The Hip West Palm Beach district says hello to one restaurant, bye to another

The Hip West Palm Beach district says hello to one restaurant, bye to another
The Hip West Palm Beach district says hello to one restaurant, bye to another

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of new restaurants, soon-to-open restaurants and all that is shining on the horizon of a rapidly growing metropolis such as West Palm Beach. Local restaurant partners and childhood friends Alex DiSchino and Kye Akavia, both 32, know that excitement well.

A year ago this week, they opened The SoSo, a “fast-fine” café serving modern American dishes in the city’s South of Southern neighborhood, where they grew up.

One door closes

Chef Cesar Brea's Charred Cauli was a top seller at The SoSo restaurant in West Palm Beach.

Chef Cesar Brea’s Charred Cauli was a top seller at The SoSo restaurant in West Palm Beach.

Earlier this week, the restaurant owners announced they would close the place at the end of dinner service tonight.

The partners expressed their disappointment when I spoke to them Thursday. But even on the buzzy South Dixie Highway dining corridor, the closing was inevitable, they said.

“This was our dream and we wanted to share it with the community,” Akavia told me.

Here’s my full story on The SoSo’s closing.

Childhood friends Kye Akavia (left) and Alex DiSchino opened The SoSo

Childhood friends Kye Akavia (left) and Alex DiSchino opened The SoSo “fast-fine” restaurant as a tribute to the South of Southern neighborhood where they grew up.

The restaurant was friendly, airy, quiet enough for conversation. The windows looked out on a city that grew more culturally diverse each day.

The SoSo made me a fan of the talented executive chef/partner Cesar Brea. I know I’ve raved often about The SoSo’s cauliflower steak, popping it with za’atar, pomegranate seeds, lemon tahini and herbs. And I loved that Brea celebrated his family’s Dominican roots in menu items such as his tweaked version of a “chimi” sandwich and his soulful sancocho (root vegetable stew).

Here’s my review of The SoSo.

I will miss the place. I wish the partners and their team all the best.

A window opens

Parked in West Palm Beach's hip SoSo district, the Austin Republic mobile kitchen is expected to open in May.  Acclaimed chef Jimmy Strine (at window), who heads the kitchen, recently tested the menu for locals.

Parked in West Palm Beach’s hip SoSo district, the Austin Republic mobile kitchen is expected to open in May. Acclaimed chef Jimmy Strine (at window), who heads the kitchen, recently tested the menu for locals.

Meanwhile, directly across the street, another exciting concept is preparing to open in the South of Southern district.

A barbecue-meets-Tex-Mex mobile kitchen with a local star chef, a full bar and big restaurant goals will soon make its debut on South Dixie Highway.

The Austin Republic will start out food-truck-style, operating out of a tricked-out shipping container on the former Braille Club site. The menu and custom-built smokers are under the direction of executive chef Jimmy Strine.

I’m told the place may open as early as next week. Stay tuned.

Meantime, you can read all about the concept here.

5 tasty ways to honor Earth Month

The Swank Farmers' Market is held on Saturdays through May beneath the pole barn at Swank Farm in Loxahatchee Groves.

The Swank Farmers’ Market is held on Saturdays through May beneath the pole barn at Swank Farm in Loxahatchee Groves.

How does one begin to celebrate a concept as enormous as Earth? I ask this as we near the end of Earth Month’s second week, one we may have greeted with recycling and trash bins overflowing from Easter weekend.

I say we celebrate on a micro level, in ways that can better our local communities — and ways that are as delicious as they are dutiful. Five ideas:

Head out to the farm.

Grab your tote and visit the Saturday farmer’s market at Swank Farm in Loxahatchee Groves. This is where farmers Jodi and Darrin Swank host the foodiest, farm-iest market in Palm Beach County, inviting only food-focused vendors (more than 30 of them) to sell their goods beneath the farm’s majestic pole barn. The market runs from 10 am to 1 pm on Saturdays through the end of May. (14311 North Road, Loxahatchee Groves, 561-202-5648)

Visit a vegan restaurant or food truck.

Rhona Nain, owner/CEO of Dope Vegan, stands in front of her food truck, showing off her signature Dope Burger.  Nain combines comfort food, seasonings and sauces from her native Jamaica and a love for plant-based foods.

Rhona Nain, owner/CEO of Dope Vegan, stands in front of her food truck, showing off her signature Dope Burger. Nain combines comfort food, seasonings and sauces from her native Jamaica and a love for plant-based foods.

Maybe start at Vegan Dopes, the prize-winning West Palm Beach vegan burger truck by entrepreneur Rhona Nain. Her burger spice mix is ​​kicky with the flavors of her native Jamaica. And her signature menu item, the super-stacked Dope Burger, earned raves from judges at a Miami burger battle earlier this year. Find the truck at 175 N. Military Tr. from Wednesday through Saturday from 11:30 am

Try a new vegan restaurant, such as Ve, the plant-based concept by restaurateur Rodney Mayo’s Sub-Culture Group. The beautiful plates at this intimate spot are inspired by what’s growing at local farms, such as Gratitude Garden Farm’s Loxahatchee Groves-grown mushrooms. Ve is at 509 Clematis St., open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 10 pm (Friday and Saturday to 11 pm).

