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Aug 4, 2002 12:46 AM

real florida food in west palm beach area?

  • m

i'm looking for places that serve real florida style food in the wpb/s. florida area. expensive or a dive i don't care. good raw bar suggestions are also appreciated. i'll drive anywhere thanks.

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  1. What do you mean by "real Florida food"?
    Spoto's is a fine raw bar, in downtown WPB

    2 Replies
    1. re: William Fox

      i was hoping you all could tell me what real florida food is!!! stuff indiginous to florida, like fish, conch or gator i guess. i'm not sure i'm visiting i leave it to your expertise. i don't want to get stuck in chains or eating the same things i can get at home. i thought there was such a thing as floridian cuisine am i wrong? if not in WPB, maybe there is something you might suggest north, around lake okechobee or down around miami?

      i do like raw bars so thanks for the tip i will certainly check out SPOTO'S. years ago i went to a joint in a plaza called DIRTY MOE'S i remember i liked.

      1. re: mrnyc

        If it was the Moe`s in Boca on Spanish River Blvd, it has since closed. I think that due to the large number of NE residents who have relocated to the Palm Beach/Boca area, the food now reflects their tastes as opposed to old school FL. As you head down towards Miami, you get much more latin influenced food and a more relaxed old FL attitude. There are old FL style restaurants in Delray Beach...between Palm Beach and Boca.

    2. You mean gator tail, swamp cabbage, wild hog, smoked jack, grits and boiled grunts--things like that?

      1. unless your into the same ole sports bars or don't mind
        being seated before 5:45pm for a complete thrill.

        18 Replies
        1. re: goodbelly

          Well, several years ago there were these three chefs who were called The Mango Bunch in South Florida. They came up with all these fancy Floribean menu items that included mangos, etc. Whether their influences ever made it up to West Palm Beach I do not know.

          Hey, there's absolutely nothing except for Cuban and real pit "Q" that we have here that is not available and better in NYC. You'd be better off just asking for some decent food while you're here instead of seeking out "Florida" foods.

          Oh, I guess you could get some gator and a real good slice of key lime pie, but other than that check out CityLink, NewTimes and check this site for some good places. What few places are good - Florida chowhounds know about!

          Good luck and enjoy the weather. Anything else, like finding one a good restaurant, consider it a bonus!

          1. re: goodbelly

            As a New Yorker, I've always tried to get this crew to appreciate their local fare. There are so many terrific places to eat. Of course, when it comes to purely local cuisine they're right; there isn't a heck of a lot to recommend that is peculiar to the area. I'd add stone crabs, but they're not in season. Key lime pie? Beyond that (and the aforementioned Cuban and barbecue, which you certainly can't get in NY as you can in South Fla), you just hope for a local talented chef that emphasizes local ingredients. Norman's in Coral Gables, Chef Allen in Aventura, Darren & Oliver's, Mark Militello in various locations...those kind of upscale cheefs/restaurants give you local flavor in a gourmet context.

            1. re: Neil G
              s.m. koppelman

              Thanks for the sanity check, Neil. The truth is there's plenty of darn good food--from cheap road food and ethnic chow to high-end restaurant stuff--from Palm Beach County on down past Miami. The idea that this is some kind of culinary backwater save for basic seafood once you got out of the chic parts of Miami might have been true 20 years ago, but it's kind of silly now.

              Fine, so really good pizza is scarce and possibly never on par with the best of Brooklyn, and the bagels are all right at best. And the Korean isn't so great, and maybe there's nowhere to get Sri Lankan or Armenian or Taiwanese, but hey.. I doubt there's good Taiwanese food in Tuscany or good Cuban in Singapore, either. Unless you're setting out to find unfavorable comparisons by going on bagel (or Chicago-dog or regional-Mexican) quests or judging the Hong Kong places on the basis of their lack of jellyfish and loofah dishes, you can eat your way around most of the world pretty well. Maybe there aren't as many Bouley Bakeries and Nobus down here per capita, but is that even what Chowhound is for? Or what most people really eat 360 days out of the year?

