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7 Must-Try Restaurants In Fort Lauderdale FL

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Fort Lauderdale restaurants have long been renowned for their high quality, great service, and various cuisines.

Because of the number of great Fort Lauderdale restaurants, we’ve compiled a short guide to help you try the best of the best. Keep reading to find seven of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale FL.

Fort Lauderdale Restaurants FL

7 Top Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale Florida

Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery

115 NW 6th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311 //+19543292551

A dozen kiosks and an exclusive experience pack a vast warehouse providing an incredible number of seemingly endless appetizers, salads, entrees, and sweets at the Sistrunk Marketplace and Brewery.

Start by scanning a QR code, order from the menu, sit back and wait, check out the store, or grab a drink at the bar and wait for a steady parade of food to arrive at your table.

 If you’re fortunate, you can get a tour of the Shady Distillery next door and return with your appetite renewed. 

They claim to have something for everyone; change the protein, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, or even (gasp) lactose-free so you can enjoy the ice cream.

It is sad to be celiac and not be able to taste Juan’s empanadas which contain cage-free chicken or grass-fed beef, ham and cheese, sweet guava and cheese, or savory broccoli and cheese. Juan offers spicy chicken, spicy beef empanadas, or a truffle-infused chicken or beef empanada.

He tells me their best seller is the caramel and cream cheese empanada, which is quite sweet, and might sell 2000 or 3000 on a weekend.

Juan Cobain has been in Fort Lauderdale since before the days of the Voodoo Lodge and deservedly holds the title as one of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale Florida. He serves bottled, cold-pressed juices made by his friend Judy of 305 Squeeze. Inspired by the area code 305, Judy’s juices are now available through Whole Foods, and, of course, in this Fort Lauderdale restaurant.

Juan also offers what he describes as a “Brunch Five,” served Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This empanada contains egg, cheese, red and green pepper, and onion and remains a savory favorite. My colleagues are sad we won’t still be here this weekend to return and try more of his dishes.

When the empanadas arrived, a choice of four, beef, chicken, ham and cheese, and guava and cheese, were greedily devoured. The beef has a hint of spice, and the chicken melts in your mouth, but the flaky crust takes your breath away and makes you want to indulge in these luscious pastries for many meals to come.

Next, staff delivered their Woke Burger, with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and onions, which can be made to order or even taken away.

Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery Woke Burger

My colleagues, able to eat the bun, said they wouldn’t change a thing. We never even opened the ketchup or mustard offered with it. It needed nothing but a light beverage to accompany it. Perfection. 

The pulled pork fries were the star of our culinary festivities this fine evening with our four merry travel writers. The pulled pork is served with mac and cheese, and initially, the “really good” from those who enjoyed the mac and cheese rose to “absolutely incredible” for the serving they delivered without the macaroni and cheese for a non-cheese eater.

One of our writers even ate two plates of fries, which says a lot about how delicious they are since the food was just extraordinary in quantity and quality. These pulled pork fries came from the market’s Chop Shoppe Meat Provisions section.

Next came a couple of sandwiches, their Cubano, which is pulled pork, ham, and pickles, a typical Cubano with soft, torta-type bread. Also available was a French dip, which is true roast beef, not corned beef. 

The roast beef was salty and thinly sliced, lean, with not a single ridge of fat found within the toasty bread. I would be happy to have the utterly delicious French dip on gluten-free bread any day or every day.

Next in line were three gorgeous trays of sushi, arriving with a large bowl containing Big Island Poke on white rice. The avocado rice and Dante’s Sushi (pink on top) accompanied Papa Chang’s sushi.

There was just so much food it was difficult to keep up, but that Big Island Poke Bowl was one of the favorites of our non-cheese-eating travel writer. It was tangy and tasty, and I shared it with new friends throughout the night.

At this point, I’d had a bite of the roast beef from the French dip but nothing else because of my gluten issue or because it was an item that I just don’t eat. 

Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery Roasted Beef

The Italian Shop took it as a personal challenge to find me something I could eat. When I first met the friendly proprietor, it was like I was running into a taller version of my Uncle Vince as we walked into his shop.

My aunt’s husband wants to make sure everyone is well fed, and my aunt is definitely the cook to confirm this is so. 

The proprietor asked if I liked eggplant, which I did not. He told me that the first problem is typical that it is not prepared properly.

The second issue is that It doesn’t have the right accompaniment. In addition to the eggplant, he sent out an elegant (in its simplicity) dish of carpaccio served with capers, cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, and ripe olives. The raw beef dish was very pretty.

