Northwood is quickly becoming an enclave for the artistic and creative, generating a vibrancy that is the backbone of any substantial and sustainable city. What would New York City be without Tribeca or SoHo, Chicago without Bucktown? Northwood, one of the oldest neighborhoods of West Palm Beach, listed in the National Register of Historic Places and originally developed from 1920 through 1927, is quickly revitalizing the soul of the county, escaping the tried and tired cementscapes that have grown down the spine of the state. Northwood is original and its renaissance is one of the brightest stories to emerge from the recession in hard-hit SoFla.
Northwood Village has seen substantial changes in the past few years. The Village’s facelift, which is still in progress, is an apt representation of how change does not need to alienate a place’s historic roots. The Community Redevelopment Agency [CRA] and Northwood GREENlife have been two vital organizations in the reemergence of the neighborhood. The CRA has been the driving force behind infrastructure improvements, streetscape, façade and exterior improvements, has assisted businesses with relocation adjustments, provided subsidies for housing investment, and has provided grants for capital improvement. Enacting these incentive programs has not only attracted new businesses to the area but has improved the neighborhood aesthetics as well. The CRA is also the driving force behind one of the most exciting monthly events to hit PBC this past season, the Art & Wine Promenade, where Northwood Village shops and boutiques open their doors, creating front porch settees, and live music can be heard as people walk the streets, enjoying the neighborhood.
Northwood GREENlife, a grass-roots nonprofit [501 c3], has taken it upon itself to promote environmental responsibility in the Northwood District in order to create a sustainable community. Organized for less than a year, GREENlife has already secured a space (on 25th St. next to the Mark Plating building, who donated the land) and is currently installing the infrastructure for a community garden project, where local residents will be able to grow produce in an environmentally responsible way. Utilizing raised beds to accommodate gardeners of any ability, the Eco-Art garden project will truly be an ‘off the grid’ endeavor, with roof runoff cisterns used for irrigation, and natural energy sources (solar) will power pumps and lighting. The space will also act as a place for the community to gather for educational workshops, which will give residents ideas for promoting a green life within their own homes. The garden will be run on a volunteer basis, pulling from local youth groups like the Boys and Girls Club to help as gardeners. Other initiatives GREENlife has undertaken is a tree inventory of the Northwood District. This will allow the organization to catalogue the trees of Northwood in a database, showing what types of trees are in the area, whether they are fruit-bearing, ideal nesting trees, or exotic.
Though the renaissance that Northwood Village is experiencing is still in its infancy, there are many places that have found a home in the quaint and eclectic village. Fine and contemporary dining, eclectic and vintage shops, and modern salons now dot the streets, creating a hub for hipsters, foodies, fashionistas and designers. The neighborhood vibe is more reminiscent of northern California or bohemian European capitals, where walking is encouraged (how can you discover a hidden gem when zooming by in a vehicle?) and boutique doors are open and inviting. For those of you who have not discovered the charm of Northwood yet, here are a few of the reasons to stop by. And for those who have become Northwood champions, give us a shout and share your love for this quaint and unique neighborhood.
Relish Burger Bar was recently voted Palm Beach’s Best Burger by palmbeachillustrated.com readers. Click here to find out why.
The sweet tooth does not have to stray far for that afternoon sugar high. Hello Cupcake, a small boutique bakery owned and operated by Star Robinson, has been serving sweets in Northwood for a year and a half, catering to walk-in cupcake seekers and brides alike. Specializing in artfully sculpted cakes and tasty walk-about cupcake treats—it’s OK to eat on the run, as long as you’re dining on a cupcake—Robinson has found the resurging Northwood Village the perfect place to set up shop, as foot traffic is always steady. As for Star’s favorite, the Key lime with praline marks the top of the list, though the red velvet is the best seller. 561-805-5760
For 76 years Nowlin Flower Shop has made the corner of Northwood Road and Spruce Avenue home. The longest running continuous business in West Palm Beach, Nowlin is a true throwback to when the neighborhood shop was owned and run by residents of the area. Offering same-day flower delivery in one of the largest arrays of flowers in the county, Nowlin caters to any occasion, from the just-because moments and anniversary to get-well-soon bouquets and condolence packages.
