When it comes to fresh seafood, nothing screams South Florida like a platter of freshly caught
Long before farm-to-table, there were dockside establishments serving just-caught snapper and oysters farmed a few miles up the coast.
Our seafood restaurants have been sourcing fish from their backyard waters long before it was trendy. From the old-school raw bars and casual fish spots to high-end concepts with oysters from all over the world, we found the ten best seafood restaurants in Palm Beach County so you don't ever have to order a boring cedar-plank salmon again.
If you're looking for the best spots in Broward, check out: Ten Best Seafood Restaurants in Broward County. Got a craving for ceviche? Eight Best Ceviche Spots in Broward and Palm Beach County.
10. City Fish Market
7940 Glades Rd., Boca Raton. Call 561-487-1600, or visit buckheadrestaurants.com.
Boca's City Fish Market is one of two City Fish Markets of the Atlanta-based Buckhead Life Restaurant Group and one of the group's 12 upscale eateries in Georgia and South Florida; the equally appealing Chops Lobster Bar and Lobster Bar Sea Grille are also on its roster. While that might make it sound like a dreaded chain restaurant, let your taste buds do the debating for you here. With around a dozen fresh catches available at all times, prepared however you like, and a nice selection of oysters and raw bar items, you might have a hard time deciding just what to dig in to first.
9. 3800 Ocean
3800 N. Ocean Dr., Singer Island. Call 561-340-1795, or visit marriott.com.
Floor-to-ceiling windows in the great room, bar, and lounge flood the area in natural light by day. In the evening, lights are dimmed and the ambience transformed. At the entrance to the nautically themed bar and lounge, a new communal high-top for up to 14 guests creates a relaxing space to mingle while waiting to be seated for dinner at the resort’s signature restaurant, 3800 Ocean. Dramatic hardwood flooring extends throughout the restaurant and lounge and has been sanded and stained to restore its original beauty. But it's the seafood you're here to savor. Starters include scallop “moyashi," a yellowfin tuna crudo, oysters and caviar, and shrimp bruschetta. Main plates include a ruby-port-glazed salmon, pan-roasted black grouper, and mango barbecue-glazed grilled mahi. Of course, the main highlight is the chef's own take on surf 'n' turf: prosciutto-wrapped veal tenderloin and butter-poached Maine lobster served alongside roasted garlic Yukon Gold potato puree and a truffle Hollandaise.
8. Rack's Fish House + Oyster Bar
5 SE Second Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-450-6718, or visit racksdelray.com.
With a cool nautical vibe and a menu of responsibly sourced seafood delicacies, this downtown Delray Beach spot incorporates a chic modern aesthetic with a menu that offers a number of reinvented classics from oysters "rack-a-feller" and Creole-style calamari to Buffalo fried shrimp and Cajun salmon quesadillas. A large raw bar displays all of the day's catch including giant shrimp, raw East and West Coast oysters, and half-shell clams. Or go with a number of simply prepared dishes cooked over the pecan wood grill or composed dishes like seared scallop and pork belly. Look out for specials like $1 oysters during happy hour and half-off bottles of wine on Monday.
7. J&J Seafood Bar & Grill
634 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-272-3390, or visit jjseafooddelray.com.
For over 15 years, J&J Seafood Bar and Grill in Delray Beach has been dishing up ocean-fresh seafood in a quaint, near-hidden spot off east Atlantic Avenue. From fish-based soup and pastas to a number of seafood-focused entrees, the menu has it all. Standard favorites include a seafood mac-n-cheese rife with shrimp, scallops, and lobster, or Caribbean-style crab cakes seasoned with saffron and served with a lemon aioli. Weekly menu specials rotate several different options that showcase the talent in the kitchen, offering unique flavors and pairings like coffee- and pecan-crusted wild salmon and ancho chili-dusted swordfish — or just a beautifully executed whole fried yellowtail snapper. Raw bar lovers can choose from an ever-changing selection of East and West Coast oysters, or Middleneck clams and stone crab claws when in season. While the chef's specialty is seafood, J&J is a good place to head for parties who crave meat and veggies too.
6. Latitudes Ocean Grill
2809 S. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton. Call 561-278-2008, or visit latitudesdelray.com.
Yes, it's a resort restaurant. Yes, it's on the water. And yes, it's good. With ocean views, surf 'n' turf, and an amazing Sunday brunch with live entertainment, this is one seafood restaurant that has it all. Although it's officially in Boca Raton, the Delray Sands Resort bistro is all about the freshest catch out there. Start fancy with the signature Latitudes Iced Shellfish Tower with Maine lobster, oysters, Gulf shrimp, lump crab, and Alaskan King Crab, or go simple with the appetizer-size mini ahi tuna tacos. If it's a main plate you're searching for, go for fresh catches like mahi, Skuna Bay salmon, Atlantic corvina, or Florida grouper prepared in-house daily, a simple preparation using nothing but extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon, and sea salt, and served with the vegetable of the day and a choice of buttermilk mash or truffle potato latkes.
