Ahh, CityPlace! Who could ask for anything more? Well, actually, let's not get into that right now. Let's think pleasant thoughts. Let's take a little stroll a couple of blocks east to the as-yet-ungentrified blocks of Dixie Highway, where an unassuming little storefront houses Pita Place, a humble lunchroom serving Middle Eastern foods. There isn't much on the menu, but what's there is fresh, tasty, and cheap, cheaper, and cheapest (unlike the fare at some faux-urban mall dining spots we could name). Vegetarian is the way to go, though the richly flavored chicken noodle soup is mighty tempting. Baba ganoush and tabouleh make reliable platters, but don't miss the falafel sandwich. At right around three bucks, it's nutty-sweet and wholesome, the scrumptious chopped chickpea balls spicy and crunchy under a small mound of romaine and tomato drizzled with yogurt sauce to take the edge off the chickpea mixture's faint peppery heat. A meal in itself, and a darn yummy one. Get it while you can: The CityPlace effect on local rents probably spells doom for a small-fry like Pita Place.
Americans don't truly have a counterpart for the Spaniards' tapas. Sure, we've got bar snacks: popcorn and peanuts, the occasional breaded, deep-fried whatever. And tapas too have traditionally been served as bite-sized morsels to sop up the deleterious effects of sustained quaffage of beer and wine. Tapas, however, aren't a sideshow to drinks; they get equal billing. Anyone who's spent any time at taverns from Bilbao to Barcelona has witnessed the faithful throng that attends the tapas bars. Unfortunately, tapas remain scarce around these parts. Thank the heavens for Café Seville, in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, which offers up the genre's essentials: treats like Spanish sausage sautéed in sherry; mussels simmered in tomato, garlic, wine, and red pepper; garlic-sautéed escargots. Create a tapas fete at your table with goodies whose prices range from $5.95 to $9.95.
Admittedly, it's not cheap to eat here, and men will need a jacket to dine in the main dining room. Lunch entrées run $12.50 to $20, and dinner main courses cost $18 to $35. But it's an experience guaranteed to renew your faith in Italian food. As you are seated, you are walked past a window to the kitchen where someone is preparing the day's cannelloni, rigatoni, angel hair, fettuccini, and ravioli. Arturo's is a family operation, and the namesake, Arturo Gismondi, now retired, spends his winter days tending the extensive herb garden that lines the sides and back of the restaurant. Arturo's son, Vincenzo, and Vincenzo's wife and children are intimately involved with running the kitchen. Vincenzo's daughter, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is the pastry chef, and it certainly tastes like she chose the right profession. The wine cellar is fantastic, with an enormous selection from Italy and virtually every wine-growing region in the world represented. If you're a high-roller hosting a dinner party for ten to fifteen people, you can request that dinner be served in the wine cellar. The family has been in the business so long it doesn't need the services of a sommelier, even though the restaurant has won awards for its wine list from Wine Spectator for the past several years. Some of the favorite pasta entrées are the fettuccini with black truffles, rigatoni con porcini, mostaccioli al cognac, and the bane of all cholesterol-busters, fettuccini al la carbonara, prepared at your table. In addition to the noodles, you can get all the carne and pesce dishes you would expect from an old-world Italian restaurant. In a place where restaurants come and go, Arturo's has been consistently great since the late '50s.

