Eat Your Way Through…Clematis Street! Be Bacchus for a day and sample downtown West Palm Beach tastier side, from breakfast to dinner, and everything in between.
Everyone knows breakfast is the most important meal of the day but too often the meal is skipped, forgotten or flat-out avoided by the ardent calorie counters. But the goodies wafting from one of the tastiest breakfast spots in all of Palm Beach County, Paris Bakery & Café, are hard to deny, attracting crowds far and wide for an early morning pick-me-up; it is hard to walk by this Olive Avenue location without finding oneself in line, ordering a hard to pronounce menu item. The breakfast menu runs the Franco gamut, from crêpes and French toast to freshly baked baguettes and croissants, which are some of the tastiest, flakiest, buttery croissants in all of the New World, guaranteed. But for a real treat, the Eggs in a Cup are tops. The Oeuf Fiorentina, two eggs dipped in a creamy Béchamel sauce and topped with spinach, mozzarella, cheese and bacon, will literally change your life; gone will be the days of Eggs Benedict and the tangy Hollandaise sauce, and in with these two ramekins of eggy deliciousness. The place is worth waking up a half an hour for. parisbakerycafe.com
GratifY American Gastro Pub is one of the most original eats along the downtown corridor. The menu is inventive, the staff is great, and the atmosphere is awesome; simply put, this is my favorite downtown spot to grab a bite and just chill in all of West Palm.
When looking for something to eat, it can be difficult to decide what to order, everything on the menu is that good. But for the bar food purest in me, they might as well rename The Burger, Old Faithful; consistently excellent, it is the best burger in town. The patty is made up of a proprietary grind of short rib, brisket and ground chuck, and is so juicy it is definitely a two-napkin sit down. Served simply with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion and their famous garlic fries, GratifY is one of the hottest lunch spots in the entire downtown corridor.
For the regular, GratifY has slapped some lipstick on The Burger with The Burger of the Day, changing on the whim of Chef Fritz, so come in often to see what’s next. Oh, and GratifY has its own premium vodka and one of the best brunches in town—bottomless mimosas folks!—how cool is that? gratifypub.com
For fine dining, look no further than Pistache French Bistro. Parisian to the T, Pistache is a throwback to A Moveable Feast (Midnight in Paris for the none bibliophile), where 1920s aesthetic and palate is captured with a flair for the urbane while maintaining an unassuming air. Open for lunch and dinner, with brunch thrown in the mix on the weekends, Pistache is the go-to date spot for downtown West Palm Beachers; there is no better way to get to know someone’s tastes then sharing a Bistro Plate. If looking for an entrée, the Moules Frites “Mariniere” is a showstopper, and the Seafood Risotto is packed full with little critters from the deep.
The wine menu is top notch, touching on both Old and New World vintages, with a ‘Cellar Selection’ that has some rarely seen vintages making Pistache’s wine menu one of the best and most extensive of downtown (before the opening of the three wine bars—more on that later), while the signature cocktail French Pear Martini has been a fan favorite for years (get the recipe here).
One of the real pleasures of dining at Pistache is their dessert. Pistache’s Crème Brulée is a testament to sweet side of dining as a whole, while the Profiteroles are the sweet treat for a warm spring evening. Check in soon for Pistache’s spring menu change. pistachewpb.com
One of the newest restaurants to open its door along one of the most culinary congested streets in Palm Beach County, Kabuki brings some Eastern flavor to West Palm. A sushi, Thai and tapas joint, Kabuki touches on the tastes of Japan and Thailand with an unbelievable Pad Thai and multiple Thai curry’s, superbly executed sushi and sashimi, and an array of authentic dishes from the far east. The a la carte menu is a great way to explore Kabuki’s raw offerings, but for a nice zig from West Palm’s culinary zag, try the duck. One of the house specialties, the duck is delicate and succulent, served on a bed of bamboo shoots and mixed veggies, and is like a karate chop to the tongue. kabukiwpb.com
Waterside Dining, Downtown Style
The closest thing downtown West Palm Beach has to waterfront dining, E.R. Bradley’s Saloon is an old favorite, situated at Flagler and Clematis, just across from the Public Docks. One of downtown's longest running eateries downtown (established in 1984 on the Island, moving to Clematis in the late 90s), E.R. Bradley’s is named for a Palm Beach original, Edward R. Bradley, who was the owner and proprietor of the Beach Club in Palm Beach, an exclusive restaurant and casino that opened in the late 19th century and ran well into the 1940s.
E.R. Bradley’s Saloon is a great place to grab a bite, breakfast, lunch, dinner and all meals in between, with doors opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 3 a.m., 365 a year. The breakfast hits on all the norms (try the breakfast skillet), with an extensive brunch served on the weekends—a favorite of the West Palm Green Market faithful’s, so make a reservation.
