Dining buzz: 8 new restaurants on deck, from Boca to the Gardens 

That buzzing you hear is the sound of new restaurant kitchens in construction, of booths and bars and floors getting spiffed up as new spots prepare to make their debut. 

Some openings are slated for summer, others for later in the year. Here’s how the new dining landscape is taking shape: 

Union 27 

A couple of burger-centric Boca Raton chefs are within weeks of opening a new upscale, Florida-inspired restaurant in the former 13 American Table location. The upcoming Boca Raton spot will be called Union 27, the name a throwback to 1845 when Florida became the 27th state to join the Union. 

Chefs George Patti of Meat Eatery and Brian Cartenuto of Tucker Duke’s, along with several investors, have designed a working menu with Florida-everything in mind. 

“We’re going to try to source all of our ingredients from as many local purveyors as possible, from the local breweries and distilleries to the local produce farms and (livestock) farms,” says Patti, who plans to craft the restaurant’s ground and smoked sausages as he does at his Meat Eatery locations in Boca and Islamorada. 

Patti envisions a place where locals can visit “three or four days a week” instead of viewing it as a special-occasion restaurant. But because this is reservation-loving Boca Raton, he concedes the place will accept reservations and lean toward fine dining. He describes the vibe as “upscale Boca casual.” 

The working menu is peppered with fresh, regional references. They include: yellowtail ceviche with pineapple, chilies and key lime; mojo-braised pork belly with Manchego grits and chive oil; flash-fried conch steak with ginger, corn and roasted pepper nage (flavored broth); whole hogfish, fried or grilled; Old Bay seared grouper. 

As for the space, Patti says it’s “pretty turn-key,” though it will be spruced up before opening. He and his partners are aiming for a late-August/ early-September debut. 

Union 27: 451 E. Palmetto Park Rd., Boca Raton 

Fork Play

Boynton Beach restaurateur Lisa Mercado has taken over the historic Ruth Jones Cottage and plans to turn it into a small-plates gastro pub very soon. 

Mercado knows a thing or two about pubs. She has operated The Living Room for nine years and its next-door space, The Pub, for nearly four. Regulars have flocked to those Congress Avenue spots for Mercado’s homey grub, like her baked brie with jam, her crispy Scotch eggs and her luscious peanut butter pie. 

If they want those dishes, customers will have to visit Mercado at Fork Play – she’s retiring those dishes from Living Room/Pub and re-introducing them at the new restaurant. 

The cottage that will house Fork Play was formerly the home of chef Chrissy Benoit’s Little House, which closed in September 2014. But unlike Little House’s woefully limited kitchen, the kitchen at Fork Play has been expanded and can produce all its dishes on premises. Benoit, who has been a sounding board for Mercado during the present remodeling phase, cooked most of her dishes in a production kitchen miles away. 

“My dream has been to open a restaurant in a free-standing building,” says Mercado, whose Living Room and Pub are in a strip plaza. 

She says she hopes to open by Aug. 1, or as soon as the restaurant’s customized glass door panels are installed. The spot will open for lunch and dinner, with plans to add breakfast later. It will serve beer and wine, but is expected to offer a full craft cocktail bar within a year, she says. 

Mercado herself will be cooking. She has hired a new manager for her other restaurants so she can spend more time at Fork Play. 

“I’ll be taking care of it like a newborn baby,” she says. 

Fork Play: 480 E. Ocean Ave., Boynton Beach 


With global eats and an artistic vibe, a new casual restaurant will hang a shingle in Delray Beach’s restaurant-loving Pineapple Grove. 

Avant, which is expected to open in August, will put its love of art on display. It will showcase works inspired by New York’s guerrilla art movement of the early 1980s. 

In a news release, an Avant partner describes the interior as “the next level in restaurant design.” The design includes “impressive, over the top lighting with exquisite floors and finishes,” says Steven Cantor of Nxt Big Thing, who teamed up with the Society 8 restaurant and nightlife company to open Avant. 

Against that backdrop, dishes will be varied in size and inspiration, with prices ranging to $30. A canopied patio will anchor the place. 

Avant: 25 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 561-921-8687 

Kapow! Noodle Bar

The second location of restaurateur Rodney Mayo’s Kapow Noodle Bar will host its official (VIP) grand opening in downtown West Palm Beach Thursday. 

With a modernized, generically Asian menu (from Vietnamese wings to Thai style jerky to Peking duck), Kapow has been packing in crowds since its opening in November 2011 in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park. The West Palm location will breathe new life into the former LongBoards, a surfer-themed restaurant also owned by Mayo’s Sub-Culture group. 

Kapow’s location on the 500 block of Clematis Street puts it in close vicinity of various sister establishments, including Hullabaloo, Respectable Street and Subculture coffee shop. 

Kapow: 519 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-246-3827 

More restaurants on the horizon: 

Coyo Taco 

Miami’s funky Coyo Taco is set to open in Palm Beach’s Royal Poinciana Plaza. The Mexican-inspired restaurant plans a fall opening

Coyo Taco: 340 Royal Poinciana Way, Suite M337A, Palm Beach 


A raw bar and seafood-centric spot is setting up shop in the former Dos Amigos space in West Palm’s Northwood Village. 

Hutton is expected to open this summer. 

Hutton: 407 Northwood Rd., West Palm Beach 


A casual, chef-driven restaurant serving homey dishes is in construction in the former Gulf Stream Bistro property. Chef Eric Baker (formerly of Max’s Harvest) and general manager Jason Lakow (formerly of Café Boulud) have teamed up to open Mazie’s

They expect a fall debut. 

Mazie’s: 3815 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach 

Avocado Grill 

The second location of West Palm’s popular Avocado Grill is expected to open sometime this winter in Palm Beach Gardens. Chef/owner Julien Gremaud plans to open in the former RA Sushi space at Downtown at the Gardens. 

Avocado Grill: 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave., Palm Beach Gardens 


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