Dining Off The Ave

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By Christalyn Warner With so many restaurants on Atlantic Avenue it becomes almost a chore to venture beyond downtown. We are spoiled having so many great spots in such a concentrated area. Just having to think about where you might find comparable restaurants to Atlantic Avenue can be a difficult task. Leave the thinking to me because I have two restaurants in mind that will make it easy for you to stray from the Ave. Two great spots that need mention… because let’s face it, they are just that good. A little drive west and you have arrived at your destination. Hibachi anyone? On the corner of Linton and Military, hidden away in the back of a pretty empty strip mall, is a true gem. Tucked away, Masa is the place for Hibachi, not to play down the fact that they offer Thai cuisine and sushi. Its just that knowing there is a great place for Hibachi in Delray needs to be highlighted. Dinner begins with soup or ginger salad, cocktails, and then onto your choice of protein. Masa offers winning entrée combinations like Filet Mignon and shrimp $23.95. Each entrée is also accompanied by rice, noodles and veggies. You will be pleasantly full! Hibachi is one of the best ways for big groups to dine out because everyone is seated around the central hub, the flat-top-grill! Not only do you get to interact with the chef, you also get to interact with one another. Going with two is just as fun;  you never know who you will be seated with and how much fun they will be. The star of the show at Masa is the Hibachi Chef. Each one is fantastic, witty, and charming… definitely be prepared to laugh. With a comedian giving you a show while cooking your food, what could possibly top the night? Onion volcano anyone? Or how about an onion angel? The flaming volcano and the jumping shrimp has to be the best part of the show. Be sure to ask about the Angel. I believe that trick is only up one chef’s sleeve, so you might get lucky… and you might not. Either way, you will be impressed and knowing it’s so close, and with such yummy food, you will be back. They offer great hours too. So be sure to check it out, it’s always a great time. In an old fast food restaurant converted into one of the best Thai restaraunts in Delray Beach, is my second pick, Chaiyo Thai Bistro. Located just south of Atlantic on the east side of Military Trail, the booths are adorned with wood carvings of elephants imported from Thailand, creating a very warm atmosphere. They offer traditional Thai seating as well, where you are resting on pillows Indian style on the floor under a raised table. They did a fantastic job converting the restaurant; the fast food feel is gone. What is left is a beautifully adorned restaurant with imported thai carvings and great food. A favorite beginning to my dinner is the Greed Papaya Salad (7.95), a traditional Thai dish that makes for a fantastic appetizer salad. This salad is complex in texture as well as taste, taking on all  the qualities of Thai flavors… sweet, salty, bitter, and hot. My favorites have to be the aforementioned Green Papaya Salad, their mouth-watering Tom Kha soup $4.95, a tangy coconut based soup with the perfect flavor balance, and the Honey Duck $20.95,  crispy skinned sliced duck covered in this glorious dark and slightly sweet honey based sauce served with vegetables and jasmine rice. Everything is delicious from their curries to their noodles to their Thai BBQ ribs. The prices are extremely reasonable which makes Chaiyo an easily frequented spot for the local Delray diner. I love it so much, you might just see me there. The only con you must know are the hours, so if you are a late diner, be aware that they close at 9:30 PM even on the weekends.  They are so well worth the early reservation! As much as we all love the Avenue, as locals it is important that we support all the quality gems that can be found on and off the Ave, and these are just two of my faves.   Christalyn Warner writes a local food blog. Find it at www.TheLocalKitchenBlog.com