Little has changed at Nowlin over the years—except for refrigeration, keeping the flowers as fresh as possible. The building, which acts as the center hub of Northwood Village, has largely remained the same. Customers have been coming to Nowlin for decades, helping them mark the special occasion. The mark of a good business is longevity; Nowlin Flowers has weathered recessions, wars and social unrest and emerged from each smelling like roses. It is the personal touch, the exquisite arrangements and friendly service and family atmosphere that has kept people coming to Nowlin for 76 years. 561-659-0988
Art and design
A combination art gallery and vintage furnishing shop, Gardenhouse has garnered national acclaim as a go-to shop for the retro stylings of Palm Beach. Artist and proprietor Cheryl Maeder merges her artistic sensibilities with a belief that the ordinary is extraordinary, creating art in the most unlikely of places. 561-832-8260
Dine and dash
Fast, great, affordable food. Three adjectives that are not always lumped together when describing an eatery, but when it comes to This Is It Café, it is hard not to heap praise on the greasy spoon diner that serves some of the best breakfast and lunch items around. You cannot go to This Is It Café and leave hungry—for under seven bucks.
This Is It is a true neighborhood eatery, where regulars flock daily and the newcomers are treated like family. For breakfast, try the waffles—a treat that is hard to beat. Lunch is just as packed but the kitchen is quick, so you’ll get in, have your fill and back to work all before the lunch hour expires. 561-655-3301
Continue on to the second page for more on Northwood Village.
Iced to perfection
New to the scene, Harold’s: A Coffee Lounge was built for the boho Northwood Village. The modern, funky coffee lounge has quickly become a rallying point for local artisans, retailers and shoppers, serving some of the best iced coffee in the state, if not the country. Using the ice drip process, the iced coffee coming from Harold’s is smooth and lush with no hint of that acrid bitterness you find in the iced coffee in just about every other coffee house the country over. The technique is simple, though looks complicated with a contraption straight out of a mad scientist’s laboratory, where ice-cold water is poured over a relatively coarse ground and steeped for 14 hours. The resulting concentrate is then mixed with milk and served over ice for a morning pick-me-up that will have even the most avid iced-coffee hater [me] become a reformed man [me]. As an added bonus, Harold’s uses a free, direct trade bean from Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea in Chicago, so that cup of coffee is not only delicious but socially responsible. Harold’s also serves iced tea made in the same ice drip fashion (though with a six-hour steeping time), and French pastries from Le Petit Pain of Lantana.
On Wednesday evenings, Harold’s presents movies in the back patio, while on Friday evenings the patio acts as a stage for live music, giving people an outlet to enjoy great coffee outside of the typical morning routine. On April 15, Harold’s will host a nationally recognized poetry contest of local and national artists. And for the art buff, the décor, art from local artists, is for sale and will change every two to three months.
Sunset Bar & Grill
The concept of Sunset Bar & Grill is simple, great food complemented by a laid-back environment. Chef Terry Marince and manager Matt Reber opened Sunset way back in 2002, when Northwood was still gaining legs as an up-and-coming neighborhood. Embracing the funky, urban, boho feel of the neighborhood, Marince and Reber opened the restaurant in a historic, 1935 building, holding true to the original building as much as possible. The result is a hip, urban lounge and restaurant that has been a favorite haunt of the Northwood residents and local foodies for years. The gourmet grill is not complicated. It takes seasoned favorites and serves them to order, making every meal personalized and delicious. 561-832-2722
Reaping the benefits of the maritime bounty off our shores, Fresh Catch Seafood has made it their business to bring the best and most unique fish to Northwood. The building, a small stand-alone along Dixie Highway, painted in vibrant hues, is hard to miss. The self-declared ‘Gateway to Old Northwood,’ is a place where you will find the high-powered attorney rubbing elbows with the hipster art wonk, dining on a conch fritter sandwich.
The place is tiny, the type of place where décor is a four letter word. There is a single, fresh fish cooler and a busy—really busy—kitchen, churning out soups, chowders, sandwiches, and steamed, fried and grilled seafood dishes. And though the place may be small, the variety of fish is hard to find elsewhere. Three times a week local fisherman fill the refrigerator with their catches, so the variety is constantly changing. When I visited conch, jack, butter fish, Spanish mackerel, blue fish, mullet, tilapia and live blue crabs were behind the glass. The blue crab is one of a kind, while the fiery conch salad will have you making Fresh Catch a regular stop on the lunch docket.
