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Pompano-based for a few days

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Leaving the mountains of beautiful snow here in Toronto to visit with friends in Pompano Beach this week. We'll also be driving up to Delray/Boynton Beach on one of those days and will otherwise have a car so happy for any recs in this stretch. We love great food, prefer casual to fancy, love warm and gracious service. One of my friends is a bit hard of hearing so can't go anywhere with too much noise in the room. Reading through the posts on this board, my short-list so far consists of Cafe La Buca and Tacqueria Dona Raquel in Pompano and The Grove and perhaps Scuola Vecchia in Delray. A few questions:

- any place to get a great americano or other espresso-based drinks? The closer to Pompano the better but I will definitely travel for great coffee.
- any place you'd recommend where we can sit by the water and have a lovely (preferably light-ish) breakfast or lunch? If not the water, then a pretty courtyard or other special setting?
- is Fish Shack recommended for lunch?
- favourite spot(s) to grab an ice cream cone?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Looks like you did some pretty good research. Good for you!

    A few comments...

    * If you love warm and gracious service, I strorgly suggest Calypso over Fish Shack. Fish Shack is an interesting, local dive with some good deals.

    But if you are all grownups that don't mind paying a few extra bucks for a more professional dining experience, IMO you will be far far happier at Calypso.

    * "Sit by the water and have lovely breakfast or lunch":

    Suprsingly difficult request! Some thoughts (lunch), Aruba Beach Cafe in LBTS, Houstons in Pompano, Two Georges in Boynton.

    For breakfast, it might just be worth the trip to hit Dune Deck, on the ocean in Lake Worth above Boynton. I guarantee you've never had breakfast with this view in Toronto!

    In Delray, The Grove is casual (as is really all of SoFla), but not cheap so be prepared for that. However it's getting great notices. It's also small and mostly indoors and they focus on a very very small special menu, done well.

    In the same area, Brulee is turning some heads lately. And of course, 2 doors down, there's also highly acclaimed Max's Harvest.

    And I love love love Scuola Vecchia for world class Neapolitan Pizza, but for tourists from up north, it is basically a smaller indoors restaurant w a small amount of outdoor seating, But if you are dying for some super pizza, by all means go go go.

    Also for Delray on a small step down, you might want to take a look at DaDa which is a lot of fun for folks from up north. If you make a res be sure to request outdoors in the lovely at night front "courtyard".

    Ditto for the nearby and owner-related Tryst which has a nice outdoor courtyard, right on the Ave with all the action. Park Tavern would be another option.

    5 Replies
    1. re: CFByrne

      Thank you!! I reviewed a number of your earlier posts when I was doing my research - most helpful.

      I like the looks of Dune Deck - reminds me of a place I went many years ago. John G's? Same general area, I think (see that it's moved now). Same kind of place? Would it be good for lunch as well as breakfast?

      Looks like Delray has a lot of solid offerings - I have a feeling we may just be there for one lunch or dinner as I don't want to keep driving up from Pompano. I will look up all the places you've mentioned. Oh yeah, DaDa, I've been there - 6 or so years ago - we ate outside by the giant tree, lots of things hanging off. I don't remember the food so much but I think we enjoyed ourselves.

      I've been to Houston's in Pompano before. It was years ago but I remember it being a lovely setting for lunch and I think the food was good, if not crazy amazing. In my fantasy, there would be a little cafe or beach shack, the kind of place you may find in Bondi Beach or something like that, with outstanding coffee and pancakes/granola/eggs and fresh juice to enjoy while looking at the surf...

      And speaking of coffee...anywhere????

      Thanks again.

      1. re: peppermint pate

        > We love great food, prefer casual to fancy

        You should also then seriously consider the short drive north from Pompano to Deerfied, and check out Charm CIty Burgers and El Jefe Lucador "Mexican Street Food".

        Same owners, both are order-at-counter seat-yourself self-service.

