Update: Winter Restaurant & Bar Bucket List and Reviews

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If you read my Winter Restaurant & Bar Bucket List, you'd see that I had quite a bold list of new and new-to-me places to visit. It served as a great guide for when I wanted to try somewhere different, and held me accountable. It's easy to continue going back to the reliable places you know and love without branching out. I'm rather impressed with myself overall! I didn't do quite as well in Orlando, but I went to a few new to me places not included in the bucket list that I'll be reviewing soon. This season, I had one of the best meals of my life, explored Sanford and traveled to Austin! Now I am working on my spring bucket list, which will be a bit smaller with so many pre-planned wedding festivities to attend.

West Palm Beach, FL

  • Civil Society Brewing Company in Jupiter  – Visited
    After going here for the first time when I was gluten-free and had no options, I returned for St. Patrick's Day as a part of the Downtown Abacoa block party. They had IPAs, double IPAs and one blonde ale. I went with a lemon lime IPA called Zest. I would say IPAs are still not my preference, but it was tasty. I wish they had more, lighter beers, so I'm not in a rush to return.
  • The Parched Pig in Palm Beach Gardens  – Visited
    This new spot in the same plaza, and from the same owners as, Coolinary Cafe was definitely a favorite discovery of the season. Their leather bound menu features a wide range of craft beers, some local some not, as well as wine. They also serve interesting and gourmet small plates, such as a the cheesy cauliflower gratin with Serrano ham (delicious!). They have happy hour daily from 4-6pm, and $1 oysters every Monday night. They feature three different types of oysters each week, so having gone twice, I've been able to try 6 different kinds. The decor is chic yet comfortable, with great music too. Overall, I'm very impressed and will continue to go back.
  • Coolinary Cafe in Palm Beach Gardens – Visited
    Rated one of the top restaurants in Palm Beach County for many years, I finally went to Coolinary Cafe for a few starters. We ordered the deviled eggs, chicken liver pate, and Southern fried calamari. Our favorite out of the three were the calamari, which were very tender and flavorful. They serve wine and beer only, with two small bars inside. I ordered the Original Sin Rose Cider, but would return for wine at the beautiful wine bar. I look forward to going back!
  • Paddy Mac's Irish Pub & Restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens  – Visited
    This one is a bit random, but I loved Irish Pubs in New York City and never thought South Florida would have an authentic one until I discovered this place online. It's tucked away in a familiar plaza at a major intersection locally, and all of the servers were Irish (accents and all)! The Bangers & Mash and Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup were tasty, and I always love a Magners Cider.
  • Brass Ring Pub in North Palm Beach – Visited
    There was a surprisingly long wait for a mid-afternoon on a Saturday, but we were able to snag two seats at the bar. The burgers were juicy and flavorful – I enjoyed the mushroom burger specifically. It was a smoky (from the burgers, not cigarettes), dive bar atmosphere with a lot of singles eating at the bar alongside us. I felt a little rushed by the crowd and the hustling service, so we were probably there for 45 minutes total. I returned one late night when it was not so busy. We got to hang out and enjoy our beers in frosted mugs, and of course, another mushroom burger. We met a local who was incredible at the brass ring game by the front entrance and taught my boyfriend the tricks. Needless to say, we were there much longer as he worked to perfect his technique.
  • Leila in West Palm Beach – Visited
    I have passed by this Middle Eastern restaurant in Downtown West Palm Beach so many times and was always intrigued. I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines! They have a Mezza Tour option on their dinner menu, which includes 6 of their Mezza of your choice for $49. It's a perfect amount of food for two people to share as their full meal. My uncle and I shared the yulanji, im-saáa, burak, muhammara, náanak (my personal favorite) and the koosa b'dibs ruman (second favorite).
  • Pistache in West Palm Beach – Visited
    I went to dinner here for Mussels Monday, which is when they offer unlimited mussels for a couple dollars more than the regular mussels on their menu. I did not opt for the Mussels Monday special however, because the regular portion is plenty! Regardless, they were delicious. Definitely sit outside on the front patio if you can!
  • West Palm Brewery & Wine Vault in West Palm Beach – Visited
    Reviewed on the blog here as one of the Top 3 New Openings of the season! Since visiting, they have setup patio furniture outside. I can't wait to go back!
  • The Blind Monk in West Palm Beach – Visited
    Since this is down the road from West Palm Brewery, I stopped in for a cider at the bar and listened to live folk music. It's a small, cozy spot perfect for a date, quick drink or a fresh bite.
  • Restoration Hardware Rooftop in West Palm Beach – Visited
    Reviewed on the blog here as one of the Top 3 New Openings of the season! I've been twice and look forward to returning. It is stunning!
  • Costa in Palm Beach – Visited
    I went as a part of my happy hour hop – reviewed here. I am dying to go back for their salt-baked branzino!
  • Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach – Visited
    I went as a part of my happy hour hop – reviewed here, and have since returned again. I hope to try some of their food next time I go, but in the meantime, their cocktails out on the couches is idyllic. My second trip, I tried their La Passion with gin, elderflower, pineapple and lemon. Perfect light spring/summer drink!
  • Chez L'epicier in Palm Beach – Visited
    I went as a part of my happy hour hop – reviewed here. I'm still talking about how shockingly good of a deal it was!
  • Flagler Steakhouse in Palm Beach – Visited
    I loved the Grilled Artichokes, Blue Crab Dumplings and Petit Filet Mignon. You can order the cooking temperature of your steak in "plus" increments, which I never knew existed! I ordered Medium Rare Plus (between Medium Rare and Rare) and it was perfect. They also had a vegetarian menu; my best friend loved their veggie chili. Excellent service in a beautiful dining room. The outdoor balcony seating overlooks The Breakers golf course. I hope to return!