5. Ke'e Grill
14020 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach. Call 561-995-5044, or visit keegrilljunobeach.com.
A decent plate of seafood in South Florida is getting harder to find, and while Northern and inland urban elites may rave over some chef-of-the-moment's prep of shrimp, snapper, or mahi, we Floridians know there's nothing any of these fresh, local catches need beyond a squirt of a few tablespoons of butter. Ke'e Grill understands that any sauce or preparation is only as good as the fish you start with, and what they start with is good indeed — from Floridian sea life like the Palm Beach snapper in a light, fragrant preparation of tomatoes and artichokes, to imported filet of Dover sole with a spoonful of citrus beurre blanc and South African lobster tails naked save for a cup of drawn butter. Owners Jim and Debbie Taube have been cooking and serving seafood long enough to have long since forsworn any froufrou in their menu — the glitz is reserved for the service and décor in this beautiful room overlooking a tropical garden and the haute couture of their clientele.
4. Guanabanas Restaurant
960 N. Hwy A1A, Jupiter. Call 561-747-8878, or visit guanabanas.com.
We all know about farm-to-table, but what about ocean-to-table? Where you buy your fish is equally — if not more so — important as supporting the nearby farming community when purchasing produce. Out of many, one South Florida establishment has led the charge in sustainable seafood sourcing. When Guanabanas Restaurant opened in Jupiter in 2008 it made a promise to its customers: They would commit to sourcing 100 percent of the seafood from local and state fishermen, and fish would only be purchased if it was caught within Florida waters. The mission was part of a plan to allow executive chef Vinny Trupia the opportunity to offer a multilevel impact on the preservation and conservation of the local fisheries while also serving to educate guests on the type of fish available to them — fresh and local. Today, Gunanabas has kept its promise, with favorite dishes that range from the macadamia- and coconut-crusted or tequila lime marinated fresh catch of the day, to classic or coconut fried Florida shrimp. Or try the Sanibel Steamers, clams delivered straight from north Florida's Pine Island Sound.
3. PB Catch
251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach. Call 561-655-5558, or visit pbcatch.com.
While we all love a divey raw bar, there are times when we want the best of the best. Situated on Palm Beach, this little gem of a spot received the New Times pick for Best Seafood Restaurant 2013 for its wide selection of flavorful sustainable fish, huge assortment of oysters from around the world, and innovative "seacuterie" — cured seafood items. Dishes like mussels in Thai basil broth with coconut and lotus root chips, Parmesan-macadamia-zucchini-crusted mahi mahi with arugula, avocado, orange, and toasted coconut, and Chilean sea bass with caramelized soy-infused Brussels sprouts, enoki mushrooms, glazed baby carrots, and crispy leeks highlight the globally inspired, sustainable fare.
2. Little Moir's Leftovers Cafe
51 University Blvd., Jupiter. Call 561-627-6030, or visit littlemoirsjupiter.com.
The second spot for Mike Moir of the renowned Fish Shack off U.S. 1, Leftovers is tucked away in a shopping center off Central Boulevard east of Abacoa. You may need to use a GPS if you've never been; it's a little tricky to find. This one has more room for diners to spread out, though it is still cozy. It sports a "chef's bar" where you can sit and watch the guys and gals work or just nosh alone. (It's an insider's spot — if they're not too busy, you might get a sample of something hot off the line the chefs are trying out.) Seafood stars here in numerous creative preparations. It features the daily changing chalkboard menu of fish varieties fresh for that day. They're creatively cooked with unusual crusts or in exotic sauces you may not think would work well, but they pull it off nearly every time. You can have the fish plain too — but it's more exciting to see what the chefs have come up with. When they've served the last one, they're erased, so the moral of the story is to go early — and when the line isn't out the door — for best picks. Prices are moderate considering the large portions they plate up, and an adequate beer and wine list is available.
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1. Captain Charlie's Reef Grill
12846 U.S. 1, Juno Beach. Call 561-624-9924.
You could call Captain Charlie's Reef Grill a white whale. Many people will say they've heard about the restaurant and its great seafood — but have they actually been there? Located in a strip mall on U.S. 1, you'll find the location isn't prime, lines can be long, and the decor isn't jaw-dropping, but the food is really, really good. If you don't have the fortitude to wait for a table, it's your loss. Seafood of all sorts monopolizes the menu, and it's prepared in both traditional and unconventional ways, inspired by recipes the world over. Appetizers and entrees are both sizable; if you're a light eater, prepare for a doggy bag. The menu reads like a glossary of sea creatures: grouper, pompano, wahoo, and hog snapper. Pasta dishes like the ultrarich Rock Shrimp in a gorgonzola cream sauce or simple, fresh squid ink linguine satisfy any Italian seafood lover. You can watch everything made right behind the bar, where you can usually find owner Ross Matheson chatting with regulars. But don't worry; everything — yes, everything — is good.
Nicole Danna is a food writer 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 the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.