              However, since you do live up north most of the time, Neil, maybe I ought to let you know there's damn good Cuban to be had just outside NYC. Though the Cuban presence in Manhattan and Queens has mostly moved out or assimilated, leaving a few okay lunch counters behind, you can get swell Cuban food indeed just across the Hudson in Union City and its environs in Hudson and southern Bergen counties. If you want to take mass transit for your Cuban fix, may I suggest La Isla, a two block walk from the Hoboken PATH station, on Washington St.? For something less gentrified, drive into Union City, which has the country's largest Cuban community outside South Florida and scores of restaurants and cafes that will seem mighty familiar. They marched for Elian up there, too.

              1. re: s.m. koppelman

                cubano comida has got to be one of the world's most uninteresting. the worst of the major players in the
                caribbean. give me dominican or haitian or puerto rican
                or jamaican. forget calle ocho, except for hy-vong,don pan and one nica place. i still think that you're a
                smart man, sam

                1. re: goodbelly

                  I can't take seriously the idea of attacking or defending an entire cuisine, but you remind me that the Nuevo Latino craze began down here with Yuca (Doulglas Rodriguez, I believe?). A few follow-ups have sprung up in Manhattan (e.g., Patria), and I understand there are some in Miami as well, although I'm not up on them. Of course there are those who would find anything boring, no matter how nuevo, and others who could never appreciate simple pleasures unless it were given a hip handle (e.g., "comfort food").

                  1. re: Neil G

                    Patria....out of business....oops now i see that this post is 5 years old.

                  2. re: goodbelly


                    Hi. I'm Jim Leff, and I run this site. Our moderators are chagrined about some of the recent postings here on the Florida board and asked me to say a few words.

                    Chowhounding is about finding treasure. It's about spurning bad food, plastic food, emptily-hyped food, and finding glorious exceptions - places where people cook with love and pride and don't just aim to extract maximal profit from minimal effort.

                    We ignore the bad stuff. We don't complain about chains or other lousy alternatives; they're not even on our radar. All attention is directed to the search for life-affirming deliciousness. There's a ton of it out there. Much of it is obscure and unknown. It is ripe for the picking.

                    You show a chowhound a neighborhood with a reputation for bad food, and he/she will head there with considerable glee. Because we chowhounds know that any soulless sprawl, any strip mall, any touristy nightmare can contain a hold-out, a maverick, an upstart, a hidden gem. Hyperdeliciousness is everywhere, and most people are just too damned lazy to seek it out, find it, and support it.

                    If you've heard there's no good food "X" in a town, that information is not coming from chowhounds. The people who create conventional wisdom are not chowhounds. They are not hip, they're not out there driving around and tasting stuff all the time. Conventional wisdom is to be spurned. Chowhounds are out there prowling for great stuff. I invite you to be part of the solution, by joining the chowhound quest.

                    Chowhounding is about finding hyperdeliciousness. It's not about whining about bad food and bad neighborhoods. That is a waste of time and energy, and it's a waste of the tremendous opportunity of these message boards to compare notes and share information. You are squandering the opportunity (and our bandwidth, for that matter).

                    We can track every hold-out, every gem, every maverick. Together, we can find the good places. If everyone would simply try a different muffin every day on their way to work, that'd be a start. If everyone posts about even two or three places that are even just above average, that's primary source material for all to work on. Go drive around and try places you've never been in before. Ask around. Hunt, with passion! Have fun, then come back here and dump your notes! BE CHOWHOUNDS!!

                    You will be astounded at how easy it is to find table-slamming hyperdelicious greatness. It's just about everywhere. You just have to eat around a little, and not just where conventional wisdom sends you. It's great to discover culinary treasure, great to support the good guys. We're here to share and pool such discoveries.

                    Finally, to respond to you, goodbelly: a cuisine can't be good or bad. It's just a matter of who's cooking it. You can write off a cuisine or a neighborhood if you'd like. I don't write off anything or anywhere. I pine for greatness in all realms.


                    1. re: Jim Leff

                      i just came back from seeing ataarjuat/the fast runner
                      (a really great movie, i thought)
                      i came home and read your post mentioning me. it made me think about the foods the inuits were eating in the
                      picture. i'll leave it a that.
                      the late copeland marks (a dear friend of mine)who wrote real cookbooks on world cuisines was always bringing up the subject to me and others on what he thought were the best ones and the worst. it's a matter of taste and then some. it's just an opinion.
                      hasta luegito
                      taste and then some. hasta luegito

                      1. re: goodbelly

                        Yeah, great movie.

