01 Jun 12 Waterfront Restaurants around West Palm Beach
Perhaps one of the most common, and easiest, places for human creativity to truly shine is in culinary endeavors. The near-limitless array of color, texture, taste, and the combinations of all three have made foodstuffs and the culinary arts one of the great attractions of cultures around the world.
Naturally, metropolitan areas carry some of the most diversity and best quality in this area, and West Palm Beach is no exception. However, what is most unique about this county is the sheer number of eateries that face, abut, or are literally upon the miles and miles of water that grace the skyline around WPB.
Whether you’re in town as a tourist or you call the area home and want to find a new place for date night, here are twelve potential home runs for your eyes and your palette.
Begun as a surfer joint in 2004—of such a minimalist variety that it was little more than a sandwich hut for the droves of surfers who live on the beachfront—the owners decided on a full-scale expansion in 2009, with expansive outdoor seating and a vibrant menu.
A major attraction for patrons is the atmosphere, which resides primarily in the beautifully carved grotto—shaped to evoke the feel and sense of the jungle—that overlooks a lovely inlet. Besides the visuals, the menu is heavily rooted in Caribbean and Latin tastes, and purposefully incorporates locally-sourced ingredients to create dishes bursting with delightful color and zest.
Located in Jupiter, the restaurant offers lunch and dinner seven days a week and adds a breakfast menu on the weekends.
2. Two Georges Waterfront Grille
A Boynton Beach staple for over fifty years (not to exclude their Cove location), 2 Georges is designed to offer a fun, relaxed experience for people looking for a little sports bar, a little lounge, and a little restaurant.
Generally packed, the locale is most known for its seafood, which ranges from the Maryland crab cakes to fish caught right in the area. The restaurant also capitalizes on local culture by adding a thatch roof and other touches reminiscent of the Florida Keys.
20 flatscreen TVs dot the outside patio bar, where groups of fans scream and cheer their favorite teams. Are sports not your thing? The restaurant offers lots of outdoor dining, and usually local artists can be found singing, strumming, and drumming while you gaze out at the water. There’s even a Wednesday night trivia challenge that is a favorite for many locals.
They close at midnight Sunday to Thursday, so feel free to drop in anytime (but before ten, if you want the kitchen to be open).
3. Old Key Lime House
Do you want living history with your food? Then the Old Key Lime House ought to be your first stop. You will drive up to a squarish, stridently pastel building that was built in 1889—indeed, the location boasts being Florida’s oldest waterfront restaurant.
The restaurant refuses to accept reservations, so be willing to wait for a table when looking for an indoor spot on seasonable weekends. And anticipate lots of spice and flavor, as Caribbean is the watchword for this menu—lots of mango, peppers, and other island influences abound in distinctly Floridian seafood dishes.
The restaurant is especially popular on weekends, when drinks and appetizers flow freely while listening to live local music. Brunch is also served on the weekends, and a special play area for children is available upon request. And yes, they do serve Key Lime Pie, and yes, you should eat it!
4. Seasons 52
Located in Palm Beach Gardens off the intracoastal waterway (one of ten locations in Florida and several dozen across the country), a friendly debate could be had as to which aspect of this locale is most alluring: the ambience, or the menu. (And given how sensory food can be, can one really make a distinction?)
The waterfront location, where diners can smell the sea air and feel the invigorating breeze the whole meal long, is reason enough for the place to be as popular as it is. But the menu—which weighs heavily with freshly-made, low-calorie foods that still give every possible allowance for decadence—is so delightful and diverse that even the finnickiest diner will find a reason to sigh in abandon with the first bite.
Large entrée salads, lovely fish/poultry/beef dishes, appetizers which come at the chef’s own suggestion, and desserts that might require absolution for even thinking about eating them can all combine for an enchanted dining experience.
This location offers both indoor and outdoor seating and is open for lunch and dinner (or brunch, lunch and dinner on weekends) each day.
5. 3800 Ocean
Located within the already-upscale Palm Beach Singer Island Resort and Spa (a high-end member of the Marriott family, which features luxuriant suites and bedrooms, most of which face or have full view of the ocean), this restaurant’s inside and outside dining boast simply breathtaking views of the ocean and beach.
Indeed, for some people like me, this would be reason enough to visit the place even if the food was lousy. But Dean Max, the chef who launched the restaurant and who now trains the team of chefs which staffs this location and its sister in Fort Lauderdale, is committed to a menu that is just as satisfying visually and gastrically.
Local grocers, fishermen, and other food-source people in the area work closely with Max to pick the best ingredients for his signature dishes. While excellent food and picturesque landscape are going to be par for the course on this list, 3800 sets itself apart by offering a “kitchen table” experience, where the restaurant seats you and four others at a kitchen-side table to watch the chef prepare and serve a menu that is never repeated. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served daily.
6. The Dive Bar
It’s so boat-friendly that the directions include longitude and latitude, and you have to call for boat space at their dock. Located on the Jupiter Marina, this restaurant emphasizes an Asian-American flavor that makes its way into appetizers, entrees, and salads.
