So I was down in Jupiter for a high school showcase event – bit of a dud, really, but I had to go at least once to check it out – and hit a few new places while revisiting two spots I went to in the spring.
En route to West Palm Beach airport, I had a layover at Reagan Airport in DC, and noticed a Five Guys burger stand, which was named the best food outlet at that airport in a recent Portfolio.com article. So I went. And I ate. For airport food, it’s off the charts, and I’d rate it above In-n-Out in the fast food burger category. The fries are the key – hand-cut, like In-n-Out’s, but thicker, and a regular order comes with more fries than I could eat in a sitting. The burgers are thicker than In-n-Out’s, of roughly equivalent quality, but because they only cook burgers well done, the patties start to dry out, which one can compensate for somewhat with extra ketchup, but it’s not the same thing. There is also a Five Guys in Palm Beach at the Legacy Mall, on PGA Blvd, which I hit on the way back to the airport to head home. (One side note: Five Guys was apparently named DC’s best burger by some publication that apparently doesn’t know its ass from its elbow. I can name two places within five miles of my house that serve better burgers – thicker, juicier, and cooked to order. There’s no way Washington doesn’t have some pub or diner that serves a quality half-pounder.)
Actually in Jupiter, then, I hit two new (to me) places in a strip mall right near the Cardinals’/Marlins’ complex, on the north side of Donald Ross Rd between Central Blvd and Military Trail. The better of the two was Pyros Grill, a funky, upscale fast-food place that serves “bowls” and wraps where you go down a checklist of ingredients, pick what you want, and it’s heated and served to you. The dishes are built around a “protein” – marinated steak, chicken, or black beans – and you can add various condiment-veggies (like scallions or cucumbers, but not more nutritious vegetables like broccoli) and choose a sauce. I went twice and ordered the same thing both times, the “Big Kahuna” bowl, which includes your choice of meats, scallions, cucumbers, onions, and a pineapple-teriyaki sauce. It was delicious, but a regular bowl wasn’t enough food for lunch, so I’d imagine most folks would want the large. I’d also like to see the food served a bit hotter; the meat is obviously cooked and chilled, then reheated before serving. Anyway, it was a boon to find a healthy option so close to the ballpark.
In the same strip mall is Thai Garden Palace (at least, I think that was the name, but Google Maps says it’s “Thai Grand Place”, so what the bleep do I know). I expected the place to be authentic, given the dÃ©cor and the heavy accents of everyone working there, and maybe the food was authentic – but I’ve never had pad thai arrive as noodles sitting in a pool of sauce. The ingredients were fresh, and the chicken was cooked properly, but it was more like a noodle soup than a noodle stir-fry. The chicken-and-shrimp dumplings were large and full of both meats, but had very little flavor of their own and required both the “special” soy sauce that came with it (which tasted like every other soy sauce I’ve ever had) and a shot of the hot sauce on the table.
The revisits were a mixed bag. I went back to the Gelato Grotto in Palm Beach Gardens, and I was disappointed. I’m pretty sure the problem was that the freezer cases were too cold, so the gelato was hard and the flavors were dulled. I went with dark chocolate and toasted almond and just didn’t get a lot of taste. I also went to McCray’s II, the little barbecue stand on 45th Street in West Palm, at about 7 pm on a Thursday night, and they were out of pulled pork and BBQ beef, so I went with the ribs, which were very good – tender, could have come off the bone more easily, with a nice mild sauce with a hint of pepper to it. I’m still not sure why barbecue often comes with toasted white sandwich bread, though.