By: Shaina Wizov
COVID-19 has significantly changed our dining habits over the past several months and continues to do so. While many have used their time in quarantine to hone their skills in the kitchen and now prefer to make meals at home, others are itching to get back to their favorite dining establishments and let others do the cooking for them — but they still want to stay safe and socially distance from others while doing so.
South Florida’s beautiful weather allows its restaurants to offer outdoor seating year round, which makes adhering to socially distancing guidelines a bit easier. There are plenty of places to dine out and still feel safe while enjoying a delicious meal. Here are some of our favorite local places to eat outside in Boca Raton and Delray Beach.
The Blue Fish
This Texas-based Japanese restaurant with multiple locations recently set up its first Florida post in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park, and is serving up an assortment of sushi, sashimi, and other Asian-inspired dishes. The restaurant’s claim to fame, noted on their website, is that it’s the ‘Home of the Original Ahi Tower,’ so naturally, the Blue Fish Tower with tuna tartare, snow crab, avocado, sushi rice, caviar and wasabi sauce is a must-order. Go on a Monday night and you can try it for only $10 (regularly $18.95).
The menu is extensive, and promises that there is absolutely no MSG used in the dishes. If you like sake, try one of the eight varieties available, or treat your taste buds to the Ty Ku Sake Flight.
What’s especially nice about dining outside at Farmer’s Table is that you have a beautiful view of the Wyndham’s pool area, which makes it feel like you’re on vacation even if you aren’t staying at this adjacent hotel. Farmer’s Table is well known for its fresh, healthy, farm-to-table cuisine and abundance of gluten-free and vegan options.
The most popular item on the menu, labeled as Farmer’s Signature, is the “Spasta” and meatballs, with spaghetti squash, organic spinach, and tomato-basil sauce, and your choice of chicken or vegan meatballs. There’s also an option to add vegan or house-made mozzarella. Make sure to check out its neighboring Farmer’s Table Express, a grab ‘n go market featuring prepared snacks, salads and sandwiches, as well as vacuum-sealed meals that you can cook at home.
Fries to Caviar
Yes, fries and caviar is a dish on the menu at this modern American-style restaurant. A generous portion of fries are piled high, dripping in a rich chive creme fraiche, with four kinds of caviar decorating the plate. It’s a sight to see, and even better to taste. If that’s not enough to make you want to check this spot out, there is also a daily happy hour with a roster of unique rotating menu items available for great prices from 4-7pm.
After devouring the fries, feast your eyes on other tasty dishes like the roasted pear and four cheese sacchetti with truffle cream sauce, the local catch sourced from Captain Clay and Sons Seafood Market, or check out the new Dim Sum menu available on Sunday.
Loch Bar is home to one of South Florida’s largest raw bars, so if shrimp cocktail and oysters are your thing, this is the place to go. It’s owned by Baltimore-based Atlas Restaurant Group, where the original Loch Bar is located. Florida’s Loch Bar opened in 2018 in the heart of one of Boca’s popular destinations, Mizner Park.
When dining at Loch Bar, the seafood offerings are plentiful. You can’t go wrong with a shellfish tower featuring a selection of raw bar items. Other favorites include the Maine lobster roll with Kerrygold butter served on a toasted split-top bun, which are $10 off on Mondays, and either of the two crab soup options, Maryland-style or Cream of Crab.
Luff’s Fish House
A visit to Luff’s Fish House means a visit to a quaint and historic 1920’s bungalow with a Key West vibe, serving the freshest seafood and creative craft cocktails. The owners are also responsible for three other popular Boca restaurants, Trattoria Romana, La Nouvelle Maison, and Biergarten.
There is always an ‘Off The Boat’ special featuring the local catch of the day — and for all you fisherman, you can even bring in your own catch and have the culinary team whip up something special for $25 per person. Try the crab guacamole, or visit on Sunday and indulge in the paella and sangria special. Whatever you do, don’t leave without trying a slice of the key lime pie — or just order a whole one to go.
This upscale casual Boca restaurant is known for its all day, every day happy hour and generous sized portions to keep you full, satisfied, and all set with leftovers for lunch the following day. The menu is vast with a little something for everyone, including plenty of pizzas, pastas, fresh seafood and meat entrees, and even a list of over 15 different sides to choose from.
The soups are made in house daily, the appetizers are plentiful and varied enough to create meals out of, and diners can even create their own pizza and choose to substitute a whole wheat or gluten-free crust. If you’ve saved any room for dessert, the homemade ricotta cheesecake has been a signature menu item since 1985.
