By: Adrianna Matamoros Contributing writer
Premiere excursions through what is new, fresh and sought-after in entertainment and dining, embodies what this summer season has to offer both tourist and residents of Boca Raton and surrounding Palm Beach County areas.
Venturing foodies are perhaps the most fortunate of this Boca population, as the city introduces a line up of cutting-edge eateries of substantial variety. From European inspired dinning rooms, to gourmet cafes, there is a world of fine dining awaiting the public, ready to succeed even the greatest of appetites.
Local, seasonal and sustainable is how southern-inspired Tucker Duke’s, located on North Federal Highway, characterizes its menu of avant-garde dish infusions. With sister spots in Deerfield and Niceville, Tucker Duke’s introduces Boca to an eccentric gastro-pub experience, complete with a vibrant atmosphere and a variety of original creations by Chef Brian Cartenuto.
“The Tucker Duke’s style is like a small-box-casual experience, where we serve things like chef-inspired burgers and local craft beers,” said Jay Oakes, Tucker Duke’s owner and restaurant operator. “We are known for our burgers, but we also offer a southern take on blue plates, like our hanger steaks, and off the wall gastro-pub foods, like our classic nacho-styled tater tots.”
Innovative creations are the mantra of the burger joint, with specialty menu items like the signature Tucker Duke burger, the award winning PB&J Bon Bons and the Pimento Mac & Cheese.
“Our signature burger [Tucker Duke] is piled high with onion rings, American cheese and our signature Tucker sauce,” described Oakes. “It is the only burger that Chef Brian wants everyone to have exactly the same way, at the same time, to get the full experience of it.”
Beyond mouth watering meat stacks, notorious for winning fan favorite in burger competitions of years past, the small business prides itself in using the freshest seasonal ingredients for its menu items, collaborating with local businesses and butchers for meat sources and produce, while baking and curating fresh, in-house breads and sauces daily.
“As a small business, we know what it is like to keep the money inside the community,” said Oakes. “We try to keep things local and provide customers with the freshest ingredients, to increase that flavor profile that we aim to achieve.”
For customers, there is more to Tucker Duke’s than award winning burgers and local craft beer suggestions by interactive and ale savvy servers; there is a hip vibe exclusive to Duke’s, extending the standard burger-joint experience.
“There was a lot of variety on the menu,” said Tara Huber, Boca resident and local restaurant owner. “Places like this are hard to come by.”
For a more simplistic, yet novelty touch on a classic mealtime favorite, grilled cheese enthusiasts and savory sandwich devotees can find ample satisfaction in the heart of Boca, with the opening of The New York Grilled Cheese Co., located near Mizner Park.
With a trademark expression, The New York Grilled Cheese Co. transports customers to “the good ‘ole days,” re-introducing grilled cheese simplicity to the modern cheese connoisseur.
“We make fresh batches of tomato bisque daily, which is always included free of charge with any of our signature grilled cheese menu items,” said Leor Barak, founder and co-owner with father, Greg Barak. “The idea is so that customers have an experience that takes them back to those cozy days eating comfort foods.”
Although fairly new to the Boca area with only two months since its debut, The New York Grilled Cheese Co. has little over 11,000 likes on Facebook, quickly striding toward the over 42,000 likes of its sister location in Wilton Manors, Florida.
Home to the waffled grilled cheese, hungry patrons can choose from an extensive list of award winning creations, from the Broadway Classic, loaded with American and Swiss cheese melted between garlic-seasoned sourdough bread, to the Manhattan Grilled Mac + Cheese, which features house-made Cavatappi pasta and buttered, country loaf bread.
“The menu items [at the New York Grilled Cheese Co.] are very much based off of American comfort foods, with a few out-of-the-box items as well, like our Parisian inspired grilled bacon with Brie sandwich,” said Barak. “Above all though, people like simple, genuine food, which is something they can definitely find here.”
When it comes to a more formal dinning experience however, The Little Chalet, a sit-down dinning experience complete with European inspired cuisine, meets taste enthusiasts with much to offer.
Capturing moments and making memories is a prime reason that the restaurant, born in Belo Horizonte of Brazil in the early 1970s, rings success among Boca residents, aside from a decorative menu of beverages and full course meals.
Quaint with a rustic feel, The Little Chalet offers customers an environment of comfort as they experiment with a variety of menu options, from morning Rum Chata French Toast with bottomless cocktails, to Mama’s Lasagna for a dinner entree, to Lemon Tart and Crème Brulée for an after-meal sweet.
Shifting courses, Asian inspired cuisines have an equal degree of influence over food lovers as the latter, and with the opening of Kanpai on North Federal Highway, residents and tourists can easily immerse themselves within a world of Japanese styled barbeque and sushi.
“I wanted to introduce a new concept to Boca Raton,” said Kanpai Owner and Creative Director, Lixii Sun. “In this area, they have so many of the same style restaurants opening up and almost no Asian restaurants, especially none of this kind in regards to the experience or the food and drink style.”
Kanpai, an infusion of a late night bar, a sushi joint and a barbeque restaurant, is an interactive eatery full of delicious possibilities, including exclusive items like A5 Wagyu from Japan, marinated Korean short ribs and USDA Prime filet mignon, to classic dishes like the Spicy Tuna Rice Krispy and the Bang Bang shrimp.
“Yakiniku [Japanese barbeque] works so that customers order meats, veggies, and seafood raw, marinated and ready to cook on the grill, along with some sauces to dip, lettuce to make wraps, and kimchee,” said Sun. “After the server turns on the grill and lays the oil, customers can grab personal tongs to cook the items on the grill until ready to eat. Very simple and super fun!”
Interested parties can visit the web for more information on each restaurant’s location and hour of operations, as well as the latest on upcoming restaurants in Boca and surrounding areas.
By: Adrianna Matamoros Contributing writer