Liz Balmaseda's list of best restaurants
in Palm Beach County, right now.
Here’s a current snapshot of the restaurants we’re loving best at the moment. Next month, the snapshot might be different. This unranked list, which is organized by city and omits eateries closed for summer break, includes only restaurants we have visited.
— Liz Balmaseda, Palm Beach Post food editor
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, to soak up inspiration and grow as a chef. We, the diners, reap the rewards.
Coolinary Café: 4650 Donald Ross Road, (Donald Ross Village), Palm Beach Gardens; 561-249-6760.
Little Moir's Food Shack, Jupiter
If any restaurant has defined Palm Beach County cuisine it is Mike Moir’s Food Shack. Thanks to Moir’s love of the ocean and fresh ingredients, north county went from a monotonous landscape of bland fillets and frozen veggies to a boldly adventurous one. The Ontario-born chef and his talented team gave his adopted hometown (Jupiter) a signature cuisine. And 14 years after opening Food Shack (and later Leftovers Café), Moir, his chef partner Drew Shimkus and their fellow cooks, continue to keep the concept fresh.
Food Shack: 103 South U.S. 1 (in the Publix plaza), Jupiter; 561- 741-3626.
Within a cozy, comfortable space, Chef Michael Rolchigo creates some of the best fine-dining dishes in north county. He pays close attention to detail, from appetizers to desserts, each course exquisite. It’s no wonder the former Jupiter Island Grill chef has brought in quite a following to this Tequesta space. His food is inspired and creative, but it’s also accessible to the mainstream palate. Reservations are a must. (Closes for vacation on Sept. 4, reopening Sept. 29.)
Krave: 626 U.S. 1, Tequesta; 561-575-9222.
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.
Grato, West Palm Beach
The fab new pizzeria on South Dixie Highway has been packed every night since its debut. Evenings at Grato, opened by the powerhouse team behind Palm Beach’s wildly popular Buccan bistro, is marked by the glow of a wood-burning pizza oven. Grato’s non-fussy menu lists crostini, pizza, pasta, salad and roasted meats. The eatery serves a terrific a la carte brunch on Sundays, and has plans to kick off lunch service on Aug. 8.
(Photo contributed by Libbyvision.com)
Grato: 1901 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-404-1334.
West Palm Beach
There’s a good reason why Chef Julien Gremaud’s hip, sunny eatery is a busy spot at night: His small plates and shareable selections are both refined and decadent. But why limit your visit to this downtown West Palm eatery to nighttime when it serves one of the best weekend brunches in the county? Gremaud’s eggs Benedict dishes are sinful, as are his gently scrambled eggs dusted with piment d’Espelette, and his crab-avocado toast topped with an oozy egg. And if you’re lucky, that day’s special menu will include his outstanding rendition of shrimp and grits. The Jerez-spiked shrimp alone are worth the price of admission.
Avocado Grill: 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach; 561-623-0822.
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. Reservations are strongly recommended.
Kitchen: 319 Belvedere Road, #2, West Palm Beach; 561-249-2281.
Jardin, West Palm Beach
This newcomer has raised the bar on creativity on Clematis Street. The food here is gorgeous to the eye – and to the palate. It’s the handiwork of executive chef and co-owner Jordan Lerman, whose credits include stints at New York’s celebrated Eleven Madison Park and Momofuku Ssam Bar. Like his talented pastry chef/ general manager/wife, Stephanie Cohen, Lerman is a chef who seems unafraid to heap excess love on a plate.
This young couple is on an adventure, one defined by seasonal harvests and whims. Their excitement spills from their menu and into their disarming hospitality style.
Jardin: 330 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-440-5273.
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 Road, Palm Beach; 561-508-7030.
Ristorante Santucci, West Palm Beach
Nicely removed from the more bustling blocks of Clematis Street, this eatery seems to exist in a city apart, one that finds serenity in polished, white-on-white décor, warmth in service and sheer pleasure in Old World dishes that have been mastered and modernized. This lustrous city is not exactly social-media obsessed, which is why you may not have heard about Ristorante Santucci.
If you haven’t been, you’re missing out on authentic, high-end Sicilian cooking. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s worth it.
Ristorante Santucci: 610 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-337-2532.
Meat Market, Palm Beach
This steakhouse in Palm Beach was voted “best restaurant” in our 2015 Critic’s Choice Awards. 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.
(Photo by Bill Ingram/The Palm Beach Post)
Meat Market Palm Beach: 191 Bradley Place, Palm Beach; 561-354-9800.
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.
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. (Reopens at 5 p.m. July 28 after weeks of remodeling.)
Okeechobee Steakhouse: 2854 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-683-5151.
Queen of Sheeba, West Palm Beach
Voted the “best new restaurant” in The Post’s 2015 Critic’s Choice Awards, Queen of Sheeba is South Florida’s only Ethiopian restaurant. The Ethiopian-born restaurant owner and cook, Lojo Washington, presents the foods of her native land and the lightly sour injera bread, which serves as a scoop for stewed dishes and veggies she serves.
Queen of Sheeba: 716 N. Sapodilla Ave., West Palm Beach; 561-514-0615.
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. The bistro never fails to impress. 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.
PB Catch not only has a terrific raw bar, where the fresh oyster selection is hard to beat, it has Chef de Cuisine Aaron Black’s fanciful “sea-cuterie” creations, as well as his beautifully prepared fish and seafood dishes. The interiors are serenely rich, the ambiance relaxed and the service polished.
PB Catch: 251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach; 561-655-5558.
Cut 432, Delray Beach
Delray’s Atlantic Avenue is famous for having a little something for every culinary and nightlife craving. Cut 432provides an upscale, cozy place to peruse the Avenue’s goings-on toward the eastern end of the block. Sweetly classic touches like shiny crystal chandeliers contrast with the crisp, modern marble bar top and the white leather bar chairs.
Cut 432: 432 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-272-9898.
Brule Bistro, Delray Beach
Brule Bistro in Delray is lively in both atmosphere and food. Where some pub chefs might include the obligatory flatbread on the menu, Chef Jason Binder offers a crispy pork cheek “pizza,” a crispy, tostada-sized round crowned with slow-braised pork cheek, Asiago cheese, arugula, pickled red onions and oven-dried tomato, served upon a board with droplets of fried rosemary aioli.
Brule Bistro: 200 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 561-274-2046.
In every dish, in every bite, at Max’s Harvest you can taste the commitment to using the freshest ingredients available. In keeping with the eatery’s season-driven concept, executive chef Eric Baker uses as his main ingredient one of the fresh ingredients available. The menu changes regularly to keep presenting diners with a dish that is both new and familiar.
Max’s Harvest: 169 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 561-381-9970.
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 Highway (at Woolbright), Boynton Beach; 561-364-9601.