcement promises to boost local “power lunch” options. Table 26’s (also upscale) neighbor, Grato, started lunch service this past summer.

Crispy French toast at Table 26. (Contributed by Table 26)
Crispy French toast at Table 26. (Contributed by Table 26)

Table 26 presently serves a Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. On the menu: comfort food classics with a sophisticated twist, and $5 brunch cocktails.

Table 26: 1700 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach

RELATED:

Best Guide: Hot restaurants on West Palm’s Dixie Dining Corridor

Fifty must-try brunches in Palm Beach County

BEST GUIDE: What’s hot on West Palm’s Dixie Dining Corridor?

Move over, Clematis Street. The hottest new thoroughfare near downtown West Palm Beach is South Dixie Highway, from Flamingo Park to just past Antique Row.

This is where a string of chef-driven, indie restaurants have opened in the past three years, adding eclectic notes to the street. They join a few of the city’s iconic restaurants in what is now dubbed the Dixie Dining Corridor.

Here’s a north-to-south guide of The Corridor:

Table 26 is named after the latitude of Palm Beach. (Contributed by Table 26)
Table 26 is named after the latitude of Palm Beach. (Contributed by Table 26)

TABLE 26

1700 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-855-2660

If you wonder why this sophisticated spot has drawn so many regulars to its doors, the answer is simple: They serve simple, delicious food, and they treat you like family.

The power duo behind Table 26, Eddie Schmidt and Ozzie Medeiros, were pioneers of sorts on The Corridor. They opened the nautically themed place in the summer of 2012 and the valet attendants have been busy ever since.

Best reason to go: The place is lovely. It makes any night feel like a special night on the town.

Coming next year:

Patina – The husband-wife duo behind Kitchen plan an upscale spot serving Greek and Israeli dishes. Expected to open in fall 2017 at 1817 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach

Paccheri with herb ricotta, Parmesan and "Sunday gravy" with braised pork shoulder, short rib and Italian sausage. (LibbyVision.com)
Grato’s paccheri with ‘Sunday Gravy’ and herb ricotta. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)

GRATO

1901 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-404-1334

This local trattoria has earned a following by offering outstanding brick-oven pizza, house-smoked meats and homemade pasta in an accessible setting with just the right amount of vibe. Success is not an alien concept to the powerhouse team behind Grato: Chef Clay Conley and his Buccan Palm Beach partners. In August, Conley brought in a new executive chef, a rising star named Jimmy Strine, former executive sous chef at Café Boulud Palm Beach. Strine has notched up Grato’s smoked-meat game and introduced some exquisite seasonal dishes that showcase his balance of refined and rustic.

Best reason to go: There’s handmade pasta for lunch; a late afternoon drink at the bar can easily segue to dinner; Sunday brunch is sublime.

Lodge-y vibe: Jereve at EmKo. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
Lodge-y vibe: Jereve at EmKo. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

JEREVE at EmKo

2119 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-227-3511

There’s a restaurant in this hulking structure that presents itself as an artist hub. Restaurant is not the word used here – they call it “culinary studio.” They do serve lunch, dinner and cocktails.

Best reason to go: There’s half-priced wine (by the glass) during social hour, which goes from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Chef Matthew Byrne's fave: Kitchen's chicken schnitzel. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)
Chef Matthew Byrne’s fave: Kitchen’s chicken schnitzel. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)

KITCHEN

319 Belvedere Rd. (at S. Dixie Hwy), West Palm Beach; 561-249-2281

Chef Matthew Byrne once served as personal chef to golf superstar Tiger Woods. At Kitchen, the restaurant he opened with wife Aliza Byrne in the fall of 2013, he serves as personal chef to a loyal crowd that includes many a visiting celeb. This is how the couple like to describe their intimate and gradually expanding restaurant: It’s like a dinner party.

Best reason to go: Chef Matthew’s simply prepared yet sumptuous dishes.

