Alongside the flags of various sports teams, an abundance of flat-screen TVs parades throughout Grand Tavern of Delray Beach, beaming big games down below into a spacious, well-lit dining and bar area. There, visitors dig into gourmet, made-from-scratch bar food such as barbecue ribs and succulent 10-ounce rib eyes. Throughout the week, special events help further juice the restaurant's atmosphere, including classic car shows on Tuesdays, trivia on Wednesdays, and live music on Saturdays.
An Irish blessing over the entrance of Paddy McGee’s reads: “May the friendships you make here, be those which endure.” Under the green-and-white stained-glass dome of the Irish pub, comrades might meet over a pint of frothy beer or a sporting event beaming out from flat-screen TVs. The menu offers more substantive sustenance, including selections such as towering burgers, fish 'n’ chips, and philly cheese steaks that complement a broad range of liquors and brews. At night, diners pay no cover to enjoy the music of live bands, which resounds in the bar, spilling out onto the breezy patio and the street beyond, free to find a new job as elevator music or the mechanical lullaby in a baby mobile.
Though SoLita Delray's lounge-like atmosphere hosts live music and DJs on the weekend, nightlife isn't even its main draw. In addition to a bustling lounge and courtyard, SoLita—or "south of Little Italy"— houses a hopping kitchen where chefs cook Italian meals using generations-old family recipes. Local and imported ingredients give zings of flavor to all dishes. Fresh pastas come draped in sauces from light, spicy tomato broth to rich mascarpone cream. For heartier fare, chefs grill rib-eye steaks, veal chops, and filet mignon or roast whole fish with lemon, olive oil, and jokes about diminutive fin size.
Housed in a restored 1924 bungalow, Dada feels more like a chic friend's home than a typical restaurant. The owners use its different rooms to their advantage, offering a choice of spaces with different artwork and ambience. In one, you might eat a quiet, romantic dinner next to a fireplace; in another, there might be a reggae band playing well into the evening. Other performers take to the open mics in the basement, and outside voices are allowed to run free in a huge yard twinkling with lights. It all adds up to an experience that's quite different from the usual mold of South Florida nightlife, and the name Dada reflects that art movement's love for incongruous juxtapositions.
There's nothing absurd or surreal about two-time Delray Beach Garlic Festival champion chef Bruce Feingold's cuisine, however?it's simply creative, eclectic, and accessible. There is, for instance, a sandwich spilling over with seven different kinds of cheese?ranked as the second best grilled cheese in the area by the New Times (which has also given Dada high marks for its late-night eats and its bartenders). There are also more grown-up options, including lots of fresh fish. But for dessert, it's hard to resist the pure decadence of the Bunny, a sticky brownie with ice cream and bacon caramel.