PGA Boulevard knows a thing or two about happy hours. And that’s a good thing for the golf fans and pros in town this week for the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort.
After a long day on the greens, a sturdy cocktail and savory bites call your name – even if your name isn’t Rory or Tiger.
Here are some spots on Palm Beach Gardens’ main drag and environs to grab a happy hour, or two:
A not-to-shabby place to start a Honda Classic bar crawl is the tournament’s home grounds, the PGA National Resort & Spa, where the handsome iBar greets you as you enter the hotel lobby.
The drink: Honda Classic Cocktail, $11
This is a mix of Grey Goose vodka, pineapple, cranberry and orange juices with a splash of ginger ale.
The bite: Shrimp cocktail, $15
It’s classic, it’s Florida, it’s delicious.
iBar at PGA National Resort & Spa: 400 Avenue of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens; 561-627-2000; PGAResort.com.
When it comes to Honda Classic cocktailing and dining, Chef Charlie Soo’s Talay Thai is the undisputed hotspot.
Less than a mile from the golf course action at PGA National, his eatery is something of a mash-up: a quiet, classic Thai restaurant with a separate bustling bar, popular with visiting pros as well as locals.
The drink: Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini, $9
“It’s not very Thai, but it’s a favorite this time of the year,” says Soo, who confides both the “pros and Joes ask for it every time.”
The bite: Thai-style ribs and slaw, $5
Soo is masterful with ribs – his short ribs in Panang curry sauce are legendary in north county. This week, as he does occasionally, he’s serving St. Louis style ribs that he saws in half to make bite-sized ribs on the bone. He marinates and braises the ribs, then serves them atop a shredded, deeply flavorful green papaya salad.
Talay Thai: 7100 Fairway Drive, Palm Beach Gardens; 561-691-5662
WATER BAR & GRILL
Located along the row of eateries at PGA Commons, this spot offers respectable menu options as well as outdoor seating for alfresco drinks and boulevard-watching.
The drink: Tequesta Brewing Company’s Der Chancellor, $5.50
There are plenty of fancy cocktails here, but it’s hard to resist a frosty Der Chancellor. This refreshing, easy-to-drink Kolsch-style beer is the perfect introduction to TBC’s delicious, locally brewed beers. It’s my hands-down favorite.
The bite: Mix it up and order various affordable small plates, like the calamari ($5), the grilled chicken wings ($6.50), and the Margherita flatbread ($4.50). Any of these will pair well with that terrific beer.
Water Bar & Grill: 4610 PGA Boulevard (PGA Commons); 561-776-5778; WaterBarGrill.com; happy hour runs from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Cantina, which shares a nice patio bar with III Forks at the Midtown plaza on PGA Boulevard, serves consistently good Mexican dishes and a selection of bar bites.
Its Modern Mexican Happy Hour offers the house Margarita for $5 (large) and $3 (small), two-buck domestic beers, $3 Mexican brews and $4 house wine. During happy hour, you get half off all bar apps (think ceviche, steak flatbread and quesadillas al carbon) and “taqueria” selections. Happy hour runs from Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to closing time, and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The drink: the Cabo Flip, $12.75
An eye-catching Margarita, this one’s flavored with fresh lime, and infused with reposado and Grand Marnier. Floating atop it in a lime-cap boat: a shot of tequila.
The bite: the Ahi tacos, $9 regular, half-price during happy hour
Cantina Laredo: 4635 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens; 561-622-1223; CantinaLaredo.com
This recent addition to the Downtown at the Gardens complex, just off of PGA Boulevard, is one of the sexiest spots in town. Sip your cocktail by crackling fire pits outside, or inside by the red lava plasma top bar that’s dominated by a painting of big red lips.
The drink: During Honda Classic, Red is serving four special, $5 cocktails – the Hole in One (a strawberry and jalapeño-laced vodka lemonade), the Birdie (orange and pineapple-infused vodka with a splash of ginger), the Wedge (a Bourbon mojito), and the Dark and Stormy (rum, ginger beer and lime).
The bites: Lots of tapas to choose from here. For a Latin-Asian fusion bite, choose $5 Yin Yan empanadas, or dip into a 3-buck cheese fondue or hummus, or scarf some $2 deviled eggs.
Red’s “Tap-py Hour” runs Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m., weekends from 4 to 6 p.m.
Red Tapas Bar & Grille: 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens, #3102, (Downtown at the Gardens); Palm Beach Gardens; 561-333-7331; RedTapasBar.com.
Downtown at the Gardens’ party spot offers an extended happy hour daily from 4 to 8 p.m., with $4 cocktail, $5 wines, $7 martinis and discounted menu items.
The drink: the Charlie Sheen Very Dirty Martini, $14
This vodka martini with a generous hit of briny mix is garnished with three meaty, house-prepared, blue cheese-stuffed olives. The olives are the star component of this drink.
The bite: truffle steak fries, $4
An enhanced dish for an enhanced cocktail, the truffle steak fries give you that luxe truffle scent to pair with those meaty olives.
Dirty Martini: 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens, (across from Red Tapas at Downtown at the Gardens); Palm Beach Gardens; 561-799-1115; DirtyMartiniPalmBeach.com.
The Rum Bar, adjacent to Panama Hattie’s on PGA, offers the beachy ambiance people come to Florida for. Tiki bar, open-air noshing, water view. Add lime and a little mint, and you’ve got a happy hour.
The drink: the mojito
You’ve got to have a mojito while you’re in town. It’s a South Florida must do. So why not here?
The bite: Conch fritters, $8.95
These light and crispy, Bahamian-style fritters are served with a sweet chile dipping sauce.
Rum Bar at Panama Hattie’s: 11511 Ellison Wilson Road, North Palm Beach; 561-627-1545; Panama-Hatties.com