Whether you opt for a mid-priced meal or go all out for a memorable dining experience, there are plenty of culinary prospects in
this fashionable Florida resort town.
Donna Florio

Boca Raton, Florida, with its pale pastel architecture, beautiful beaches, and fabulous restaurants, is the perfect escape this winter season.

27 Ocean Blue
If you're staying at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, then by all means have a meal at this top-of-the-tower restaurant, open only to guests or members. The before-dinner morsel of foie gras, a sea scallop, and chanterelles in Marsala sauce set the tone for an exquisite dinner. The grilled basil-crusted jumbo Gulf shrimp were huge, delicious, and surprisingly hearty with white-truffle mashed potatoes. I found the special of pan-seared diver sea scallops with risotto in saffron broth impeccably fresh, succulent, and light. Desserts, too, were exceptional. 501 East Camino Real; (561) 395-3000. Entrées: $26-$45.

Max's Grille
This perennial local favorite is stylish but casual and welcoming. Roasted red pepper hummus arrives at your table with a basket of breads as you work your way through the menu. Salads are large and lovely, but I chose the full-flavored Crispy-Duck Tacos--a meal in themselves. Pulled duck in a chili-lime barbecue sauce was cradled in crisp taco shells. The filling was salty but the overall combination pleasing. More to my taste was the special--Snapper Français--a very fresh piece of fish perfectly sautéed and served with red potatoes in an arugula broth. 404 Plaza Real; (561) 368-0080. Salads: $5.95-$14, daily lunch specials: $10.95.

Zemi
This restaurant consistently rates high in reviews of the city's best. The food is eclectic, though Asian flavors predominate. A ginger-mango glaze enlivened chicken-and-foie gras pot stickers. A salad of baby Asian greens, sour apples, and grape tomatoes with toasted sesame dressing provided a wonderful flavor surprise. 5050 Town Center Circle, Suite 245; (561) 391-7177. Entrées: $22-$39.

Johannes
This gem is hidden just off downtown's U.S. 1. Chef and owner Johannes Fruhwirt changes the prix fixe menu often, always offering several appetizers and entrées. Desserts change nightly. I opted for the six-course tasting menu. Roasted Florida rock lobster salad with sun-dried tomatoes and peppadew sauce is a signature dish. The slightly sweet, peppery sauce was a wonderful complement to the chilled lobster, which was cooked to just the right texture. Steamed white and green asparagus, dressed simply with sea salt and truffle-oil vinaigrette, were the most delicious I've tasted--and the most beautiful. The tart sweetness of ginger-lingonberry compote was a great spark for the perfectly cooked, robust Arizona venison chop. Courses were small, so there was room to bliss out on dessert. 47 East Palmetto Park Road; (561) 394-0007. Prix fixe: $58, tasting menu: $79.

This article is from the February 2003 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.