Thanks in large part to the sheer number of New Yorkers who have relocated to Boca Raton over the past few decades, those transplants fondly refer to our city as New York City’s 6th borough. If you’re part of that group, as I am, the food is perhaps what you miss most about your old hometown. So you’ll be happy to learn you no longer have to jump on a northbound plane to get little taste of the big city. Instead, you can just drive to downtown Boca Raton, because Junior’s has just arrived on the scene.
Juniors Restaurant, Bakery and Bar has been a longstanding beacon on the New York City food scene for more than 65 years. It all began with a single location in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush back on election day of 1950. No one remembers who was running, but everyone remembers that Juniors ran away with the popular vote.
This well acclaimed Jewish deli has since expanded to include a number of other NYC-area stores. Current locations include New York’s Times Square and Grand Central Station. Juniors has also moved slightly north to the suburbs at Connecticut’s Foxwoods Casino. The cheesecake is always a sure bet.
With its new Mizner Park location in Boca Raton, Florida, Junior’s has established its first bastion outside of the northeast. Based on the delights of its cheesecake, I suspect that Junior’s will be found in many more states in the not distant future. Despite its expansion, Junior’s has always been, and still remains, a family-run business. Junior’s Boca Raton owner is Alan Rosen, whose father, grandfather, and uncle started the business, and whose descendants continue to run the New York locations.
Several years ago, Rosen’s father decided that it was time to relocate his home to Delray Beach in Palm Beach County. That move served as the impetus for trying to find a Boca Raton address for the iconic restaurant. After a great deal of time, effort, and soul searching, Alan decided that the 6,000 square foot former Ruby Tuesdays in Mizner Park would provide the perfect location for the newest Junior’s.
The best of old and new
Rosen has totally renovated and revamped restaurant’s interior. The result is a modern feel that still pays homage to Junior’s origins. The walls are adorned with nostalgic New York City memorabilia and its friendly wait staff accessorize with the memorable Junior’s glasses that diehard Junior’s New York fans will remember and love. In a departure from the New York look and feel, the Boca Raton venue will feature a full service bar. Like its competitors in the area, Junior’s bar will be fully stocked and full-service, capable of whipping up your preferred nightcap as an accompaniment to your favorite dessert.
The new Junior’s will also depart from the old in its seating arrangement. While nostalgia might call for the look and feel of a small diner, the economics of a Mizner Park location do not allow for this. Instead, Junior’s will display the full fledged casual restaurant style that Boca Raton residents have come to expect in an up-scale eating establishment. Of its 270 seats, 150 are inside and 120 outside on the patio. And unlike New York, where parking was always a nightmare, Mizner Park offers valet service as well as a plethora of multi-level parking garages at no charge.
Impossible to resist tastes
Let’s face it. If a restaurant is so popular and so highly regarded that its owners are ready and willing to step outside their comfort zone and open in a completely foreign market it must be that good, right? That goodness begins once you’ve been seated at your table. As soon as your napkin unfolds, you’re quickly inundated with a series of free appetizers. The tongue tingling taste of beets, pickles, and slaw are sure to send any newbie to the Junior’s experience into sensory overload.
And that’s just for starters. Because after you order, that’s when the most savory of Jewish comfort food offerings start to descend upon the table. Among the many customer favorites, there is Matzo ball soup, broiled fish, potato pancakes with chunky applesauce, and cheese blintzes.
The aforementioned are not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes some of Junior’s most sought after dishes. You’ll also find fresser’s favorites such as the overstuffed corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, made daily from freshly cooked, cured in-house beef, on the menu. These sandwiches are, by far, the most requested items on this famed Jewish deli’s menu. Even the grilled cheese, however simple sounding it may seem, is precisely melted between freshly sliced challah bread and is something worth writing home about. The nearly 200 comfort foods that comprise Junior’s menu are served fast and in ample portions. But best of all, they abound with a subtle flavor that unmistakably screams New York.
And, of course, the cheesecake.
As if that all weren’t enough, there’s Junior’s signature item, which has become legendary in its own right. That, of course, is the cheesecake. Choose your own ambrosia from among the different flavors, including the original variety, strawberry, blueberry, apple crumb, pineapple, cherry, red velvet, and marbled chocolate swirl. Junior’s is the cheesecake that most New Yorkers who have been away from the city for a long time still reminisce about. Well, your nostalgia is over. And so are even your best intentions of sticking to that new diet. You can purchase a generously portioned slice of Junior’s cheesecake for $7.50. Or you can invite your friends over and indulge in a whole cheesecake, priced anywhere from $17.50-$23.50. Either way, it’s worth every penny, if you ask Junior’s biggest fans.
If you are among the minority who do not enjoy cheesecake, you can indulge in layered delights such as lemon coco cake, red velvet cake, and carrot cake. Or, try the cupcakes and brownies that are also available at Junior’s bakery counter. If you’re looking to enjoy an authentic taste of New York City fare, cancel the plane tickets. Just hop in your car and head for Junior’s in Mizner Park.
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(all data current as of 2/16/2019)
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