Down by the Water
There must be something in the water. Here in the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast, we flock to it. And between the ocean, Intracoastal Waterway and rivers, there is no shortage of great waterfront dining spots. Take a trip up the coast with us, as we tour eight spots where you’ll find not only a great meal, but the kind of view that reminds us all why we’re lucky to live here.
For a breathtaking view of the sun setting over the St. Lucie River amidst million-dollar yachts, look no farther than the Sailor’s Return, located just south of the old Roosevelt Bridge and next to the Sunset Bay Marina.
Named as a tribute to Jolly Sailor, an anglophile-friendly pub that closed down after years in Stuart, the Sailor’s Return is also owned by Bob and Tracy Davis. But this is far from a dusty English pub; this fine dining restaurant is so popular that reservations are nearly mandatory for the 220 seats during the height of season, manager Amanda Barrett says.
“From the beginning of February through July 4, if you don’t have a reservation, it is very unlikely you can walk in and get a table,” she says.
Tourists and locals both flock there for the famous eggplant stack, created by Chef David van Stolk, as well as the chicken cordon bleu, fresh in-season seafood and the exclusive Sunset Bay Orange Cake.
Valet park and enjoy live music seven days a week at the outside bar, one of two offering happy hour deals and interesting cocktails.
“We cater to a lot of different clientele, and we try to make Sailor’s Return a place for everyone,” Barrett says.
625 SW Anchorage Way, Stuart / 772.872.7250
How do you know you’re eating fresh seafood? Watch the sportfishing and professional commercial fishing boats at the Sailfish Marina Resort on Singer Island. This upscale casual restaurant dating back to 1952 often buys its fish right off its dock.
“You’re sitting right on the seawall, right on the water,” says Bryan Cheney, the director of operations for the family-friendly resort, with dining that includes views through glass windows that reach from floor to ceiling.
There’s more to the resort than the popular restaurant. Thirty rooms, a private guest house and a 90-slip marina, as well as a water taxi to Peanut Island and other sights, all complement one of the largest sport-fishing fleets in South Florida. There’s even a ship store to pick up nautical items.
The seawall right behind the restaurant is actually what they call a “natural seawall aquarium,” where tropical fish, moray eels, stingrays and other creatures swim through abnormally crystal blue waters in the Intracoastal, all visible behind glass.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, but there are two things that really bring in the tourists and locals alike. First, it’s enjoying the freshest “anything you’ll find in the Atlantic,” Cheney says. The second, of course, is the spectacular sunsets over the water.
98 Lake Drive, Palm Beach Shores / 561.844.1724
Conchy Joe’s/Dolphin Bar
Thirty years ago, the idea of opening a restaurant that reminded patrons of the laid-back lifestyle and fresh cuisine of the Bahamas was somewhat of a novelty, says Fritz Ayres, whose father, Fred, loved to sail to the islands and opened Conchy Joe’s Seafood restaurant in 1983.
“It really was an original. Conchy Joe’s was intended to be an in-town vacation, so you could walk through the doors and forget about it all,” Ayres says.
That’s true today, where the popular raw bar overflows with fresh, local seafood and the two bars – one under a tiki that overlooks the Jensen Beach Causeway and Indian River Lagoon – overflow with locals and out-of-towners.
About three miles down Indian River Drive is another restaurant owned by Ayres, whose father opened the completely renovated Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House in 2000.
The Dolphin Bar, which was once known as The Outrigger and owned by internationally known USO-era actress and singer Frances Langford, remains filled with nostalgia. Langford’s photos with Bob Hope, Perry Como and others line the walls behind a fireplace and windows that look out to a dock brimming with catfish.
Visitors love the classy-yet-relaxed atmosphere, especially during happy hour. Special entrees like Dolphin a la dolphin and desserts like the Orange Sunset Cake also receive high praise.
The Dolphin Bar: 1401 NE Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach 772.781.5136 /
W hat’s better than Jetty’s? A second restaurant opened by the same owner right next door.
Jetty’s, a casual, 250-seat restaurant, specializes in fresh fish and can brag about a perfect view of the Jupiter lighthouse. Offering open air, full-service dining with a covered deck canopy, dishes are prepared by the same chef who worked on the first day owner Jim Taube opened the restaurant 22 years ago.
“It’s a testimony that after 22 years, we are a consistently busy restaurant,” Taube says. “But we really do have an outstanding vista. Our view is one of the most spectacular.”
It’s so popular that Taube purchased the property just west of Jetty’s; he is opening U-Tiki Beach, a more casual restaurant with 52 boat slips and tables on a beach setting under palm trees.
While tourists and locals know Jetty’s for its fresh fish, steaks and shrimp, U-Tiki Beach will offer fish tacos, steamers, oysters and Caribbean seafood bowls with a reggae-style vibe.
Having owned 17 restaurants over the years throughout Palm Beach County, Taube knows from experience the key is to be flexible to local requests and preferences.
At Jetty’s, that means dishes like hogfish, yellowtail snapper, oriental barbecue Chilean seabass, house crabcakes and certified Angus steaks, all served under the glow of the lighthouse.
1075 N. A1A, Jupiter / 561.743.8166
The Original Tiki Bar
Boaters just have to call Channel 16 on the radio for a free slip at the Fort Pierce Marina dock, and in minutes they’re at the Original Tiki Bar, ordering a Voodoo Bucket filled with coconut, banana, mango and pineapple rums mixed with juices.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary last year, the Original Tiki, owned by Colin Lloyd and Ian Lloyd, is the closest spot to the marina, which will be the largest on the Treasure Coast when renovations are complete later this year. This casual, family-friendly restaurant and bar is known for its ever-changing $5 happy hour menu, fish tacos and tasty burgers.