A staple in Boca for almost 30 years, Max’s Grille is clearly doing something right. There’s a reason why it has been named “Most Booked in Palm Beach County and among the “Best Restaurants in Boca Raton” by Opentable Diners. It could be because of its menu of consistently good modern American cuisine that is inspired by what’s known as the “California movement,” focusing on light sauces, clean flavors, and unique combinations of local ingredients.
The house made sun-dried tomato hummus with sesame-parm crackers and breadsticks are the perfect way to kick off your meal at Max’s. Follow it up with one of their signature dishes, like Max’s radiatore pasta or the bacon-wrapped meatloaf. There’s also a selection of plant-based items, and a special “Mizner Bark Cafe” menu with chef-inspired meals for your furry friends.
Patio Tapas & Beer
Chef/owner Bryant Fajardo has trained extensively under some of the most prestigious chefs, most notably Chef Jose Andres, which is what sparked his love for cooking Spanish cuisine. The menu features traditional Spanish tapas and what Boca diners have deemed the best homemade sangria in town. Keep it traditional, or order your sangria spiked with Redbull or Cava, Spanish sparkling wine.
The pulpo salad and gazpacho are fan favorites, as are the montaditos. These are toasted baguettes topped with all kinds of goodies — crispy pork belly, shallots and aioli, shrimp and garlic sauce, iberico ham and manchego, and one of the most popular, pan con tomate (marinated fresh grated tomato with garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and extra virgin olive oil.)
Owned and operated by iconic restaurateur, Burt Rapoport, the restaurant first opened in 1989 and introduced the first wood-fired pizza oven to South Florida. It was a hotspot among all the locals. Although that first location closed, Prezzo reopened again in 2017, and recently brought in a new managing partner, Eddie Pozzuoli. The family-friendly restaurant is highly regarded in the area for wood-fired pizzas and Italian classics.
Ordering a pizza is a must, but other favorites include the lasagna and the butternut squash ravioli — and don’t leave without trying the wood oven-baked apple tart or tiramisu with homemade ladyfingers for dessert.
Tucci’s was recently rated an 8.1 by popular Instagrammer @stoolpresidente, and for those who follow this notorious pizza reviewer, they know this is a pretty big accomplishment. It’s warranted, though, because anyone who has sunk their teeth into a slice of Tucci’s pizza knows how good it is.
The restaurant has been around since 2009 and specializes in wood-fired oven cooking. Pizzas, chicken wings, meatballs, etc. — as the menu states, “if it’s cooked, it’s cooked in the wood-fired oven.” Tucci’s is family-owned-and-operated, and the owner is inspired by his family roots in Naples, Italy to create and serve his customers the best of the best when it comes to pizza.
Burt & Max’s
Burt & Max’s has been a staple in the Delray Marketplace since 2013, where it serves as a neighborhood spot for many West Delray residents. It’s rustic decor features industrial lighting and a 32-foot bar made up of a single slab of cypress wood. There’s also an entryway made up of thousands of pennies and a wall filled with photos of Rock ‘n Roll legends.
The brick-oven pizzas are always a favorite, as is the Farmhouse burger featuring house made BBQ sauce and topped high with a fried egg, applewood bacon, crispy onion, lettuce and tomato — but it’s the ‘Onion Soup’ dumplings that have people’s mouths watering each and every time they visit.
Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood or a few rolls of sushi, City Oyster has you covered. There’s also plenty of opportunity for excellent people-watching when you sit outside because of its prime downtown Delray Beach location. All of the restaurant’s housemade pasta, bread, crackers, and desserts are made on the premises in the bakery located right upstairs.
There is a full sushi bar in the dining room, and a rotating selection of fresh East and West Coast oysters available. Popular dishes include the signature chopped salad and Maine lobster roll, and there’s always a daily market fish special that’ll make your mouth water.
There’s no better place in downtown Delray Beach for a high-quality steak dinner. Cut432 has been around for 13 years, serving its customers USDA Prime dry-aged beef sourced from the country’s top ranchers and artisanal producers. Pre-COVID, Cut432 was known for having a line of people at the door waiting to grab a seat at the bar or high tops for its popular ‘Social Hour.’
Each prime cut comes with a complimentary sauce and options for an Hudson Valley foie gras or king crab oscar accompaniment. Foie gras, blue cheese, or truffled butters are also available to add. Don’t forget the truffled mac and cheese side and a glass of vino from their extensive wine list.
