Black Friday 2017 mall dining guide: Where the good bites are

Black Friday mall-trekking can work up quite an appetite. And luckily, the mall scene is on longer a wasteland of food options. Sure, you can find the expected fare at area food courts. But between those bourbon chicken giveaway bites, options are diversifying. 

Here’s a Black Friday dining guide to help you find those bites you may enjoy. 

There are plenty of top-notch options at this north county mall. Even the food court offers some noteworthy options in the form of Thanksgiving-inspired turkey meals (Let’s Talk Turkey), and a full-service California Pizza Kitchen. 

»DINING REVIEW: Wine-loving Cooper’s Hawk brings bold flavors to The Gardens Mall

Half a mall away from the food court sits The Gardens’ newish Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant. Buzzy as it can be, the spacious restaurant offers an escape from mall gridlock. The place is welcoming, the menu well varied and approachable. And it’s a terrific place for a glass of wine at the bar. (Wine, all carrying the Cooper’s Hawk label, is the centerpiece element here.) 

»THE THING TO HAVE: At Cooper’s Hawk in The Gardens Mall

At the other end of the mall, a great treat is finding no line outside the Nordstrom Café Bistro, the cozy eatery located on the second floor of the department store. And even if there is a line, it’s worth the wait. 

Soups here are rich and delicious. Salads are abundant and will not leave you hungry. (I love the salade nicoise with herbs and Dijon-roasted wild salmon, French green beans, potatoes, egg and capers.) And if you’re famished, you can slice into rib-sticking fare as well, such as the Bistro flatiron steak with herb butter, organic arugula, Kalamata olive aioli and crispy fries. 

Other civilized dining options include Brio Tuscan Grille, where it’s always nice to start your meal with a platter of beef carpaccio and salad, or a spicy-creamy Pasta Fra Diavolo. Or sit at the bar on weekdays for delicious, low-priced bites during happy hour. 

»WANT MORE FOOD NEWS: Sign up for my weekly newsletter At the Table

Coming soon: The folks at Park Avenue BBQ & Grille are busy renovating the former Counter location (near Sears) and already are accepting employment applications. That means it shouldn’t be too long before those sweet-spicy pickles and pulled pork platters come to The Gardens Mall. 

The Gardens Mall3101 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens (click on the address to open in Google Maps).

This is where you’ll find substantial Italian classics at Sal’s Ristorante, design-your-own Tex-Mex dish at Moe’s Southwest Grill and a freestanding Chili’s restaurant. 

You’ll also find a Jimmy Johns sub shop, a Five Guys burger joint and a daylight bagel spot, Bagel Boyz. Nearby, there’s a popular gelato and coffee spot, Gelato Grotto. 

New to the mix, Newk's Eatery has opened its doors. It offers hearty, generously portioned soups, toasted sandwiches, interesting salads and personal-size pizzas. 

»FIRST LOOK: Newk’s Eatery hits the spot

If you want to get a little more fancy, try Cool’a FishBar. If you want to get a lot more fancy, spring for The Capital Grille. 

Legacy Place11290 Legacy Ave., Palm Beach Gardens (Click on the address to open in Google Maps).

Some of this sprawling mall’s best eats are either freestanding or located along the plaza anchored by Whole Foods. (That strip is called the Marketplace at the Outlets.) In fact, the supermarket is like a mega-food court in itself. There’s a craft beer bar, where you can pair a local brew with an oozy grilled cheese sandwich. There’s a hot and cold buffet of a variety of prepared foods. There’s even a crepe-making station in the store. And there’s plenty of seating for enjoying your lunch inside or outside. 

A couple of doors down, you can design your own pizza at Cucina Pizza by Design, a shop that specializes in individual (but ample) pies topped with your choice of ingredients. The pies are crispy and they hit the spot. 

At the main mall itself, you’ll find a small food court and a few stand-alone kiosks. 

On the larger mall grounds, shoppers who are ready to take a longer break from the Black Friday sales will find a few full-service eateries — a Red Robin, a BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, a TooJay’s deli and a First Watch daylight cafe. 

Palm Beach Outlets1751 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach (Click on the address to open in Google Maps).