The eggplant was sliced thin as paper, served on a bed of fresh arugula, and lined with a sweet and tangy item that I’ve yet to identify but tasted like balsamic. I’ve just never seen it in a solid form previously.

When asked, this lovely gentleman told me in his thick Italian accent the first secret of making great food, especially my eggplant, is his wife! Married more than 40 years, their love keeps the food tasting wonderful. 

The second secret is the olive oil. This olive oil is imported from the south of Italy from the Campania region. He may have just made a convert of me.

I think the eggplant was light and sweet with a little balsamic vinaigrette and absolutely something I’d be willing to try again. To me, it tasted like a bruschetta without tomatoes. As Ernie Gonzalez, our kind and gentle guide this evening, told us, “You can taste the love.” I agree. It was in every bite.

Next, a dish of prosciutto and stracciatella was placed at the other end of the table, enjoyed by my colleagues. They each said they’d be happy to order it again.

The owner tells us that he has sold 75 to 80 jars of eggplant a week. I’m surprised it’s not double that. given how delicious it is.

I really appreciate the effort he went to on my behalf. He next served us three meatballs with a Pomodoro sauce and a very light dusting of cheese. I was thrilled to hear that the meatballs were all beef, no sausage, and no breading so that I could enjoy them.

My colleagues even gifted me with two out of the three meatballs since I’d had so little to eat at this point in the day. The meatball was light and refreshing, two words I don’t usually associate with meatballs.

It now occurs to me that they provided the boost that left me dancing for the rest of our visit. The Marketplace is loud, but the music is good. 

At this point, we were a little more than halfway through our tremendous tasting menu, and I polled my colleagues for their favorites. The pulled pork dish, with or without the macaroni and cheese, definitely placed first, though the empanada, French dip, and woke burger were close on its heels.

Ernie next brought us homemade guacamole with chips and hummus, Baba Ghanoush, and Mediterranean Salads with Tahini dressing.

I wasn’t particularly familiar with Baba Ghanoush, which doesn’t surprise me since it is another eggplant dish, but I was impressed to learn that it has been documented back into the 13th century in the Middle East.

With great pride, the freshly made hummus was presented next. We learned that Ernie had spent time in Israel at the top of Jaffa, with the most famous hummus makers in the world.

I was stunned to hear the way they make their hummus so incredibly creamy is to hand peel each and every chickpea after it’s been boiled. Can you imagine a sweet little old lady sitting there every day with the little tool that she uses to remove the skin of each individual chickpea? That is a tremendous commitment to quality.

Our next dish was a plate of dessert crepe from Papi, a strawberry and Nutella combination with a very fresh whipped cream. I couldn’t have the dessert crepe (those that could, said the strawberry and Nutella combination was decadent), but I did try the whipped cream, and it was fresh and not too sweet, which was pretty perfect.

The most anticipated dish from the moment we walked in the door may have been the dessert churros. They put things like children’s cereal and ice cream and other coverings on these sweet or savory churros.


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You can combine them to create sundaes or milkshakes or ice cream concoctions. Just ask, and you’ll see some amazing photographs of artistic creations from this dessert chef. The four of us were gifted with a box of six Churros folded like scarves to take away with us.

Finally, a double-rise crusted Italian sausage and red pepper pizza with mozzarella, tomatoes, and red sauce, all directly imported from Italy, was presented with great pride.

If only we had an extra, hollow leg to put this additional food in, we could have enjoyed it even more. The sausage was thickly sliced and smelled delicious.

As the coup de grace, Ernie was kind enough to take us back to the Shady Distillery and give us a brief tour. He explained the distilling process and showed the equipment and the place where the discarded amount is removed.

That’s the by-product the company made hand sanitizer from throughout the pandemic. They’ve got gorgeous little copper bottles to hold the hand sanitizer for your purse or plane travel.

It’s really a lovely gift. They continue to work toward perfecting their rum distillation process, so watch for that. 

In addition to all this incredible food, there’s a bar in the center of the Marketplace, a VW bug with some skeletons driving during this time before Halloween, a large bar in the back with a dozen stools and more distillery equipment visible through large plate glass windows, and a store with fun and quirky items to tickle your fancy and even some utterly practical ones like a sweet balloon clip that holds earrings in pairs. 

They have Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 9 am to 3 pm and live music on weekends.

