If you’re headed to the Palm Beaches area, your tastebuds are in for a treat – there are thousands of eateries that dot the landscape from Boca Raton to Jupiter.
But when you’re so spoiled for choice, it’s hard to decide which culinary establishments are worth your time and attention. Luckily, we’ve done the groundwork for you. Whether you’re looking for casual, healthy, lunches in between beach or shopping time, or luxe dinners that highlight local, seasonal fare, this guide will lead you there.
A tropical vibe
When you imagine a restaurant in South Florida, Cool’a Fishbar in Palm Beach Gardens is probably comes to mind. Its culinary influences range from Thai to Mediterranean, but fresh, local fish is the thread that stitches the menu together. Try the grilled honey BBQ fish of the day, topped with crabmeat.
Likewise, the waterside Square Grouper Tiki Bar in Jupiter is a relaxed venue known for its signature punches (try Pirate’s Punch), frozen drinks (we recommend the Rum Runner), and nibbles (like Smoked Fish Dip). Live music programming also adds to the laid-back, tropical atmosphere, though bear in mind that the venue is better suited to adults rather than families.
More appealing to folks of all ages, Guanabanas blends its tiki hut décor with a “Fresh from Florida” commitment, meaning the menu is dedicated to supporting Florida state aquaculture and agriculture. But when it comes to the locale’s live music, the flavor is much more international, ranging from New Zealand reggae to Grammy Award-winning artists.
Tropical South Florida surrounds you at Boca Landing at the Waterstone Resort & Marina Boca Raton, a CURIO Collection by Hilton. Dine overlooking Lake Boca while Florida oranges enhance your frisée and shaved fennel salad, mango mustard glazes your salmon, and your line-caught grouper is pan-seared to flaky perfection.
If you think French fare is too heavy for a tropical climate, reconsider that notion – Pistache French Bistro has been a jewel of the downtown West Palm Beach dining scene since 2006. Highlights from the restaurant’s delectable menu include zucchini blossom beignets – made with blossoms from Boynton Beach’s Pontano Farms, bay scallops, Boursin cheese, tomato compote, and pesto – and char-grilled mahi-mahi with braised coco beans (a type of haricot bean), chorizo, kale, fennel, and piquillo peppers.
Farmer’s Table Boca Raton makes food for the environmentally conscious consumer as well as the health-driven one. Neither fried nor microwaved, and cooked without cream, butter, and most of the sodium that other eateries use, the fare at this restaurant (which was built using reclaimed wood from a Wisconsin barn), is responsibly raised or caught. The entire manifesto is on the website, but we can sum it up for you: delicious. In a hurry to see a show or get to a museum? Visit Farmer’s Table Express, which is adjacent.
Design is as important to the denizens of the Palm Beaches as food, and the region’s restaurants reflect it. Take the innovative Galley at Hilton West Palm Beach, which features an art collection and a stunning NanaWall glass system that leads to lavish landscaping and a fire pit outside. In fact, the restaurant is so into aesthetically pleasing visuals that even the pizza oven boasts a tile mosaic.
At RH Rooftop in West Palm Beach, you can literally fall into a cloud – that is, a trademarked Cloud sofa. This stylish restaurant, from design stalwart Restoration Hardware, is perched on the store’s fourth floor, at the top of the grand staircase. Once you’re up there, lunch on a shaved vegetable salad or truffle grilled cheese in the elegant atrium.
For design with a little more history, head to Howley’s in West Palm Beach. The Subculture Group restored this 1950s diner, retaining the terrazzo floor, tin ceiling, and the Art Deco sign. While the decor may be retro, the menu has been updated for its hip clientele with dishes like Howley’s crab hash and goat cheese omelets, and “boozy milkshakes” to go with your seared ahi tuna burger.
Nosh all day
Palm Beach residents take their brunches seriously, and restaurants like City Cellar in West Palm Beach’s outdoor mall CityPlace cater to those who view it as a leisure activity. Indulge in endless mimosas while you feast on everything from trendy avocado toast to decadent French toast stuffed with crème brûlée and caramelized bananas.
If you see eating more as a competitive sport, head to Grandview Public Market, the brainchild of Palm Beach native Chris Villa. Consumer stalls and shopping spaces (à la New York City’s Chelsea Market) surround a food hall that serves up poke bowls, Thai rolled ice cream, and two different concepts – Clare’s (chicken sandwiches) and The Corner (Detroit-style pizza) – from Three Kings Restaurant Group, run by celebrity chef Dale Talde.
Northwood Village, a revitalized district in West Palm Beach, makes for more all-day shopping and dining pleasures. Try The Grilled Cheese Galleria’s unfailing magic with mac-and-cheese sandwiches. At modern Mexican restaurant Table 427, chef Roberto Villegas musters up wild sardine tacos, Creekstone Farm short ribs in pomegranate mole, and free-range organic chicken in a rose petal reduction. And Queen of Sheba, an Ethiopian restaurant, offers a terrific doro wot, the country’s national braised poultry dish, along with misir wot (red lentils stewed in red pepper sauce) and the shiro wot (seasoned ground chickpeas). Ideal for vegetarians, Queen of Sheba features several more classic meatless recipes, in addition to traditional honey wine and Ethiopian beers.
For more mixed-use browsing and grazing, head to Boca Raton’s Mizner Park. After you burn some serious calories trying on clothes or dancing at an outdoor concert, refuel at Kapow Noodle Bar. You’ll find pan-Asian tapas like “Kapow! Crack Fries” (tempura Japanese yam and sweet potato, truffle salt, and Asian aioli) paired with drinks like the “Seoul Sunshine” (Ty Ku Soju, Espolon Tequila Blanco, Canton Ginger, fig jam, lime, and soda).
Palm Beach County has spawned its share of celebrity chefs, including chef Angelo Elia, whose Casa D’Angelo is a go-to standard in Boca Raton, where his native Italian fare embodies incomparable elegance. If you’d prefer something a little friendlier to the wallet, check out Angelo Elia Pizza, Wine Bar and Tapas in Delray Beach.
Chef-owner of Buccan (signature New American), Grato (Italian), and Imoto at Buccan (Asian), Clay Conley has been given the James Beard semi-finalist nod, among other honors. A lot of that is thanks to his superb eye for plating and his many other talents, from making tiradito and tartare to homemade pasta, wood-fired pizza, and classic sauces. And if you aren’t lucky enough to snag a reservation at Buccan, you can still try Conley’s fare at the sandwich shop next door.
When we speak about celebrities, we’re not just referring to chefs but also to famous restaurateurs. Several prominent athletes – including Tiger Woods, who opened ritzy sports bar The Woods Jupiter, Ernie Els, who owns a restaurant in Miami, and Michael Jordan, who runs a steakhouse in Chicago – formed a group and debuted 1000 North. This pre-eminent property, which shows off views of Jupiter Inlet and the Jupiter Lighthouse, is all about the hassle-free good life. Best of all, the focus is on the quality craft cocktails and global steak-and-seafood fare, not the superstar owners.