Ten Best New Restaurants in Delray Beach

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It wasn't all that long ago that Delray Beach was just like any other South Florida beach town — excepting, of course, Palm Beach proper. Oh, how times have changed.

In 1985, the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) began its plans to revitalize the city by cleaning up the neighborhoods, preserving historic buildings, and stimulating the local economy. Next, the CRA joined forces with the City of Delray Beach, the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Development Authority to establish a special Downtown Marketing Cooperative to get the area more foot traffic in the form of a number of specialty and foodie-focused events.

Today, you'd hardly recognize downtown Delray Beach if you haven't strolled its streets since 2010. It's become one of South Florida's go-to culinary capitals, and now cities across Broward and Palm Beach counties are attempting to emulate its rapid-success progress.

We delivered this list to you in 2013, but since then, we've seen a number of new restaurants pop up across the city. So we figured it was about time to compile an updated top ten. And here they are, the best new restaurants in Delray Beach.

See also: Ten Best Restaurants in Hollywood

10. Bistro 241

Bistro 241 opened in January 2013 as another addition to downtown Delray Beach's quiet Pineapple Grove, located just a few blocks north of the bustling restaurant scene off Atlantic Avenue. Owner Elie Boueri's father was among the first to bring an upscale dining establishment to the charming area just five years earlier with Joseph's Wine Bar and Cafe, located across the street. Today, the family still operates the restaurant named for its address, a casual extension of Joseph's, offering continental cuisine with a hint of Middle Eastern influences and a well-equipped wine menu of more than 300 selections. At Bistro 241, the menu focuses on "cuisine du marché," a French phrase that roughly translates to "cooking from the market," a kitchen where the chef buys what is needed fresh daily. Main plates are on the pricey side. Expect dishes with plenty of color and flavor. Take the Atlantic salmon, served with a rainbow of vegetables — there's a lemon hummus, rapini, and tomato-cucumber salad dressed in lemon-herb vinaigrette. The 14-ounce porterhouse pork chop is given an even more detailed sideline, with sweet-potato purée, braised Swiss chard, and applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onion, and peaches with roasted red grape glaze. Bistro 241 is located at 241 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-330-4080, or visit bistro241.com.

9. The New Vegan

The New Vegan opened in the summer of 2013 and since that time has been redefining what innovative, raw, and vegan food should taste like. Located on a side street just north of Atlantic Avenue, the entrance may seem hidden, but the windows say it all: "Juice Bar: Home of the no ice, no water smoothie" and "No GMO, No Dairy, No Wheat, No Soy, No Gluten — No Kidding." The owner is Nebar Exist, and the chef is his nephew, Rahein Jones, who are both vegans. Exist has been a vegan for 30 years, and Jones, while not a classically trained chef, has been the apprentice to Dr. Aris Lathum of Sun Fired Foods. The food is delicious, presented beautifully, and hearty enough to keep you full for hours (mainly because they are filled with plant-based ingredients that are both organic and locally sourced when available). Our favorite: their pre-made vegan burger mix you can mix, make, and enjoy at home so there's never an excuse for slacking on a delicious and healthy meal. Each package contains enough for two burgers with flavors like mushroom, chickpea, falafel, and quinoa. No mock soy dishes, no veggie stews or unusual entrées. Just good, clean food offered at reasonable prices. Garden of Vegan is located at 528 NE Second St., Delray Beach. Call 561-404-5301, or visit thenewveganllc.com.