If you’re looking for a Fort Lauderdale restaurant, you should make your way to the Sistrunk Marketplace, and eat your way around the world as you make your way across the building. 

Thank you to the Sistrunk Marketplace for hosting us for this meal. While we didn’t pay for the meal, my opinions are mine. 

Top Hat Delicatessen

415 NE 3rd St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 //+19549003896

While visiting the overly indulgent Sistrunk Marketplace and Brewery, I asked the question most of us really want to know; “Where do you like to eat?” Juan Cobain, chef of the delicious sweet or savory empanadas, who responded, “I’ll go to Top Hat Café just down the road a couple of times a week.” He went on to explain that it was a Jewish deli, and I was sold!

One branch of my ancestors was Jewish, and I have great memories of going to my Great Aunt Eileen’s house for savory food and great conversation, and couldn’t wait to see if Top Hat could compare.

The next morning, the walk from the hotel along Federal Highway to the Third Street turns into the Top Café was bright and airy, a perfectly sunny Fort Lauderdale day. It’s a little over a half-mile walk from the hotel, but it’s nice to see the urban art on the way. 

On arrival at this Fort Lauderdale restaurant, you’ll laugh at the signs on the door, whether it’s “Drink wine; we shouldn’t keep things bottled up,” “Be Nice,” or walk in and see the gentleman‘s “What am I, chopped liver?“ T-shirt with a great smile on his face. It’s just like coming home.

After perusing the menu, my choices were a BLT, potato latkes, and a bottle of water. Before getting a home in Florida, I’d recognized I don’t care for the taste of the water out of the tap, which continues in restaurant water (and tea), so I must consider fruit juices, soda, or bottled water.

The latter seemed the best choice for my meal. The locals don’t usually note a difference, so be sure to taste the water before you automatically reach for the bottled water.

Other options at this wonderful deli include traditional delicatessen meals, including granola, oatmeal, fruit bowls, and an egg and cheese sandwich with tomato and bacon. A Nova lox sandwich, which is perhaps one of the most iconic, on a bagel and cream cheese with onion and tomato is also superb. 

 I usually enjoy the great names that these delis come up with. Their egg dishes are called “Let’s crack this,” from the Leo to a salami scramble, a corned beef hash, or the “Grand Schlam,” the humor is evident and pervasive.

They offer blintzes, noshes, kugels, knishes, reubens, Rachels, BLTs, a brisket sandwich, liver and onion, and even fried bologna and egg. The smells wafting from the kitchen provided a walk down memory lane.

Jordan, the hostess, assisted Andrew, my server because I was in a bit of a rush to get started on my traveler’s day across Fort Lauderdale.

I needed to meet the Water Taxi at stop #2 by 10 am and get to sightseeing in earnest, with a designated stop for lunch before a museum and more restaurant stops. She’s a gem.

The meal arrived and it was as if I could exhale for the first time in a long time. The potato latkes are familiar in a deeply seated manner only explainable by years of family training.

If the staff noticed, they were kind enough to leave me in my moment of revelry. I’ll want to bring my daughter to experience this restaurant. 

The bacon was perfectly crisp, with the thickest tomato slices you may have ever seen, in addition to butter lettuce and a dill pickle. The bacon has a salty tang so perfect for this dish. 

Top Hat Delicatessen Bacon

The potato latkes are like silver dollar pancakes, except larger. They are a crispy, golden brown and so perfect I needed to take more home with me.

The industrialized front room interior contains two large clear glass panes, garage doors that allow great natural light into the deli. Three Sunburst chandeliers light the room as a neon gentleman whose top hat moves from two positions over his head hovers overhead.

If you want a great brunch or miss the Jewish delicatessens from other parts of the world, this is one of the restaurants in Fort Lauderdale Florida for you! 

Casa Sensei

1200 E Las Olas Blvd STE 101, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

Welcomed from the outside by umbrellaed tables and a friendly hostess, you’re best served to have reservations if you want to eat at the Casa Sensei for dinner. When we were last in Fort Lauderdale for a conference this summer, my daughter found Casa Sensei and we made the point of driving in and finding parking so we could enjoy this wonderful Fort Lauderdale restaurant with a surprise treat at the end of the meal (spoiler alert!).

So it’s no surprise that it should be top of mind for the Convention and Visitors Bureau to recommend the same amazing restaurant. We didn’t find free parking but paid for parking within a few blocks of the restaurant. On this visit, we took an Uber, which was incredibly convenient.

