Here’s a current snapshot of Palm Beach County restaurants we’re loving best at the moment. Next month, the snapshot might be different. This list, which is organized by city, includes only restaurants we have visited.
La Masseria, Palm Beach Gardens
When you least expect it, dinner at this newish restaurant just may transport you to Italy – a funny thing considering La Masseria hails from New York. The flavors here are fresh and authentically Italian. The setting is upscale crisp, yet welcoming and accessible. The menu can be pricey, but the restaurant does offer a summer prix fixe at lunch and dinner, plus a great new happy-hour promotion featuring $7 bar dishes. Whenever you do go, don’t miss the dreamy ricotta-vanilla cheesecake.
La Masseria: 5520 PGA Blvd., Suite 104, Palm Beach Gardens; 561-660-8272;
Coolinary Café, Palm Beach Gardens
Palm Beach County is mad lucky to have Chef Tim Lipman cooking his heart out on the northern edge of the Gardens. His sliver of a restaurant has been a game-changer since opening in early 2012, serving honest, inspired dishes that are driven by the season and by Florida ingredients. Lipman is not one to simply tread water, working some farm-to-table shtick.
He continues to learn and evolve. In fact, Lipman and his wife/partner, Jenny Lipman, opened The Parched Pig, a hip bar serving fresh oysters, house-made charcuterie and other bites in the same plaza earlier this year. It’s a great spot to sip a nice rosé or craft beer while you wait for your table at the always-busy Coolinary.
Coolinary Café: 4650 Donald Ross Rd. (Donald Ross Village), Palm Beach Gardens; 561-249-6760.
Christopher’s Kitchen, Palm Beach Gardens
Chef Chris Slawson, a master of plant-based foods, has seriously upped the vegan game in Palm Beach County. You don’t have to be vegan to swoon over his dishes and homemade beverages. They’re seriously delicious. Carnivores, fear not the meat-free or dairy-free offerings of this stylish café. You will fall in love with all things cashew cream here – and that’s a worthy love affair. In the past year, Slawson has opened a spinoff concept, a more casual spot named Meraki Juice Kitchen. The locations in downtown West Palm Beach and northern Palm Beach Gardens will give you a taste of the chef’s vegan magic.
Christopher’s Kitchen: 4783 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-318-6191.
Oceano Kitchen, Lantana
I am smitten with this open-air, cash-only spot, where the oven is just large enough for one entrée at a time and the menu is rewritten daily. The food is glorious. Chef Jeremy Bearman, most recently of Fort Lauderdale’s inventive One Door East, brings a refined hand to a rustic little kitchen. His menu is driven by what’s fresh and what summons his muses. From wood-fired meats to fresh-caught fish to house-made pastas and pizza, his dishes are superb, as are the sweet confections made by his pastry chef wife, Cindy Bearman.
Oceano Kitchen: 201 E. Ocean Ave., Lantana.
Costa, Palm Beach
The salt-crusted branzino at this newish Mediterranean restaurant is one of the most delicious bites we’ve had this year. Tucked into the second floor of the 150 Worth shopping plaza, Costa is a beauty. But its obscure location may be keeping one of Palm Beach’s best kept secrets off the radar. Here’s a good reason to put it in your GPS soonest: Chef David Valencia’s outstanding dishes, from Greek, Turkish and Spanish tapas (the “gambas,” garlic shrimp are a must-have) to seafood-centric dishes to roasted meats. Valet parking is complimentary.
Costa: 150 Worth Ave., Suite 234, Palm Beach; 561-429-8456.
Avocado Grill, West Palm Beach
There’s a good reason why Chef Julien Gremaud’s hip, sunny eatery is a busy spot: His small plates and shareable selections are both refined and decadent, and the place serves one of the best weekend brunches in the county. Gremaud’s eggs Benedict dishes are decadent, as are his gently scrambled eggs dusted with piment d’Espelette, and his crab-avocado toast topped with an oozy egg. What’s best about Gremaud’s approach to food is that he can do healthy and sinful in one bite. Later this year, he hopes to share the Avocado love to north county, when he opens a second location in the Gardens.
Avocado Grill: 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach; 561-623-0822.
The Regional Kitchen & Public House, West Palm Beach
Perched next to the Kravis Center in the revitalized Okeechobee Boulevard corridor, The Regional hums like a big-city brasserie in a space where a succession of restaurants have failed. The restaurant’s success has as much to do with the woman who commands the kitchen, executive chef/managing partner Lindsay Autry, as it has to do with her partners, restauranteur Thierry Beaud’s TITOU hospitality group. Autry’s worldly Southern cooking is soulful yet modern. She elevates even a simple chicken soup. To dine at The Regional is to witness a chef on the rise, a chef coming into her own.
The Regional Kitchen: 651 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-557-6460.
Grato, West Palm Beach
Grato has been a catalyst for creativity on the rising Dixie Dining Corridor, thanks to the powerhouse team behind Palm Beach’s buzzy Buccan. The menu may be non-fussy, but the dishes are exceptional. Not that anything less would be expected from a culinary concept headed by chef Clay Conley. Luckily for Flamingo Park neighborhood – Conley’s own neighborhood – the chef chose that corner to open his dream trattoria, a place for house-made pasta, rustic, wood-fired pizza and smoked and roasted meats.
Grato: 1901 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-404-1334.
Kitchen, West Palm Beach
Chef Matthew Byrne creates refined takes on comfort classics while his wife/partner, Aliza Bryne, keeps a gracious pace in the front of the house. The menu is seasonally inspired and beautifully executed. In addition to the small main dining room, there’s a lounge area as well as a private dining room to accommodate larger parties. In the past year, the Byrnes have opened a retail and wine tasting space in the same plaza as well.
