A good view is lemonade for the eyes. Even if it’s brutally hot outside, a good view will lift you from the swelter.
Whether you’re seated before a dramatic seascape, atop a sweeping veranda or in an intimate courtyard, a view adds a sense of place to your dining experience. Your view drops you in the middle of a certain paradise. That’s the essence of al fresco dining, the sense of place.
Here are some of the best al fresco dining spots from which to view our paradise:
When OpenTable.com issued its 2016 list for “Best Al fresco Dining Restaurants in America” in May, the online reservation service listed only one Palm Beach County eatery: Sundy House.
The downtown Delray Beach boutique inn and restaurant is in sparkling company. The list, culled from more than 5 million verified-diner reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country, featured spots as breathtaking as Napa Valley’s Auberge du Soleil and Kaupulehu’s (Hawaii) Ulu Ocean Grill.
At Sundy House, diners can enjoy their meal in a lush garden setting that’s punctuated by a wooden veranda, gazebo, statues, pathways and ponds. The place transports you to a gracefully overgrown Old Florida.
Thanks to all the above, Sundy House is popular for brunch, holiday feasts and special events.
Sundy House: 106 S. Swinton, Delray Beach; 561-272-5678
Courtyard al fresco: Pizza Al Fresco
One Palm Beach Post reviewer put it best when he said Pizza Al Fresco is where “pizza parlor meets Palm Beach panache.”
Shaded by Mediterranean blue umbrellas, tables are scattered across a stylish courtyard just off Worth Ave. Here, pizza is served amid vintage stone fountain structures and palm trees strung with twinkling lights.
Pizza Al Fresco: 14 Via Mizner, Worth Ave., Palm Beach; 561-832-0032
(Photo by Jeff Ostrowski/The Palm Beach Post)
Rooftop al fresco: Banko Cantina
This brand-new, tri-level restaurant and bar boasts a sleek rooftop lounge that’s a splendid perfect urban perch. The view may not be crashing waves or bobbing boats, but it certainly establishes a sense of place: downtown West Palm Beach.
The 1921-era building itself, once the home of American National Bank, is landmark. It’s listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places since 1997.
The rooftop opens nightly at 7 p.m. Grab a Dragonfruit Mojito and watch dusk turn the city pink.
Banko Cantina: 114 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach; 561-355-1399
The Sandbar at Boston’s
Here’s a bar/eatery that brings the beach in from across the street. The Sandbar, which sits next older sister Boston’s on the Beach, delivers a pure island vibe. Tiki hut, palm trees, colorful beach chairs, dancing waters, frozen piña coladas – it’s all there at this four-year-old bar.
Plus, there’s a decent range of beach-shack bites, from smoked fish dip to conch fritters to grilled mahi sandwiches.
For the third year in a row, the Sandbar made the list of “Top 10 Florida Beach Bars,” compiled by FloridaBeachBar.com, which raved about the bar’s “breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.”
The Sandbar: 40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach; 561-278-3364
Front yard al fresco: Dada
Few places embody downtown Delray’s funk factor more colorfully than Dada, which operates in a 1924-era house. Anchored by a glorious banyan tree, the tropical front yard of the house offers open-air tables.
Sip on a Barbancourt rum and nibble on any of the globally inspired bites prepared by Chef Bruce Feingold and soak up the Swinton Ave ambiance.
Dada: 52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach; 561-330-3232
(Photo by LibbyVision.com)
Oceanfront al fresco: Al Fresco Restaurant
Located at the Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course, this stately structure offers sweeping golf greens and ocean views from its wide veranda.
This Italian pizzeria and ristorante is sister to Pizza Al Fresco. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner – with a heaping side of views.
Al Fresco Restaurant: 2345 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach; 561-273-4130
(Photo by Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)
A mainstay at the Jupiter inlet, the sprawling wooden deck at Jetty’s delivers a stunning view of the Jupiter Lighthouse and the boats that glide in its periphery.
Thanks to the waterway, there’s usually some kind of breeze to cool off al fresco diners in summer.
Jetty’s Waterfront Restaurant: 1075 N. Highway A1A, Jupiter; 561-743-8166
Rain forest al fresco: Guanabanas
Okay, so maybe it’s not technically a rain forest. It looks more like Gilligan’s Island, in fact. But Guanabanas has a tropical, gorgeously overgrown feeling that makes it unlike any other local al fresco restaurant or bar.
Palm trees sweep toward the waterway, a lagoon that sits off the south bank of the Loxahatchee River. Dining tables are tucked between the thickly set bursts of lush foliage, and offer a perch for watching kayakers and paddle-boarders glide by. For the less aquatic types, there’s plenty on the menu to keep you busy. Settle back and dig into the blackened fresh-catch sandwich between sips of a vodka-spiked A1A Lemonade, and go “ahhh.”
Guanabanas: 960 N. Hwy A1A, Jupiter; 561-747-8878
(Photo by Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
Sidewalk al fresco: Rocco’s Tacos Clematis
Watching the parade of nighttime Clematis Street revelers is made far more pleasurable by a heaping bowl of fresh-made guacamole and a frosty margarita. You get this along the sidewalk tables at Rocco’s, epicenter of 200-block action in downtown West Palm Beach.
Plus, you get more than decent Mexican grub. (Come back for some of the best brunch in town on weekend mornings.)
Rocco’s Tacos: 224 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-650-1001
(Photo by Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)
This vegan spot not only demonstrates its devotion to animals by donating profits to local animal rescue and spay/neutering efforts – it welcomes pets like royalty.
It’s a laid-back, pleasant spot to devour a summer salad, weekend brunch or heartier organic fare, including a variety of raw dishes.
You’ll enjoy the food, while your furry friend enjoys the sweet attention.
Darbster: 8020 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-586-2622