- Julio Poletti Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
The Sawgrass Mills Mall is a maze with a mission. It wants to keep you tangled among billboards that scream at you: Get a new haircut! Buy tighter jeans! Achieve Victoria’s Secret pore-less skin!
It’s an all-day, one-stop experience for shopping and dining among locals and tourists. For some, it’s exciting to get new products that will make you feel like a million dollars. For others, it’s a nightmare with too many options that get in the way of letting you buy what you actually need.
Regardless of your reason for trekking through Sawgrass, one this is certain: The mall will make you very hungry. So this list is for you, Sawgrass survivors. Because this place is massive, we will list the dining options by mall sections – and there are plenty. Chances are you can find a bite not too far from where you found those killer skinny leggings.
If you’re planning a date at the Regal Cinema or an afternoon dinner with family, the northwest side of the mall is where it’s at. It’s that area with the movie theater, Old Navy and Nordstrom Rack. You have several popular chains to choose from, like The Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, the all-you-can-eat-meat-restaurant Texas de Brazil, Johnny Rockets and Sbarro.
The buzziest spot, however, is Mojito Bar, star chef Douglas Rodriguez’s lively restaurant. With bouncy reggaetón beats and a life-size cardboard cutout of a woman curvier than a NASCAR racetrack, the place hits on various Latin stereotypes. Young women in latex outfits serve you. You come here for the salsa, the Cuba Libres, the Caribbean accents, the “Que Bola” comments. It’s always fiesta time at this Americanized Latin restaurant which offers arepas, shrimp ceviche, tacos, ribs and other bar favorites. The interior is modern with neon lights (think South Beach lounge) while the exterior is breezy and relaxed with high-top bar tables.
NORTHEAST (Food court)
If you parked around the Trendmark outlet, the Puma store or The Children’s Place, this wing of the mall has several options on the food court, like Green Leaf’s & Banana, Cajun and Grill, the cheap-and-easy Subway or Charley’s Philly Steaks. There were three places that stood out from the rest:
Apropo Crepes and Baguettes: If you arrive early as in opening time (10 a.m.) you’ll notice the only line at the food court is outside of Apropo Crepes and Baguettes. Most of the customers in line are employees of the mall who rush to get their café con leches, Cuban pastries and breakfast crepes before 11 a.m. when the menu turns to lunch only. While the customer service can be a reason to buy (or buy them) Rosetta Stone or leave a bad Yelp review, the quality of the food is excellent.
Pota-Topia: Let’s take it back to the ‘80s when this trend became widely popular: Baked potato entrees. At Pota-Topia, you can customize your own baked potatoes with several types of protein, cheeses, vegetables and sauces. Chicken? Bacon? Melted queso? You name it, you get it. They’re much better than those fast-food baked potatoes.
If you’re shopping in the heart of the mall -- where Spencer, the LEGO store and T.J. Maxx are located -- then you must walk to other nearby sections to get food. This area only has the teahouse Teavana and a chocolatier, Lindt. However, if you parked on the west side, by the Nike factory, you’re just a few steps from The Cheesecake Factory. If you parked on the east side, by the Levi’s outlet, you could head north to the food court towards Quicksilver.
You can sit down at the Grand Lux Café which has a Vegas hotel-esque feel to it. The building is enormous, but don’t feel intimidated. Your wallet doesn’t have to match up to it. The American-cuisine dishes are priced fairly, with most entrees under $20 and with appetizers ranging from $7 to $11.
There’s a place that everyone is raving about. Zinburger Wine & Burger bar. It’s located across from Escada and diagonally from the Burberry Outlet. What’s cool about this restaurant is that it has a big bar to spend some time before being seated or getting your food. The Zinburger is the first thing on the menu, and it’s very moist and rich with Manchego cheese, zinfandel-braised onions, lettuce and tomato. The tater tots with pieces of chorizo and a habanero cheese sauce are great. The cucumber lemonade is amazing. For $5 you can upgrade any burger to Angus.
Another place that locals’ love is Matchbox which specializes in brick oven, and wood entrees. This New American restaurant is on the eastern side of the southside, by the Tory Burch outlet, near Michael Kors and Columbia Sportswear.
SOUTHWEST (FOOD COURT #2)
The southwest side of the mall features popular stores like Marshalls, The Body Shop, Steve Madden, the Guess factory and GNC. Here you also have several dining options and a second food court. At the food court, you have Tony Roma’s and Rio Station Juice Bar besides the typical food court quick bites like Subway or Burger King. If you start heading northeast on this side of the wing, you’ll come across a popular choice among parents, Rainforest Café.
Just by walking in front of it, you sense the rainforest theme. The monkey screams and crocodile growls burst through the misty waterfall and magnetize your kids faster than sugar does. This restaurant has a ton of hanging animals, an aquarium with real fishes and an artificial and lush Amazonian-inspired landscape. While the little ones are busy exploring, you can indulge in fulfilling portions à la-American.
Outside/ Around the mall:
Want to avoid the mall crowd at all costs? Head over to Purple Parrot Place and Sunrise Boulevard just south of the mall and find several choices. The Knife, right across from David’s Bridal, offers endless meats grilled Argentine style. Across Purple Parrot Place you can find a Steak ‘n Shake. And in the corner of Sawgrass Mills Circle and Purple Parrot Place, stop for a quick Taco Bell meal.
On the north side of the mall by the Target, you can enjoy the tropical vibes of Bahama Breeze.
The southwestern side of the mall, across from Marshalls on Sunrise Boulevard, there’s a Pollo Tropical and a McDonald’s.