City Guide - West Palm Beach
Disclaimer: This recent trip to West Palm was more about rest, relaxation and lots of pool time rather than hitting the streets during the notorious August temps in Florida. I still tried to do some exploring, but you'll notice this city guide isn't quite as robust as others.
Exploring is fun, but sometimes soaking in a pool while watching the Office for hours on end is better for you than binge eating and stressing over getting a lot of content.
Hotel prices during the height of summer were at a premium, and I really longed for quiet and privacy, so we found a vacation rental on VRBO. I would highly recommend this particular house. It was cute, comfortable and located in a quiet neighborhood known as Flamingo Parks. The house is updated, has as private pool, and was centrally located to downtown. It was also just minutes from the popular Grandview Public Market.
DO + SEE
It's easy to take multiple visits to Grandview Market while in West Palm Beach. The first thing you notice when you walk up the steps is the large communal seating space outside. It has a very welcoming, tropical South Florida vibe with an expansive porch for lounging, eating, and playing corn hole; complete with large fans to help keep things cool.
When you enter you will find less of a market stall feeling and more of an open, well-designed food court with a variety of seating areas. There are currently twelve vendors in the space offering tastes that include pizza, tacos, ice cream, poke bowls, coffee, smoothies, acai bowls, ramen, sandwiches, and a full bar.
There is also an interior seating room where you will find workers on laptops and friends hanging out in the air conditioning, all within another colorful and well-designed setting.
Within the warehouse district, and a few hundred feet from the public market, you will find another great space to explore. Elizabeth Avenue Station is best described as a retail space filled with local and imported goods, that doubles as a community event space. During your visit I would check to see if any fun events are happening.
Unlike spaces that are pretty, but sell only goods the average person cannot splurge on, Elizabeth Ave Station does a really nice job of tantalizing the eye with an attractive range of gifts and wares, but not isolating you from getting to treat yourself. Also noteworthy, their staff was so outgoing and helpful which in spaces like this has been a rare treat to experience.
While the outdoor space is used for gatherings you'll also find a stationary air stream owned by Bohemian Groove, a mobile fashion truck.
EAT + DRINK
Named after the owner, Loic is a newer cafe in downtown West Palm, that isn't just french in name. On a quiet Saturday morning the cafe was half full but still a peaceful place to sit and enjoy a delicious almond croissant and a very grand looking overnight oats with coffee. There is much more to the menu than sweets, so you can visit anytime of day. I would definitley stop by when in town.
I really enjoyed my dinner at Grato, which I kept saying reminded me of Prato back home in Orlando. Known for an elevated experience of pizzas and pastas, this meal was satisfying from beginning to end. It's a beautiful space while still feeling casual enough to dress down.
For all you Moscow Mule lovers, they have a delicious frozen version that is equally refreshing and potent.
Our meal started with the R.I. Style Calamari (cherry “bomb” butter, lemon-garlic aioli) and we then graduated to a carb feast of the Sunday Gravy pasta (paccheri, veal, pork, beef, basil) and the spicy Italian sausage pizza (fontina, broccoli rabe, pepperoncini). Absolutely no complaints on the entire meal, and the ending triumph was the affogato I got for dessert.
Northwood Road is another small strip of restaurants and shops you can check out away from the busy downtown district, and there you will find the popular Grilled Cheese Galleria. While it's known for its gooey and stackable grilled cheese sammies, I went for an after dinner dessert, the Saturday Morning Cartoon ice cream. This fun and large waffle cone is filled with vanilla soft serve and topped with the favorite sugary cereals of your past like Cookie Crisp, Fruity Pebbles, and Cap'n Crunch.
Shops full of Mexican paletas aren't on every corner, so when you find one you stop. I only found this place because I was searching for desserts near our rental (take heart Orlando, we aren't the only Florida city severely lacking in ice cream shops). There was a much larger menu than I anticipated, but I focused solely on grabbing a pop, of which there was also an intimidating amount of flavors. To be honest, I can't remember what flavor I got, but I can tell you it was superb, and I would absolutely go back next time I'm in the area.
Located in the popular mixed-use shopping center City Place, you'll find the very pink and decadent Sloan's Ice Cream. While it might hurt the eyes just a bit, it's not a bad stop for a hefty treat like the ice cream sandwich seen below. It's a busy touristy spot, but if you are doing some shopping it's not a bad place to take a beat and get a sweet, big or small.
Clematis Street is definitely one of the more popular areas where you will find a mixture of places to eat and drink, so I wouldn't dare tell you which one is worth your buck. We ventured to Kapow one night and in all honesty I think I'd need another trip to know whether or not to recommend it. It's got a fun vibe, and an interesting drink menu, but the food was just okay. The ramen didn't stand out and the Korean Fried Chicken and Asian Street corn both lacked flavor and punch.
The meal wasn't bad, it was just meh. I had heard good things about Hullabaloo next door, but I ran out of time and stomach space to try it. So, I'm not saying don't go, I'm saying proceed with caution.
Where there is Cuban bread and lechon, there I will be. Recommended by an Orlando friend, a quick lunch at Havana was in order to give me sustenance to power through comic book shop hunting, and Havana hit the spot. Cuban bread is served right off the bat, even before drink orders, and the two heaping piles of Lechon Asado Con Cebolla followed quickly. If I had one note on the meal it would be the mojo sauce wasn't quite powerful enough for me, but overall I give this place 8 out of 10 of Abuela's moo moos.
Is any trip complete without trying a new taco spot? I was a bit hesitant to go thanks to the great Orlando taco burnout, but I'm glad I didn't let the sad cold tortillas and flavorless meats of my past stop me.
When you order tacos here, each order is actually two tacos, so keep that in mind as you load up. I tried the smoked pork, fried fish, and pork belly, with the fried fish being my favorite. I would recommend you pass on the margarita, sadly it was mainly sour mix. Cholo is a small spot, with just a few tables inside and a back porch with communal seating so if it is busy get ready to be cozy with some new friends.
This was my second visit to Subculture Coffee, but they have expanded their space, now double in size with a cafe section where you can order off a small menu. On a Sunday morning the space was completely packed out, although the coffee was still served quickly. However, the cafe counter was struggling to handle the busy rush.
It's a popular spot, being both in a busy area on Clematis Street and having a gorgeous mural in their courtyard, but the service and quality was definitely not the same that I experienced on my past visits when the shop was smaller and quieter. It's still one of the more popular spots for coffee in the city, so while it's worth a latte beware trying to get food during peak times.
West Palm Art
Most of the large murals in West Palm can be found in Downtown West Palm, and even some of their parking structures are bright and happy.