Strolling along the breezy corridors of Mizner Park, it is impossible to miss Max’s Grille. Centered in a prime location with a generous sprinkling of umbrellas for outdoor diners to beat the Florida heat, the restaurant commands attention. The brightly colored exotic cars lined up like birds-of-paradise at the valet station, the celebratory tinkling of glasses, the general air of bonhomie, and the inviting aroma of fresh ingredients grilled over mesquite with the sizzle of piquant sauces, all combine to invite you in.
When you enter Max’s Grille, the ambiance is distinct. The high ceilings and modern cylindrical chandeliers are balanced with rich plush leather booths and warm wood elements. An impressive wall of wine bottles adds a refined feel to the dining room. For diners who like to savor their meals al fresco, as I do, there is extensive outdoor seating with plenty of shade. Boca dog lovers can order from a special Bark Café menu for their fur babies. It’s wise to call ahead for a special table.
The restaurant offers a good selection of elevated American classics., rooted in the California movement. In fact, Max’s Grille was the first South Florida restaurant to offer Chopped Salad. Owner, Burt Rapoport, first sampled Chopped Salad at Beverly Hills’ famous La Scala restaurant back in 1994. It was so good that he promptly added it to the Max’s Grille menu and the rest is history. This flair for understanding exceptional cuisine that people will enjoy is one that Burt Rapoport inherited. As a third-generation restaurateur, his fondest memories were of family meals at his grandfather’s kosher dairy restaurant in New York, which was a Lower East Side institution for 50 years.
Burt’s decades-long experience working in the restaurant industry has enabled him to select staff that shares his values. Executive chef, Mike Casari, has a passion for great food and never stops reading, experimenting and studying other great restaurants. This hunger for excellence is reflected in Max’s Grille’s menu, which is designed to tickle the taste buds with contemporary delicacy, wide variety and ample portion sizes. From the classic Tomato Bisque to a piquant Asian Vegetable Stir Fry to a decadent Mixed Berry Crème Brulee Pie, there is indeed something here for every taste – and diet. The restaurant offers many gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. The wine list is generous and highly lauded, and the cocktails are fun and inventive. The zesty Strawberry Basil Cooler is a crowd favorite, and the Pisco Sour is a playful tie-in to the recent Macchu Picchu exhibit at Boca Museum of Art.
Max’s Grille has been a Mizner Park fixture for over 30 years – an incredible feat, considering how many restaurants come and go. The challenges that COVID wrought on many restaurants did not deter Burt Rapoport. He absolutely refused to compromise on the quality of the food or portion sizes, opting instead to streamline the menu and hours to accommodate his staff. This dedication to delivering true value to its diners made 2021 the best year ever for Max’s Grille, even as many restaurants have struggled to keep their doors open in the last two years.
Burt Rapoport contends that there are three ingredients restaurants must offer to keep diners coming back for more: food, service and ambiance. As proven by the throngs of diners constantly filling its tables, Max’s Grille has a generous helping of all three.