Not so new, but noteworthy:

  • City Diner – A retro diner that’s always hopping, at 3400 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-659-6776
Mexican street corn at Cholo Soy. (Photo: Alex Celis)
Mexican street corn is on the menu at the new Cholo Soy. (Photo: Alex Celis)

CHOLO SOY COCINA

3715 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-619-7018

Chef Clay Carnes ventured east from a spacious Wellington restaurant to open a tiny, neo-Andean spot. He makes his own tortillas and fresh ceviche, and roasts and smokes his own meats. There’s not much seating, but there is a sweet patio out back.

Best reason to go: Those tortillas, they’re made of organic corn grown in Alachua County.

Not so new, but noteworthy:

  • Belle & Maxwell’s – Quaint café that’s popular at lunch, at 3700 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-832-4449
  • Rhythm Café – Neighborhood favorite, serves eclectic mix of bites and main plates, at 3800 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-833-3406
  • Dixie Grill & Bar – Offers large selection of excellent craft beers and pub fare, at 5101 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-586-3189
  • Howley’s – A diner that burns the wee-hour oil (so to speak), serving comfort grub, at 4700 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-833-5691
Buffet at El Unico: Consider it a Latin 'meat + 3.' (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
El Unico’s Buffet: It’s a Latin ‘meat + 3.’ (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

EL UNICO

6108 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-619-2962

She’s Cuban-American; he’s Dominican. Together, husband-wife duo Monica and Enmanuel Nolasco have created a cozy spot for authentic island cooking and weekend get-downs.

Best reason to go: The lunch buffet is unbeatable. Friday night music and dancing kicks off the weekend with hot rhythms. 

Not so new, but noteworthy:

  • Marcello’s La Sirena – World-class Italian cuisine, a wine lover’s destination restaurant and multiple winner of Wine Spectator’s coveted Grand Award, at 6316 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-585-3128
  • Havana – This authentic Cuban restaurant just got an exterior makeover, at 6801 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-547-9799
  • Don Ramon Restaurante Cubano – Cuban classics served with a smile, at 7101 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-547-8704
Chef Michael Hackman kneads sourdough for bread. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)
Chef Michael Hackman kneads sourdough for bread. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)

AIOLI

7434 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-366-7741

This daylight spot is no ordinary sandwich shop. Chef Michael Hackman and his wife/partner Melanie approach their menu with fresh, seasonal ingredients and a lot of soul. “We love to make stuff from scratch here,” says Chef Michael, who bakes the shop’s breads daily. He uses the fresh loaves – sourdough, seven grain, semolina, and more – in Aioli’s sandwiches. The shop also sells the loaves retail.

Best reason to go: After your scrumptious lunch, you can take one of Chef Michael’s prepared dinners to go. Multitasking!

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).

 

Exclusive: Tiger Woods’ former chef to open new restaurant on Dixie dining corridor

The husband-wife team behind Kitchen, the Belvedere Road hotspot popular with local and visiting celebs, are deep into the planning stages for a neighboring restaurant.

Chef Matthew Byrne and wife/partner Aliza Byrne will open Patina, a Greek and Israeli-inspired restaurant, on West Palm Beach’s happening Dixie Highway dining corridor. They expect to debut in the fall of 2017.

“What’s the best place to open a restaurant? Next to a busy restaurant,” Matthew Byrne told The Post this week. “That’s restaurant 101.”

Growing the business: Kitchen's Aliza and Matthew Byrne. (LILA PHOTO)
Growing the business: Kitchen’s Aliza and Matthew Byrne. (LILA PHOTO)

The busy restaurant next to the Byrnes’ upcoming concept? That would be Grato, the acclaimed trattoria opened by South Florida star chef Clay Conley and his Buccan Palm Beach partners 11 months ago.

The Byrnes hope to infuse a Mediterranean feel into the 2500-square-foot indoor space and courtyard. The building’s vintage floors inspired the name Patina, they say.

Matthew’s experience in the kitchen of a longstanding Greek restaurant in the couple’s native Philadelphia partially inspired the concept, as did Aliza’s Middle Eastern roots. (Her father is Israeli.)

“Think lemon, sea salt, rosemary, whole fishes, tons of squid, charred lamb,” says the chef. “I’m really excited about some vegan items on the menu.”