Bradley’s is the type of place one comes in for a bite in the afternoon and winds up staying till close, at 3 a.m. A popular lunch haunt, with spectacular views and some killer Baja Tacos—Mahi son!—the outdoor/patio style restaurant almost encourages leisurely dining (though I’m sure wait staff would prefer multiple turnover tables). Things heat up when downtown’s monolithic towers of commerce empty and Friday’s Happy Hour arrives. As the Tiki Bar fills with loosened ties and unbuttoned blouses, the good times roll with small bites and big sips. The dinner menu is filled with all the South Florida usual’s: burgers, fresh catches, light bites, but have a few outliers that will get the taste buds kickin’. Try the Jambalaya, and Shrimp and Grits, some Bayou classics in sunny South Florida. erbradleys.com
- At Don Ramon, the late-night snack never tasted so good. The menu of this 24-hour walk-up window on Clematis has everything, from hot-pressed Cuban sandwiches and croquetas, to café con leche and tostones. A favorite stop for quick business bites, on-the-go shoppers, the downtown bar scene, urbanites and hipsters alike, the take-out window (an addition to the full restaurant) feeds all those Cuban cravings, day or night. don-ramon.com
- The call of the pizza oven is never as strong as it is at 3 a.m., a sentiment the Pizza Girls have come to know all too well. A longtime favorite of the downtown lunch crowd and Clematis night crawlers alike, Pizza Girls has developed a devoted following, even taking first place in palmbeachillustrated.com’s inaugural “Palm Beach’s Best Pizza” reader survey. The secret to their longtime success: quality ingredients, a friendly staff, fun atmosphere, quick service, and a delicious slice (or pie)—and the late hours on Friday and Saturday (4 a.m.) have earned the Girls a devoted and ravenous following in the wee hours. One of the best places to grab a late-night snack, Pizza Girls is quick with the turnaround, even when the line seems to stretch for eternity, and the slice is like a delicious triangular hangover preventer, a godsend to countless stumblebums over the years. pizzagirls.com
- If you are new to the site, know that I loves me some beer. Which is why I have a full-on man crush on World of Beer. It is like walking into a 7-11 solely dedicated to craft and micro brews from around the world, with glass door fridges stretching the entirety of the bar. Perhaps the largest selection of beer by the bottle around (if you know of place with more, tell me friend and I’ll buy you a brew), the peeps at WOB take beer seriously, with a beverage to suit every palate that walks through the doors. With selections in just about every category of beer available (they even had an oyster stout, though limited), WOB currently (March 27, 2012) has nearly 500 beers by the bottle and 49 taps for your pouring pleasure. clematis.wobusa.com
- Named after the iconic Palm Beach surf break—one of the best lefts in town—Reef Road Restaurant & Rum Bar is the epitome of beach restaurant, though quite a distance from our coquina-sand shores. The food is heavily seafood-centric with a distinct Caribbean flavor, and an excellent burger thrown in the mix for good measure. As the name suggests, Reef Road is the place for rum on Clematis. With more than a hundred bottles of exotic rums behind the bar, the selection is second to none downtown. The Specialty Cocktails and Scorpion Bowls are some of the best times around; try The Horny Goat or Blondes Do It Better, great for a group and a cab ride home. reefroadwpb.com
- Surf culture is alive and well, as seen with the other surf/tiki-themed restaurant along Clematis Street, LongBoards Restaurant. Located down in the 500-block, LongBoards is seafood-centric with a Northeastern/worldly appeal, offering up fresh catches, a healthy-sized raw bar and some interesting fusion dishes. Patrons come for the food but stay for the laidback, casual atmosphere (it is a surf bar after all) and an excellent beer menu, with an ever changing menu of craft beer on draft, as well as a slew of brews by the bottle; second only to World of Beers extensive collection of suds. sub-culture.org/long-boards/home-long-boards
- Downtown West Palm Beach could not be further from the emerald glens of Ireland, but with O’Shea’s Irish Pub thrown into the mix, the downtown corridor feels a wee bit Gaelic. In the heart of the 500-block, O’Shea’s is one of the best watering holes around, mainly for the atmosphere; eschewing the overly commercialized décor of the rest of Clematis Street, O’Shea’s is a great place to grab a pint (a small but reliable draft menu) and a sit down for some great Irish fare; bangers and mash or corned beef and cabbage anyone? osheaspub.com
Walk the Wine
Hit Clematis for wine and cheese! Downtown West Palm Beach has quietly but assuredly established itself as an oenophile’s paradise with the opening of two new wine bars and one established watering hole off the beaten path:
- The newest wine centric spot to hit the mean streets of West Palm Beach, The Wine Dive, is the latest addition to the Roxy’s Pub portfolio. Situated conveniently next to Roxy’s at 319 Clematis, the Wine Dive is a wine bar for the rest of us, a “not so snooty wine bar,” think Cheers does Sideways. The Dive has been slinging Malbecs and Merlots since 2011, gearing up for its grand opening on February 9. With as many 100 vintages available by the glass and a healthy 300 plus by the bottle, The Dive is making the art of wine accessible, chipping away at the pretentious disposition wine bars have earned over the years. mywinedive.com
- For the more seasoned vet with a palate to match, the wine maven herself, The Breakers’ Master Sommelier Virginia Philip has opened Virginia Philip Wine Shop & Academy. On the corner of Narcissus and Banyan, Philip’s namesake shop and academy is truly an extension of her extensive wine knowledge, with 450 personally selected vintages available. Unique in terms of a wine shop, rarely is someone as highly qualified and accomplished as Philip available to help with an individual’s wine selection, unless of course you are sitting in one of The Breakers’ restaurants, while the Wine Academy aims to educate customers and the oeno-curious with a series of classes and events, led by both Philip and some of the masters in the craft of winemaking and tasting. Courses run the gamut of appellation sentiments, the art of tasting and even beer appreciation. Costs range from $25-$50 per person, per course. virginiaphilipwineshopacademy.com
- One of the hippest spots in the downtown corridor, The Blind Monk Wine & Tapas Bar is a grandfather in comparison to the two newly minted haunts off of Clematis. Located on Evernia at the base of the Whitney, The Blind Monk is a little slice of Sonoma and a dash of Manhattan rolled into a Southern Florida locale, where an extensive wine list is encompassing and well received, not ostentatious and demanding like so many restaurants and lounges in the area. With more than 90 vintages done by the glass and an additional 300 by the bottle, The Blind Monk covers all the bases, from Old World to New, with varietals to appease just about any wino around. And for those of you who dig hops more than grapes, The Blind Monk has an interesting collection of craft beers on tap and by the bottle too. theblindmonk.com
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