You won’t know unless you ask if the river flowing by can be part of your experience. Ask about the gondola dining options. 

With indoor and outdoor seating, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the Florida weather depending on your tolerabilities. It remained seasonably warm both times I visited, so we elected indoor dining with air conditioning.

If you’re a true fan of Sushi, you’ll want to check out the Omakase “free-style” sushi bar or comfort food Pan-Asian style like Pad Thai, Lo Mein, Lobster Guacamole, Bulgogi, Bao Buns, and Kimchi Fried Rice.

This day, our server, Danni, recommended I follow the menu’s gluten-free notations with a strong recommendation for Jumbo Shrimp Curry Curl upon hearing the various allergies of the group.

It is elegant in its simplicity, with jumbo shrimp, a red curry sauce, and assorted vegetables. I still haven’t figured out exactly what they do to make the curry sauce have the Latin flavor, but it is distinct from other curries.

For my non-dairy-tolerant colleague, she recommended anything besides the Korean BBQ with fried rice. She chose General Tso’s chicken bites, which are very tasty, tangy, crispy chicken chunks with scallions, garlic, Casa spicy sauce, and Chili Peppers.

It’s in a deep dish where you may not even be certain the rice is there… Until you dig down into this ginormous bowl.

Our Convention Visitors Bureau representative ordered the bao buns.  

The choice of pork belly, steak, chicken, coconut shrimp, and crispy tofu is available as filling for the two Bao buns. She also ordered the charred octopus. The tentacle arrived fairly intact, grilled, accompanied by a papaya mango salad and a fresh basil vinaigrette.

Casa Sensei Papaya Mango Salad

I’m so glad to visit with people that have a more adventurous palate than me. She shared that it was prepared “perfectly,” and enjoyed the diverse layering of flavors in the dish. 

On our earlier visit, my favorite daughter chose the sesame chicken, crispy chicken with blood orange caramel sauce, green beans, baby bok choy, sesame seeds, and a large base of Jasmine rice in one of the largest bowls you’ve seen.

Think of the large mixing bowls you use to combine the ingredients for a cake, and you’ll know what I mean. There’s plenty to take home if your table mates don’t join you.

At the time, we were staying at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa and had a full kitchen in the Vice-Presidential Suite to take home and enjoy leftovers later.

For my dessert-first attitude, I checked the dessert menu and found the flourless chocolate cake, the midnight mousse cake. It’s deep, dark chocolate, with powdered sugar to balance, and “decadent” hardly describes it. The accompanying blueberries and strawberries offer a fresh departure from this delightfully heavy dessert.

My edamame arrived with just a light layer of salt, as requested (no truffle oil), and was as delicious as I’ve come to expect at this Ft. Lauderdale restaurant location. I think I’ll have it every visit.

My other fellow travel writer enjoyed the cashew chicken with all-natural chicken, cashews, soy-based house sauce, veggies, and a side of Jasmine rice as well as the Blue Crab Rangoon and pork dumplings from the dim sum menu to share. It’s not as tangy as the sesame chicken or General Tso bites, but a lighter portion, perfect for someone who likes to try an appetizer or two.

Chef is making traditional homemade Chinese pork dumplings recipe

The only time the table was quiet was when the cashew and sesame chicken were delivered with the octopus. It took a few moments for everyone to try their first bites, savor them, have another, then resume the conversation. 

One of the writers had a last-minute change of heart and broke down and ordered the chocolate lava cake. It’s a production as you break through the crust and have the luscious chocolate flow.

With all this food, we chatted for more than an hour, reviewing our Fort Lauderdale stay and solving the problems of the world, one bite at a time. 

Oh, I almost forgot. The surprise is the cotton candy at the end of the meal. With a group of five, they gave us a standard, carnival-size cotton candy and presented it atop a glass. What a treat!

Thank you to Casa Sensei for sponsoring our Fort Lauderdale restaurant meal. The opinions herein are my own.

Planta Queen

1201 E. Las Olas Blvd,Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 //+17547321952

Planta Queen, one of the vegan restaurants in Fort Lauderdale Florida with Asian-style cuisine, is particularly known for its sushi and dumplings.  Everything is designed to share, so you have your share plates (tapas style) and everything will be delivered when it’s ready unless you request otherwise. 

One of the best vegan Ft. Lauderdale restaurants, Planta Queen is highly recommended and our visit was hosted by the Fort Lauderdale CVB. The restaurant provides an open, inviting, airy tropical paradise in which to enjoy plant-based dining.