The restaurant is best known for its seafood rolls, which come both in basic varieties (tuna, California, smoked salmon), and in more ornate combinations (like the Mermaid, which is made with lobster tempura, asparagus, avocado, scallions and masago and topped with spicy mayo and eel sauce).
The restaurant is also deeply committed to the waterfront and its preservation, and prides itself on being something of an educational center on the ocean’s history, importance to the community, and why the ecosystems and waters themselves need to be preserved and kept pure.
7. Benny’s on the Beach
Built directly on the pier in Lake Worth in 1986, this spot has been a fiercely-loved community staple for over three decades. Its prime real estate grants it unparalleled views of the water, and this would be reason enough to draw people in.
But Benny’s has become known for a diverse menu—one that respects the tradition that has won many loyalists over the years while being unafraid to add gourmet and other new items to draw in a more diverse crowd—and for its unique and creative collection of margaritas, which appeal to a wide swath of patrons.
More specifically, most folks come to Benny’s specifically for its breakfast, brunch, and lunch menu, though its offerings of paella and seafood bake buckets are popular too. You can even fish off the pier for a nominal fee! Benny’s is open from 7 am to 9 pm daily.
8. The Seafood Bar
Located in The Breakers—a luxury resort well-regarded among the wealthy set in WPB that borders on the majestic—this is the place to go if your yen for seafood insists upon a particularly opulent ambience to go along with it.
While the entire place is fitting for both drinks and dinner, the ocean views are most prolific when seated at the bars, which also have the distinctive feature of being actual aquariums. Imagine being seated with a Manhattan, the vast expanse of the ocean before you, bright flits of color and movement below your hands.
When you tire of watching colorful fish dance around your knees, move to a table to experience some of the fine dining for which the Bar is famous. Most diners rave about the crab cakes; lunch and dinner are served until 11 PM. Cocktails, however, are available until 1 am.
9. Sailfish Marina
This spot may be the perfect blend of culture, activity, excellent dining, and breathtaking scenery. Located on Singer Island very close to the Palm Beach Inlet, the restaurant’s days reach back to the late 1970s, when an inventor and entrepreneur purchased the property and created it as a center for both quality dining and big game fishing (a sport whose pedigree dates to the 1900s in Palm Beach County).
Indeed, the Marina prides itself on being a mini-getaway for both tourists and locals; lodging is available for overnight (or longer) stays, and various cultural and communal events dot the calendar.
Perhaps most worth visiting is the Thursday evening Sunset Celebration, where dozens of artists both local and from around the country come to share their crafts with the community. Local bands can be counted on to play, and of course the restaurant is open for meals and drinks. Parking is $5 for events; be aware that spots fill up quickly, so you may have to use a large public lot that is a very short walk away from the Marina.
10. Prime Catch
Another prime (no pun intended) spot that calls Boynton home, this gem features a spacious deck overlooking the water, as well as ample indoor seating on chilly nights or hot days. It also has easy access to a dock for walking and possibly fishing (check with restaurant staff).
Besides the diverse menu, which specializes in thoughtful and creative interaction with strictly local seafood, this restaurant is known for its expansive and well-chosen wine cellar, which boasts over three thousand wines that can pair expertly with any of the menu’s offerings. (You may call ahead to speak to the staff about choices if you like.)
11. The Waterway Café
Most patrons consider this locale one of the best spots to find brunch on Sundays, which is served from nine until noon. Of particular note is the restaurant’s “twilight” menu, which comes into play from 4-5:30 pm each day.
This consists of lighter, simpler meals, though a few are also featured on the main dinner menu. Besides the food, most people come for the evening dance party—done, of course, to local reggae artists.
The outdoor seating area is built around an open fire pit for an added touch of ambience during dinner. The floating bar, located on the Intracoastal Waterway, remains popular with visitors (where else can you have alcohol that floats?), and the location is rather colorful, given that it’s near a drawbridge that must constantly lift to allow boats entry. The bar even has a signature cocktail, the Broken Bridge, named after its very active neighbor.
Located directly across the Intracoastal Waterway from Seasons 52 in Palm Beach Gardens, this eatery prides itself on its Nashville heritage (this is one of the more recent locations of the Tennessee-based chain).
Featuring a minimalist tiki bar facing the water (always a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike), the restaurant means business with its menu, which combines traditional Nashville-influenced fare combined with local seafood and ingredients.
Given the Floridian location, seafood features prominently on the menu, and with excellent results: salmon, sea bass, and trout all beckon the diner with tempting offerings. Be aware that this is one of the pricier locations on this list, even for lunch, but it’s worth it for a celebration or splurge.
Florida’s near-paradisiacal position affords it a unique opportunity to offer creative and inviting experiences for tourists and locals. Dining is no exception. The twelve attractions I have listed here are by no means the only ones worthy of your taste buds, time, and money in Palm Beach County. But I believe they’re some of the best. So after enjoying a museum or gallery, WPB’s famed nightlife, or some of the other reasons to move to the city (like the fact that beach houses aren’t gausche), find one of these restaurants and see why WPB is quickly becoming a culinary center right in southern Florida.