Looking to sample new restaurants while learning more about Palm Beach County’s history? Consider the Taste History Culinary Tour, offered by the Museum of Fashion & Lifestyle. Narrated by executive director Lori J. Durante, you’ll get to experience the food and history of Delray Beach and Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and Lantana, and most recently West Palm Beach each Saturday, departing from Macy’s at the Boynton Beach Mall. Below are some recent and tasty additions from a special multi-city tour.
44 Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach — (561) 455-4041
Our first stop was at Cafe Bleu in downtown Delray Beach, smack dab on Atlantic Ave. Manager, Tyler Scheer, motioned us to an awaiting spread of chicken and cheese quesadillas — sounds simple, but they were so perfectly delicious — blueberry hibiscus tea, and samples of their signature cold-brewed coffees; an Ethiopian light roast, a medium roast house blend, and their regular house blend. Happy hour specials run from 4PM to close daily and include 2 for $5 Coronas, $3 Johnny Apple Seed hard cider, plus more. Live entertainment, including open mic night, is available Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
324 N Federal Hwy, Boynton Beach — (561) 572-9639
A recent addition to Boynton Beach, Don Che Bistro specializes in Argentine & Italian cuisine and features happy hour & early bird specials, live entertainment, complimentary valet parking. Upon entering my eyes were drawn to the decor — a massive cowhide rug graces the back wall with its horns centered directly above, vintage oil lamps, traditional pottery, white table linen, dark wooden chairs.
We started off with pastas tossed in sauces such as marinara, and a meat sauce. Some gnocchi made their way out dressed in pesto, another one in a pink sauce. Soon after comes the Argentinian grill filled with sweet breads, short ribs, chicken, flap steak, blood sausage, and Argentinian sausage (chorizo).
A die-hard fan of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the blood sausage; seasoned then stuffed in its casing, To pick a favorite from the platter would be unfair. Sampling the meats with the varied dipping sauces provides a different and welcomed flavor profile.
Chef Ramiro, with wife Joanne Calomarde by his side, offered his views on how food should be shared with family. We drank sangria (red or white).
600 Lake Ave, Lake Worth (walk-up window on L Street) — (561) 533-5272
Commissioner and owner Andy Amoroso doled out smoothies, along with tuna and spinach wraps on the other side of the walk-up window. I tried the blueberry banana smoothie, which I wasn’t too sure I’d be fond of since I’ve diagnosed myself with an allergy to anything healthy. Shhhh. But I loved it, and would even consider freezing some to enjoy as popsicles. From there we met him out front of Studio 205, which Lori calls “Andy’s General Store”. He shared some of the things happening in Lake Worth, like Hallowscream on October 31, and talked about the city’s new one-stop-shop visitor center.
705 Lake Ave, Lake Worth (various locations) — (561) 766-2517
With Lori leading the way, we headed west on Lake Ave passing Lake Worth Playhouse and Stonzek Theatre. I made a note to myself to come back since Palm Beach County’s other indie cinema, Lake Park’s Mos’Art Theatre, is now closed.
We entered Hoffman’s chocolate where the smell of cocoa kissed the tip of your nose. Water was passed around to everyone along with samples of their milk, dark and white chocolates. Store manager, Diane Vogel, provided background information on the making of chocolate; how cacao pods are broken open to release the beans, which are dried, roasted, ground — sort of like coffee — then mixed with cocoa butter and chocolate liqueur. She tells us about 70+ year-old Mary who still hand-dips the chocolate at the Greenacres plant and talks of the company’s plans of expanding while retaining the handcrafted quality they’ve provided for 40 years. At the end, we’re handed small gift boxes filled with a variety of chocolates.
2212 N Dixie Hwy, Lake Worth — (561) 642-9996
A specialty shop on Dixie highway in Lake Worth, Mama Gizzi’s Gourmet Pasta offers just that, fresh pasta. “I’ve made gnocchi for Oprah. She doesn’t know it, but I do,” says Leah Gizzi, executive chef/owner.
Her menu includes ravioli lollipops, lasagna, meatballs, soups, grocery items (olives, roasted red peppers, humus, etc), desserts, dinner kits, and more. Our parting gift was a bag of “Luvies” which are baked lasagna sheets sprinkled with Italian herbs.
427 Northwood Rd, West Palm Beach — (561) 506-8211
Our first stop in West Palm Beach was Table 427. Though not new to Taste History Culinary Tour, they’ve recently introduced their latest menu themed “Back to our Roots II” featuring dishes inspired by Chef Roberto Villegas’ childhood in Mexico. Expect bone marrow, grilled octopus, tres chiles roasted salmon (served over tamarind sauce), and more.
Instead of bread & butter being brought to the table, we had roasted taro root served with chimichurri sauce. His wife, Maria, poured freshly made watermelon juice into our stemmed glasses — it’s not surprising that they were nominated as a top destination for romantic dinners by USA Today.
Next comes our main dish, cochinita pibil: slow cooked pork — traditionally made in a pit — seasoned with the juice of oranges, guajillo chile peppers, vinegar, garlic, and achiote paste, then served over a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes.
207 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach — (561) 655-3319
Our next stop on the West Palm Beach portion of the Taste History Culinary Tour was Nick & Johnnie’s on Palm Beach, specializing in “sustainable seafood, local produce, hormone-free meats, poultry & provisions”.
Here we sampled Chef Edwin Bermudaz’s avocado toast, made with smoked salmon, tomato, daikon sprouts, feta and radish. The toast itself was crisp, buttery and the toppings balanced and flavorful. Next up was the ahi tuna tacos with avocado, cucumber, onion, ponzu, spicy rice and stuffed in a crispy taco shell.
Happy hour is Monday thru Friday from 4pm to 6:30pm and features $5 specials on select drinks, dollar oysters, and more.
120 S Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach — (561) 659-7373
Located in downtown West Palm Beach, our final stop was Leila restaurant, where you can enjoy belly dance fire shows with your meal on Friday and Saturday evenings.
By now, we were stuffed to the point that we needed to be prodded off the bus like cattle. Co-owner Alex Awad greeted us and motioned towards a table filled with hummus paired with carrots, delicious olives, tabouleh, and other platters that I couldn’t identify. The dishes are influenced by both Lebanese & Syrian cuisine.
As we groan, “I can’t eat another bite”, we stuff our faces further. Warm, crispy and light falafel is brought to the table followed by chicken skewers (shish tawook), red wine is poured. “So full,” someone says. :gulp gulp:
Mrs. Awad, the magician in the kitchen, brings out their signature dessert, sokseh, made of chocolate infused with a sweet biscuit and served cold. Like a clown car, we somehow managed to find room in our bellies.