The vegan plates will come naturally to the concept, as will the fish and meat dishes, he says. And while he admits he’s not a disciple of the “small plate-y” approach, he expects to offer some shareable dishes, hummus, baba ganoush and other classics.

“It’s my version of Greek-American and Israeli food,” says Byrne, a former private chef who worked for golf star Tiger Woods.

The upcoming restaurant will have a full bar, unlike Kitchen, which serves only wine and beer, he says.

New item: salmon carpaccio with hearts of palm and cukes in lemon-dill dressing. (LibbyVision.com)
New item: salmon carpaccio in lemon-dill dressing. (LibbyVision.com)

The chef offers a kind of preview of the Patina cuisine on his revamped Kitchen menu. You’ll find hints of it in his carpaccio of salmon, buttery slices of raw salmon served with hearts of palm and cucumber in a fresh lemon-dill dressing ($16). It’s also in the pan-roasted halibut with artichokes in a heady truffle-clam broth ($32).

The prospect of a new up-market spot in the Flamingo Park area will likely intensify the Dixie dining corridor’s heat as a dining destination.

The Byrnes purchased the 1817 S. Dixie Highway space in January from Palm Beach resident Jeffrey Cole’s Blenheim Holdings for $770,000. (Cole is a loyal Kitchen customer.) Until recently, the property housed Solar Antique Tiles.

The couple is in the permitting stage for renovation of the space.

Matthew Byrne's halibut in truffled clam broth. (LibbyVision.com)
Matthew Byrne’s halibut in truffled clam broth. (LibbyVision.com)

The Patina project is underway as the Byrnes’ Kitchen, which celebrated its third anniversary in October, continues to expand. By December, they expect to spread their presence in the Belvedere plaza to include the space where Shoppe 561 now operates. That space will house a wine bar/retail space they call Prep Kitchen.

The 1600-square-foot space would host visiting winemakers, wine tastings with Chef Matthew and other wine-related events. It also will serve as a spillover space for diners waiting for their table at Kitchen. During the day, the space will serve as a retail shop, selling wines as well as grab-and-go items such as salads and Kitchen’s desserts.

Once Patina opens, the chef says he will likely shuttle between the restaurants, located just blocks apart. He says he’s confident his Kitchen crew will keep his current restaurant on point.

“It’s my original team,” says Byrne. “They’ve been with me for three years, since Day 1.”

Kitchen: 319 Belvedere Rd., West Palm Beach; 561-249-2281; KitchenPB.com

What are the 20 best restaurants in Palm Beach County?

What are the 20 best restaurants in Palm Beach County right now?

That’s a tricky question. Every 20-best list not only is subjective and unique, but it’s also constantly in flux. New restaurants open and replace others. It’s the cycle that keeps our local culinary scene fresh and vibrant.

This is why we issue a new list every few months.

Which restaurants made our most recent list? (Cox Newspapers photo)
Which restaurants made our most recent list? (Cox Newspapers photo)

Here’s my latest “20-best right now” list. The restaurants are not ranked, but rather listed from north county to south county.

Your 20-best list might be different from mine. I’d love to read it. You’ll find my contact info at the bottom of the list.

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

‘What is a Cuban pizza?’ New WPB restaurant answers that question

Xiomara Aguilera can’t help but laugh while describing how she met the love of her life.

“The first thing I asked him was: ‘Do you cook? Because if you don’t, you’re disqualified,’” she says.

Luckily, he did. And Eddy Tapia’s intentions were far greater than she expected. Not only was he a great cook, but he was the missing piece she had been looking for.

Related: Readers’ Choice for ‘Best Pizza in PBC’

Eddy Tapia kisses his girlfriend Xiomara Aguilera inside their new Cuban Pizzeria in West Palm Beach. October 2016. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)
Eddy Tapia kisses his girlfriend Xiomara Aguilera inside their new Cuban Pizzeria in West Palm Beach. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

“It was love at first sight,” says Aguilera. 

Aguilera had been working as a baker for the past 25 years in West Palm, but she didn’t want to work at a supermarket forever. Eddy worked in construction since moving to the city in 2008, something he did make a living, not something he wanted to do. When they met in 2010, everything came together.

“We unified our ideas and we were able to open something we both love,” says Eddy.

Eddy Tapia and Xiomara Aguilar working behind the counter at their new Cuban Pizzeria in West Palm Beach. October 2016. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)
Eddy Tapia and Xiomara Aguilar working behind the counter at their new Cuban Pizzeria in West Palm Beach. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

The Cuban lovebirds — Xiomara from Las Tunas and Eddy from Pinar del Rio — opened their Cuban pizzeria and bakery in West Palm Beach in August. They called it Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery.”

Xiomara Aguilera, the owner of "Mi Isla Cuban Pizzeria and Bakery" makes the desserts at the restaurant.
Xiomara Aguilera, the owner of “Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery” makes the desserts at the restaurant. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

Aguilera admits that she never liked cooking, hence why she wanted a man who cooks. Her passion is making desserts, namely Cuban pastries and the undeniably-sweet café cubano, something she offers with a smile to every customer who walks in because “that’s just Cuban courtesy.”

Tapia, who’s a bit more timid, has always loved making Cuban pizza for his family. Now, he’s the guy in the back of the kitchen making the seasoned-magic happen for an entire community.

"Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery" in West Palm Beach
“Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery” in West Palm Beach (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

“You must try it,” says Tapia confidently. 

That’s exactly how Tapia answered when asked, “What the heck is a Cuban Pizza?”

It goes like this: He makes sure the dough it just right. He says it’s a thicker bread that’s fully cooked, yet it’s chewier and fluffier than a traditional Italian pizza.

La salsa es divina! (The sauce is divine),” says Aguilera.

Any Italian would tell you that the secret in a great pizza is the sauce. This Cuban twist is no exception. Tapia says the sauce is still tomato-based, but it has all kinds of Cuban seasonings that make it a lot more flavorful. He guarantees you’ll love it. But, like most true chefs, he won’t share more of the secret.

“It’s a recipe we both created. It is intimate,” says the Cuban gentleman.

Any guy that abides by the “don’t-kiss-and-tell” rule must be a keeper.

Eddy Tapia and Xiomara Aguilera, the owners of "Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery" in West Palm Beach. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)
Eddy Tapia and Xiomara Aguilera, the owners of “Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery” in West Palm Beach. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

Both Tapia and Aguilera spent the past year perfecting the taste that would get people coming for more. In December 2015, Tapia traveled to all parts of Cuba to sample native pizzas, different tomatoes, spices and learn different cooking methods. It was Aguilera who would sit at the table and try all of his sauces.

“She is the tasting queen. She hates the kitchen, but loves to eat,” jokes Eddy while serving a Cuban espresso. A few months ago, they locked down a recipe they both love.

A Cuban Pizza made by Eddy Tapia. thicker cuban-style dough, secret-recipe sauce a-la-Cuba, mozzarella cheese, ham and pineapple. October 2016 (Julio Poletti/ the Palm Beach Post)
A Cuban Pizza made by Eddy Tapia. thicker Cuban-style dough, secret-recipe sauce a-la-Cuba, mozzarella cheese, ham and pineapple. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

The toppings on these pizzas are both Cuban and traditional. You can choose from regular ham, pineapple or pepperoni to more Cuban ingredients such as chorizo, lechon asado (roast pork) or even guayaba con queso (guava with cheese.)

“We have a good balance,” says Aguilera. “He cooks and I make desserts.” 

Eddy Tapia makes Cuban Pizzas while Xiomara Aguilera makes the desserts. (Julio Poletti/ the Palm Beach Post)
Eddy Tapia makes Cuban Pizzas while Xiomara Aguilera makes the desserts. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)

The Details:

What: “Mi Isla—Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery”

Where: 1209 S Military Trl., West Palm Beach, FL 33415

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Phone: 561-310-7286

Wonder where Mi Isla would rank in our Readers’ Choice for Best Pizza?