Pictured above: Air Force One parked at Palm Beach International Airport during Donald Trump’s presidency. Photo by Joel Tanen.
It’s time to make reservations, and not just for holiday meals, although you need to start doing that now, too (we give you options below). With the season here, even a regular meal on a weeknight is hard to come by without a reservation. But I happened to find a silver lining.
I was having dinner Friday at one of my favorite restaurants, Grato in West Palm Beach. I had made a reservation, but when we arrived, the place was nowhere near full to capacity, which is definitely not the norm. The reason was the president was due to arrive that night sometime between 8 and 11 p.m. at Palm Beach International. About 90 percent of the cancellations that night—and there clearly were quite a few—were because of this.
It seems most people want to avoid the “presidential radius” as much as possible. You can sit up to an hour or more in traffic while waiting for the presidential motorcade to pass. In fact, major roads can be blocked off about an hour before the motorcade is due to pass. This means major delays for everyone, and on this night, nobody wanted to make reservations they couldn’t keep. The same situation was happening at Palm Beach restaurants and all around the West Palm Beach area because Mar-a-Lago is on the island. All that meant that there were plenty of dining opportunities!
So keep this in mind: If you live north of Southern Boulevard (this is the motorcade route from PBI to Mar-a-Lago), you probably won’t need reservations for your fave restaurants on nights POTUS is due to arrive, as long as the venues are north of Southern, too. Just a tip to help some folks on what will be many weekends of POTUS visits throughout the season.
Eating out in Palm Beach County for Christmas?
- 50 Ocean: Open Christmas Day from noon to 8 p.m. Serving a dinner menu all day. 50 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach; 561/278-3364
- Okeechobee Steakhouse: On Christmas, dinner is served from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. (no reservations accepted). Holiday starters include colossal shrimp cocktail, classic escargot; then steaks and seafood entrees include shrimp scampi and rock lobster. 2854 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561/683-5151
- The Cooper: Open Christmas Eve from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and closed on Christmas Day. Regular menu available. Craft Kitchen and Bar, 4610 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561/622-0032
- Waterstone Resort & Marina: On Christmas Day, open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Great dining area on the water for $70 per person (wine pairing available for $25 extra per person); $25 per child. Boca Landing; 561/226-3022
- Kabuki Sushi-Thai-Tapas: Open from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Regular lunch and dinner menus. 5080 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561/776-8778
- Café Boulud: Christmas Eve, Executive Chef Rick Mace is offering a three-course, prix-fixe menu from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Cost: $135 per person, $45 for children. On Christmas Day, there will be a prix-fixe brunch menu from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Cost: $75 per person, $35 for children. Also on Christmas Day, a three-course prix-fixe dinner menu, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Cost: $125 per person, $45 for children. 301 Australian Ave., Palm Beach; 561/655-6060
- Prosecco Café: Open Christmas Eve from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Christmas Day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular menu available. 4580 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561/622-3222
- Avocado Grill: On Christmas Day, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., order a la carte from either the regular or vegan menu. Special holiday dishes will be featured. 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach; 561/623-0822
- Chez L’Epicier: Christmas Eve dinner is a five-course tasting menu; cost is $95 per person, plus tax/gratuity. The stuffed Dover sole (pictured) is on the menu for an extra $15. 288 S. County Road, Palm Beach; 561/508-7030
- Deck 84: Open regular hours on Christmas Eve, and from noon to 7 p.m. Christmas Day. Holiday specials will be featured, as well as the regular menu. 840 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561/665-8484
- Henry’s: Open regular hours on Christmas Eve and from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Christmas Day. Offering special holiday dishes as well as the regular menu. 16850 Jog Road, Delray Beach; 561/638-1949
- Burt & Max’s: Open regular hours on Christmas Eve, and from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Christmas Day. Holiday menu specials will be featured, as well as the full regular menu. 9089 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561/638-6380
- Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar: Christmas Eve dinner offered with regular menu, as well as some holiday specials and seasonal cocktails. Reservations are not required. 1841 S. Federal Highway, Delray Beach; 561/266-3239
- Pistache: Open on Christmas Day from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., offering a three-course prix-fixe menu. Cost is $72 for adults, $25 for children. 101 N. Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561/833-5090
- Spoto’s Oyster Bar: Regular menus served on Christmas Eve from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Christmas Day, a limited dinner menu is available from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dishes will include bluepoint oysters, littleneck clams, and surf and turf combinations, along with holiday specials. 4560 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561/776-9448
- Table 26: Open Christmas Day from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Regular menu, plus some holiday specials. 1700 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561/855-2660
- Vic & Angelo’s: Open for a Christmas Eve brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. On Christmas Day, a limited menu is offered from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. 4520 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 844/842-2532
Lynn Kalber was raised in Boca Raton and has spent her life working in Palm Beach and Broward counties. She is a career journalist, with 26 years at The Palm Beach Post alone, where she wrote feature and food articles, edited the food section and wrote about wine as part of the Swirl Girls. She lives in West Palm Beach with her husband, writer and author Scott Eyman.
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