At Cafe Sapori in West Palm Beach, executive chef Fabrizio Giorgi creates vegan dishes such as Orecchiette Vegetariane.

At Cafe Sapori in West Palm Beach, executive chef Fabrizio Giorgi creates vegan dishes such as Orecchiette Vegetariane.

Check out the vegan menus at vegan-friendly restaurants.

In downtown West Palm Beach, the lively Avocado Grill offers a dedicated vegan menu that includes a large curried veggie bowl with chickpeas and quinoa as well as a farro-kale risotto with fennel, sun-dried tomatoes and coconut milk, among other offerings. (125 Datura St., 561-623-0822)

Also in West Palm Beach, the classic Italian restaurant Café Sapori lists a surprisingly large “Vegan Food” section on its menu with dishes such as a porcini and spinach risotto that’s fragrant with truffles and a vegan meatball in tomato sauce. (205 Southern Blvd., 561-805-7313)

Enjoy sustainable seafood.

An assortment of Seafood bites at PB Catch restaurant in Palm Beach.

An assortment of Seafood bites at PB Catch restaurant in Palm Beach.

PB Catch restaurant in Palm Beach centers its brand on sustainable seafood. The “Here We Sustain” mission statement on the restaurant’s website invites diners to “learn from our knowledgeable team about how your meal choices have positively impacted the world’s oceans.” The “Seacuterie”’ menu of small plates is a tasty way to start here. (251 Sunrise Ave., 561-655-5558)

Grab an Earth Month meal.

Bodega Taquería's Consciously Vegan Bowl.

Bodega Taquería’s Consciously Vegan Bowl.

Bodega Taquería y Tequila, also in downtown West Palm Beach, is offering a new dish it calls The Consciously Vegan Bowl for Earth Month. The bowl combines Impossible-brand chorizo, black beans, crispy onions, Mexican rice, guacamole and tomato. Other vegan dishes include avocado tacos, Impossible chorizo ​​tacos, guacamole and fried yuca. (118 S. Clematis St., West Palm Beach, 561-559-3119)

Planta restaurant is serving an Earth Month menu to help raise funds for an environmental cause. That menu includes jackfruit rice with tofu, Thai basil, cilantro and lemongrass broth and a strawberry-rhubarb cake with brown sugar streusel, among other dishes.

The plant-based national chain with a location at The Square plaza in West Palm Beach has pledged to donate a portion of the special menu’s sales to the nonprofit One Tree Planted effort, which plants trees across the globe. (700 S. Rosemary Ave., Suite 142, 561-208-5222)

Quick Bites

Tropical Smokehouse's Fried Chicken Friday Sandwich will be offered Fridays through April.

Tropical Smokehouse’s Fried Chicken Friday Sandwich will be offered Fridays through April.

Craving a fried chicken sandwich?

Tropical Smokehouse’s chef/partner Rick Mace had the feeling you might be. Starting today, the James Beard Award semifinalist will be offering Friday night fried chicken sandwiches at his popular barbecue spot.

What’s in a Fried Chicken Friday Sandwich? A quarter-pound fried chicken breast with pickles on a potato roll ($15). You can get it with Nashville hot sauce or white barbecue sauce. But if you want one, you might want to hurry. The limited-time, Friday offer is available only through April 28.

Tropical Smokehouse is at 3815 S. Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, 561-323-2573.

Seeking cocktails with an elevated view?

There are plenty of views (and cocktails) to be had at the rooftop bars/restaurants of Palm Beach County.

Here’s where to find them!

A new restaurant with kangaroo on the menu?

The Kangaroo Tucker at Isla &  Co.  features Australian rubbed Kangaroo skewered and grilled over herbed tahini, marinated cucumbers, picked onions and fried lentils.

The Kangaroo Tucker at Isla & Co. features Australian rubbed Kangaroo skewered and grilled over herbed tahini, marinated cucumbers, picked onions and fried lentils.

Yes, you can find it in the West Palm Beach Warehouse District. My colleague Eddie Ritz wrote about Isla & Co. and its Australian-inspired menu.

You can read his story here.

Did you miss our latest guide to the county’s newest brunches?

Here ya go!

And, finally, if you’d like to catch up with what’s new at some neighborhood-favorite restaurants, here’s the scoop.

Have a delicious weekend!

Liz Balmaseda

Read recent columns by Liz Balmaseda

Liz Balmaseda is The Palm Beach Post's food critic.

Liz Balmaseda is The Palm Beach Post’s food critic.

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Liz Balmaseda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA Today Network. She covers local food and dining beats. Follow her on Instagram and Post on Food Facebook. She can be reached by email at [email protected].

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Best West Palm Beach restaurants: SoSo closes; new BBQ restaurant opens