Story and photos by Mary Thurwachter
Atlantic Avenue has been Delray Beach’s shopping mecca for decades, but some shoppers forget about the eastern-most stretch — from the Intracoastal Waterway to the beach. That’s a shame. Lovely boutiques, good restaurants, hard-to-pass-by ice cream shops and a few cool surf shops line the street. Here are five places not to miss:
Like exquisite designer clothes? Stroll through this shop, at 1031 E. Atlantic Ave., put down your purse and enjoy the high-end women’s boutique, a Delray Beach icon for more than half a century. You won’t find crowded racks or cluttered tables, just lots of space and beautiful blouses, skirts, slacks, gowns, handbags and jewelry. Refreshments (coffee, soft drinks, wine) are complimentary, so no waiting husband will ever go thirsty. Like many shops on the avenue, Nina Raynor is doggie-friendly and if Cathy Ann Sauer, who runs the shop with her brother Bobby Wollenberg (the store was founded by their parents, Joann Phelan Wollenberg and Robert Wollenberg), is there, you may get to meet Skyler, her English springer spaniel. Skyler is a former show dog that broke a tooth and gave up modeling for working as the store’s occasional greeter.
Ciao Sidewalk Café
A local landmark tucked into the back of the Courtyard Shops, at 1208 E. Atlantic Ave., Ciao has been serving sandwiches, quiche and muffins since 1978. New to the menu: mimosas, wine and craft beer. Customers can sit outside in the courtyard or on one of the few tables inside. We stopped by for the quiche du jour (asparagus) and side of fresh fruit salad as we made our way down the avenue on a chilly January day. Open for breakfast and lunch, Ciao (Italian for both hello and goodbye) is both kid- and pet-friendly. We said “goodbye,” but plan to say “hello” again soon to charming Ciao.
Epic Surf Shop
Custom surfboards, skateboards, Hawaiian shirts, sexy swimsuits and even the sweetest little pink ukuleles you’ll ever want, can be found here. The shop (1218 E. Atlantic Ave.) has been in Delray for 27 years and is just around the corner from the beach, so you can buy a board and hang 10 minutes later (if the waves permit, of course!). We found some Florida Orange Salt Scrub made from Atlantic sea salt and coconut oil that made our skin feel wonderful and smell like the beach.
Don’t worry. The turtle (1100 E. Atlantic Ave.) doesn’t bite. It’s just a catchy name for catchy shops packed with stylish resort wear, much of it colored pink and green. They call the style “preppy with a twist” and that seems to fit quite well. So if you’re in the market for a yacht club shift, hot pink ankle pants or a chic straw hat, this is the place to go. In Delray Beach since 1987, this shop is “turtley” awesome.
Style and Wine
At first glance, you wonder, what is this place, at 1122 E. Atlantic Ave.? Wander inside and you will see the shop’s moniker describes it well — style (fashions, furniture, home goods, party favors) — and yes, wine. Owner Rachel Boueri opened her first Style and Wine at 44 SE Second St., and that location is being rebuilt. The Atlantic Avenue shop, just steps from the beach, serves and sells some of Boueri’s favorite wines, including a lovely Darioush Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. Want a little something to eat after shopping? Boueri suggests the two restaurants next door — El Patron and Boheme Bistro, both owned by Rachel and her hubby, Tony Boueri.