Palm Beach

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Finding fabulous restaurants in which to spend major bucks is not a problem in Palm Beach – Euro-centric taste buds will be richly rewarded. But don't be afraid to get off the beaten path. Sprinkled throughout the county are some cool retro-flashbacks to the era before chain dining took over America.

Top Restaurants in Palm Beach

32 East Restaurant

Restaurants come and go on Delray's historic main street, Atlantic Avenue, but 32 East continues its creative, contemporary spin on American cuisine with menus that change daily. Located on the site of an old auction house, the two-story space with its dark-wood tables and art-lined walls feels more bistro than bourgeois. A street-side terrace for outdoor dining and a lively front bar make it a good people-watching spot.

32 E. Atlantic Ave., FL, 561-276-7868, www.32east.com/
Tags: expensive | bar | new american

Café Boulud

Set amid the laid-back elegance of the Brazilian Court Hotel, this French-American café is the southern sibling to Chef Daniel Boulud's Upper East Side restaurant in New York City. The menus run parallel, following Boulud’s four muses: classic French (La Tradition), the seasons (La Saison), vegetarian/French garden (Le Potager), and world cuisine (Le Voyage). The staff is friendly, the bright room with its colorful paintings by Mark Bowles is a charmer, but really, it's all about the divinely inventive dishes from James Beard Award-nominated executive chef Zach Bell.

301 Australian Ave., FL, 561-655-6060, www.danielnyc.com
Tags: expensive | notable chef | editor pick | smart splurge | french fusion

Café L'Europe

From its caviar collection and smoked salmon tartare starters to decadent entrees like lobster risotto with white truffle oil to the lengthy list of champagnes by the glass, Cafe L'Europe's menu seems as rich as its clientele. A Palm Beach staple for more than 25 years, the restaurant takes cues from its owners' European and South American roots. Perfect for a special occasion.

331 S. County Rd., FL, 561-655-4020, www.cafeleurope.com
Tags: romance | expensive

Forte di Asprinio

Top Chef alert: Forte, an ultra-modern restaurant in the hip Clematis Street district, is brought to you by chef-sommelier Stephen Asprinio, a serious contender in season one of Bravo's reality competition. True to his on-screen character, the eclectic, contemporary Italian menu is never dull; and a five-course tasting menu is offered. Creative cocktails and wine flights also star. Even when the restaurant isn't busy, it feels like there's a party going on, thanks to violet light reflecting off the seek white interior and tall windows that amp up the people watching.

225 Clematis St., FL, 561-833-3330, www.fortepalmbeach.com
Tags: moderate | notable chef | italian | open late | bar

Howley's

Unlike its motor-lodge neighbor, a snappy 2004 makeover brought Howley's, open since 1950, into the modern age, without stripping its retro charm. Tidy Formica tabletops with red and black chairs, cheery lime-green walls, and a full bar with atomic '50s designs make the vintage diner a bright spot on an otherwise uneventful stretch of Dixie Highway. They serve breakfast until noon daily, but latecomers can take advantage of an abbreviated "breakfast anytime" menu. Sandwiches, salads, and home-style favorites like mac 'n' cheese and meatloaf dominate the lunch and dinner list.

4700 S. Dixie Hwy., FL, 561-833-5691, www.myspace.com/howleys
Tags: budget | open late | comfort food | breakfast | diner

John G's

Early, early birds avoid the long lines at John G's, which starts serving its famous breakfast daily at 7am, switches to lunch at 11:15am, and closes at 3pm. This frozen-in-1973, cash-only diner – decked out with wooden booths, fishing nets, and other nautical notes – is budget on the inside, but its ocean view is worth a million bucks. Order ahead for a takeout beach picnic to dodge the waits. The fish and chips and blueberry pancakes get top marks.

10 S. Ocean Blvd., FL, 561-585-9860, www.johngs.com
Tags: budget | waterfront | breakfast

Old Key Lime House

Built in 1889 as a private home for one of Lantana's founding families, the Old Key Lime House now claims the title of oldest waterfront restaurant in the state. Casual seafood is the name of the game, and beefeaters may struggle. Live music and three bars, including the thatch-roof Chickee Hut, add to the laid-back Florida Keys vibe.

300 E. Ocean Ave., FL, 561-582-1889, www.oldkeylimehouse.com
Tags: moderate | seafood | historic | waterfront

Sprinkles

Sprinkles offers up only a handful of chairs and one bright red and yellow booth, saving space for the star attraction: the glass-fronted ice cream case. Sandwiches, wraps, and salads are reliably tasty, but it's a must to leave room for the creamy frozen treats. A kids' menu with grilled cheese and PB&J, plus a shelf of board games, adds to the family-fun vibe.

279 Royal Poinciana Way, FL, 561-659-1140
Tags: family | dessert | ice cream

Yu-Mi Sushi Japanese

When locals want sushi, they seek out this hole-in-the-wall Japanese joint and brave the long waits for a table – especially on weekends. Bypass the restaurant of the same name in West Palm Beach for the real deal up north: super-fresh sushi, bang for the buck, and a good variety of rolls with unique twists.

9820 Highway A1A Alternate, FL, 561-776-9209
Tags: moderate | editor pick | great value | sushi | japanese

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