8. Mussel Beach

When you hear the name "Mussel Beach," the first image that might pop into your head is a swath of oceanfront sand occupied with a dozen or so tanned, oil-slicked men clad in nothing but Speedos and Ray-Bans. Rest assured that's not what you'll get at Mussel Beach, where owner Mark Mezzencello has partnered with Rotelli CEO Joseph Bilotti to revamp a corner spot at Federal Highway and Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach. The swank shellfish and seafood concept dazzles with a menu by chef Aaron Bender, a Florida Culinary Institute graduate who began his career at Dan Marino's Fine Food and Spirits in Coral Springs before moving to the Beach House Hotel in Miami. For a chef who enjoys working with seafood, Mussel Beach was a perfect fit. As the name suggests, the highlight of the menu revolves around Prince Edward Island mussels served in a variety of flavors, by the pound, in wooden buckets. Of the 15 options, the classic garlic, shallots, white wine, and butter is a top pick. However, there are more exotic offerings like creamy lobster bisque, spicy fra diavolo, Thai curry, and even a Mexican take with chipotle, chorizo, caramelized onions, squid, and lime. Mussel Beach is located at 501 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-921-6464, or visit musselbeachrestaurant.com.

7. Honey

Restaurateurs Rodney Mayo and Scott Frielich — as well as partner David Robinson — have gone and done it again. Late last year, the trio rebranded longtime Delray Beach late-night hot spot Deluxe into a sexy, sophisticated lounge where you can dance, drink, eat, and mingle until the wee hours. So, yeah, Honey isn't really a restaurant. But it's not really a nightclub either. It's a little bit of both. Enjoy the extended happy hour, from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with an exclusive small-plates menu compliments of 32 East's executive chef, Nick Morfogen. Selections change daily depending on what's new and fresh from the 32 East kitchen. Signature items make repeat appearances, however, including wood-fired pizzas, tacos, specialty pasta dishes, and salads. Honey is located at 16 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-270-7187, or visit honeydelray.com.

6. Papa's Tapas

Papas Tapas may not be as new as some others on this list, but it's one Delray Beach restaurant that is worth the shout. Located in a quaint shopping plaza in Pineapple Grove, this hidden gem offers fresh, authentic Spanish cuisine from a family with more than 20 years experience in the business. During the day you might bump into "Papa" himself, the restaurant's official patriarch and chef alongside chef Angel. A menu of hot and cold tapas are served all day long for lunch and dinner. The evening offerings are hearty and filling — a varied selection of seafood, chicken, beef, and pork dishes served with saffron rice, black beans, and plantains. Don't visit without trying the homemade sangria ($5 a glass during happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m.) or the paella Valencia, a divine saffron-scented sauce with shrimp, scallops, mussels, calamari, clams, fish, and chicken over yellow rice (the Marinera take adds lobster tail). Papa's Tapas is located at 259 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-266-0599, or visit papastapasdelray.com.

5. 3rd & 3rd

In the heart of Pineapple Grove's artists' district, at the corner of Northeast Third Avenue and Northeast Third Street, you'll find a clandestine eatery beloved by locals in-the-know. Because the restaurant has no sign, it's still manages to be — despite a swell of nightly patrons and growing popularity — a relatively under-the-radar type of place off the downtown strip's beaten path. Owner John Paul Kline has created the ultimate bar and restaurant where you can find a rotating seasonal lineup that includes small plates for sharing, salads, and main courses that run the gamut from grilled halloumi and chili cheese fries, to roasted sea bass and braised short rib. And don't forget the famous seared burger, winner of New Times best burger in 2013, served up on a brioche bun with a sweet and tangy tomato and balsamic red onion jam. We're happy to see that — despite many incarnations — the restaurant hasn't done away with Kline's signature skewers, including a sweet combination of shrimp and chorizo, hanger steak, and pan-seared chicken. 3rd & 3rd is located at 301 NE Third Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-303-1939, or visit 3rdand3rd.com.

4. Max's Social House

South Florida restaurateur Dennis Max and his partners in The Max Group opened Max's Social House — or SoHo — off Federal Highway in Delray Beach early in 2015. The restaurant offers a full range of American-style small-plates, accented with craft cocktails, beer, and an eclectic wine list. The 2,000-square-foot restaurant is housed in a historic Delray Beach cottage, complete with a covered brick garden patio surrounded by lush landscaping. Although the interior was given a complete overhaul, it still features the home's original brick fireplace behind the bar. "SoHo" sticks to Max's mantra of featuring all-natural meats, local fresh produce and fish, seasonal menus, and a killer Sunday brunch. Max's Social House is located at 116 NE 6th Ave., Delray Beach. Call or visit facebook.com/maxssocialhouse.

