Best of Boca 2019: Eat and Drink

Latitudes

Written by Marie Speed and John Thomason inspired by a brilliant consortium of all-knowing advisors and pundits

Our roundup of who’s in the news—and the highlights (and lowlights!) of the last year in and around Boca.

Best New Restaurant

The restaurant scene was largely dormant this year—it seemed as though we lost more than we gained. But this year we are looking forward to a reboot; maybe the new Meat Market at the Renaissance Hotel or Copperfish at Boca Center will shake things up. And we are hearing great things about Il Mulino.

Places We Hated to See Go

Truluck’s (Photo by Aaron Bristol)
  • There will never be another; the world is a more desolate place without Uncle Tai’s crispy beef.
  • The Mizner Food Exodus: Uncle Julio’s, Rack’s, Truluck’s and Junior’s all leave Mizner Park, and the grumbling about steep rent intensifies.
  • After 42 years, The Warehouse Pub is sold, and one more piece of old Boca disappears.

An Idea Whose Time Has Not Come

Grilled Octopus at Il Mulino (Photo by Quentin Bacon)

Union 27, marketed as a “social dining club” for successful people about town who would pony up $2,400 to join, nosedives after six months. The super glam Il Mulino has now opened in that location.

Top Date Night Place

We have a zillion, so start making reservations—Oceans 234, Tanzy, Trattoria Romana, Latitudes (Highland Beach), Renato’s or Pizza al Fresco (Palm Beach).

Outrageous Crazy Rich Boca Prices

Steakhouses (especially ones that are à la carte, which is almost all of them) have stratospheric prices these days. The Porterhouse for two at New York Prime is a cool $99 (a baked potato goes for $7.50), and at Lucca in the Resort, spaghetti and meatballs is $32.

OLD BOCA: Eight Survivors Still Kicking

Duck a l’Orange at Kathy’s Gazebo
  1. Kathy’s Gazebo still has manners (and two kinds of pâté). And we like that.
  2. Augy’s has been our staple for Sicilian pizza since the 1970s.
  3. Fran’s Chicken Haven is one of Boca’s only Southern touch points (with great fried chicken); it has been here since the ‘60s and has one of the only neon signs in town.
  4. Tom Sawyer has been dishing up country breakfasts for 30 years.
  5. Arturo’s, launched in 1983, is Boca’s oldest Italian restaurant and still offers an elegant and delicious experience. With piano and opera now and then.
  6. V&S Deli still has the best sandwiches. Period. Since 1985.
  7. We remember when Flanigan’s was called Big Daddy’s Lounge (it started in 1959); Flanigan’s Guppy’s has been a downtown catcher’s mitt for decades.
  8. The Melting Pot has been stirring things up in Boca for more than 27 years.

Seventh Time the Charm?

Crazy Uncle Mike’s (Photo by Aaron Bristol)

Crazy Uncle Mike’s opens in one of the area’s most notorious DRLs (Dead Restaurant Locations), but this time, it might stick. People love this place—the music, the food, the vibe, the crowd, the $3 tacos on Tuesdays. Plus Tara Abrams, a Lynn U. alumni, is the chef. “Crazy” Mike Goodwin is also a hands-on owner, with substantial experience. So we may have a keeper.

Bar Crawl For People Who Are Serious About Pool

You can start at the Last Resort Saloon—just over the line in Delray on Federal—and get into the bar-that-still-allows-smoking vibe for the night. This will include pool tables at every stop, bar food, cold beer and TVs. Move next to Firewater in Deerfield Beach, which is a cozy neighborhood spot with TVs and karaoke, then maybe on to the Cabin Sports Bar nearby, another local hangout, before going not such a long, long way to the Tipperary Pub in the Cove. More pub food, another pool game and you have done the circuit of a die-hard bar crawler. Very un-Boca, very old school.

Still a Deal

Happy Hour is the new early bird special (boomers never think they’re in that dreaded early bird demo), and everyone has a good one these days, including our venerable Max’s Grill—4 to 6:30 p.m. daily with wine specials, half-price beer, signature cocktails and spirits and a nice choice of bar bites.

Foodie Event

We have a million great ones, from Boca Bacchanal to Savor the Avenue in Delray, but the grand prize this year goes to Flavors by the Junior League of Boca Raton—an around-the-world extravaganza at The Addison that was as imaginative as it was delicious.

Three Reasons to Head West

Apeiro
  • Sushi Yama in Boca’s Garden Shops offers a wide range of sushi, sashimi, rolls and soups for an entirely spankin’ fresh experience.
  • City Fish Market near the Turnpike on Glades Road in Boca is a high-end outpost with a fine menu—including an iced seafood tower for two, which includes everything from ceviche and clams and shrimp to a whole Maine lobster.
  • Apeiro in the Delray Marketplace bills itself as “progressive” Mediterranean cuisine; we have a soft spot for the fisherman’s stew and the lamb burgers.

Local Bar We Love

The Duck, known as the Ugly Duckling in the old days, is consistent, inexpensive and has Kevin Ross and Wolfhawk on most Friday nights. The Irishmen is another winner, and its annual “Drunk Shakespeare” event benefiting Outré Theatre is one for the ages. Boozy actors doing shots and spouting Shakespeare is just the beginning.

Menu Items We Want to Retire

  • A fried egg on top of everything
  • Hummus
  • Pork belly
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Bacon

Menu items that never disappoint

  • Grilled artichokes
  • Corn chowder
  • Cuban sandwiches
  • Stone crabs
  • Country pâté and toast points

Six Great Hangouts That Are Not in Mizner Park

  • Poolside at Farmer’s Table
  • Funky Biscuit
  • Oceans 234
  • Tap 42
  • Waterstone
  • Biergarten

This story is from the July/August 2019 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.

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