There’s no place more unique and whimsical than Dada, the 20-year-old restaurant owned by Subculture Group, that is located within one of the oldest historic homes in downtown Delray Beach. Everything from the decor inside and outside of the restaurant to the menu is out-of-the-box and untraditional, just as its name and the art movement ‘Dada’ suggests.
Every Dada experience must start with one of their signature mojitos and the ever-so-popular Dada dates stuffed with goat cheese and Spanish chorizo, wrapped in black pepper bacon, topped with manchego salsa, marcona almonds, and drizzled with a sherry gastrique. There’s something for everyone at Dada. The menu offers many gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, and is very clearly labeled for those who follow these dietary lifestyles.
Death or Glory
Another historic house-turned-restaurant in Downtown Delray is home to Death or Glory. Known for its tiki cocktails and innovative menu options, Death or Glory has been a favorite among the local community since it opened in 2017. Locally sourced ingredients are used whenever possible for the frequently changing menu. Although you’ll constantly find something new to try, one thing that will never change is the signature vegan “Cheeto”-dusted chickpeas.
This women owned-and-operated establishment is always dipping its toes into something fun and creative. Whether it’s a themed menu, trivia or flower arranging event, or inventive to-go cocktail offerings, things are never boring here.
If you’re looking for an Intracoastal view, Deck 84 is the best spot to get it. With a perfect view of the water, it’s no wonder the restaurant has been named one of Open Table’s Top 100 Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America multiple times. Deck 84 recently welcomed a new executive chef, Bruce Feingold, who has put his creative spin on the menu while keeping all of the Deck favorites like the special blend Deck burger, house smoked fish dip, and the baja fish and shrimp tacos.
Visit by boat for the ultimate dock and dine experience! Deck 84 has 150 feet of dock space, and servers are available to come out and take your order right from the comfort of your own boat.
An oldie but goodie, Henry’s has been around for over 17 years serving American comfort food in a warm, inviting environment. The restaurant has developed a pretty loyal following, and has a “neighborhood spot” kind of vibe.
Although some menu items rotate with the seasons, there are a few staple menu items that diners will absolutely never tire of. These dishes include the “magical” split pea soup, the Mediterranean chopped salad, and the Sunday night special, chicken pot pie, just to name a few. If you love Thanksgiving dinner, visit Henry’s on Thursday for their Turkey Day dinner special, featuring all the fixings of a holiday feast.
This oceanfront restaurant, located within the Delray Sands Resort, is mere footsteps from the ocean with a view unlike any other establishment in the area. You don’t have to be a guest of this Opal Collection property to dine at Latitude’s, but you might as well take advantage of being at this beautiful hotel and make a staycation out of it anyway.
The farm-to-table inspired menu features a large selection of seafood bar items like Alaskan king crab, lobster sushi rolls, jalapeno hamachi, and of course, an iced shellfish tower. The menu is overflowing with options, from Fresh Florida grouper to lobster and crab-stuffed shrimp to pappardelle bolognese, and more.
Over The Bridge Cafe
This husband-and-wife-owned establishment is, as the name suggests, a cozy little spot right by the bridge in downtown Delray Beach. Owner Daniel Newman started his restaurant training at Disney World, where hospitality is surely held to high standards. He and his family have brought that kind of high-quality, family friend vibe to Over The Bridge Cafe, where customers always feel at home.
Over The Bridge Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, and there is also a happy hour menu available from 3-4 p.m. There are classic breakfast options and salads, but once you see the menu, you will definitely want to indulge. Get ready for dishes like loaded tot-chos, breakfast fondue, short rib hash, bacon mac’ and cheese flatbread, and drunken cheeseburger omelet.
Taru at Sundy House
The iconic Sundy House is a gorgeous sight to see. The lush gardens and charming atmosphere truly make you feel like you’re in a different world. Now that a brand new management team has taken over, things are gaining speed at Delray’s oldest historic house. The Sundy House was built in 1902 and was home to the area’s first church, bank, and schoolhouse. Now, it’s one of Palm Beach County’s top wedding venues, and recently launched its new restaurant concept, Taru at Sundy House.
The menu offers ‘New Florida cuisine’ inspired by Executive Chef James Strine extensive culinary experience in South Florida. Must-try dishes include the turkey and stuffing croquettes, steamed carrot buns with BBQ rabbit, and Chef’s “ho-hums,” aka steak fries, poutine-style with burrata and foie gravy.
Caffe Luna Rosa
There is nothing like beachfront dining and Caffe Luna Rosa provides that and more. Serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is a local favorite to grab a bite no matter what time of day. Always serving fresh ingredients, it is a go-to favorite for people watching and good eats.