Mirroring the vibe of the neighborhood, etc. is a funky and eclectic boutique, specializing in stylish vintage finds and high quality antiques. Each trip to the boutique finds visitors stumbling across new and interesting pieces that would make a statement in any room. With museum quality paintings, Tiffany-style lamps and antiques that vary from era, locale and rarity, etc. has made west-end Northwood the place for the weekend antiquer or the seasoned designer with a penchant for the original. 561-653-0121
Old Florida style
As the name suggests, Circa Who is filled with vintage furnishings that have come to define Old Florida. Rattans, bamboo, wrought iron and all the makings of an authentic Florida room adorn the space at Circa Who. 561-655-5224
Trend-driven, modern and artistic. ThedavidKspace makes hair a canvas, the styles works of art reminiscent of the pages of Vogue. The chic salon with the urban flair seen in New York City and Los Angeles is tucked away in the eclectic stretch of Northwood.
Namesake and principal stylist, David Kinigson, is an internationally recognized hair-cutting wizard, whose styles have been showcased on the glossy pages of magazines, and was named the first Shear Genius by Allure magazine in 1995.
David K tested his mettle in the 1990s with his downtown New York City Salon Dada, and penned Language and Education: The Haircutter’s Handbook. K’s penchant for that chic look and passing along the techniques to the latest round of hipster haircutters has made thedavidKspace one of the most sought-after chairs in the state, let alone in the 561. 561-340-6400
All About Details made the transition to Northwood Village three and a half years ago from Antique Row. Like many of the newly transplanted Northwood retailers and artisans, AAD has found a truly welcoming and innovative home, where camaraderie, friendly open-door policies with fellow owners and proprietors, and an undercurrent of renewal and growth have translated from hopes and aspiration to good business.
All About Details is an appropriate metaphor for the neighborhood. Specializing in window treatments, bedding, and upholstery, AAD will take an old piece of furniture and breathe new life into it with updated and stylish fabrics. Just as the existing framework of the village was resurrected, AAD will do the same with that tired dining room set, and in turn change the makeup and mood of a home. The talents of owner and proprietor Muriel Vellette-Rogir do not end at furnishings and home accessories; a trip to the showroom/workspace showcases a multitude of projects, including the occasional fashion piece. The clean, urban space reflects Vellette-Rogir’s French roots, with original art and select pieces from artist Martin Pateau, whose hand-painted mirrored pieces reflect how modern sentiments can transition any home. 561-512-5674
From the ambigram logo to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America—not the gun toting Central Intelligence Agency) trained chef Wayne Devers, Jade Kitchen packs flavor with every inventive meal. The menu changes often at this American bistro, showcasing ingredients from the four corners, and the flavors of the dishes are ingredient driven, extrapolating the subtleties and complexities in a simple, straightforward manner.
Unlike some places, where the restaurant borders on sensory overload, Jade’s minimalist, sleek décor allows the food to take center stage. Devers’ food driven philosophy is somewhat refreshing in a time when so many places are concerned with production value and ways to stretch a dollar. This dedication to brining something new and energizing to the table each and every meal is one of the reasons Jade has garnered so much praise and attention.
Jade is struck in a fashion that suits Northwood’s quirky and bohemian style. A family restaurant—Wayne’s wife supervises the front of the restaurant and their daughter is often on hand helping out—Jade strives to make every meal memorable and personalized, with Wayne often popping out of the kitchen to chat with diners.
A popular lunch spot, daily specials keep regulars returning multiple times a week to see what the kitchen may produce. Popular favorites are Devers’ fish tacos, which often showcases a different piscean headliner. But it is at dinner where Devers really shines. A must for any dinner are the popovers, which come with a strawberry butter that almost seems too good to be true. And though some of the menu items may be a little out there for some diners, the nightly specials are usually a homerun. Utilizing fresh, seasonal and often local ingredients, the specials showcase Devers unique and impromptu culinary talents, making each meal a once in a lifetime opportunity. Jade Kitchen, 422A Northwood Rd., 561-366-1185