                        That sort of older, snobbish outlook on food (entire realms of culinary possibility scornfully and summarily declared beyond the pale) is what this site and a generation of young food lovers rebel against. I read these sorts of sentiments in older food books, and can only wag my head at how different contemporary notions are. Deliciousness is deliciousness.

                        Fifteenth century Inuits (the subject of the film) fed themselves in unthinkably harsh surroundings and bottomless poverty. Sometimes deprivation gives rise to the clever, delicious solutions we call "soul food". But when there's nothing to eat but raw reindeer meat, we're not talking "cuisine", we're talking mere survival. I don't consider plane-crashed-Brazilian-soccer-team-cannibals to be the progenitors of a cuisine worthy of respectful admiration, either. At a certain level, deliciousness is not a factor. I don't think such extreme exceptions justify making assertions that, say, Nicaraguan food sucks or Sri Lankan rules, however.


                      2. re: Jim Leff

                        Whew - that's a lot of commentary. I, for one, do look to my fellow hounds to alert me to both good and bad places. There's nothing worse than getting beat by a bad meal.

                        I have every right to diss a restaurant since I've once owned and operated my own restaurant and helped build hundreds of them over a 25 year career. I do know exactly what it takes to do that correctly - quality food, good service, a financial committment to cleanliness and long hours - there are no shortcuts.

                        There are too many operators who don't want to commit to all those things and they should be singled out as places to avoid. Conversely, we need to recognize and support those that are committed to the industry and know how to run a restaurant the proper way.

                        For you to suggest that we should only dwell on the positives is ridiculous. You want to look at the glass as always half full? That's fine. Me, I want to know exactly where the bad apples are ahead of time so I do not get ripped off in one of their places or in one of their neighborhoods. If that means gets a reputation for being "hard" on operators, so be it. You're not worried about advertising dollars from the business are you?

                        Hounds, we need to hear the good and the bad - If its warranted, keep the negative reports coming! That's my two cents on the subject.

                        1. re: Chuck

                          "For you to suggest that we should only dwell on the positives is ridiculous."


                          That's totally not what I was saying at all. Quite the contrary; we need a rich spectrum of positive and negative opinions on places to make this resource worthwhile.

                          What we do NOT need is "cuban food's lousy" or "there's nothing good to eat in this part of Tampa", or "there's no good this or that in neighborhood/city X", whining about what people can't find, about how lousy the general level of food is, etc....when these guys are clearly not getting out and doing the chowhound diligence of hunting down the undiscovered hyperdelicious treasure that's all around us.

                          That sort of talk is chatty, tedious, negative and unhelpful. I'm trying to encourage folks to go explore beyond the obvious places, to ignore the crap and seek the treasure; to try to find greatness and report back. To swap tips and pool energies. That's what this resource is here for (and to get people psyched to try this extremely fun, energizing, and rewarding lifestyle!).

                          All that said, we don't need thirty people saying that some obvious, sucky place sucks, or recounting negative conventional wisdom. Quick anecdote: people used to say there was no real barbecue in New York. A few years ago, I drove concentric circles around Jamaica, Queens, and eventually found a barbecue shack doing ribs that would be the envy of Mississippi. Nowadays, people say there's no good Mexican in NY. Last week, I found a tortilla factory cooking incredible tacos--as good as in Mexico--up in supposedly bland, foodless Westchester county (which is actually a wonderland of food, but most people--even residents--aren't hip to this yet).

                          My chowhounding helps these places pick up their first bit of buzz. Soon, other food writers follow with their reviews. Five years later, they'll finally make it into Zagat, and by that time often be headed downhill. Eventually, years later, when they've grown into lame tourist institutions, lazy foodies will try these places and register their distaste. "Yup, just like we thought: there's no good Mexican in NY. Westchester is a wasteland. Etc, etc".

                          Don't be lazy foodies. Be chowhounds. Be on the cutting edge. Find the great stuff that will be tomorrow's buzz.

                          1. re: Jim Leff

                            Jim: I understand the point you are making, however many of us don't want to be pioneers with our money. Me, I want to go to places that Hounds recommend. I'm notone of those "cutting edge" Hounds. Too old, been in the business too long, too neurotic.

