Hailed as the best new restaurant in Palm Beach County by New Times Broward-Palm Beach, Kapow! Noodle Bar's executive chef Caleb Holman creates Asian-inspired comfort food using locally-sourced ingredients. The kitchen churns out a flavor-packed menu that blends Vietnamese, Korean, and French elements. The beef yukke—a small plate of Korean-style beef tartare—combines truffled brioche crisps with kimchee and wasabi sour cream. Ramen noodles welcome the flavors of meat, veggies, and soft-boiled eggs. For dessert, cinnamon-sugar and banana caramel sauce sweeten vanilla cheesecake spring rolls.
While bartenders mix cocktails and pour craft beers, diners eat near a 28-foot mural created by self-taught tattoo artist Michael “Pooch” Pucciarelli. As the woman in the painting raises a bowl of noodles, mountains and waterways backdrop billows of steam and colorful butterflies. This mural encapsulates the Indochine vibe sought after by restaurateurs Scott Frielich, Vaughan Lazar, and Rodney Mayo. A designer as well as an owner, Rodney furnished the restaurant with reclaimed wood tables and a 25-foot bar made with sorghum straw that extends onto an outdoor patio. These rustic accouterments continue the sustainable approach that the owners have taken in previous restaurants, such as Dada, The Dubliner, and Pizza Fusion.
When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.
Carrying a pita, a diner approaches a salad bar brimming with pickled condiments, crunchy vegetables, and sauces. Without paying or even speaking to someone behind the counter, the diner lifts the spoon and festoons the pita with a pile of fresh toppings, ready to start the meal anew. At most restaurants, this could get you kicked out, but at Maoz Vegetarian, it’s not only overlooked, but also encouraged. After choosing from such vegetarian and vegan-friendly options as gluten-free falafel and fried eggplant, pita wraps or salads head to the stainless-steel salad bar. Belgian fries—a thick-cut version of their french cousins—and mounds of sweet-potato fries complement sandwiches and salads along with green-chili sauce, tahini sauce, and salsa for dipping and boosting the self-esteem of napkins.
While feasting, diners sit atop benches at long, shared tables that emulate the communal lunch joints of old in the unabashedly modern chain of restaurants, founded in Amsterdam two decades ago. Mirroring the eatery’s fresh, stylish food, the interior at Maoz features green tiled walls and steel fixtures illuminated by hanging lamps and baby pictures of supernovas.
At the center of Playtown Cafe’s child-size indoor town, servers escort gourmet sandwiches, wraps, and flatbreads to parents and kids seated at café tables. As their parents continue to munch and mingle, children frolic in and out of small storefronts painted in bright colors, pretending to run a bakery, create masterpieces in an art gallery, and shoplift from La Boutique. Youngsters dress up as superheroes and princesses in the boutique; play air hockey, arcade games, and dual Nintendo Wiis inside the garage; and manipulate a train set in the building zone, which is designed to resemble an unfinished house.
To burn off boundless stores of energy, kids can cross the play-city’s traffic-free road to cavort in a turf-floored indoor park, where staffers monitor them as they scale climbing walls, cross blue climbing bars, and shoot down wavy orange slides. Playtown’s staffers show an additional commitment to safety as they oversee a separate play area and ball pit designed just for toddlers, which is free of boogie monsters.
A blue awning and fragrant wall of tropical flowers transform Taso’s Greek Taverna’s patio into a private enclave, illuminated by a string of twinkling lights. Inside, the ambiance is no less welcoming: sunlight streams through windows and illuminates pale-yellow walls and paintings of Mediterranean vistas. At the restaurant’s sister location, Taso’s Greek Taverna 2, the atmosphere is just as charming, with glistening wooden tables and a serpentine ceiling outlined with fluorescent light.
The ambiance is the first sign of Chef Taso Katechis’s commitment to celebrating Mediterranean culture. In the kitchen, chefs roast lamb and beef, stuff fresh fish and flaky filo dough with spinach and feta, and garnish their edible masterpieces with traditional accoutrements of Greek potatoes and warm, homemade pita. Additionally, they serve up a kid’s menu of Greek specialties to help create an experience that’s pleasing to both children and parents, much like a sock-puppet rendition of Law and Order.
Fernando Ferraretto d’Avila and chef Mennan Tekeli seemed destined for the food business. Both were surrounded by restaurant life from an early age and honed their skills abroad. Fernando owned restaurants in Brazil, and Mennan journeyed through Asia and down Europe's marinara-filled rivers in search of new flavors. When the two finally met in 2010, they decided to open a restaurant that would put their personal twists on Italian classics. Ovenella stands as the embodiment of their efforts.
At the eatery, chandeliers cast a glow across sleek black and white walls, as well as the tables and wooden bar topped with Italian dishes of pasta with hand-crafted meatballs, lobster and crab ravioli, and beef carpaccio. Within the kitchen's wood-burning brick oven, plum tomatoes, olive oil, and signature sauces cook atop pizzas. To round out the Italian dining experience, servers fill glasses with imported red and white wines.