Where I Didn't Make It To:

  • PGA National's iBar 
    With the Honda Classic going on, I knew the bar would be packed that whole week, which isn't always great for a first impression. I also didn't go that far west on PGA for any restaurants this season, so it's location was never convenient. It will be moving to my Spring Bucket List!
  • Sant Ambroeus in Palm Beach
    I've been to this restaurant in NYC a couple times, but they recently opened a location in Palm Beach and it is the absolute hot spot. I walked past it in the newly designed Royal Poinciana Plaza and it was packed! This will also be moving to my Spring Bucket List, but will likely be reserved for a day-time meal or a special occasion.

Orlando, FL

  • Kadence in Audubon Park – Visited
    I took my boyfriend here for the sushi and sashimi pre-fixe dinner for his birthday, that I reviewed in detail here. It was absolutely incredible!
  • Osprey Tavern in Baldwin Park
    What I loved about going here was that I got to see the downtown area of the Baldwin Park neighborhood, which I had never been to before. My boyfriend and I agreed it is a similar vibe to Abacoa in Jupiter, where Civil Society Brewing (above) is located. We ordered the Spicy Peach cocktail on happy hour, which was perfect – not too peachy, not too spicy! I appreciated that they were willing to increase/decrease the habanero to your liking. Also a part of the happy hour menu, we ordered the Grilled Oysters. I won't say no to a good oysters happy hour deal! Not on the happy hour menu, we ordered the Charred Spanish Octopus and Charcuterie & Cheese platter to share, and individual entrees including the Steak & Caesar Salad, Black Grouper, Duck Breast and Pork Chop. Everything was delicious, and the portions were very generous – especially the pork chop and entree-size salad! The Charcuterie & Cheese platter only had a spreadable ricotta cheese and crumbled blue cheese, the rest meats and pickled vegetables, which was surprising but still enjoyable. The atmosphere was bright and airy, with big windows lining two sides of the restaurant and an open floor plan. I would absolutely return, and hope to check out the surrounding restaurants as well. 

