Twelve Lake Worth Restaurants to Check Out Now

Ah, Lake Worth. It's one of Palm Beach County's most, shall we say, unique municipalities. 

It would make sense, of course, that a town as colorful as El Dub has some equally colorful kitchens. We already love places like Tacos El Carbon, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives-featured Havana Hideout, and Benny's on the Beach. But what about the spots only the locals frequent?

Forget the fancy, overly priced Palm Beach haunts. Instead, try exploring something more unique — the under-the-radar, hole-in-the-wall-type establishments that look more than a little suspect from the outside but hold an abundance of deliciousness inside. They're what make a trip to this tiny, quirky town worthwhile. 
12. Fiorella
7000 Charleston Shores Blvd., Lake Worth; 561-963-4999;

Originally from Naples, Italy, Fiorella chef-owner Franco Guardascione first migrated to the U.S. in the 1980s. He landed in Long Island, where he worked with the original Umberto’s Pizza and Restaurant in Patchogue. In 1992, Guardascione and his wife Fiorella, along with their two sons, moved to Boca Raton, where he worked as chef for Renzo’s for 14 years. Today, the couple and their family are operating their own restaurant in Lake Worth's western suburbia, featuring a menu of Italian homestyle fare that specializes in pasta and eggplant dishes (but there are plenty of chicken, meat, and seafood specialities too). Try the homemade gnocchi smothered in a rich Alfredo mushroom sauce; the trio of meatballs served with a smooth, sweet marinara; or the pork chops pizzaiola prepared with caper-, black-olive-, and garlic-studded marinara. Family-size portions include the house specialty: frutta di mare served over spaghetti or penne. They also have some of the best garlic rolls around, plus a number of house soups and sauces to go so you can recreate your favorite Fiorella dishes at home.

11. Real Wok
4640 Hypoluxo Rd., Lake Worth; 561-963-7338;

Yes, good dim sum can now be found north of the Broward County line. Situated at the back of a suburban shopping plaza anchored by a Western Beef, you'll find 2-year-old Real Wok, a Chinese restaurant serving well-priced dim sum seven days a week. Whether you choose to eat in or take out doesn't much matter; any time of day, you can pick up the plastic-laminated picture menu to order as much dim sum as you like (prices do go up after lunch, served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., though). During the weekend, the open dining room has plenty of space between tables to accommodate carts that serve up all the Hong Kong-style small plate favorites like steamed pork buns, shrimp dumplings, and — our personal favorite — lotus-wrapped sticky rice. Try the egg custard tart, fried taro, and Malaysian sponge cake so you can end the meal on a satisfyingly sweet note.
10. Crazy Mario's Pizza & Indian Kitchen
4478 Tenth Ave. N., Lake Worth; 561-969-7272;

Crazy Mario's Pizza and Indian Restaurant is just what it sounds like: an Indian restaurant offering a number of authentic — and a few nontraditional — Italian specialties. This includes pizza (both regular and Indian-style pies), sub sandwiches, and burgers, as well as a solid selection of popular Indian dishes from beef vindaloo and chicken korma to vegetable pakora and handmade samosas. The owner's wife will tell you the restaurant's masala pizza is the house specialty. What started with her original Chicken Tikka Delight (a regular pizza dough topped with onion, green pepper, tomato, chicken tikka, and Thai chili smothered in a spicy masala sauce and topped with paneer cheese) is now a total of six Indian-style pies featuring flavorful ingredients like beef seekh and tandoori chicken.
9. Guacamole by Chef Omar
6250 Lantana Rd., Lake Worth; 561-223-3033;

In a city with taco joints on nearly every corner, this is one you might have to do a little digging to find. Hailing from Mexico City, Guacamole chef-owner Omar Covarrubias doesn't just prepare Mexican cuisine. He prepares authentic Mexican cuisine using traditional recipes that call for the correct (and often Mexican-sourced) ingredients. Covarrubias will be the first to admit that most Mexican food outside of Mexico is a sham, much of it watered-down versions of the country's northernmost cuisine served stateside as chicken-topped nachos, flavorless fajitas, and overfried chimichangas. While the dishes at Guacamole — and, to a larger extent, his Los Tacos chain — may look and sound familiar, they're Covarrubias' way of delivering the real flavors of Mexico to the South Florida populace. The tacos, served three at a time, are among some of the best in the area. Several specialties include the chorizo con papas, corn tortillas packed to the brim with a crumbly, flavorful chorizo made fresh by a local Mexican market and paired with cubes of soft, roasted potatoes. The pork pibil tacos — named for the Mayan word pib, or oven — pop with a combination of citrusy marinade and earthy achiote paste. Your server will undoubtably recommend the Tacos Locos, a brilliant combination of ancho-marinated pork, carne asada, and chicharrón topped with ripe slivers of avocado and bright pico de gallo.
8. Le Troubadour Restaurant
6661 Lake Worth Rd., Lake Worth; 561-855-0601;

Haitian cuisine is full of bold and spicy flavors that demonstrate its African, Caribbean, and Spanish roots, paired with a kiss of French sophistication. Meat-eaters will love the griyo, a traditional dish of fried pork cut into cubes. The pork itself is not the star of this dish; rather, it's the orange-based marinade that walks the fine line between sour and salty before resolving into a peppery heat that lingers on the tongue. On the island, it's often served with Haiti's official condiment, a spicy salad known as pikliz made up of a pickled vegetable slaw with white-vinegar-soaked Scotch bonnet peppers, carrots, and cabbage. Try the legume militon, another traditional Haitian dish of braised vegetables. Cooked for two or more hours in a dutch oven, the end result is a complex dish with plenty of spices that help to make this combination of eggplant, cabbage, carrots, peppers, and spinach taste nearly sublime. It's thick, filling, and spicy and sticks to your ribs the way any good stew should. End your meal with a slice of the fragrant, moist pen pasta (sweet potato bread pudding), a cake-like treat sweetened with banana and given a touch of spice from freshly grated ginger.
7. Pelican Restaurant
610 Lake Ave., Lake Worth; 561-582-4992.;
The Pelican might be a faded diner tucked among consignment stores, pizza joints, beach bars, and hippie coffee shops that make up the charming downtown Lake Worth strip off Lake Avenue, but don't let appearances fool you. Nostalgic vibe aside, the 15-year-old eatery is best-known for specializing in a cuisine you wouldn't normally expect to find on a breakfast menu: Indian food. Owners Tahira and Mohammad Sami are from Pakistan. Lake Worth residents for 30 years, they owned a convenience store before buying the diner eight years ago. Today, their menu has all the typical American breakfast items you'd expect, plus a few Indian specialties (once available only on Friday but now made daily). Sami prepares all the Indian dishes herself, including a spinach keema omelet that packs in red chili and chicken, served with naan and home fries. Consider ordering the eggs nissa, scrambled with green curry with heat from jalapeños and ginger. But perhaps the best — and heartiest — plate is the Nihari beef shank, chunks of beef slowly simmered in a potent curry sauce for several hours. It's served in a bowl with a side of naan bread, two eggs, and home fries for the perfect marriage of East meets West, breakfast style.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna