Selecting this year’s best tables in Palm Beach County was particularly challenging—a testament to our area’s growing reputation for remarkable dining. Here are the 10 tables at the top of the local food chain.
Little Moir’s Food Shack | Jupiter
The chocolate "Whoiswhatzit."
No, Food Shack (561-741-3626) doesn’t take reservations, and yes, you’ll probably have to wait. It’s noisy, and the decor resembles a ramshackle beach bar. Yet ever since Mike Moir left the Reef Grill and opened this place in 2002, it’s been packed from opening to closing. Part of the secret is absolutely fresh seafood prepared in clever ways (Moir likes to say this is a farm-to-table restaurant, and his farm is the ocean). The other part is a laid-back island vibe that will make you forget the stresses of daily life. Moir’s kitchen is a culinary think tank, and on some evenings the list of daily specials is longer than the menu itself. There are more beers than wines on the list, and that only adds to the fun.
Sushi Simon | Boynton Beach
North of the Border roll.
It’s one of the mysteries of the universe: In a place with as much quality seafood as South Florida, why isn’t there better (or at least more authentic) sushi? Sushi Simon (561-731-1819) is the antidote for the ho-hum sushi bar and the all-you-can-eat buffet; one visit will demonstrate why diners come to this narrow storefront from all over Palm Beach County and beyond. While you can find the same selection of “designer” rolls elsewhere, Sushi Simon stocks a treasure trove of delights for the connoisseur: scallops from Hokkaido, blue fin toro, uni, Japanese kampachi and snapper, and ama ebi (sweet shrimp grilled with the heads on). Accompany it with premium sake, an inventive cocktail or a wine from the short list.
Chops Lobster Bar | Boca Raton
Chops' ahi tuna tartare.
While many competitors are still languishing in the nineteenth century, the southernmost outpost of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Chops Lobster Bar (561-395-2675), has brought the steak house concept into the twenty-first with an impressive selection of fresh and carefully sourced seafood such as Maine scallops, Florida black grouper, pristine ahi tuna, whole Dover Sole and oysters from both coasts. Of course, should you want a steak, you won’t be disappointed: You’ll receive a hefty cut of USDA Prime, aged 48 days and cooked to perfection, including all the classics—filet, New York Strip, bone-in rib eye and the “Porterhouse Experience” for one, two or three. Add elegant, clubby surroundings and a noteworthy wine list, and you’ll understand why Chops has become the success story of Boca’s “new downtown.”
50 Ocean | Delray Beach
Whole belly clams.
In many ways, 50 Ocean (561-278-3364) incorporates the best aspects of dining out in Florida: elegant surroundings, creative food and a spectacular view of the sand and surf. Have a drink at the backlit quartz bar, gaze at the pictures of Hemingway and snag a table on the outdoor observation deck. Chef Blake Malatesta’s menu is full of surprises: crispy whole belly clams, briny and artfully fried, that will transport you to New England; roasted chicken soup with egg noodles and root vegetables; Korean-style short ribs; Belly and Biscuits (pork belly with buttermilk biscuits and white chocolate-pepper gravy); and a strong selection of “dock-to-door” seafood. During the Sunday brunch, don’t miss the build-your-own Grey Goose Bloody Mary bar, featuring more than 30 different garnishes to customize your eye-opener.
PB Catch | Palm Beach
PB Catch's the appetizer sampler.
Just how innovative is PB Catch (561-655-5558)? For one thing, it has the finest raw bar in the area—a vast expanse of crushed ice containing a dazzling selection of bivalves from all the best venues throughout the United States and British Columbia. For another, the restaurant has developed and trademarked something called Seacuterie, a proprietary method of curing and smoking seafood similar to charcuterie; selections include salmon pastrami, Szechuan cured kampachi, and lemon and oregano cured swordfish. Burgers and steaks are also available for non-fish fans. PB Catch was the brainchild of Thierry Beaud and Reid Boren, proprietors of Pistache in West Palm, and Chef de Cuisine Aaron Black has seamlessly taken over from Julien Gremaud.
For tables five through one, head to page two.