I just adore little local restaurants that put their all into serving the best quality possible with every ounce of passion and love they have. I’d choose that over a corporate chain ANY day. The first of my “Eating Local” series puts a spotlight on Delray Beach because it’s my favorite – I love the Ave. My list has been curated over the many years I’ve eaten in Delray Beach, with some newbies and veterans all mixed in and categorized by which meal of the day I crave them.
Breakfast + Brunch
Max’s Harvest // 169 NE 2nd Ave.
Nestled down in Pineapple Grove, away from the hustle + bustle of the main strip, Max’s Harvest has my favorite brunch (& dinner, just sayin’!) just about anywhere in South Florida. Chef Eric Baker clearly knows his way around the kitchen because his flavors are so on point. The menu changes from time-to-time, leaving me with that element of surprise that I can’t get enough of. Right now from their current menu (aside from their awesome Mimosa & Bloody Mary situation) I’m loving the Deviled Hen Eggs with truffle sea salt & chives, the Grilled Salami Benedict (an english muffin topped with sunny side hen eggs from Farmer Jay, whole grain mustard, braised collard greens, & roasted tomato hollandaise), and OF COURSE, the donuts! The donut flavor changes every week and I think that’s just amazing.
Subculture Coffee // 123 E Atlantic Ave.
When I need a quick pick-me-up, Subculture Coffee is where I’m heading. New to Atlantic Avenue, Subculture started their roasting roots in West Palm Beach. I’ve tried quite a few items at Subculture, but I must say that my favorites are the good old iced coffee, the latte with almond milk, and then Alchemy Juice Co.’s (which they stock in their cooler) Stinger shot & Amazeballs – my favorite little snack combination! Their little patio is the perfect place to sip + snack.
Park Tavern // 32 SE 2nd Ave.
I really enjoy Park Tavern for dinner too, but brunch always wins. Anywhere that serves pork belly for breakfast steals my heart. Park Tavern changes their menu often also, but right now I’m loving their Bahn Mi Hash, consisting of sweet chile pork belly, potatoes, shishito peppers, avocado, and fried eggs alongside Texas toast. I don’t understand why restaurants serve pork belly that isn’t crispy – Park Tavern does it right. As always, don’t skip the donuts – it would be a sin!
Lunch + Such
Rack’s Fish House + Oyster Bar // 5 SE 2nd Ave.
When I want a light (and not overly caloric) lunch, I think of Rack’s. I actually think this is the best Rack’s location, although I haven’t tried Fat Rooster yet (gasp!). I always walk into Rack’s Fish House + Oyster Bar wanting the Conch Ceviche with red onion, aji amarillo, & sweet potato, so that’s usually what I’m ordering – alongside a crisp glass of white wine.
Shaffer’s Tea Room // 14 S Swinton Ave.
Tucked away and pretty obscure from even the most seasoned Delray veteran, Shaffer’s Tea Room is truly a ‘hidden’ gem! After seeing this spot pop up on my Instagram and Facebook feeds from time to time, I knew I had to check it out since it seemed like my cup of tea (see what I did there?). Shaffer’s is located in what appears to be a colorfully decorated house right off Swinton Ave, less than a block south of Atlantic. When you walk in, you can’t help but feel like you’ve entered the pages of Alice in Wonderland. Brightly hued furniture is situated around a ‘living room’ set up, with a bar where you can order in the back (they also have some lite bites and some delicious looking baked goods!). With over 100 teas to choose from, the decision isn’t easy – but luckily you can mix and match the flavors and types of tea to get the perfect concoction customized just for you! One of my favorite combinations is the Happy Buddha mixed with the Renew over a little bit of ice – a not-too-sweet tropical flavor that helps refresh & renew you from the inside out. When the weather cools off a bit, I can’t wait to sit back & relax with a book and another Shaffer’s creation on their patio!
Dinner + Drinks
3rd + 3rd // 301 NE 3rd Ave.
I really can’t say enough amazing things about 3rd & 3rd Delray – it’s just one of those spots that you NEED to try for yourself if you haven’t already. Chef Jessie Steele changes the menu every day – YES, EVERY SINGLE DAY! And his innovative menu hits the mark every time, which I can imagine is no easy task! The atmosphere is typical Delray hangout-ish (just makin’ up words over here!) – a little dark and mysterious inside, with a big wrap-around bar. They have a stage at one end for live music (if you’re into that) and some of the friendliest staff I’ve come across – our bartender remembered my name (Anika is a tough one to remember!) and it’s the little details like that that make a difference. On our table for the night was the Warm Veggie Jar which was served with grilled bread (I’m really obsessed with grilled bread!), the Steak and Farro ‘Fried Rice’ that was served with a delicious miso cashew butter, and the Local Grouper with sweet potato baba ghanoush and grilled zucchini – HOLY MOLY. This was one of the best meals I had had in a long while. I’ve been daydreaming of that fried rice ever since.
The Grove // 187 NE 2nd Ave.
The Grove is on my list because I have a thing for restaurants that really incorporate seasonality into their menu – and then make it incredible. First of all, I think The Grove is so visually appealing – it sometimes doesn’t even look like Florida. The entire atmosphere just feels “intimate.” Of course their menu changes due to the changing of the seasons and their locally curated ingredients, so it’s hard to recommend specific dishes, but their pasta creations are fresh scrumptious perfection (if they have the Brioche Crusted Chicken, get that too!). Their dishes are special – not your typical everyday menu, and that’s what I love. If you have a sweet tooth like me, order the monkey bread – it’s heavenly, sticky, delicious, and the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.
Brulé Bistro // 200 NE 2nd Ave. #108
Brulé Bistro is a local favorite and a long-standing front runner of mine. Situated in Pineapple Grove, Brulé is off the beaten path, but never not full of happy winers & diners! Brulé is open for lunch, happy hour, and dinner, with seating both inside and outside and an awesome menu that’ll leave you wanting to try one of everything. This is one of those spots that perfect for date night or GNO (hello cocktail menu!). Some of my favorites are the Seared Tuna Poke with basil oil and toasted macadamias, the Prince Edward Island Mussels with red curry, & the Seared Diver Scallops topped with a fried quail egg. Find an adventurous friend and share a bunch of dishes – that way you can try a little of everything!
Delray Beach has such a well-rounded food scene, gone are the days where you HAD to drive an hour to Miami for a decent meal. Stayed tuned as I continue my “Eat Local” series, who knows where I’ll end up next! Now that you’ve had a chance to read about my local favorites – what are some of yours?
C H E E R S // M + M