Best Neighborhood Restaurant in Palm Beach

Henry's

If your neighborhood contains folks who like window treatments designed by Ralph Lauren and upscale comfort food cooked by chef-partner Grant Johnson, formerly of Max's Beach Place/Prezzo fame, then Henry is your man... er, dog. Owned by Burt Rapoport, who named the restaurant after one of the most important members of his family -- his Prince Charles toy spaniel -- Henry's is an urban version of a country bistro. Pine hutches filled with ceramic knickknacks and an open kitchen and wine room fill the air with as much rural warmth as Johnson's pork T-bone with sweet potato gratin and country chicken casseroles bring to the belly. The only drawback: Henry's has become so popular with the locals that it's tough to squeeze in even for an after-movie hot fudge sundae. But no one really minds. After all, rubbing designer-clad elbows in a tightly engineered space that dedicates itself to a spaniel is precisely what dining in a Palm Beach County neighborhood restaurant is all about.
Bamboo Garden III
If you consider that won ton, according to food writer Gretchen VanEsselstyn, actually means chaos (named so for the imprecise edges of the dough), then Bamboo Garden is certainly the place to experience it. And we mean that literally. The crowd that gathers here for dim sum on weekends is often so manic -- and so darn hungry for pork-filled dumplings, won tons, sausage rolls, smoked vegetable spring rolls, and the like -- that the atmosphere is indeed rather charged. We suggest you frequent the eatery during the weekdays, when you can enjoy this Chinese feast in relative quiet and comfort. After all, when Bamboo Garden says dim sum all day, it's no snake offering forbidden knowledge along with apples -- it's the real, edible Eden, so savor at your leisure.
If you judge a sushi restaurant not by what's familiar but by what's exotic, then Kawai is completely for you. Sure, the eatery stocks the raw basics: superb salmon, glistening tuna, supple hamachi. And yes, the menu offers the requisite rolls, 30 in all, ranging from combos highlighting barbecued eel to those featuring soft-shell crab. But Kawai also keeps the Arctic surf-clam lover in mind and enjoys displaying specials that have come in fresh that day, posting hand-lettered signs on the sushi bar. Here, you can glean sea urchin, tangy and mineral-rich, or raw, sweet prawn that's served with a side of the shrimp's deep-fried head. If you grow bored with experimentation, there's always the cooked Korean food to sample, an endeavor well worth undertaking -- and a culinary journey that can't be replicated in any other South Florida eatery.
Sisters are great at many things -- trading clothes, doing each others' hair, scheming against Dad for later curfews, and, naturally, the occasional cat fight. But they may just be best at making subs. Home of the "Big Sister" -- a six-foot Italian hoagie stuffed with ham, Genoa salami, cappacola, cheese, and a host of condiments including black olives and hot peppers -- Sisters' Subs is steps above any would-be sibling. The place also takes its theme seriously. With the exception of the "Ricky" and the "Rocky," two cheesesteak-type subs, all sandwiches, salads, and side dishes are named for women. Is there anything more to say than, "You go, girls"? Yes, apparently, if you ask a man whose fondest dream it is to say, "I'll have the Marilyn." Or whose biggest nightmare it could be to admit, "I'd like the Mom."
Chocolate fiends, look no further. The homemade chocolate-chocolate-chip gelato is, for starters, a wonderfully rich end to any meal. But it's even better when paired with a molten chocolate cake with a center as gooey as any romantic's heart, or with the fudge brownie truffle that's moistened with raspberry and white chocolate sauces. Of course, for the few folks in this world who actually don't like chocolate, other dessert options are just as tempting: crispy coated cheesecake, Bistro apple pie, and our particular favorite, the hot fruit cobbler of the day baked with an oatmeal cookie topping. Zenith is right: This bistro is our summit for sweets.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that ice cream is almost an afterthought here. After all, no store has stocked so much paraphernalia and housewares dedicated to our feline and canine companions since Garfield and Clifford were popular. Not one place keeps so many candles on the shelves unless it's hurricane season. And very few shops can offer such a plethora of products made with key lime juice -- north of Key Largo, that is. But this kitschy little store is indeed an ice cream parlor, serving up scoops of some of the most luscious frozen dairy treats around. Keep it simple with pure vanilla or rich chocolate; give it jazz with concoctions that combine caramel, fudge, walnuts, cookie dough, peanut butter, and even some of that healthier fruit stuff known as "strawberries" and "bananas." Follow it up with a stroll of picturesque Lake Avenue. Given the district's relatively short length, you probably won't burn anything off. But going to the end of the block certainly gives you a reason to turn back around and pass Key West Crossing just one more time.
Any reasonably good bakery really needs just one thing to entice you through its doors: the aroma of freshly baked bread. Once inside, however, a little more is required, such as crunchy baguettes, buttery croissants, perfectly shaped dinner rolls. Croissan'Time has all this and much more, from nearly a dozen varieties of cookies to such decadent classic French pastries as éclairs and napoleons (which also come in miniature versions) to cakes and pies as simple as lemon tarts and apple pies or as fancy as pecher mignon. And then there's variety within variety. The namesake croissants come plain or with any of ten fillings. Fruit tartelettes are available with nine fillings over either a custard or an almond-cream base. Breads and rolls come in whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel, and sourdough; seed options include caraway, poppy, and sesame. The bakery, which opened in 1986, has risen to acclaim under the leadership of owner Bernard Casse, a Frenchman who underwent a variety of apprenticeships, then worked at such tony New York City restaurants as La Grenouille and Regine's before moving to South Florida. He was employed at the Little French Bakery in Palm Beach, detoured briefly to Houston, Texas, then worked at Miami's Ovens of France, where he met his future business partner for Croissan'Time. The partner has since retired, and the bakery has added a sandwich counter and a gourmet shop that offers wine, cheese, meat, pasta, and various delicacies. But it's the breads, pastries, and other baked goods -- all made fresh on the premises daily -- that keep people coming back.

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