        Charm City is quite consistenty winning awards for best burgers in south Florida.

        And El Jefe has some of the most interesting "gourmet" / "foodie" twists on tacos etc you'll find anywhere.

        Both are near US1 and Hillsboro, so practically in N Pompano.

        1. re: CFByrne

          Thanks - how does El Jefe compare to Dona Raquel? My friend doesn't eat red meat so I'll file away the Charm City note for a future trip.

          Hmm, should I pack my own beans and French press? Still not much of an indie coffee scene in this stretch of south Florida?

          1. re: peppermint pate

            El Jefe is funky with ecelectic tacos that Dona Raquel doesn't have, however Dona Raquel is more authentic. My favorite is the Mistico Dragon at el Jefe. They put an asian slaw on top of pork. Delicious!

            1. re: peppermint pate

              Let's put it this way...

              Dona Raquel: Only recently added English translations to menu.

              El Jefe: Staffed with ink-covered and pierced Boca kids.

              Very different, polar opposites, both excellent.

              El Jefe is kind-of narrow and can get noisy and crowded, you mentioned that could be a no-no. Dona is quite spacious.

              So in your case, that could be the deciding factor.

      2. Enjoyed a few gorgeous, sun-soaked days in your lovely neck of the woods and wanted to provide a little feedback...had one night in Delray. Really wanted to try The Grove but it was closed that night. Coincidentally, while milling around and waiting for our patio table at Max's Harvest, we met the chef from The Grove (Megan), who was there to do some prep work. She gave us a peek inside and couldn't have been friendlier - truly wished we could have made it back there but there wasn't a chance. Anyway, after a ridiculous experience with the hostess at Max's Harvest (for which some of the other staff later apologized to us), we finally got seated out front. Highlights were the fried gnocchi and the harvest salad as well as the arctic char. Very good, fresh flavours with quality ingredients. Desserts were so tempting but we were stuffed - stepping across the Canada-US border tends to double the portion size and I'm always amazed by how much food there is. Anyway, food was very good.

        Favourite dinner was at Cafe La Buca - the kind of place I'd only ever find because of you 'hounds and one which I was happy to introduce my Pompano friend to! As many have noted, it's a brightly lit spot in an unassuming plaza.It's BYOB (no corkage) and no menus or prices. You just head over to see what they've prepared that day and they give you some of whatever you want. There were only 2 of us that night but they were lovely in offering us smaller portions so we could sample a few things - the oft-recommended roasted peppers were outstanding, the best I've ever had. The rapini was great, as was the grilled zucchini wrapped around cheese. I liked the brussels sprouts with pancetta, though a few bites were enough for me. The mushrooms were good too. We ate it all with some freshly baked bread that had been puffed up in the wood-burning oven. Glorious. For our main, we shared a simple pasta with marinara sauce and fresh ricotta - just perfect. Service could not have been more gracious. They take great pride in their food. Next time, I will go back with more people so we can sample more of the starters and try one of those pizzas I was smelling all night. Highly recommended. Oh, and our bill for 2 was $64 (pre-tip), including leftovers - totally worth it.

        We had 2 good (not great but good) lunches that were elevated by their lovely settings - the first was at Blue Moon Fish Company in Lauderdale by the Sea. I've actually been there before - it's lovely to sit on the intercoastal waters and watch the boats go by. Their 2 for 1 lunch menu is the way to go. The second lunch was at the Morikami Japanese Gardens - such a lovely spot.

        And one little rec to send back your way - in my (tireless) search for good coffee, I wandered into The Daisy, a cafe in Lauderdale By the Sea. Such a cute spot and lovely service. The coffee was decent, the morning glory muffins were delicious, super friendly staff (who remembered me when I went back the second day!), free wi-fi and steps to the beach. Very sweet place - recommended.

        Thanks again for all of your recs - will likely be back at some point next year and I'll be sure to seek your input first. Enjoy the sunshine!