My favorite daughter would love everything about this restaurant, from the ambiance to the food selection, and I expect she’ll be here promptly when we return to Fort Lauderdale.

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“Our mission is to make an impact by celebrating the power of plants. We work tirelessly to continuously expand our influence, championing plant-based living as a way to better our health, our communities, and our planet.” – from the Planta Queen website

It’s easy to get behind the stated values of the Planta Queen:

  • Always CHASE Perfection
    • Champions: We plan to win
    • Humble: We make mistakes and own them
    • Authentic: Be the best version of yourself
    • Sustainable: We think long-term
    • Experiences: We build real relationships
  • Develop Curious, Courageous, and Inclusive Leaders
  • Plant an Impression
  • Do What’s Right: For Our People, Guests, Company, and Environment

The website shares that its Founder and CEO, Steven Salm, and Executive Chef and Co-Founder David Lee, created this wonderful concept restaurant back in 2016.

Six years ago, plant-based dining was treated more as a fad than a lifestyle, and their acceptance of the lifestyle does help “reimagine, reinvent, and revitalize, providing flavorful proof that the power of plants can change the world.”

With 150 seats, including indoor and out, the vibrant rose gold blends with tropical colors to increase the positive energy of this space, perfect for leisurely brunches, lengthy multi-course dinners, or a quick bite to eat. 

The bar and lounge section, where we ate, has seating for 40. The bar itself, visible upon entry to the restaurant, has two large pyramid cutouts on either side of a rectangle that allow you to see through to the main dining room and working kitchen. 

If you are a sushi lover, you’ll probably enjoy the unagi eggplant nigiri, ahi watermelon nigiri, crispy rice, torched and pressed avocado with miso truffle glaze, baked crab roll, dragon roll, California roll, or spicy tuna roll. The California roll is kind of classic, but the way they do it with the hearts of palm is a nice twist. 

Or, if you have a taste for chilled and raw items, choose between the sunomono salad, baby gem salad, Queen Caesar, avocado lime tartare, or Pad Thai slaw.

They offer four types of dumplings: spinach shiitake, crispy gyoza, potato truffle, and sweet corn. Then choose from nine types of wok and noodle dishes, including two that are rice-based, appropriate for a celiac diet.

For family-style dining or a lighter appetite, we really enjoyed the small plates. They have bao sliders, jackfruit wings, wonton soup, Bang Bang broccoli, steamed edamame, cauliflower tots, and Japanese sweet potato.

For celiacs, only a few items need to be avoided; the dumplings, spicy tuna sushi, chili peanut noodles, Dan Dan Noodles, wonton soup, and Bao slider.

Planta Queen Chili Peanut Noodles

Anything else is either gluten-free or can be adjusted to accommodate the medical condition. It’s unusual to have that few restrictions and a testament to the mission accomplished. 

My colleague shared with me, “the Japanese sweet potato tastes like a potato wedge, the hint of sweet potato, and it’s just delicious. Perfection at its best. It’s the best format of any kind of sweet potato I’ve ever had. It’s really good.”

Cilantro and basil are sprinkled atop the dish, which has been torched, on purpose, so the hint of miso sauce is burned and barely noticeable.

She told me the kimchi added both taste and texture. I’d never heard of furikake and learned it’s a crunchy, salty seasoning that adds a nutty flavor due to sesame seeds.

The edamame was layered with soy sauce and a light dusting of salt served al dente in an attractive bowl with each soybean popping in your mouth. They’re light and deceptively filling; you may not realize until a half-hour after the bowl is completed that you’re full.

Taro root chips, beautifully served in a mother-of-pearl colored dish, are crisp and light, so thin there’s only a quick snap as they break.

It’s easy to see how Planta Queen builds community-based on the social activities they offer, from a Maki Monday to a Pour Decision Wednesday, to disco and dumplings Friday (after 5:00 PM), and a weekend brunch.

Their sense of humor and generosity for the big appetite encourages people to extend their visit to this festive Fort Lauderdale vegan restaurant.

Their drinks menu is as vast as their food menu, with cocktails such as “Herb Your Enthusiasm,” free spirits like “Been There Thai’d That,” and juices and fizz “Emperor Strikes Back.” This is in addition to white, red, and rose wines, four beers or ciders, and six one-cup sakes, as well as five large format sakes, allowing ease to choose the perfect flavor profile to accompany your meal.

