Time Warp Restaurants Palm Beach/Boca/Ft L
- Carol Gardens
Hi! Planning a short trip to Boynton Beach. I love places with "time warp" atmosphere like Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House. I've heard that Green's in Palm Beach is kinda like that. Any other suggestions? Willing to drive a bit. Also looking for roadside, bbq, googie architecture, clam shacks, campy poleynesian, etc!
Sounds like fun. Green's in Palm Beach is a good start. In Boynton, try the Grumpy Grouper. Farther north are the Farmer Girl in WPB on US 1, Southern Kitchen in North Palm Beach also on US 1 and in Jupiter, Dune Dog on Alt. A1A and the ultimate laid back, old fashioned atmosphere (with few food choices, but a great view of the the Inlet and Jupiter Lighthouse) is the Square Grouper on A1A in Jupiter--very tough to find.
We went to Dune Dog Cafe in Jupiter on a Thursday night in Feb. 2009. Lobster was the special -- a 1.25 pounder @ $16.95 with 2 sides.
The drinks came fast. They have Warsteiner and Warsteiner Dunkel on tap, a plus in my book. The lobster came next. My wife got hers pre-cracked. I opted to work for my dinner, and still had to help her with some pieces.
The lobster was delicious, although a tad watery. That usually means it was plunged in deep boiling water, rather than steamed in a couple of inches of boiling water. Otherwise, it was precooked and thrown in the water just before serving. It didn't affect the great flavor, though, just made it a little too watery.
The claws were as sweet as sugar, and the tail was almost as tasty. For the price, it was an excellent value. The coleslaw was more creamy and vinegary -- tasted homemade. The creole rice was very tasty. Onion rings were bland and uniform, could be out of a bag, Corn on the cob looked nice.
The place was pretty crowded and very open air. We shared a table with another couple who were waiting in line, and it was pleasant talking about South Florida with them.
We'll be back for two-for-one night or ribs special night or just for lunch for the hot dogs. But we will return to sample the rest of the menu.
I assume you've already scheduled a stop at the Mai-Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, the 1950s tiki mecca that's still going strong. Great floor show, terrific rum drinks at the bar and a virtual King Tut's tomb of Polynesian kitsch decor. The food's hit-or-miss (my strategy is to avoid stir-frys and the pu-pu platter), but what do you expect? The sushi's harmless; relative standouts such as they are include the lobster bisque, the less-stir-fry-like duck and lobster dishes, and the meats from the Chinese oven.
I wish I could recommend Tropical Acres, an old steakhouse on the southern edge of Ft. Lauderdale, on Griffin a little west of I-95. It's been there since the '50s. Great building, and a pristine 1970s interior. I can't in good conscience recommend the food. It's sometimes passably so-so for what it is, but other times it's not even that.
There's a fair bit of good googie architecture scattered along the drive down US1 from Boynton to Fort Lauderdale. Further down, in Hollywood (an hour south of Boynton) you'll find some great old motels, though some of them still haven't gotten their signs repaired since the recent hurricanes, and on the side streets there are a gazillion midcentury apartment buildings and small ranch houses. Fort Lauderdale has its share too, but Hollywood's relatively weak economy means more of it has been preserved and it's more concentrated at this point.
A much better 1950s warhorse is the Rustic Inn Crab House, two minutes away from there on Angler's Av. a half mile north of Griffin. Fairly large old wooden seafood restaurant, butcher paper on the tables, wooden mallets for breaking crabs. They do wonderful things with Eastern crabs (blue crab, golden crab, et al) and are handy with fish. Things that are shipped from the west coast like Alaskan king crab legs are maybe not so great, but that sort of makes sense. Very good conch chowder and fried frogs' legs, too. Just bear in mind that most of the recipes remain unchanged from the '50s, so while boiled garlic crabs shine, crab cakes are kinda bland and bready by today's standards.
Best time-warp barbecue in the area and the best chopped pork sandwich are at the Georgia Pig (owned by cousins of the folks with a a place of the same name in Brunswick, GA) at US 441 and Davie Blvd. in SW Ft. Lauderdale. It's been there since around 1953 and still in the same family. Very good ribs, okay sides and chicken, unremarkable beef like most down here, but fantastic chopped pork sandwiches, Brunswick stew and homemade, very 1950s pie. The place doesn't look like it's been spruced up since around 1972. Like most good BBQ joints in these parts, closed Sunday and I think Monday.
I'm not as sure of my footing in Palm Beach County as I am in Broward, so maybe you don't have to drive down to the Dania-Hollywood border along US1 to find a great old clam shack. But Tark's will definitely make you happy. As will Dairy Belle, a Quebecois incarnation of a circa 1940s hot dog stand (complete with poutine and guedilles) in Dania. No googie touches, but their burgers and dogs are definitely from the era.
A couple of highlights much closer to Boynton, more for signage than the food but not bad for that either, are Fran's Chicken Haven in a strip mall along US1 in Boca, and Doc's, a modernized old burger and ice cream stand in the heart of downtown Delray, at the corner of Atlantic and Swinton.
Not vintage, but retro, is the Jetsetter Lounge, a new bar/restaurant on US1 around N. 10th Av. in Lake Worth, 10 minutes north of Boynton. A space-age theme, midcentury-style furniture, a tiki garden, walls filled with artwork by Shag, Derek Yaniger and that batch of contemporary retro artists, via an owner who loves the stuff. Very much a quirky labor of love and a bit of a work in progress. Some startlingly good food, too.
If you want some elaboration, head on over to my moribund blog where you'll find in the right hand column an email address where I can be reached. I'm fairly plugged in to the midcentury thing.
Ellie's Diner in south Boynton, set in a 50's motif. I saw the post of the Jetsetter in Lake Worth. Newly opened, haven't tried it yet
Troy's Bar-Be-Cue 1017 North Federal Highway, Boynton Beach,#740-1125, Thursday to Saturday, 4:30 to Close. This is a classic old time roadside bbq joint. Just east of 95 and just north of Boynton Beach Blvd, it sits abot 20 yards from an active railroad track. Place is just a shack, broken sign, needs a paint job. You order throuh a window so grimey you can't even see the guy on the other side. No inside to sit, no tables anywhere, you eat in your car or take it home. Ribs are very good, not Tom Jenkins good, but tasty. Sides of mac and greens were o.k. as was the cake, lemonade tasted like it was from a mix. I don't know how far I would travel for this place, but if you are in Boynton you should check it out.
I also agree with SMK (one of the most reliable hounds on this board) about the Georgia Pig. I found this place from his post and ate there three times in ten days in December. Great chopped pork, Brunswick stew and pie( I really loved the pecan pie). I have been eating at Doc's in Delray for a decade. It is a "Happy Day's" kind of place, patty melt on texas toast, well done fries and a shake is my meal of choice. On a nice night you sit out and watch the world go by. Fran's has great fried chicken and terrible everything else. Reminds me of the old Chicken Delight chain from Queens in the 1960's. The seating capacity is about ten people. Be prepared to smell like fried chicken(not the worst thing in the world) when you leave as the giant friers are in the same room as the tables. If you discover anything new, don't forget to report back