The votes are in after nearly 5 million restaurant reviews were submitted by OpenTable to find the Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants in the country. Designed as a real-time online reservation network for fine dining in all 50 states, OpenTable allows Internet users to make reservations online, read reviews and earn points towards free meals. While 15 Florida locations made the top 100 list, The Palm Beaches & Boca Raton boasts three of them.
If planning to visit South Florida, these three locations are ones you won’t want to miss.
Buccan – Palm Beach, FL
The wood-burning oven and grill are the centerpiece of Chef Clay Conley’s kitchen where the innovative small plates and entrees are masterfully created. While the flavors and food are sophisticated, the atmosphere is casual and fun. The large communal table is a focal point of the restaurant and a great place to explore the small plate menus with favorites such as the Squid Ink Orecchiette at $14 and the U8 Shrimp “Scampi” at $7.50 per piece. For a look inside the kitchen, the main dining room offers views from nearly every seat.
The menu boasts new takes on classic favorites, the Pretzel Crusted Maine Crab Cake for example with a bacon vinaigrette and honey mustard and the Steak Tartare served with black truffle and a crispy egg yolk.
A favorite for the chef himself is the Short Rib Empanada with Salsa Criolla and Aji Amarillo, inspired by his time living in the Latin American mecca of the States: Miami. This dish is the perfect combination of richness and acidity, with just a touch of heat. And the velvety short rib and crunchy dough creates the sharp textural contrast for which the chef is known. “It’s all about balance,” explains Conley.
When asked how he prepares this dish, he shares: “We braise beef short rib in red wine, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and veal stock for three hours. The meat is folded in empanada dough and fried until crispy. The empanadas are garnished with three sauces. First, we use an aioli made with aji amarillo – a yellow Peruvian pepper paste – and lime. The second is a ‘salsa criolla,’ basically a salsa made with garlic, red onion, red pepper, extra virgin oil, cilantro and vinegar. The last sauce to be drizzled on the plate is the reduction of the cooking liquid from the short rib.”
The Office- Delray Beach, FL
The Office refers to itself as a charmed neighborhood watering hole despite the throbs of attention the modern American Gastropub has been receiving. Just a short walk from the beach, the Atlantic Avenue eatery has people driving for miles in search of an ice cold beer and mouth-watering burger. The sandwiches are all served with shoestring fries or vegetables of the day (the fries are amazing!). Cleverly named, the Prime Office Cheeseburger, Prime CEO Burger and Prime Boss Burger are a few of the menu’s classic choices. Home cooked favorites such as the meatloaf, ale battered fish and creamy mac and cheese add to The Office’s appeal.
Fortunately, the interior feelings nothing like a real office. Outdoor seating is available for alfresco dinners and the bar is the perfect spot to make a dent in The Office’s impressive beer list.
You should know… All of The Office’s burgers are made with a proprietary blend of beef. No one else in the world uses the same blend!
Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar – Boca Raton, FL
If looking for a good margarita, look no further than Rocco’s Tacos & Tequila Bar in Boca Raton. Located in the Town Center, Rocco’s Tacos is not your typical cantina. The décor, complete with cool chandeliers and an open, airy patio makes guests feel as though they are vacationing abroad. After a few margaritas, the guacamole is the next go-to item. Prepared tableside, it is some of the best you’ll ever taste and the chips are amazing. Of course, the traditional tacos are delicious and start at just $2.95 but the full menu includes famously good enchiladas, ensaladas and more. While nothing lacks presentation, the molcajetes (Rocco’s fajitas) arrive sizzling in a lava rock bowl from Mexico and include all your favorite toppings.
Insider’s Tip: Rocco is known for his hospitality and his social media hook-ups – follow him on Facebook, Twitter & Foursquare for free cocktails, shots and other giveaways!