There’s nothing like great ethnic food on a cold, rainy day, even if you get wet finding it.
At a recent car show in Boca Raton, two small standouts within walking distance of the high-end shopping area at Royal Palm Plaza. Both featured completely different specialties and both did them well for reasonable prices.
Côte France Café is just a short walk north of the plaza. Its storefront is small and crowded and the main attraction is the irresistible pastry case, offering everything from dark chocolate croissants to macaroons, eclairs, napoleons, petit fours, gateau, fruit tarts and quiche. Off to the side, the busy coffee station offers bread in loaves, brioches and baugettes, and a small kitchen in back manages to whip up more complicated breakfast and lunch omelets, salads, soups and sandwiches. If ever there was food worth sitting in a cold wet wind for, this is it. The coffee is rich and the pastry is restorative. Even in un-Florida-like weather, you want to sit here, sip, nibble and keep going back inside to see what other sweets and savories are coming out of that kitchen. Locals and visitors alike, many of them French-speaking with plenty of dining experience in hallowed pastry halls overseas, love this place.
Prices are about what you expect for the area, with sandwiches priced at $5 to $9, soups and salads $4 to $10 and full entrees $13 to $15. Bread and pastry prices vary, depending on what’s available.
Côte France Café, 101 Plaza Real South, Boca Raton, FL. Phone (561) 955-6021. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 7:30 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The original location, also called Côte France, is located just south of Mizner Park at 110 NE 2nd St. Phone (561) 392-2907; FAX (561) 392- 2977. The company is on Facebook.
Taco Prince is housed in a former Dairy Queen, and looks nothing like the city's strict-and-same-everywhere architecture. Seating inside is limited to a couple of high top tables and a window bench. But who cares? There’s real Mexican food here, not Tex-Mex. Not the beans, rice and messy unidentifiable stuffed whatever found at too many joints.
Mexican tacos, for example, are small, two-bite versions, using soft flour tortillas . The fillings are familiar: beef, chorizo, chicken, shrimp, even vegetarian mushroom and mushroom and spinach versions. But the toppings are simple. Roasted tomato salsa, salsa verde, chopped onions, cilantro. Overdoing it is certainly an option, just not encouraged. The point is to taste the individual ingredients. Taco Prince has quesadillas, burritos, chips and salsa and taco salads – the foods you’ll know from any place around town. The difference is that space on the plate is OK. Beans and rice sides are available, and they are very good, but they are sides, not the main attraction. And speaking of attraction, there’s nothing on the menu over $7.00. A princely deal.
Taco Prince, 180 S. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL. Phone (561) 750-1113. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 10 p.m.