While The Palm Beaches technically consist of 39 waterfront cities and towns, including Boca Raton, Jupiter, Lake Worth, and Delray Beach, there’s one in particular that stands out as far as culinary offerings go and that’s its namesake: Palm Beach.
Although it’s not the largest municipality in the county (that would be West Palm Beach), it’s certainly the most glamorous—surrounded by gilded-age architecture, upscale boutiques, and world-class restaurants.
“America’s First Resort Destination” is filled with epicurean experiences ranging from leisurely al fresco lunches to oyster-and-champagne-fueled happy hours but when it comes to choosing where to go first, here are eight of the most iconic Palm Beach restaurants everyone should visit once.
Swifty’s was one of the great, old-school haunts in Manhattan’s Upper East Side for 15 years before taking up new residence in Palm Beach at ‘Pink Paradise’ hotel, The Colony. Known for its chic environs, ever-charming maître d’s, and consistent cuisine, you’re in for the most memorable meal with unparalleled people-watching. As for the best seats in the house, we’re partial to the poolside tables under a veil of verdant greenery and chandeliers, although their indoor dining room is just as posh, with velvet couches in jewel tones and tropical palm trees at every turn. Swifty’s signatures include Florida stone crab claws and the original Cobb recipe but come dinnertime it’s all about the bacon-wrapped designer meatloaf and killer cocktails.
A Palm Beach institution, BiCE rose to fame under matriarch Beatrice Ruggeri AKA ‘Bice’ almost 100 years ago in Milano, Italy, and is still going strong today. Known for its ladies-who-lunch rep, it checks all the Palm Beach power lunch boxes: convivial atmosphere, excellent wine list, and extensive roster of salads (like the poached seafood salad or chopped with grilled shrimp). The airy, white-washed space will definitely make you want to linger longer over cocktails—or you know, a few more twirls of linguine vongole.
You’ll want to secure a reservation for Buccan early as possible, as it’s notoriously one of the hardest to get in Palm Beach. Dinner at the James Beard Award-nominated restaurant should always begin with their famed watermelon martini, but then it’s on to chef Clay Conley’s innovative small plates (most of which are served tapas style) and signature pasta. The tuna crisps and short rib empanadas are a must, as is the sweet corn agnolotti, but the most surprising dish on the menu might be the Hot Dog Panini—unless you’re familiar with the area—and then you’re well aware of this regional delicacy. The dining room is always abuzz, yet calmly elegant at the same time, filled with warmth, communal tables, and the island’s chicest inhabitants.
Let us begin by saying: Florie’s by Mauro Colagreco is the first US restaurant to be helmed by the chef of the three-Michelin-starred Mirazur in Menton, France. So, you can expect the same level of love that the Argentine-Italian chef-without-borders puts into each and every dish, including his specialty: heirloom tomato and peach carpaccio. A stunning dining room awash in sun-kissed coral and blush tones evokes the feeling of being in the middle of the Mediterranean—on an oceanfront resort in Florida—while a pergola-covered terrace is the premiere spot for enjoying breakfast.
Ask any Palm Beach driver where the best restaurant in town is and most, without hesitancy, will deliver you right to the doorstep of La Goulue. A beacon of French excellence on Florida’s Gold Coast, they’re just as renowned for their fare as they are for their classic Parisian ambiance (think red leather barstools and banquettes, French bistro chairs, and iconic zinc bar). Although their prized Soufflé au Fromage requires advance notice to order, it’s well worth the wait (and has been a menu staple since 1972, when the first La Goulue opened its doors in New York City). You also can’t go wrong with the croque monsieur, escargots, or any of the tartes flambées.
The Breakers has played host to half of Hollywood, along with the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Astors, and there’s no place more gilded and grand than Henry Morrison Flagler’s 140-acre manse. Of their 10 various dining options, Seafood Bar is a fan favorite for its nautical nods and stunning live aquarium bar. With the Atlantic Ocean as your backdrop and a school of clownfish swimming by in between bites of filet mignon sliders and coconut shrimp, this will undoubtedly be one of your top meals. A post-dinner libation at the HMF, The Breakers’ Florentine-inspired lobby bar, is also obligatory. Between the floor-to-ceiling wine vault and the original chandeliers, you’ll see why it’s dubbed the “social club” of Palm Beach.
If a coffered ceiling inlaid with a shimmering bed of sea shells doesn’t set the scene for a Palm Beach luncheon, we don’t know what does. Welcome to the House of Boulud, Chef Daniel’s homage to modern French cuisine at the historic Brazilian Court Hotel. While the indoor dining room is as enchanting as it gets with dark woods, paneled glass windows exposing a lush garden outside, and a wrap-around marble bar, the terrace is also quite lovely with tables tucked amongst swaying palm trees and fountains. Over on the menu side, they’re known for their gazpacho verde, Brittany Dover Sole, and wild mushroom risotto with truffle but one of the main reasons to go is for the cocktail program—and Bar Boulud’s famous white Cosmo or the Black Swan.
For locals and in-the-know visitors, Cafe Via Flora is always a viable option for an al fresco lunch or romantic dinner in an intimate, tucked-away courtyard on Worth Ave. The Tuscan-inspired restaurant has a sort of secret garden vibe about it (in the former Gucci digs) so it’s no wonder celebs and Palm Beach’s elite have taken a liking to the refuge given its hidden feel—shrouded by whimsical sculptures and climbing bougainvillea. Order the chicken or salmon paillard, truffle fries, and “Lovey’s favorite” (fresh zucchini spaghetti, shrimp, garlic, olive oil), washed down with PBI’s version of water: rosé.
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