Palm Beach/West Palm Beach's Top Restaurants
By Kristopher Neild
Palm Beach / West Palm Beach Local Expert
Dining in Palm Beach County is an experience. Some want to get dressed to the nines, order wine, seafood off the specials menu and finish every night off with a dessert and coffee. Others want to throw on a Hawaiian shirt, order a pitcher of beers and gulp down raw oysters.
The Palm Beach area has multiple restaurants capable of serving up both parties above. On literal Palm Beach, classy upscale joints like Cafe Boulud cater to the (wannabe) prestigious crowd. Prepare for a truly decadent meal surrounded by a lush garden and attentive service.
Places like Charley's Crab take the stuffy factor down a little bit, and turn the focus primarily on offering great seafood in a relaxed environment.
This list of the 10 best restaurants in Palm Beach/West Palm beach will help make your dining decision a little bit easier. It will help tell you where you need call ahead, who serves what, and when you will need to have the dinner jacket ready to go.
Do you want a water view and the ability to order off an award winning wine list? How about the need for stone crab on the menu and a waiter to tell you truthfully whether or not their batch is worth buying? Check the list below and ready yourself for a great night out.
Tucked away beside a charming, flower-bedecked courtyard, Renato's engages diners with its genial atmosphere and gracious surroundings. Inside, pastel tones, a white grand piano, and pink roses on tables promise gentility, and the eminently professional waitstaff attends to every need. Outside, courtyard dining is sublime, complete with the sounds of a fountain and chirping birds. The menu is completely in step with the ambience. Succulent gnocchi, mushroom pappardelle, honey-glazed salmon, rack of lamb, seared diver scallops, and sauteed veal scaloppine hint at the selection and only serve to highlight the delightful alchemy that can occur when first-rate cuisine conspires with natural beauty and service. 4 course prix-fixe: $35. (561-655-9752)
9 The Restaurant at the Four Seasons
Gleaming stone, soft light and muted colors make for an eminently soothing evening at this elegant establishment. Flawless service adds a pampering touch, and the cuisine is anything but ordinary. In fact, it meshes Florida's freshest ingredients with culinary ideas from Latin America and the southern US. Fire-roasted beef tenderloin, molasses-glazed duck breast, guava-braised beef short ribs, buffalo tenderloin, and rice-noodle crusted sea scallops provide hints of the succulent entrees you'll find. Fresh fish is also a delicious option, and the tasting menu is an incredible bargain, especially when accompanied by appropriate wines. Exotic desserts include cactus pear sorbet, airy fruit souffles, homemade ice cream and a luscious tiramisu. (561-582-2800, 561-533-3750)
8 Morton's, The Steakhouse
Tuxedo-clad waiters set the tone for a Midwest classic that's staked a claim on the Atlantic coast. Known for tableside presentations (yes, that's a live lobster on the cart), this steakhouse is famous for its 24-ounce porterhouse and its hearty portions. Sides must be ordered separately at additional cost, and the menu offers seafood, chicken, and veal for those who don't relish red meat. The menu provides wine recommendations to complement entrees. As expected, the atmosphere is plush, and Sinatra croons in the background to add to the whole experience. Reservations are recommended. Call early to assure your party a table. (561-835-9664)
7 Spoto's Oyster Bar
Its doors thrown open to the breezes, Spoto's enjoys the scent of the ocean, both from the water and the fresh seafood it serves. Brick floors, mirrored walls, and a ceiling adorned with copper squiggles on a teal background give the place immediate character. The cuisine makes it eminently worthy of notice. The raw bar features several varieties of oysters and clams, and the rest of the menu follows their inarguable excellence. Pan-seared sea scallops, bahamian conch chowder, Thai shrimp, trout pecan meuniere, and dolphin with a macadamia nut crust illustrate the range of dishes, and all fish can be poached, sauteed, broiled, blackened, or grilled to your specification. A long bar on the right makes libations convenient, and the outdoor tables are popular. Great any time of day! (561-776-9448)
6 Charley's Crab - Palm Beach