                            Yes, somebody has to give these unfamiliar places a chance - I agree. And, no, we should not make generalizations about on any particular cuisine unless you've been subjected to it for a long period. Me, I can definitely state that Kosher food is terrible from years of experience. I grew up on tough, surley cuts of meat from the front end of the steer, lots of fat, over cooked veggies, etc. Ugh Ugh Ugh

                            1. re: Jim Leff

                              Jim, I merely hope that you are not inclined to edit (i.e., censor) content you find incompatible with your ideals. It has been said many times that the antidote to objectionable speech is more speech...and besides, your standards may be a bit exacting (it is perhaps extreme to frown upon a statement, say, lamenting the paucity of good barbecue in New York). Also, a natural by-product of food discussion is that people on a given board become friendly and the conversation is bound to veer off on tangents.

                              Inasmuch as any discussion of food is buoyed by opinions -- how much objective fact is at the root of any discussion on Chowhound? -- tolerance is an extremely important asset. If you and the Chowhound "team" are, say, "chagrined" at how a given discussion evolves, I trust you will express yourself -- as you so eloquently did -- rather than pull out the blue pencil. Perhaps you can console yourself with the thought that those who are not truly passionate about food are likely to move on from the website before long.

                              In sum, it would be sad and ironic indeed if it turned out that the esteemed founder of Chowhound had, in creating this wonderful site, bitten off more than he could chew.

                              1. re: Neil G

                                Please bear in mind that Chowhound is a moderated discussion. As our message board rules (link below) state, we moderators reserve the right to delete any posting for any reason.

                                Chowhound's not a chat room for idle chitchat. It's a resource for finding good things to eat. And it's moderated to keep talk on-topic, as opposed to anarchic discussion, e.g. Usenet newsgroups.

                                Some people hate the idea of moderated discussion. Such people will likely never be happy on Chowhound. We do not commit to publishing and preserving everyone's every utterance.


                            2. re: Chuck

                              your 2 cents really = 100 centavos!

                        2. re: s.m. koppelman

                          Viva Elian!

                          Hey, I'm up here now, and I had OK Cuban food the other night and pined a bit for Florida. So there, unappreciative locals. Barbecue? Fuggedaboutit.

                          I think I'm going to go get some pizza, then a steak...

                          1. re: Neil G

                            Pizza? A real steak? Stop it Neil! You're killing me!

                          2. re: s.m. koppelman

                            I wholeheartedly agree with the message above by koppleman. I get really tired of hearing about all these pizza and hot dog and bagel hunts and people complaining that they can't get the goodies they had up north. If you didn't notice, you're not up north anymore, and we have our own food around here. I'll put a deviled crab up against a bagel any day. I'll take the palomilla or ropa viega over pizza (at least most of the time).

                            We have at least a hundrfed posts on bagels, etc, and so little about real Florida food. How about the roadside BBQ, boiled peanuts, etc? How about all the Caribbean/Latin food, like Haitian, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Nicaraguan, Guatemalan, and so on? Good mexican places are finally opening up in my neck of the woods (Tampa), as well as asian and middle eastern.

                            bagels? hot dogs? pizza? yawn. try challenging yourself. stop trying to relive NYC, etc. you might enjoy yourself more if you try new things.

                      3. all food comes from somewhere else.

                        "Real Florida Food" isn't a very good descriptive term, because there's really no such thing. even the porridge that ancient indians ate was produced from an imported product: corn that originated in central america.

                        i hear all these northerners talk about the superiority of NYC, that you can get everything better there. but none of it is "real NYC food." bagels, cheesecake and even hot dogs to some extent were all imported from central europe. pizza and chinese dishes were inspired by innovations in their respective homelands.

                        so to hear people poo-poo florida all the time, claiming that it doesn't have its own cuisine is absurd. NYC imported all of its delicacies, too. when NYC was industrializing and living in tenement housing, florida was still a backwater teeming with malaria and yellow fever. little surprise that NYC had a head start.

                        now Florida is a big magnet for immigrants, and various cuisines are beginning to coalesce here. be patient, but most of all, be alert! as Jim said so eloquently, you're probably missing out and don't even know it!

                        pining for NYC food? go back to NYC. I'm looking for good food--- period. can't find any? you're not looking. you wanna write endlessly about bagels and dogs any form a NYC exile clique? email one another.

                        think about this next time you post: could this be of use to anyone?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: andy huse

                          um, i only asked about fla. food.


                        2. The original comment has been removed