“We want everyone to have a great experience so they can tell their friends,” Georgina Laudone, the manager, says. “All our products are fresh: fresh mahi, fresh shrimp, calamari. And our menu is changing up to bring in new favorites.”
After lunch, hop on the pontoon boat that leaves from the restaurant for a guided tour of the Indian River Lagoon.
Each year, the Original Tiki also hosts a block party called the Hooked on Music Festival, which shuts down the streets with free live bands, vendors and a VIP tent. It’s a great time – just don’t have too many of those Voodoo Buckets!
2 Ave. A, Fort Pierce / 772.461.0880
Nothing says customer service for a waterfront restaurant located next to the drawbridge in Palm Beach Gardens along the Intracoastal Waterway like scheduling reservations at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour, so guests won’t get stuck at the drawbridge.
That’s to be expected at Seasons 52, a fresh grill and wine bar chain with 38 locations that all feature creative cooking and an extensive wine list. In Palm Beach Gardens, there are 100 bottles of wine available by the glass. As a piano player serenades, Master Sommelier George Miliotes can help pair your entrée.
In fact, if you are one of the many regular locals who dine there, chances are they’ve made note of your favorite wine so it’s ready when you order it.
“We pride ourselves on going above and beyond for all our guests,” Leslie Calderon, a managing partner with the restaurant, says. “Plus the food is fantastic, and it’s good for you.”
Nothing on the menu – including the Mini Indulgence desserts with flavors like tropical cheesecake and brownie ganache with raspberry sauce – is over 475 calories. Local fish is delivered six days a week, and entrees also include venison, lamb and filet mignon, with dishes based on what’s fresh and in season.
11611 Ellison Wilson Road, Palm Beach Gardens / 561.625.5852
Chuck’s Seafood Restaurant
W hen Peter Angelos moved to Fort Pierce after 12 years in the D.C.-area restaurant industry, he and his wife kept driving past a quaint, little restaurant that was never open. One day, it was – and Angelos met the original owners of Chuck’s Seafood Restaurant, Chuck and Elodie Tabor.
He eventually spent time getting to know the couple, helping Chuck peel shrimp in the back. When Elodie fainted one day in 1986, the couple became worried about their health. They sold Angelos the business the very next day.
“They gave me all the recipes, and I haven’t changed one of them, especially the fried shrimp. That’s secret, and it hasn’t changed since day one,” Angelos says. “We’re busy for a reason.”
Along with the sweet views of the Fort Pierce Inlet, Angelos credits the high quality products being cooked properly in a clean place with good service for the restaurant’s success.
While the menu hasn’t changed, the building certainly has. In 2004, Hurricane Frances ripped off its roof, and then Hurricane Jeanne washed the rest of the building out the inlet. Angelos completely rebuilt the restaurant, expanding to 186 seats and strengthening the structure that’s sure to remain an institution for years to come.
822 Seaway Drive, Fort Pierce / 772.461.9484
Gosh, don’t you just get so hungry and ready for a good cocktail after a good dive? No problem at the Dive Bar in the Jupiter Yacht Club, which actually has a dive shop as a part of the very popular restaurant and bar.
Divers will fall in love with this three-year-old restaurant, where, from the patio, there’s a straight view of the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s easy to charter a dive trip at the shop and leave from the adjacent public boat docks.
Don’t dive yet? Order a certification training along with local, fresh seafood, sushi, prime cut filets and cocktails.
“It’s really a gathering place,” Robert Bellissimo, Dive Bar’s general manager, says. “We always have a lot of large parties where people meet and hang out for a while.”
A focal point of the evening’s experience is a 2,000-gallon saltwater fish tank, which includes yellowtail snapper, lobster, eel, moon fish and hog fish.
Since the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations for the 150 seats, some people plan on a Decompression Stop (otherwise known as happy hour, weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.).
“There are a lot of locals coming here, so chances are you’ll see someone you know,” Bellissimo says. “A lot of people come by boat.”
318 S. U.S. Highway 1, Jupiter / 561.747.4767 /
11 Other Must-Try Waterfront Restaurants
The Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast are overloaded with oceanside and waterfront spots. From south to north, take a tour up the coast to try these staples.
456 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach / Muer.com
Frigate’s Waterfront Bar & Grill
400 U.S. Highway 1, North Palm Beach / frigatesnpb.com
2300 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens / waterwaycafe.com
The River House Restaurant
2373 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens / riverhouserestaurant.com
960 N. A1A, Jupiter / guanabanas.com
Lazy Loggerhead Café
401 N. A1A, Jupiter / lazyloggerheadcafe.com
Pietro’s on the Ocean
10900 S. Ocean Drive, Jensen Beach / pietrosontheocean.com
Kona Beach Cafe
3340 NE Pineapple Ave., Jensen Beach / konabeachcafe.com
Bluesy’s Happy Snapper
3825 NE Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach
The Inn at Ocean Village
2400 S. Ocean Drive, Hutchinson Island / oceanvillage.com
On The Edge Bar and Grill
1136 Seaway Drive, Fort Pierce / Facebook.com/OnTheEdgeBarAndGrillFL