“We have drinks, cocktails, mocktails, juice, wine, coffee, and tea. If you want anything other than the water, let me know,” our server offers.

My colleague chose Enter the Dragon, a bubblegum pink drink made with dragon fruit, pineapple, and coconut water. It has a touch of ginger to it, so keep that in mind before you order. 

Walking out, you feel as though you’ve been well-fed, knowing you’re sustaining the planet for future generations. It’s a great combination and one of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale Florida.

The meal was provided by the Fort Lauderdale CVB, thank you. The opinions contained herein are mine.

El Vez Fort Lauderdale

401 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd //+19544148336

You really shouldn’t go to Fort Lauderdale and not see the beach. One perfect opportunity is offered at El Vez, in the W Hotel, open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and happy hour. For my final meal, we went to El Vez, a Ft. Lauderdale Mexican restaurant where, during lunch, we could sit out on the covered patio and watch the ocean across the road. 

Walking through the restaurant to the patio is a treat unto itself, both to catch the ambiance and to see the interior bar and dining space. 

A Mexican restaurant is traditionally built around the flour tortilla, which makes it difficult to find items to eat while on the celiac diet, but our server shared that each dish is made fresh to order, so adjustments can be made. 

For salsa and guacamole choices, they offer both classic and specialty flavors, both sweet with mango and savory with poblano peppers. It’s this type of flexibility I’ve come to associate with Baja-style cooking. 

Their ceviche choices include Snapper Aguachile, tuna tostadas, Pina con Camaron, and Tostada de Mariscos Grande. 

You can enjoy their tortilla soup every day. Or try a chopped salad or kale Caesar salad to which you can add chicken, steak, or shrimp.

El Vez Fort Lauderdale Tortilla Soup

They have fun names for their nachos. Like “Nacho Mama” and “Macho Nacho,” but I’d choose the prime brisket flat if they were made in corn tortillas. Sadly for me, but not for the rest of you, they are wrapped in flour tortillas.

Our server, Kristof, steered me to the tacos., which were made with corn tortillas. The most popular, he said, were the crispy mahi-mahi, but the grilled snapper was delicious, a fish I’d only started eating while visiting Beliz for a few months last year.

Three types of enchiladas and four types of tacos al carbon and Huevos rancheros or an American cheeseburger can be combined with grilled corn, refried pinto beans, a watermelon salad, plantains con queso, or black beans and rice.

Most of my audience knows I do enjoy dessert first and that was the case here. While I enjoyed their prickly pear sorbet with its needly touch to the tastebuds, the smooth texture provides a startling contrast. 

My colleague asked Kristof what the most photogenic item might be.

“The churros are arranged nicely,” he said, “with the chocolate sauce able to be drizzled or dunked.” Sold!

Freshly made churros smell heavenly and, based on my colleague’s reaction, they tasted as good as they smelled. Remember that scent wafting across the fairgrounds when you were young and begging your parents to let you ride another ride? That’s what this is.

As if you needed proof that they’re serious about their drinks, the drink menu exceeds the food offerings. They have almost an entire page dedicated to tequila but wine, agave spirits, Mezcal (half page!), cocktails, and both draft and bottled beer (cerveza) are available.

For non-alcohol drinkers, iced tea and lemonade, Coca-Cola products, and juices made in Mexico are offered.

It’s a fun, fresh meal made in a stunning environment with great service and a hotel right here if you decide to sleep over and start again in the morning. Who could ask for more? If you are looking for one of the best Mexican restaurants in Fort Lauderdale Florida, this is the place.

The meal was provided by the Fort Lauderdale CVB, thank you. The opinions contained herein are mine.

The Wharf Fort Lauderdale

20 W Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 //+19543727606

About to begin its fourth year in operation, The Wharf is an open-air food hall on the New River along Riverwalk in Fort Lauderdale. 

Opened by the Breakwater Hospitality group after the success of the concept in Miami, they’re open Thursday through Sunday to capture the weekend crowd and offer an additional venue to experience the vibrant downtown nightlife. Perhaps the most fun aspect is that you can arrive by car or boat. It is Fort Lauderdale, after all.

With bar areas scattered throughout the 1.25-acre space, The Wharf reminds me of The Living Room in Dublin 1, one of the best places in the city to watch big sporting events.

Their food and beverage concept combines local food scene operators with “exciting cocktails and ongoing event programs,” states the website. 

Broward County-based chefs and restauranteurs have permanent food “truck” space within the food court, much like the pop-up restaurants in other cities but providing a more consistent experience. 