3. El Camino

It just makes sense that the owners of Cut 432 and Park Tavern decided to bring the taste of the taco to downtown Delray Beach with their new taquería-ish El Camino. Creators Brandon Belluscio, Brian Albe, and Anthony Pizzo have delivered Mexican soul-food and a top-notch tequila bar — which opened its doors December 2013 — just off the city's Atlantic Ave. restaurant row. The establishment offers patrons a taste of Mexico through the lens of executive chef Victor Meneses, originally from Juarez, Mexico. Schooled at the L'Acadamie de Cuisine in Maryland, he spent five years learning from the likes of Michel Richard and Todd Gray cooking everything from French to Italian. Mexican, however, is where Meneses' heart is, and El Camino represents many of the unique dishes he ate as a child, but prepared with a modern touch. Chips and salsas are more authentic, given the proper texture and using ingredients sourced straight from Mexico, from the cactus in his slaw recipe, to the dried passila and morita peppers, árbol and cascabel chilies. The food menu, like the drinks, is a little more craft than you'd expect with hand-formed blue corn tortillas, house made chorizo, and Meneses own secret recipe for hot sauce. Taco Tuesdays are packed. The margaritas are the among the best in South Florida. And a number of speciality items litter the appetizer and entree menu with highlights like smoked brisket nachos and charred octopus, or a family recipe modified to make the squash blossom quesadillas. Our favorite starter: the simple crispy fried pork skins, or chicharrón. El Camino is located at 15 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-265-5093, or visit elcaminodelray.com.

2. Smoke BBQ

Last year, one of downtown Delray Beach's favorite weekend haunts, Union, closed its doors.Owners Scott Kennedy and Steve Chin wasted no time transforming their popular sushi restaurant and late-night destination into a sleek new barbecue joint dubbed Smoke BBQ. And now the aroma of good, old-fashioned barbecue — that hypnotizing smell of charred pig and smoked meat — comes compliments of BBQ legend, executive chef Bryan Tyrell, one of the world's most lauded competitive barbecuers. The Kansas City, Missouri, native is officially a South Florida transplant, however, and is making his mark despite a famous past cooking for Kansas City's Oklahoma Joe's. The menu offers everything from pulled chicken and pork or ribs, to applewood smoked chicken wings and Cajun boiled shrimp. The house specialty is the slow-smoked beef brisket and Flintstone-like ribs that weigh in at 1.5 to 2-pounds per bone. OK, Delray Beach: you now have permission to pig out. Smoke BBQ is located at 8 E. Atlantic Ave. in Delray Beach. Call 561-330-4236, or visit the eatbbqnow.com.

1. Apeiro Kitchen & Bar

If you love fresh-flavored Mediterranean fare — and keeping slim — the hunt for a new favorite restaurant may soon be over. In partnership with executive chef David Blonsky, Burt Rapoport's latest modern pan-Mediterranean eatery, Apeiro, opened January 15, 2015 in the Delray Marketplace off West Atlantic Avenue at Lyons Road. For the past six years Blonsky — who has worked alongside such talent as acclaimed chef Rick Tramonto and pastry chef Gail Gand — has been cooking in Chicago. As a result, he describes his cooking style as reminiscent of the city's progressive culinary scene. Here, in South Florida, he's brought that same flair to Delray Beach. To do so, his dishes aren't the rich, heavy plates patrons in the Windy City are used to seeing. Instead, they'll be crafted around simplicity using less ingredients and focusing more on fresh, locally-sourced meats, seafood, and produce. Blonsky's take on the trendy grilled octopus is a great example of a lean, health-conscious meal that's easy to swallow no matter what diet you're on. Apeiro is located at 14917 Lyons Road, Delray Beach. Call 561-501-4443, or visit apeirorestaurants.com.

Nicole Danna is a food blogger covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.

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