There is a secluded slice of paradise that has been drawing locals and tourists alike in Jupiter right off A1A. Guanabanas, started off as a sandwich shop back in 2004 and has evolved with the help of a committed staff that is more like a family than anything else. Following a 2.5 million renovation that lead to a grand re-opening in December 2008, the Guanabanas family has been rolling ahead serving up quality and paradise on a plate.
Operating owners Jon Sullivan and Chad Van Boven had a vision of taking this hidden gem from a spot for a quick bite into an island experience. We can safely say that have successfully achieved their goal. Guanabanas is not just a local spot, they actually are one of a only a few restaurants that participants in the “Fresh from Florida” campaign. This participation means that all the seafood served is local to the state of Florida and allows them to invest in local fishermen and growers. This local awareness can be seen throughout their menu.
We had the honor of sitting down and dining with Executive Chef Vinny Trupia, who’s passion for fresh Florida fare and positive outlook on life just shines through. Chef Vinny said “I love this place and one of my favorite things to do is to get here early, pour a cup of coffee, sit and enjoy the view before we start the day.” Vinny’s love for Guanabanas is infectious. Trupia assured us that even though Guanbanas only serves seafood native to Florida that doesn’t limit their possibilities.
“What sets us apart from others is that we can proudly say we are one of very few restaurants that only serve Florida-sourced seafood, everything from the shrimp coming from Cape Canaveral, clams and crab from Pine Island near Sanibel Island, and fish from all around Florida.”
So lets taste some of their Florida fare!
So you may be asking why “Floridian Fritters” and not conch fritters. Well, that’s because you will not find any conch in these fritters. Bahamian Conch is not only at risk of over fishing but it is not local to Florida. In keeping with the native seafood pledge, Chef Vinny has found tasty local shrimp that are sustainable. These fritters are packed with flavor! Each fritter has tons of shrimp balanced by onion, garlic, green pepper and a good ratio breading. This dish is served with a kickin jalapeno mustard sauce that tastes soo good. This is one of their signature appetizers and a popular choice by locals.
Jumping from shrimp to local clams steamed to perfection and served with garlic butter. Now Guanbanas actually serves two different clams. Their classic Sanibel clam is harvested from sandy bottom Pine Island sound near Sanibel. But Chef Vinny has his ear to the water and after searching for a bit came across Sunray Venus clams, which not too many restaurants use or even know about. It is so new that recently the Tampa Bay Times reported that Sunray Venus clams could be Florida’s next big aquaculture crop. These oval/razor kind of shaped clams have a lovely sweet taste and when paired with the garlic butter . . well everything is better with butter!
Slow Smoked Sweet & Spicy Wings
The name says it all, SLOW SMOKED. Guanabanas slow smokes their wings for 4 hours using barkless pecan from Georgia. Any true BBQ enthusiast will tell ya that slow smoked is the way to go and Georgia pecan wood is one of the best kinds you could use. Unlike your nasty sports bar fried wings, these bad boys have a delicious smokey flavor accompanied by small pieces of nice char around the wing. There is a mild kick to Chef Vinny’s wings and are served with simple ranch dressing. This appetizer comes with about 6-8 wings which is perfect for sharing but is also a nice fit for a light dinner. If your dining with strictly meat eaters these wings will put them right at home but they will probably order seconds and thirds.
Macadamia Coconut Fresh Catch
When we said paradise on a plate we were referring to this incredible signature dish. This is one of their most popular dishes and its obvious why. Chef Vinny, takes a nice piece of their fresh Florida catch and encrusts it with macadamia nuts and coconut before he sauteed it to a golden crust. It’s topped with a fresh mango and pineapple salsa that will make your taste buds stand up at attention. We ordered this with a side of Southern corn pudding and maduros (sweet plantains). Now the sweet plantains were great but lets step over to the Southern corn pudding, which already makes your mouth water while you say it. This corn pudding was simply exquisite and could easily be it’s own dish. A bowl of southern corn pudding with some spicy grilled shrimp on top would hit the spot nicely.
Overall Guanbanas is hitting on all cylinders from the food to the service and last but not least the view. Whats even better that most people don’t know about is that Guanabanas also serves breakfast from 8:30-11 a.m on the weekends. We featured them in our article Best Brunches in South Florida, click here to read it. If you would like to visit Guanabanas you can stop by at 960 North Highway A1A, Jupiter, FL 33477 or visit www.guanabanas.com. Be sure to get their early for dinner since there is usually a decent wait.
Chef Vinny's Hidden Gems
Water sports: Check out Blue Line Paddle
Outdoor park: Check out Dubois Park especially at sunset
Craft Beer: Check out the Tequesta Brewing Company
Fresh Juice: Check out the Modern Juice Co. We stopped by and their juice is so fresh its incredible. This is real juice none of that frozen sugary pre-measured fake stuff.