By Becky Randel

You Can Banko On It

A new, three-level Mexican restaurant and tequila bar, Banko Cantina, recently opened in the space that was once American National Bank in downtown West Palm Beach (a 1921 landmark building that is part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places). The 13,000-square-foot restaurant from Chicago restaurateur Sam Sanchez features a partially covered rooftop bar—perfect for special events—along with a lounge, a private dining space and 130 seats in the main dining room.

The menu follows the northern Mexico style of cooking inspired by Sanchez’s childhood. Wood fire and outdoor cooking lend themselves to the smoky flavors that are the foundation of Banko Cantina’s tacos, steaks and mesquite-grilled skewers. Handcrafted specialty cocktails, including passion fruit sangria, and the Mexican beer, Micheladas, round out the cuisine. Don’t miss the “Tequila Tasting 101” classes for a true Mexican experience. Executive chef Seth Kirschbaum, who has cooked in South Florida kitchens for more than 10 years, including stints at Darbster and Sublime Restaurant & Bar, heads up the kitchen.

114 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach; 773.348.8899; bankocantina.com

From Rooster to Farmhouse

Idaho-trout-Racks-Farmhouse-Kitchen

Idaho Trout

The Fat Rooster has gone on a diet. The popular Delray Beach Southern dining outpost from GR Restaurant Management Group has transitioned into the company’s health-focused concept, Farmhouse Kitchen. The new eatery follows the model of the first Farmhouse Kitchen in Boca Raton, which has received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

Respecting the environment and supporting local purveyors are the main philosophies behind Farmhouse’s farm-to-table concept.

“It’s been a dream of mine to open a restaurant with a menu that captivates the better-for-you foods that leave you happily satisfied while not guilty,” says restaurateur Gary Rack of the shift. “Beyond serving good food, we have a mission to provide a lifestyle.”

The Atlantic Avenue location will feature brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Farmhouse joins Rack’s other Delray hot spot, Racks Fish House + Oyster Bar.

204 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561.266.3642; farmhousekitchenboca.com

Antica Mare Hits Biscayne Bay

Ravioli al Ragu Toscano

Ravioli al Ragu Toscano

Once in a while, a restaurant comes along in Miami that is clearly geared toward South Florida locals, rather than South Beach tourists. Antica Mare is just that type of place. Opened by Atlanta restaurateur Marco Betti of the award-winning Antica Posta, the new North Miami outpost offers Italian fare directly on Biscayne Bay. Designed by Miami-based architect Paul Gershen, the 224-seat indoor-outdoor restaurant boasts floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water and a large outdoor dining patio and trellis.

Antica Mare delivers classic Tuscan cuisine focused on fresh seafood, delectable meats and house-made pastas, all utilizing ingredients imported directly from Italy.

Menu highlights include antipasti like Polpette Toscane (classic Tuscan meatballs served in an aromatic tomato sauce) and the Crudo di Tonno con Carpaccio di Tartufo Nero (thinly sliced sashimi-grade tuna topped with slices of black truffle), as well as hearty pasta dishes like Gnocchi con Ragù Toscano (tender gnocchi with traditional Tuscan meat sauce) and Taglierini alla Panna Tartufata (house-made ribbon pasta with velvety truffle sauce). The famed Betti family recipe—oven-roasted Tuscan chicken breast with truffle sauce—should not be missed. Traditional Italian desserts include panna cotta with a wild berry sauce.

7999 NE Bayshore Court on the ground level of the Shorecrest Club, Miami; 305.398.1001; anticamare.com

Shooters turns to the far east

ShootersFort Lauderdale favorite Shooters Waterfront is looking to Japan for a little culinary inspiration. Along with its roster of traditional American dishes, Shooters has added a full selection of sushi, served for a fragment of the usual cost.

A highlight is the lobster roll, a combination of lobster tail, avocado, lime zest, cucumber, celery, nori, masago and eel sauce.

To showcase the menu additions, Shooters will host a sushi-making class on the first Friday of every month. The “Sushi 101” roll-it-yourself classes will be coupled with a three-course menu and sake pairing for $39 per person or $60 per couple.

3033 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954.566.2855; shooterswaterfront.com

More to Chew On at Sawgrass

Sawgrass Mills, the mega-outlet shopping destination in Sunrise, is expanding its restaurant presence with the addition of three new spots in 2017: Mojito Bar and Plates by chef Douglas Rodriquez, Texas de Brazil and Yard House. They will join the previously announced Matchbox American Pizza Bistro, which is opening this fall.

The 3,000-square-foot Mojito Bar, offering “fast, fresh, Cuban” in a casual setting, will be the newest outpost from Rodriguez, known as the “Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine.” For those in need of a hearty steak after shopping, Texas de Brazil is joining the lineup with a 6,500-square-foot space. The famed rodizio-style steakhouse offers a carnival of meats as well as an extensive salad bar. Capping off the trio, Yard House will open a nearly 10,000-square-foot restaurant to house its array of craft beers and made-from-scratch menu items. The “modern public house” offers more than 100 beers on tap, art from Jerome Gastaldi, classic music and fresh American cuisine.

Sawgrass Mills, 12801 W. Sunrise Blvd., Sunrise; sawgrassmills.com