Where I Didn't Make It To:

  • The Glass Knife in Winter Park 
    My boyfriend and I thought this would be a cute place for dessert during his birthday weekend. Since we ended up going to Sanford and had a feast at Kadence, it never happened. It remains on the list! 
  • Hotto Potto in Baldwin Park
    I love a good hot pot, but I'm afraid I might have missed the opportunity to go here with the weather slowly warming up. It's a perfect winter meal, but once it's in the 80s, it might not be my first choice. One day! 
  • Dovecote in Downtown Orlando 
    I almost went here once before but we had to change plans last-minute. As one of the best restaurants in Downtown Orlando, it remains on the list!

Austin, TX

With a rapidly growing food scene in Austin, I had a few bucket list items below. I've shared two city guides since that go more in depth – where to stay & eat, and where to drink & what to do. What are you waiting for? Go check them out!

  • Breakfast burritos – Check!
    I had the best tacos ever, and they were from a food truck!
  • Texas BBQ – Check!
    Like the taco aforementioned, I had the most incredible BBQ too! It is famous for good reason.
  • Cute patio dining – Check!
    The weather was cool for most of the trip, but we did get to enjoy lovely patio dining while eating a healthy lunch.
  • Live entertainment – Check!
    Although this isn't something we experienced as much as we expected, there certainly were live musicians playing at the bars on Sixth Street.
  • Happy hour deals – Check!
    Before the Super Bowl, we hopped around Rainey Street and found some happy hour drink deals.
  • Speakeasy bars – Check!
    The cocktail bar in a parking garage did not disappoint.

What restaurants and bars on your Spring Bucket List?

In This Adventure

  • Bars

    • Civil Society Brewing civilsocietybrewing.com

      A family-operated brewing company focused on hop-forward beer.

    • The Parched Pig theparchedpig.com

      A craft beer & wine bar owned and operated by Tim Lipman of Coolinary Cafe.

    • Brass Ring Pub brassringpub.rkorson.com

      Standby for beer, burgers & standard pub fare in a down-to-earth setting with pool tables.

    • West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault westpalmbeer.com

      A modern brewery, wine bar and restaurant located in Downtown West Palm Beach.

    • The Blind Monk theblindmonk.com

      Chic, dimly lit tapas bar specializing in a large selection of affordable wines & small bites.

  • Restaurants

    • Coolinary Cafe coolinarycafe.com

      Innovative, market-driven American dishes & a refined wine list in a sparse but cozy dining room.

    • Paddy Mac’s Irish Pub & Restaurant paddymacsirishpub.com

      Lively neighborhood pub known for its classic Irish cooking & draft beers, plus weekend live music.

    • Leila Restaurant leilawpb.com

      Opulent setting for Middle Eastern dishes paired with weekend belly dancing shows & hookah pipes.

    • Pistache pistachewpb.com

      Hip French cafe turning out traditional cuisine in art-nouveau-style digs by Centennial Park.

    • Flagler Steakhouse thebreakers.com/dining/flagler-steakhouse

      Old-school spot for classic steak & seafood dishes in an elegant room with views of the golf course.

    • Costa Palm Beach costapb.com

      A Mediterranean eatery that honors centuries old traditions and classics in a modern dining room, an open kitchen and oyster bar. 

    • Café Boulud cafeboulud.com/palmbeach

      Daniel Boulud's upscale French cuisine served in an elegant hotel setting with an outdoor terrace.

    • Chez L’Epicier chezlepicier.com/palmbeach

      Set in a French country décor, Chez L’Épicier offers French Canadian Cuisine in a laid back atmosphere.

    • Kadence kadenceorlando.com

      Snug reservations-only Japanese restaurant featuring multi-course sushi meals plus sake.

    • The Osprey Tavern ospreytavern.com

      Lively American spot with an open kitchen & central bar, offering a creative take on the classics.

  • Attractions

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