Can’t decide where to go for dinner?
Sushi sounds good. Or maybe Italian. On the other hand, tapas and a couple glasses of Spanish wine might do the trick. Or perhaps pizza or a thick, juicy steak?
What’s a hungry diner to do?
Here’s a thought: Check out the restaurants at Royal Palm Place (royalpalmplace.com). Some of my favorite restaurants in the area are scattered throughout the sprawling retail-restaurant-residence complex just off South Federal Highway in Boca Raton. One of them ought to make up your mind for you.
La Bodega (100 H Plaza Real South, 561/395-1217): Gianna Jones’ cozy, charming tapas bar offers a taste of the wildly popular wines and cuisine of Spain at a price that makes wining and dining easy on the wallet. Sit at tables fashioned out of wine barrels and sip a floral, fruity Albarino or hearty Rioja while chowing down on pungent gambas al ajillo or the extraordinary Jamon Iberico “Pata Negra.”
Caruso Ristorante (187 S.E. Mizner Blvd., 561/367-7488): Chef-owner Lillo Teodosi and wife Gina’s elegant, intimate restaurant has quietly been turning out some of the best Italian cuisine in town since the day it opened its doors. From the complimentary antipasti to the massive veal chop to zabaglione made the old-fashioned way, you can’t dine any better. And the gnocchi are simply ethereal.
Daimatsu (271 S.E. Mizner Blvd., 561/361-7557): I’m extremely picky about my sushi; after all, raw fish isn’t something to fool around with. And one of the mere handful of South Florida sushi bars where I’ll order with abandon is Daimatsu. Whether in nigiri or maki sushi, the impeccably fresh fish tastes sweetly of the sea; even the elaborate rolls don’t mask its delicate, beguiling flavor.
Table 42 (399 S.E. Mizner Blvd., 561/826-2625): Gary Rack started his restaurant mini-empire here in this stylishly contemporary space, which morphed from a pizzeria to a modern Italian-American trattoria. The coal-oven-fired pies are still delectable, but now they’re joined by first-rate pastas (try the linguine with garlicky pesto), irresistible Parmesan fries and plump Harris Ranch burger. Killer wine list too.
Chops Lobster Bar (101 Plaza Real South, 561/395-2675): Happy hour at this handsome steak and seafood house is a happy time indeed, with big strong drinks; fat, juicy burgers; ultra-creamy mac ‘n’ cheese and more. On the regular menu start raw with oysters on the half-shell or beef tartare prepared tableside, then move on to the signature flash-fried lobster or succulent Wagyu strip.