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Five Best Restaurants on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach

Five Best Restaurants on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach has never been known for its dining scene, but several new restaurants have helped to make the Clematis Street strip a new downtown destination for South Florida foodies. These days, there's a little bit of everything, from sports bars and Mexican at Rocco's Tacos to Cuban-style eats at Don Ramone's and ginormous burgers at Grease Burger Bar. The list goes on and on, with two Asian-inspired spots (both of which made this list), a "not so snooty" wine bar, and an Italian gastropub (the first of its kind on Clematis).

Without further ado, here's our list of West Palm Beach's top five restaurants on Clematis Street. Have a bone to pick about our choices? Feel free to hash it out in the comments section below, and let us know who you think deserves to be added to the list.

Five Best Restaurants on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach

5. Fuku
It used to be that you couldn't find a decent Asian-themed restaurant anywhere near downtown West Palm Beach. That was until about six months ago, when several Asian-themed establishments showed up. Among them, Fuku (pronounced foo-koo), a bold new lounge-like pan-Asian concept that opened this August on the far east end of Clematis Street. With dining-room décor that could be featured in the next issue of Architectural Digest and sexy takes on sushi created by a former Food Network Star competitor, Fuku offers a dining experience unlike any other downtown.

Fuku, which means "good fortune" in Japanese, offers a diverse selection of pan-Asian dishes with an offbeat twist. Entrées fall under two categories: "Chinatown Traditions," which include Mongolian beef and General Fuku's chicken, and "Fuku Signature Plates," like the angry lobster, one of Fuku's signature dishes that pairs whole Maine lobster with a spicy tomato-based sauce.

Just don't expect to find any spider or California rolls here. Instead, house rolls are named for major global cities like Milan, Tokyo, and Los Angeles -- each a sort of deconstruction of popular, quintessential dishes emblematic of that area. For example, the Philadelphia roll -- what is really a steak and cheese in bite-sized pieces -- has no rice but is wrapped in fresh-baked brioche bread instead. Our favorite: the Palm Beach roll, a combination of wagyu beef and lobster.

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Five Best Restaurants on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach

4. Bobbi Sue BBQ
Jumping on the barbecue bandwagon -- named one of this year's top food trends -- Bobbi Sue Barbecue in West Palm Beach is all about the meat. With it's hip, old-school look and Southern charm, it's our top pick for one of the city's best stops for authentic barbecue on Clematis Street, from Texas-style beef brisket and slow-roasted pulled pork to St. Louis spare ribs and smoked chicken.

Co-owner Shannon Miller, who has been smoking meats and creating his own rubs for more than two decades, grew up in barbecue country -- his home state of Texas. "That's where I learned to smoke meats and do barbecue right," Miller told Clean Plate Charlie. "After years of eating some of the best barbecue in Nashville, St. Louis, and other cities across the country, I'm confident [in bringing] a bit of that to West Palm Beach. I'm passionate about barbecue and serving it the right way."

To create authentic, "competition-level" barbecue, Miller hickory smokes all the meats "low and slow" to create a signature Bobbi Sue flavor. The house sauces -- there are four specialty versions for various types of meat -- are always served on the side so patrons can savor the taste of the barbecue first. Be sure to try the pulled pork nachos, a favorite starter (pictured above).

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Five Best Restaurants on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach

3. Hullabaloo
Newly opened Hullabaloo, the latest gastropub concept from South Florida restaurateur Rodney Mayo, is Clematis Street's sophisticated watering hole located on the oft-forgotten half of West Palm's downtown strip. Here, the concept is "craft everything," with well-picked microbrews, artisanal fare, boutique wines, and handcrafted "kitchen" cocktails from mixologist Brett Collins. Even the coffee, being sourced from small-batch roasters, will have that specialty element.

Like Mayo's other gastropubs, including the French-inspired Tryst in Delray Beach and Asian-themed Kapow! Noodle Bar in Boca Raton, Hullabaloo offers a refined selection of small plates. They're Italian-themed with options like charcuterie, wood-oven fired pizzas, and handmade pastas -- something the entire stretch of Clematis has yet to offer. We especially like the white clam pizza seasoned with thyme and arugula on a house-made dough.

Daily and weekly chalkboard specials highlight charcuterie and handmade pastas topped or filled with seasonal ingredients. A house specialty: braised duck ravioli served with calamari, grilled asparagus, and lemon crema, a zingier version of sour cream. Expect plenty of "fresco" items like an heirloom tomato and house-made buratta salad, or house-cured fennel salmon served with toasted flatbread and a soft-poached egg.

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Five Best Restaurants on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach

2. Wine Dive
Is it a dive? Not at all. Is there wine? Plenty -- 40 reds and 20 whites by the glass, dispensed by the ounce from a sophisticated dispenser system in which argon (a noble gas and ode to tenth-grade chemistry) keeps open bottles good for more than 30 days. The Wine Dive servers' slogan: "Not So Snooty" -- which they proudly proclaim on T-shirts. That means you'll never feel out of place, underdressed, or pressured to order an expensive wine.

Instead, be prepared for what comes out of the kitchen -- termed American-style tapas, although it fails to fall into one category neatly. Helmed by a team of four brilliant chefs, the menu is an amalgamation of funky, creative small plates including a Kurobuta (think of it as the Wagyu of pig) slow-roasted pork belly served with a sugar beet apple slaw and a basting of housemade barbecue. Another favorite: the fried chicken for two, served with a Tabasco-honey mustard slaw.

If you prefer dessert (and one that's not in a glass), order the Hot Damn Doughnuts, fried Louisiana-style. They're served with an intense housemade cinnamon Schnapps ice cream, then topped with candied bacon and syrup. Sample it all during live jazz Thursday, or sit back and relax during Sunday brunch, which offers a special breakfast menu and bottomless $10 mimosas.

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Five Best Restaurants on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach

1. Palm Sugar

Our top pick in downtown West Palm Beach is Palm Sugar , where owner Sang Chirdchid has brought a true taste of Asian street fare to Clematis Street. Just as palm sugar is often used as an alternative sweetener, Palm Sugar in West Palm Beach is Clematis' alternative pan-Asian restaurant. The menu combines street food-style tapas plates with Asian comfort foods -- everything from Thai isaan-style flank steak and Japanese udon soup to Chinese char siu bun and Vietnamese pho.

Grab a seat and you're first served several sprawlng menus: one for lunch and dinner, one for drinks, another for specials, and a final sheet with tapas-style street-food selections. Take the quail egg wonton skewers, one of the many unique treats you'll find on the street-food menu, alongside equally oddball Asia grill options like chicken hearts and gizzards to the more familiar pork belly, skirt steak, and prawn -- all under $5! The restaurant specializes in pan-Asian comfort foods, which includes honey-soy garlic chicken wings, Chinese char siu bun, Udon Tom yum Kimchi soup, and Asian tacos.

Wash it all down with one of the bar's signature sake cocktails or martinis, beer, or sakes. And be sure to end your visit with a trip to the restaurant's dessert bar on the far-left wall, where many of the house-baked desserts incorporate Asian ingredients to turn well-known classics into specialty treats. Served full-sized (or in mini-me versions), they're displayed in a glass case and are available all day to order in or take out with a cup of coffee or creamy bubble tea.

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Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Broward-Palm Beach® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.




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