Tuesday, December 22, 2009

my tops - best of boca

boca raton is an interesting town (to say the least) and anyone who has had the pleasure of living even just a few months amongst the area, will agree.

my personal experience in this city has been a whirlwind. between college and work, i've been here for more than five years - and mostly in east boca. i get asked a lot "where is the best place to eat in boca raton?" therefore i have decided that one of my first posts will be about the best of boca- through my eyes.

i call this 'my tops.' i'm sure there will be dissenters from what i choose to be the 'best i've ever had' and i strongly encourage others to share their very own 'tops!'

top sandwich that will change your life:

chicken lemon artichoke from beany's gourmet cafe.

when i first had this sandwich, my life changed. there is really no other way to describe how good this sandwich is. the bread is baked fresh at the cafe, the chicken is incredibly juicy, the combination of lemon, garlic aioli and artichoke hearts all topped with smoked provolone- (should i stop now?)...

will all melt in your mouth. it is so tasty, you will actually figure out a reason to tell your boss that you'll be back at work a little later than expected, and have another one. beany's is an incredibly small cafe, seating maybe only twelve people inside and outside, and yet they still manage to have lines out the door for lunch. lori, one of the owners, is so welcoming and always remembers who you are from your very first visit. they take such good care of their customers that the food doesn't even have to be as exceptionally good as it is... but, this is why they have the best sandwich in boca and why i swear by beany's.

top pre-meal freebie:

flat bread crackers and hummus from max's grille.

described by one of my friends as something she would buy in bulk and never leave her apartment with utter contentment, max's grille in mizner park offers a great alternative to your standard bread and butter. they bring out flatbread crackers that are toasted with sesame seeds and pair it with delicous hummus. just ask for more and they will gladly oblige, and trust me- you will ask. albeit, max's menu of food is pretty top notch- great salads, great tapas offerings and superb seafood selections- you really can't go wrong here. just be prepared to be a little stuffed before you even start your appetizers!

top roll:

boca roll from bluefin sushi.

listed under 'special rolls' on the restaurant's menu and special is definitely the way i would describe it. get this- shrimp, crab, mango, papaya, avocado, roe & spicy mayo with mango sauce. yummy! just go there and get it. period, period.

top dive:

the dubliner.

i love this place and certainly another one of mizner park's gems. when trying to decide what to do in this oh-so-happening town, the conversation between my friends and i usually goes like this:

me: "ugghh what's good on (insert any given day of the week)?! i feel like there is no where to go tonight"
friend: "hmmm...how about dubliner?"
me: "oh yes, good choice!"

mind you, we were there the night before and probably will go there the night after. they have a great menu of food- think potato pancakes, guiness infused cheese fondue and a crazy-good shepard's pie. but it's their hard cider that has been bringing my friends back over and over again. overall, the ambiance is low key, non-pretentious, live music, a friendly staff and with an oscar wilde mantra of "nothing succeeds like excess"- you will have a great time and you will come back- soon.

top you would never think to order, but totally should:

voodoo chicken from baja cafe.

baja cafe literally looks like a pinata that is in the form of a restaurant from the outside. it's a very bright and colorful environment and the food matches the festive decor. most people order their burrito and enchilada lunches/dinners, which are very fulfilling- but what everyone should be ordering is their voodoo chicken. i do not know the last time i ordered something different from them and the chances of me getting something else are very slim. (i mean, i do plan on sharing my plate as long as my good company is doing the same!) the menu reads - 8 oz. boneless breast of chicken, blackened with Mexican spices, sauteed fajita vegetables sprinkled lightly with cheese & topped with pico de gallo. it's incredibly satisfying and even comes with rice and beans. the combination of fajita vegetables and cheese over the blackened chicken just hits the spot! it's listed as mild and i sometimes ask for it to be a little more spicy- which ends up being even better than imagined. this meal is worth every penny.

top when in rome, do as the romans do:

tratorria romana.

okay, so i haven't been to all three hundred italian restaurants in boca raton, but i have been to quite a few and to this very day tratorria romana has stayed in my mind - and heart. it's a tad bit pricey but every bit worthy. another small venue located in east boca before hitting the beach, you'll be seated very closely to neighboring diners - only adding to the experience. it's one of those restaurants where you dine for close to two hours, so if you're in a hurry- not my first recommendation. when i imagine visiting italy, i believe the food and environment will be like it is at tratorria romana. the portions are big, the staff is attentive and everyone is toasting their glasses accompanied with laughter and merriment. i know, i know, i'm getting a little carried away! it's just such a perfect dining experience. go on a date, celebrate a birthday, or just go for the sake of enjoying great food with great company.


top cupcake:

butter cream over vanilla from whole food's.

i can hear the mom and pop bakeries screaming insult and i'm very sorry- but my fascination for cupcakes started because of whole foods. yes, this is a chain establishment and the cupcakes are probably prepared the same at every store. however not mentioning whole foods cupcakes will be fraudulent on my end, so i said it- top cupcake in boca raton (FOR ME!) is the butter cream over vanilla cupcake! i remember going to whole foods and seeing this beautiful cupcake that had an ornate floral decoration over it and decided that maybe i should try it. the cake was incredibly moist and the butter cream just made me want to kiss whomever concocted the recipe! i've tried them all (often mixing more than one together) and have never been disappointed. it's heaven in the form of a slightly over sized cupcake.

*research and development has allowed me to find that the cupcakes at whole foods are actually from a bakery called 'we take the cake' located in ft. lauderdale. you can purchase their terrific treats at the store or if you wish, at whole foods. win - win. 


i do also want to say that passion for pastry (561.451.2656) at town center in boca raton is ridiculously good as well. i often find myself just standing in front all of the incredible options and have come to the conclusion that the red velvet cupcakes are my favorite they offer. gotta still try all the flavors, can't wait!

i plan on finding many, many more spots in this indescribable town and hopefully discovering for myself where the best place to eat in boca is.