The night I was there, I entered through security after stopping at the sculpture of the woman with an opening chest a half block away, scoped out the individual vendors, enjoyed watching fun-loving adults play the largest “beer pong” I’ve ever seen with life-size red cups and basketballs, and heard some great music from the DJ of the night. 

Here’s what’s available from lunch to late at night:

– Pizza by Chef Jose Mendin’s The Piefather

You’d be hard-pressed to leave hungry after visiting the Pie Father with Caesar salad, meatballs, and six kinds of pizza.

Nonna’s beef short rib meatballs are an easy gluten-free alternative with their old-world recipe, Pomodoro and ricotta cheese, and light enough to leave room to try other items. Of course, if you’re dancing through the night, you’ll need to keep coming back to restore your energy. 

  • Taquerias Los Altos

If you’re in the mood for Mexican food made from scratch, go to the Taquerias for three types of guacamole, chips and salsa, or antojitos, including chicken flautas, which were lovely. At $6.50 per chicken flauta, it’s a bargain.

Choose gorditas or quesadilla or a Quesadilla Gringa, burritos, and bowls of pork beef, roast pork, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables. You can order two tacos with those proteins as well as fish, and you won’t go wrong. Two tacos for $12, plus additional fees for certain proteins (like the fish, an additional $2.00).

The Wharf Fort Lauderdale Roast Pork

The ability to add guacamole or Crema Mexicana allows for many variations. For dessert, they offer a churro, flan, or Michoacana paletas. It’s fun, festive food. Just right for a night at the Wharf.

– Classic American Fare by be nice Restaurants’ Lunchroom

It’s easy to get behind the be nice attitude, and to enjoy the offerings here, which include lunchroom-type fare with The Rooster, a crispy chicken breast, Philly cheese steak, cheeseburger sliders, impossible burger sliders, pork tacos, short rib tacos, Philly fries, chicken wings, garlic Parmesan fries, or regular French fries.

The Lunchroom staff is friendly and cheerful and the decor humorous with a bespectacled figure closely examining a crinkled-cut French fry. If you have a large party, they do offer a loaded fried trio, a wing combo, a taco platter, or a sliders platter from $25 to $40 so you can easily feed your family or coworkers with lunchroom sandwiches.

A second “truck” from be nice offers Frito pies, ribs, brisket, mac and cheese, and pulled pork sandwiches. Their “Nashville Hot” is a fried chicken breast with Nashville hot sauce, pickles, and garlic aioli on a brioche bun, accompanied by French fries.

You can order a sausage Po boy or the Frito pie which has Fritos, Slim’s famous chili, and “all the fixin’s.” If you’re missing your sriracha honey, go for the wings and thangs, with breaded wings and a waffle. Their chopped salad includes fried chicken breast and kidney beans with grilled corn. 

And you can always order the a la carte chopped brisket or pulled pork by the quarter pound. I hadn’t seen cheddar jalapeno sausage before but saw many fellow customers enjoying it. Their cup of Slim’s famous chili and mac and cheese are also available on the a la carte menu.

The grilled corn on the cob is another popular item, and it didn’t seem as though they could get the cornbread out fast enough to serve this crowd. The French fries and onion rings were visible all around me.

The third “truck” space from which to choose be nice items is the Cookies and Cream. While it was already closed the night I attended, I can see that it must be a very popular location.

They offer ice cream sandwiches such as chocolate chip, cookies and cream, brownies, Heath bars, or sugar cookies, which sound delicious. They offer a cake batter, cookies and cream, brownies, Heath bars, and Strawberry Shortcake parfaits.

Their soft serve ice cream comes in a cone or a cup and is available as chocolate, vanilla, or swirl with toppings available including Heath bar, crumble, yellow, cake, Oreo, crumble, rainbow, sprinkles, brownie pieces, whipped cream, chocolate chips, or a cone cup.

They do offer magic shells in chocolate, strawberry, or Unicorn, and then sauces such as chocolate, strawberry, or caramel. I can definitely see enjoying a chocolate shell soft-serve vanilla ice cream when I return.

They do offer coffee as either cold brew or espresso. Even better, go for one of the floats with either creamsicle or a cold brew, and soft serve options available. A new item to me was the “cookie nachos” they have on offer.

