Imagine if you will Manhattan in the 1920s, when showgirls and bootleggers shaped culture, defied norms, and broke laws with abandon. It is within this milieu that Gallaghers was born, established as a speakeasy in 1927 by Ziegfeld girl Helen Gallagher and gambler Jack Solomon. Nestled in the Theater District, Gallaghers transformed from a Prohibition-era hot spot to a reputable steak house where Broadway stars, sports legends, politicians, socialites, and the like gathered for (now legal) martinis, prime rib, and creamed spinach. Many of their portraits grace the walls of the new Gallaghers location in Boca Raton, which debuted earlier this summer.
Stepping into Gallaghers Boca—designed inside and out by Boston’s Niemitz Design Group—is like time traveling to the Runyonesque Roaring Twenties. Leather banquets (in the same green hue as the long, domed, monogrammed awning that welcomes diners) augment the warmth of the mahogany walls and pecky cypress ceilings. A horseshoe bar anchors the space, which is lined with a glass-enclosed kitchen to the back and meat locker to another side; the latter contains steaks dry-aged in-house for a minimum of 21 days. The uniformed service team deftly navigates the dining room—crowded and buzzing with conversation à la NYC—delivering food via trolley cart, swiping the custom linens clean of crumbs, and bantering with patrons as if they’re family.
This ambience is all part of the Gallaghers allure. Restaurateur Dean Poll took the Gallaghers helm in 2013 and embarked upon a nearly $8 million restoration of its glory days. When conceiving this first expansion, Poll was drawn to Palm Beach County, which has seen a surge of New York transplants, and Boca Raton, in particular, a community he and his family have visited for years. He’s opened the SoFlo Gallaghers with seasoned management pros from his Manhattan team as well as executive chef Alan Ashkinaze, who has been with the restaurant since Poll purchased it a decade ago.
At the heart of the Gallaghers experience is its culinary program. Start with a classic cocktail like the Gallaghers Negroni and don’t skimp on the breadbasket, which cradles a sesamo bread and a sweet-but-not-too-sweet date and nut bread. Tried-and-true apps and salads hint at the eatery’s early twentieth-century origins, including a Caesar that smacks of anchovies and a French onion soup clothed in a thick layer of provolone, parmigiana, and Gruyère. (Ask your server about the “Other Soup,” a Prohibition relic.) The steaks and chops are cooked over hickory coal grills and available with signature toppings and rubs; we recommend the pepper crust with Maker’s Mark au poivre. A supporting cast of sides—from a pillow of hash browns to onion rings, broccoli rabe, and brussels sprouts—round out the ensemble. The curtain call comes in the form of authentic New York cheesecake that will transport you to the Great White Way of yesteryear.