Cultural Cuisine Along the Treasure Coast

A guide to local restaurants and markets for the curious palate.

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Fernando’s Dockside Grille’s traditional Portuguese marisqueira with lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels, and calamari in a tomato lobster sauce, served over linguine.
Photo by Ian Jacob

Dining options on the Treasure Coast are becoming more interesting and diverse all
the time. While there has always been a fair share of Italian, Mexican, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai restaurants, new cuisines continue to expand both the community’s world view—and taste buds. Pair that with a selection of ethnic markets catering to the home cook, and it’s no longer necessary to travel elsewhere for an exciting meal. Here are some local options for foodies who like to experiment.

Portuguese

The Portuguese are known for their amazing fish and shellfish dishes, as well as meats with

Chef Fernando Dovale of Fernando’s Dockside Grille. Photo by Ian Jacob.

zesty sauces and potatoes. In Port St. Lucie, two dining establishments have turned the area into a hub for those seeking a taste of Portugal. At Fernando’s Dockside Grille, Chef Fernando Dovale—a veteran of the Hyatt hotel chain and Manhattan’s Rainbow Room—has brought his Mediterranean cooking to the tropics. Signature dishes include pork Alentejana (marinated and fried tenderloin with littleneck clams) and bacalhau (salt cod), the European nation’s most traditional dish, prepared several different ways.

Over at Luso Portuguese Grille, the menu reflects Portugal’s coastal heritage with a focus on seafood like octopus, cod, and shrimp cooked Mozambique-style. Meat dishes include the traditional bifé (black angus New York strip with a special molho, or, sauce) and picanha (thinly sliced and grilled top sirloin). 

Octopus at Luso Portuguese Grille. Courtesy of Luso Portuguese Grille.

Jamaican

The dean of Jamaican cooking in the area is, by all accounts, Kevin McLean. Owner of Classic Jamaican Jerk Stop, with locations in Stuart and Palm City, McLean’s best-selling oxtail, curried goat, and jerk chicken and pork are available to-go or on-site in the small dining area. “Many of our customers have traveled to Jamaica,” he says. “We use only imported spices for authenticity. When Jamaicans taste our food, they feel like they’ve come home.” 

Oxtail entrée at Classic Jamaican Jerk Stop. Photo by Ian Jacob.

In Port St. Lucie, One Love Jamaican & Seafood definitely satisfies a craving for seafood: At this quaint spot, crawfish, snapper, blue and snow crabs, and shrimp are prepared many different ways—curried, in a garlic sauce, or combined with lobster, corn, and sausage. Lunch specials include traditional items such as brown stew chicken and roasted pork. 

Also in Port St. Lucie, Jerk City serves classic island specialties out of its Mangrove Square location, as does The Spot (561-856-3823) in Fort Pierce. 

Chicken tikka at Taj Indian Restaurant and Bar. Courtesy of Courtesy of Taj Indian Restaurant and Bar.

Indian

Taj Indian Restaurant and Bar in Port St. Lucie features one of the most comprehensive Indian menus in the area, along with a full bar and a lunch buffet featuring a live dosa (similar to a crêpe and made with rice batter) station. In addition, the kitchen grinds all of its spices in-house and uses them to formulate proprietary blends noted for freshness and flavor. “The way we use spices makes our food much closer to what you would experience in India,” says co-owner Suman Subedi. “It’s similar to the difference between canned and fresh spinach.”

In Stuart, two more restaurants offer a wonderful overview of the Indian subcontinent’s cuisine. The menu at Namaste Grill is inspired by the culture of India as well as Nepal, with biryani rice dishes and a variety of items cooked in a traditional tandoor oven. India Palace specializes in modern interpretations of classics, including delicious entrées from South India and Indochina.

German

In addition to her American fusion menu, Chef Lenh prepares a range of German specialties at Ethan’s Grill in Hobe Sound. Think: sauerbraten, roulade, goulash, red cabbage, strudel, and schnitzel pounded to order. German wines and beers are available, along with typical cocktails such as the Hugo—a variation of a mojito with prosecco, elderflower syrup, and muddled mint.

Courtesy of The Hoffmann.

At The Hoffmann in Jensen Beach, Thomas Hoffmann has created a waterfront setting with the atmosphere of a Bavarian biergarten. Like Ethan’s Grill, the menu is divided between American fusion and traditional German dishes, with German beers such as Bitburger and Hofbräu on tap. Enjoy them with a view of the Indian River.

Vietnamese

The Huynh family emigrated from Vietnam to Port St. Lucie in 1993 and opened Pho Deli, where they specialize in the national dish of Vietnam—pho—a main-course soup that varies according to region of origin. Their signature “Pho Deli” dish features rare beef eye round, well-done flank steak, brisket, and meatballs in a broth that takes two days to make. Chicken, seafood, and vegetarian versions are also available. “Our soup is rich in flavor,” says owner Tam Huynh. “It’s comfort food and perfect when it’s chilly outside or when you’re not feeling well.” Pho Deli has as second location in Fort Pierce as well.

You can also get your pho on at Pho Now (772-777-4116) in Port St. Lucie and Pho 772 (772-261-8240) in Jensen Beach, which serve the staple as well as a variety of other Vietnamese dishes such as bánh mì, stir-fry, and rice platters. 

Cuban sandwich at
Mervis’ Café & Grill. Courtesy of Mervis’ Café & Grill.

Cuban

Get a great Cuban sandwich and mail your packages at the same time at
Mervis’ Café & Grill. The Fort Pierce establishment, founded in 2001, doubles as a USPS contract unit. “We had customers who were local mail carriers, and they mentioned they were looking to open a contract unit in the area,” says owner Ivel Sierra. “We had enough parking, so we won the bid.” Sierra makes the most popular Cuban sandwich around, the same way his father taught him to in the 1970s: ham, swiss cheese, fresh-roasted pork, mustard, pickles—and a whole lot of love.  

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