Kitchen: 319 Belvedere Road, #2, West Palm Beach; 561-249-2281.
Okeechobee Steakhouse, West Palm Beach
Expect no foodie lingo here, no “artisan” this or “hand-crafted” that, no menus tripped up in adjectives. But you will find a mighty fine steak. And you will find stellar service, the kind of service that brings you back to the warm, welcoming time capsule that is Okeechobee Steakhouse.
Okeechobee Steakhouse: 2854 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-683-5151.
Pistache, West Palm Beach
It’s easy to see why Pistache has become a favorite on finicky Clematis Street: French favorites offered with a sophisticated touch, warm hospitality, lovely setting. Chef de cuisine Isaac Cerny’s dishes never fail to satisfy. Come for lunch, dinner, cocktails or one of the most pleasant a la carte Sunday brunches in central county.
Pistache: 101 N. Clematis St., #115, West Palm Beach; 561-833-5090.
Sant Ambroeus, Palm Beach
This stylish ristorante and pasticceria, which opened in December, has roots in 1936 Milan and locations in New York City and Southampton. The food here spirits you to a big-city spot in Italy, somewhere where the risotto is dreamy and the fine pastries made fresh each day. Such luxuries are pricey, but Sant Ambroeus does offer a slightly more affordable café/bar area for a more casual bite. In the dining room, the ambiance shifts with the daylight, from ladies-who-lunch sedate during the day to jacket-clad, Palm Beach buzzy at night. The service is attentive and efficient.
Sant Ambroeus: 340 Royal Poinciana Way, Suite 304, Palm Beach; 561-285-7990.
Chez l’Epicier, Palm Beach
Just as a grocer’s shop is driven by the harvest, Chef Laurent Godbout’s menu celebrates seasonality. Godbout, who owns and operates the restaurant with his wife, hostess Veronique Deneault, is an exceptional chef whose artistry is reflected in a dish’s heightened flavors as well as stunning looks. His whimsical style is evident from the welcome tray of fresh savory macaroons.
There’s a sense here that one is in good hands. The chef cooks with style and authority.
Chez l’Epicier: 288 S County Rd., Palm Beach; 561-508-7030.
Buccan, Palm Beach
Whether you stop in for one of chef Clay Conley’s supreme small plates (he’s masterful with raw fish and seafood dishes) or settle in for a 14-ounce, wood-grilled prime New York strip steak and a night of people-watching, you’ve come to the best bistro in Palm Beach. Reservations are a must.
Buccan: 350 S. County Road, Palm Beach; 561-833-3450.
Meat Market, Palm Beach
Chef Sean Brasel has created a sleek temple of food and drink designed to wow diners beyond the carnivores. Yes, carnivores will find nirvana in a menu that offers a selection of reserve cuts, such as dramatically presented mega-steaks, all tender beneath a gorgeous char.
Meat Market Palm Beach: 191 Bradley Place, Palm Beach; 561-354-9800.
Café Boulud, Palm Beach
Chef Daniel Boulud’s Palm Beach eatery offers more than a stylish backdrop for dining — it offers some of the best food on the island. Executive chef Rick Mace is a true star, a culinary storyteller who knows how to capture the imagination and palate with food and presentation.
Café Boulud: 301 Australian Ave. (in The Brazilian Court hotel), Palm Beach; 561-655-6060.
Queen of Sheeba, West Palm Beach
At South Florida’s only Ethiopian restaurant, Lojo Washington cooks and presents the foods of her native land. Her handmade, lightly sour injera bread serves as a scoop for stewed dishes and veggies she serves. This place is a true gem.
Queen of Sheeba: 716 N. Sapodilla Ave., West Palm Beach; 561-514-0615.
Fries to Caviar, Boca Raton
Somewhere between the fries and the caviar, the menu here lists the best chicken schnitzel around. It’s buttery, nutty, crispy. It wraps you like a hug. And it’s only the start of the delights of this place with the strange name and far-flung menu items. The unifying force here is chef/co-owner Jimmy Mills, who opened the upscale-casual restaurant in February 2016. Mills is well known to south county as the chef/owner of the exquisite Jimmy’s Bistro, the Delray Beach spot where he serves some of the freshest, most inspired fish dishes in town. At his new restaurant, Mills dabbles in a wide range of culinary whims. (Hence the name.) And his customers reap the delicious benefits of his kitchen experiments.
Fries to Caviar: 6299 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton; 561-617-5965
Latitudes at the Delray Sands, Highland Beach
This oceanfront resort restaurant serves dishes to match its glorious views. This is thanks to the talents and leadership of executive chef James King, a former Four Seasons chef known for his creative takes on seafood dishes. Despite the heavy competition from neighboring hot spots in Boca and Delray, Latitudes stands on its own as a fine dining establishment. It’s no mystery why reservations are strongly suggested, if not required.
Latitudes: at the Delray Sands, 2809 S. Ocean Blvd., Highland Beach; 561-278-2008.
Josie’s Ristorante, Boynton Beach
At first glance, you’ve entered a neighborhood Italian restaurant in Boynton Beach. And the menu – at first glance, it also appears to hit all the expected traditional notes. But then your dishes start to arrive and you get the sense there’s something special happening in the kitchen.
Indeed, there is: There’s a master in the kitchen at Josie’s Ristorante. He’s Mark Militello, James Beard Award-winning chef and one of the original Mango Gang-sters, a landmark chef who helped redefine, and refine, South Florida’s tropical-meets-world cuisine.
Your plate here is a work of art for more organic reasons: quality ingredients, a chef’s soul in the cooking, and a high bar in the kitchen. It shines in simplicity and finesse.
Josie’s Ristorante: 1602 S. Federal Hwy (at Woolbright), Boynton Beach; 561-364-9601.
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