Downtown West Palm’s favorite piazza del popolo is home to a wide range of eateries and bars. You’ll find there are various spots for excellent burgers, delicious pizza, good pub grub, and that’s just the start of it. When food cravings hit, you’ll find there’s no shortage of dining options. 

Some of my favorites: 

The stylish Regional Kitchen & Public House offers worldly Southern food by Chef Lindsay Autry. City Cellar, for upscale American cuisine and excellent, house-made charcuterie and nice wine, all served in a welcoming, civilized setting. 

Il Bellagio or Brio Tuscan Grille for Italian classics in a buzzy setting. 

Mojito Latin Cuisine for yummy empañadas, paella and, as you may expect, mojitos. 

Faster (and delicious) fare can be had at BurgerFi and Mellow Mushroom. 

CityPlace700 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach (Click on the address to open in Google Maps).

Shoppers here have some new options this year. The advent of the Paragon Wellington 10 theaters at the mall, there’s potential for a new dining hub. Adjacent to the theaters is Cask + Shaker Craft Bar and Kitchen, a gastro pub serving small plates, cheese and meat boards, shareable sides, hot sandwiches and a few entrées. Nearby, a location of south county’s popular, upscale Lemongrass Asian Bistro chain is scheduled to open soon. 

Also opening soon, on the upper level near Macy’s: The Beauty & The Beeeef Burger Bar, an outpost of the Canadian burger pub La Belle et La Boeuf. When it does open, we can expect super-stacked burgers, lots of oozy-cheese and frothy sundae Insta photo ops, and bulky cocktails. 

At the food court, there’s a new vegetarian vendor named Maoz, serving Mediterranean-style eats. Plus, it’s always nice to find there’s a pho stand where a junk-food kiosk might be: it’s Pholicious and it serves bowls of steaming Vietnamese soup. Across from the food court sits the newly opened Joe & Ray’s Table, which offers an international buffet in a casual setting. 

For dessert or a sweet sip, consider Black Pearl boba tea shop for an Asian-inspired, chilled milk tea. 

Mall at Wellington Green10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington (Click on the address to open in Google Maps).

Among the usual food court eats inside this modest mall you’ll find hot island and Haitian grub (sautéed meats, beans and rice, fried plantains) at Dutshy’s Caribbean Restaurant. At the mall there’s also a Toojay’s and an Asian buffet called East West Bistro, plus other vendors. Generally speaking, dining options at this mall are slim. 

But outside the mall, along the Congress Avenue shopping corridor, shoppers will find plenty of good grub. 

Comfort food-seekers with a little more time may want to take a Cuban break across the avenue at Guarapo’s Cuban Cuisine. This is where diners are greeted with a complimentary mini-mug of chilled sugar cane juice (“guarapo,” in Spanish). Dishes are hefty and varied, and service is attentive. 

Congress Avenue is also home to the Living Room eatery and pub, which offers some simple, delicious and shareable plates, such as baked brie and shepherd’s pie. The Scotch eggs here are outstanding, and the peanut butter pie is not to be missed. 

Boynton Beach Mall801 Congress Ave., Boynton Beach (Click on the address to open in Google Maps).

Like The Gardens Mall, this vast complex has plenty of good eats. Italian food fans will find sophisticated options at DaVinci’s of Boca. Steak lovers will find their favorite cuts at The Capital Grille. And those who wish to pair their Wagyu beef with wine will find such possibilities at Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar. 

Town Center at Boca Raton6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton (click on the address to open in Google Maps).

Welcome to a hungry shopper’s dream plaza. In fact, food options seem to outweigh shopping options here. For an early sugar boost, try the iconic cheesecake at Junior’s Restaurant. Modern American pub grub is served at Racks Downtown Eatery & Tavern. Greek specialties are served at Ouzo Bay, near the iPic theaters. Stylish classics are offered at the popular Max’s Grille. For contemporary seafood dishes, try Truluck’s.

»DINING REVIEW: From Brooklyn to Boca, Junior’s Cheesecake holds true

If Mexican food is your preference, dip a tortilla chip at Uncle Julio’s Fine Mexican Food. And that’s just the start of it at Mizner Park — check the website,, for the full buffet. 

Mizner Park327 Plaza Real, Boca Raton (click on the address to open in Google Maps).

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