From gilded mansions to polo matches, Florida’s Palm Beach is one of the most outrageously opulent enclaves in the country. The grander-than-grand town on the ocean now proudly claims 30 homeowners on Forbes’s annual ranking of the world’s richest people, not to mention a sitting president. You can drop several Benjamins on lavish meals at plenty of places — Buccan, Cafe Boulud, everywhere at the Breakers. But there are a few options in town and in the far-flung surrounding county (one of Florida’s wealthiest) that won’t totally break the bank, all while still making you feel like you’ve stepped into an episode of “The Real Housewives.”
Before hitting Palm Beach’s posh Worth Avenue to window shop and millionaire watch, load up on a bountiful breakfast at the Surfside Diner (surfsidediner.com; 561-659-7495; 314 S. County Rd.). Don’t be deceived by the name. It’s not directly on the beach, nor is it a true diner — and that’s a good thing. With a white tin-tile ceiling and traditional counter seating, this quaint spot a few blocks from the sand serves up behemoth cups of endless coffee ($2.95) and an inventive menu that forgoes old-school classics such as waffles and hash browns. There’s an array of hollandaise-laden Benedicts: among them, one topped with grilled tomato and spinach ($11.95), and another featuring an ample slab of smoked salmon ($13.95). On the weekends, come early because there will be a crowd. The best value on the menu is the chicken burrito wrap ($8.95) dotted with black beans and stuffed with chunks of meat, Mexican cheese and fluffy scrambled eggs. You can walk down the street and use all that money you saved to splurge on a new swimsuit at Island Company or something shiny at Betteridge.
Despite its 47 miles of coastline, Palm Beach County doesn’t boast an abundance of beachfront dining options. That helps make lunch at the alfresco Breeze Ocean Kitchen at the chic Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa (eaupalmbeach.com; 888-306-4894; 100 S. Ocean Blvd.) in Manalapan a must-do. You can’t go wrong with a seat at either the Riviera-style white-and-yellow patio furniture on the terrace overlooking the Atlantic or at the bar with Jonathan Adler-designed ceramic sculptures floating on the wall in the background. The delightfully light poke bowl ($26) is full of ahi tuna, cucumber, scallion, wakame, sprouts and avocado on a bed of sticky rice, topped with tempura crispies. For something more savory (and sloppy), the craft burger and beer special ($21) comes with a double brisket beef burger, crispy island chips and a 16-ounce beer from a local brewery, such as the smooth Lagerhead Lager from Boynton Beach’s Due South Brewing or the hoppy Fresh IPA from Jupiter’s Civil Society Brewing. If you dare to combine booze with dessert, Breeze Ocean Kitchen offers a trio of beer floats. The blood orange ($12) fantastically marries with a citrusy sorbet.
If you still wanna be like Mike, travel to 1,000 North (1000north.com; 561-570-1000; 1000 N. Hwy. 1) in Jupiter. The NBA champion is among the venue’s high-profile investors, although Jordan’s name isn’t mentioned except by patrons who have spotted him in the dimly lit dining room, where executive chef Lee Morris delivers slam-dunk modern American fare. Start with seafood. The bourbon and hay-roasted oysters ($25) have an unadulterated smokiness, while the Thai shrimp with hearts of palm and watermelon radish ($22) will refreshingly cool you down. For dinner, pick the petit filet mignon ($45), served with one of four housemade butters. At dessert, go bananas. The craterous texture of the bananas foster bubble waffle sundae ($12) will make you feel like you’re taking a bite out of the moon. If you have time, stop at the U-shaped bar, for a great view of the Jupiter Lighthouse and quirky takes on classic cocktails, such as the reposado tequila-based Juan Collins ($15). The view is even better in the upstairs private club, but membership is by invitation only and costs $3,500, plus another $3,500 in annual dues. Hey, at least you can eat like Mike.
Lang is a writer based in Los Angeles and Miami. His website is derrikjlang.com. Find him on Twitter and Instagram: @derrikjlang. More from Breakfast, lunch and dinner Los Angeles; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Tucson