This dish contains chocolate chip cookie pieces with whipped cream and sprinkles and hot fudge or caramel for dipping. Separately, you can choose your cookie from their chocolate chip cookies, double chocolate chip, Heath bar cookie, sugar cookie, or salted caramel pretzel cookies.

It’s hard to believe there were “only” five food areas, but you’ll see why when you go. The bar areas are divided to be conveniently located for patrons, and the entire space is meant for relaxing fun.

Whether you’re a local, a tourist, or a traveler, it’s worth a stop at the Wharf. It’s one of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale Florida.

Shooters Waterfront

3033 NE 32nd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308 //+19545662855

Conveniently located along Fort Lauderdale’s Water Taxi Route (Stop #9), Shooters Waterfront Restaurant captured us for a late lunch.

It was recommended (not hosted) by the PR company working for the Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau that arranged for our International Food Wine Travel Writers Association post-conference press trip, as well as the staff of the Water Taxi. Turns out 2022 is the 40th year they’ve been open, making it a local icon.

My first colleague ordered a shrimp Po’Boy. The shrimp are breaded and large, not in the New Orleans style with cornmeal, but with flour as you might see in chicken nuggets, with tomato and mint, and served with thin, shoestring fries.

She enjoys any kind of shellfish and thought the serving was too large piled atop a French baguette with a spicy remoulade. 

My second colleague ordered coconut shrimp, large and deep fried, along with onion rings that she sent back because they were served with cheese (this was not found on the menu) and were replaced promptly.

Shooters Waterfront Coconut Shrimp

After the first bite? “The shrimp is absolutely delicious.” The sauce, a mango jelly with chili, is yellow (not green as I thought viewing it from an angle that made me think it might be guava). 

The mango jelly, sweet with a little tang to it, received a ten out of ten on the sauce taste scale. 

“I’m so glad I didn’t order this as an appetizer and then a meal… this is an entire meal.” 

Later still, “These are the best coconut shrimp I’ve ever had in my life.” 

Because we always like to consider how we might change things or improve them if we were to make it home, we had to ask if there was anything that could be done to improve it.

“The only thing that would’ve made this better would be a little more coconut on the breading. I know that being this hungry did make a difference.”

Turns out, she hadn’t eaten for about 18 hours before having this meal (after we left the supremely decadent Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery.

Fish and chips were the choice of the hour for my final colleague. Breaded Cobia; we were all surprised they were delivered as fish sticks rather than the typical planks. Shoestring French fries joined a beautiful slaw with red onion, corn, red pepper, cucumbers with cilantro, and a tanginess that doesn’t seem like vinegar. 

The tartar sauce rated a “six or seven” out of ten. Cole slaw has “a bit of zip like a jalapeno, maybe,” though we couldn’t find a jalapeno on the plate. Our server, Mark, happily supplied Amy with a side of mango jelly and then the guacamole from my taro root chips which she tasted but didn’t finish without chips available to dip. 

In addition, my final colleague had a black bean soup with avocado crema as a garnish. She loved the soup, but the dishes were all served at once so it was difficult to enjoy it first. 

Warning: though gluten-free options are available, you may be challenged to find a celiac option that works for you.

The frozen raspberry lemonades are delicious but two (!) pack as much of a calorie wallop as “real” food and may require the prompt administration of taro root chips (no guacamole) to overcome a child-like belly ache from too much sugar. 

Homemade raspberry lemonade in a bottle and glasses with ice on a white table

My taro root chips were the white, thinly sliced version reminiscent of the Terra chips you get at the grocery store, but perfectly round that break easily like a very large communion host. 

At the end of a pleasant hour, watching the torrential rain come and go on the terrace, congratulating ourselves for having moved inside from an area that would have caused too much sun exposure for one of us, we examined the dessert menu.

They offer a pineapple upside-down rum cake, a chocolate fudge cake, Betty’s homemade apple pie, a Caribbean bread pudding plan, a peanut butter chocolate bar, a Key Lime Baked Alaska, and seasonal sorbets and ice cream.

While the only option for ice cream was vanilla, the seasonal sorbet was a strawberry pineapple, which was ordered and refreshing, and as delicious as you would expect.

It was a delicate balance between the two flavors but successfully accomplished by the chef. It’s one of the finest restaurants in Fort Lauderdale Florida.

Best Restaurants In Fort Lauderdale Florida Wrap Up

There you have it, friends, a very exhaustive and satisfying review of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Hope you will enjoy them as much as I did, and please share your experiences in the comments below.

Visiting other destinations in Florida? Check out our other guides:

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