McDonalds. Chipotle. Subway. Cheesecake Factory. Without a doubt, chain restaurants abound in our casual sun-drenched tri-county locale. However, there comes a time (that time is now, in case you’re wondering) to step away from the Happy Meal and enjoy really good cuisine served in a place without plastic chairs. Grab your Google maps, ladies and gentlemen. Here are five superb local restaurants worthy of your pocketbook and your time:
Best Burger — The Office
Tired from a long workweek and looking for a place to grab a burger, relax, and maybe squeeze in a little people-watching? Then head to The Office in Delray Beach. Trust us, the most work you’ll do is deciding which delectable-sounding bite to choose. Located on the famed Atlantic Avenue strip, The Office balances sophistication with tongue-in-cheek humor–its tablemats feature cute little quotes on food and work. But that is not the draw here. While there is a virtual smorgasbord of restaurants from which to choose on Atlantic, including several other burger joints, you’ll want to punch your time card here.
The food is–no other way to put it–sublime. Sticking to fresh, un-processed ingredients, The Office chefs choose the components of each dish carefully, like notes in a symphony that crescendo into a decadent explosion of flavors and endorphins in your mouth that trickle right down to your curling toes.
For a special treat, try the Prime CEO Burger and Parmesan Truffle Fries with garlic aioli. The balance of flavors is legendary. And you’ll be back for seconds, guaranteed.
Best Dinner — Brule Bistro
Intimate. Relaxing. French. Ahhh!
Welcome to Brule Bistro in Delray Beach. Tucked away from the bustling street and quirky shops of Atlantic Avenue, Brule is a little more elegance and a lot more substance. From the mouthwatering Olive oil and Balsamic Dip (they make the balsamic vinegar themselves) to the never-to-be-forgotten Truffle Mac-and-cheese, this place is hard to beat for taste. The menu is thoughtful, creative and unapologetically appetizing. The service is excellent. The repeat visits are inevitable.
Best Waterfront Dining — Blue Moon Fish Co.
Looking for excellent al fresco dining by the water with seafood that’s just as “fresco”? Look no further. Blue Moon Fish Co. is nestled beside the Intercoastal off Commercial Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing outdoor lunch or a picturesque moonlit atmosphere where the soft glint of the light-struck water lulls your senses, this is the place to be.
The menu choices are comprehensive and cater to almost every palate. A raw bar serves oysters and mussels. Starters include a crab and crawfish cake, and entrees range from swordfish to rack of lamb. Not to be missed: the Baby Spinach and Pecan Goat Cheese Fritters salad is a revelation–the perfect pairing of tart and sweet, cold and heat. Bring change: you’ll need to valet-park your car.
Best Spicy Food — Sukho Thai
For those whose palates crave the heat of pepper melded with authentic Thai flavors, Sukho Thai is a must-try. Tucked into the corner of a little plaza at Sunrise Blvd. and Federal Highway, this restaurant is worth a visit.
The ambiance and décor are about average, but the service is solid and the food impeccable. While the chefs do cater to the faint of heart–and tongue–in offering mild versions of their dishes, those whose palates are adventurous and whose stomachs are strong should insist on Thai-spicy. The waiter will look at you doubtfully. So stand your ground and enjoy the ride. The Wonton Soup and the Fresh Hot Basil entrée are particularly pleasing.
Bring a spray bottle.
Most Romantic — Casablanca Café
So, gentlemen, in need of somewhere romantic, intimate, and unusual to take your wives? Make a reservation at Casablanca Café. Situated in a two-story Mediterranean villa between Sunrise and Las Olas Blvd. on A1A, this restaurant is a study in atmosphere. While downstairs serves as a piano bar, more social dining upstairs is reserved for intimate tête-à-têtes enjoyed over excellent cuisine and punctuated by irreproachable service.
Keisha McDonnough is a research analyst and writer. A Jamaican native and South Florida resident, she is passionate about poetry and vow writing. Check out her website at everaftervows.com.