Charley's Crab in Palm Beach blends fine dining and the best parts of a "seafood joint" to make what is considered one of the area's top eating stops. Take advantage of the free valet when heading in. Start with a glass of cool white wine from the award-winning list while gazing out on the Atlantic Ocean. The complimentary jalapeno bread will get diners ready for what is about to come. Crab cakes, shellfish, mahi mahi, etc., beckon and will please any palate. Save room for the rich desserts and cappuccino, as that part of the menu receives the biggest praise of all. (5616591500)
5 Café Chardonnay
Lauded for its incredible cuisine, terrific service and outstanding wine list, Chardonnay proffers great food in a contemporary space. Amid vibrant artwork and floral compositions, guests take in the kitchen's latest successes. Innovative entrees skillfully mix spices and seasonings to create such fantastic fare as pan-seared duck breast with hoisin glaze, macadamia-crusted yellowtail snapper, and roasted Australian lamb with zinfandel-pepper sauce. The seafood martini, a signature dish, flavors shrimp, scallops, and lobster in herbs, vermouth, and vodka for a taste unlike anything you've sampled before. Delicious! For a special treat, plan on one of the three-course wine dinners. An appropriate vintage joins each dish, allowing patrons insight into the sympathetic workings of wine and cuisine that Chardonnay so beautifully cultivates. (561-627-2662)
4 Cafe Boulud
Housed in the Brazilian Court Hotel, this beautiful yellow dining room is outfitted with large windows, upholstered coral chairs and an irresistible patio. Before dinner, enjoy a cocktail in the comfortably furnished bar overlooking the terrace. An interesting variety of starters includes smoked salmon with herbed salad and Scandinavian brown bread, a Spanish tapas platter, and veal ravioli. Diners feast on artfully prepared mains such as the squab tartine with mushroom duxelle. Exquisite desserts draw the meal to a close -- try the pear struesel with cinnamon ice cream. (561-655-6060)
3 Café L'Europe
A constant outpouring of accolades renders this spectacular restaurant one of Palm Beach's best known establishments. A romantic ambience is set with arched windows, mirrors and candlelight, and glorious flower arrangements. Patrons are graced by impeccable service and cuisine, not to mention live music. Each evening, a talented pianist plays classics, much to the delight of guests. On Fridays and Saturdays, a jazz combo picks up the rhythms, adding a livelier note to the weekend. A celebrated wine list promises a wealth of possibilities, as does the full and extensive bar. You'll also find a caviar and champagne bar, along with a late-night menu. Whether you want to honor a special occasion or simply indulge for a moment, Cafe l'Europe guarantees excellence. (561-655-4020)
2 Chez Jean-Pierre
Although it entertains Palm Beach's elite, this fashionable eatery is refreshingly without pretense. Its cozy rooms and imaginative artwork grant patrons license to relax and enjoy the ambiance and the food rather than the social scene. Under the chef's capable hand, authentic French cuisine takes on a Provençale accent, redolent with fresh herbs and seasonings. Poultry in particular is well prepared, crisp-skinned and juicy, and seafood benefits from unfailing attention as well. Desserts beg sampling too, whether you opt for a frosty sorbet or perhaps the delicious excesses of homemade profiteroles. (561-833-1171)
1 Marcello's La Sirena
Subtlety and grace characterize this established restaurant, well known in the area for its attentive, unobtrusive service and impeccable cuisine. The Northern Italian menu focuses on al dente-perfect pastas, light as air and accompanied by sauces crafted of pungent cheeses, fresh herbs, tomatoes, cream and mushrooms. Just-caught seafood, especially salmon and snapper, benefit from the kitchen's skill, and veal in its variety of incarnations is impossibly tender and satisfying. Salads, crisp and refreshing, are just as you'd hope, and the French onion soup is a house classic. Luckily, desserts follow suit: Everything from zabaglione to tiramisu and fresh fruit is luscious, and there's a great selection of Italian wines and dessert wines as well. (561-585-3128)
About Kristopher Neild
Kris is a South Florida resident, living close to the coast in West Palm Beach. The area provides him with plenty of golf courses to hack up, restaurants to sample and beaches to surf and sun. Plus, he can get his baseball fix with all the spring training and minor league action. Kris is also a CFA candidate, meddling in financial matters to pay the bills.
Read more about Kristopher Neild here.