Get Your Sea Grub from These Top Palm Beach County Restaurants
By Kristopher Neild
Palm Beach / West Palm Beach Local Expert
Coming to vacation in Palm Beach/West Palm Beach, you undoubtedly know the ocean rests due east. The bounty the great sea provides ends up on plates in a vast number of restaurants all across the coast. Without doing your due diligence, you could end up at a ho-hum place that serves "okay" seafood - but is that really what you want when you are on vacation?
Seafood joints come in all shapes and sizes. Some are dives. Others are nestled inside world class resorts. The key to picking a place comes down to two main selectors; quality and atmosphere.
Driving by a place like Schooner's, you could easily write it off as a ransacked shack that doesn't deserve two looks. Truth be told, it its a top notch seafood restaurant serving delicious grouper fingers and yellow-tail snapper. On the other end of the spectrum, places like Jove Kitchen & Bar up the class but stay true to the roots of what it means to prepare great seafood.
Whether looking for oysters,mussels, king crab, stone crab, mahi mahi, drum, snapper, etc. the restaurants on this list will surely deliver. They all have different atmosphere types, so be sure to read the descriptions to find the joint that's perfect for your party.
Old Key Lime House
Lime green timbers and pink shutters adorn the exterior of this famous restaurant and watering hole. Tables, shaded by green awnings, line the dock, and there's also a covered, outdoor Chickee Hut Bar, where the rock and reggae bands frequently perform. If dinner's on the agenda, crowdpleasers like peel'n'eat shrimp, crab cakes, margarita pizza and hand-cut sirloin should satiate your cravings. This is a great place to come watch a sporting event, soak in rays by the dock and indulge in delicious key lime pie. If you are a boater, be sure to have this joint as a stop on your travel itinerary. (561-582-1889)
Nick and Johnnie's
Nick and Johnnie's is a seafood bar and restaurant in Palm Beach. They serve up breakfast, lunch and dinner, providing patrons with some of the freshest seafood in the county. Outdoor dining is preferred by guests, many of whom are here to chill out and be peaceful. The attitude and culture of the establishment is different from the rest of Palm Beach. You can show up here in a bathing suit and tank top and fit in just fine. Drinkers will love the surfboard shot ski, perfect for celebrating an exciting day of body surfing. Play your cards right, and you can stop by when live music is going off. By the way - the food is awesome. Try the fried oysters. (5616553319)
Benny's on the Beach
When it comes to ocean-front dining, one can't get much closer than Benny's on the Beach. With the restaurant sitting on the Lake Worth Pier, it's easy to be completely immersed in the nautical vibes. Sitting so close to the water means it's no surprise that seafood makes up the bulk of the menu. The lobster benedict and raspberry French toast are decadent splurges for the most important meal of the day. Stop in seven days a week for breakfast or lunch and then walk it off on the pier or sandy beaches. Benny's is also open for dinner Thursday - Sunday, just plan ahead to enjoy one of their creative cocktails. ((561) 582-9001)
PBCatch has made a splash thanks to Thierry Beaud and executive chef Julian Gremaud of Pistache in West Palm Beach. The restaurant opened in January 2012 and caught on immediately, the reputation of its management preceding it.
Gremaud is a native of the southern coast of France and brings a Mediterranean twist to his offerings. Among his truly delightful original recipes is plantain-crusted white tuna with truffle-scented white asparagus puree. The char-grilled black grouper with sliced heirloom tomato, arugula, shaved fennel and ginger aioli combines textures and flavors to create art for the palate. Locally caught yellowfin tuna appears not only as an appetizer but an entrée. Oysters are the highlight of an extensive raw bar.
Diners praise the quick and efficient wait staff. The dark wood, white chairs and nautical theme create a crisp and sophisticated, but not stern, decor. (561-655-5558)
Guanabanas in Jupiter is one of the top nightlife destinations on Florida's east coast. The tiki jungle like atmosphere is enchanting, and adding in live music and fruity drinks only enhances the ambiance. Everyone is super laid back here, and the whole facility is open air. Sit back and enjoy a tropical rum drink while taking in the acoustic soundings of a national act. Slow dance in your lovers arms while you emulate Jimmy Buffet when ordering a cheeseburger. Banyan trees provide shade from the judging moon. Water borders one side of the establishment, where you can sneak away with a special someone to lock gazes and perhaps lips. There is even a fire pit in the center of the place for smore cookin'! (561.747.8878)
Tasty and affordable, the grub at this West Palm Beach seafooder is tough to pass up. Dig into the macadamia nut-crusted snapper or spicy barbecued Chilean sea bass, with garlic mashed potatoes and cheesy spinach. Coconut shrimp, crab cakes, calamari and lobster tail add to the kitchen's bounty. Tropical décor, from beach umbrellas to a giant fish on the wall, accents the dining room and bar. This Okeechobee favorite accepts reservations, which are needed because the place is always packed. Don't bother coming if you don't like a rambunctious atmosphere - everyone inside treats each other like family, which can lead to across table convos and camaraderie. Eat inside or out, and prepare to feast. (561-784-2660)
Capt. Charlie's Reef Grill
The location isn't prime, lines can be long, and the decor isn't jaw-dropping, but the food, by all accounts, is amazing. If you don't have the fortitude to wait for a table, it's only your loss. Seafood of all sorts monopolizes the menu, and it's prepared in both traditional and unconventional ways, inspired by recipes from the world over. Appetizers and entrees are both sizeable, so if you're a big eater, you'll probably be challenged; if you're a light eater, prepare for a doggy bag. Grilled fish, tasty shrimp, luscious pastas, and terrific crab cakes provide indication of the fare, but the temptations on the menu will have you agonizing over what's best to order. Don't worry -- everything's good. (561-624-9924)
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)
Schooner's located in Jupiter, FL is a local seafood institution. It's the type of joint that looks like a shack on the side of the road - the type where you know fresh fish is cut and battered daily. The place used to be a gas station, until Chef Joe Ruddy took over. Now, conch chowder, grouper fingers and yellowtail snapper dominate the menu. All the meals here are cooked using a minimalist approach, letting the seafood itself make up the taste. Eat outside, knowing that the Jupiter Lighthouse is watching over you. The place has a real Old Florida vibe to it - come here enough and you will quickly feel like family. (561-746-7558)
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)
About Kristopher Neild
Kris is a South Florida resident, living close to the coast in West Palm Beach. The area lets him delve into his vices - beaching, bar-hopping and baseball. Besides writing about travel & leisure, he is a CFA candidate, hoping to pen an investment newsletter sometime in the future.
Read more about Kristopher Neild here.