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Fort Lauderdale Restaurants

Blue Moon
4405 W. Tradewinds Avenue
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 267 9888

This massive, upscale eatery right on the Intracoastal Waterway caters to an older, more local crowd than many of the fashionable new joints. Try to snag a table on the terrace, with its superb views (don't worry if you're caught in a Florida thunderstorm, as it's fully enclosed). The menu, unsurprisingly, is heavy on fish; portions are generous and dishes are rich. Try the Hawaiian spiked tuna poki as an appetizer and follow up with an entrée like lobster and shellfish pan roast or herb-crusted swordfish; meat lovers shouldn't miss the dense, sweet, veal tenderloin doused in red-onion jam.

Open daily 11:30 am to 3 pm and 6:30 to 10 pm.

Café Martorano
3343 E. Oakland Park Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 561 2554

Don't stop by for a romantic date here. Chef and owner Steve Martorano is a former DJ from Philly, and he fills his restaurant with loud music and strobe lights every night, not to mention a celebrity-heavy, Sopranos-style crowd of snappily dressed gents like James Caan and Danny DeVito. But as long as you can handle the restrictions (curt staff, no reservations for anyone), it's one of the city's best spots to eat. The South Philly Italian food is served family-style; try the lobster francese, fettucine Alfredo, and Martorano's unmissable meatballs (tennis-ball-sized and drenched in marinara sauce). If you're not a celebrity, expect to wait up to three hours for a table on the weekends. Go on a Tuesday if you want to miss the scene and just sample the food.

Open daily from 5 pm.

Canyon Southwest Café
1818 E. Sunrise Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 765 1950

This unusual Southwestern spot in gentrifying Victoria Park is located at a confusing intersection with the Federal Highway—make sure to follow along Sunrise and park at the rear. The restaurant is done up in tones of mustard and burnished bronze, and the booths are made even more private thanks to the gauzy curtains drawn around them. As for the food, entrée standouts include a shrimp-and-scallop burrito and a marinated Chilean seabass with tomatoes, crab meat and mussels; the white-chocolate-and-berry bread pudding is worth breaking any diet for. Whatever you do, order a signature prickly pear margarita: The Day-Glo pink drinks are made from fresh cactus fruit that's steeped in top-grade tequila for three days.

Open daily 5:30 to 10 pm.

2400 E. Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 712 0580

This relatively new spot is a South Florida replica of a buzzy São Paulo steakhouse. The idea is simple—a $44 all-you-can-eat upscale buffet ($25 for lunch). Don't load up too much on the lavish salad bar, though—cheese, prosciutto, and smoked salmon are staples—as the main course is the real draw. Follow your nose as waiters wander through the dining room brandishing massive skewers of more than a dozen different meats, from which they'll carve chunks for any diner. The skewers are all cooked churrascaria-style, over flaming pits; make sure to try unfamiliar offerings like picanha (that's a Brazilian cut of sirloin) or linguica (a sort of chorizo). Use the casino-chip-like baton to indicate whether you're still working on appetizers (leave it red-side up) or if you want the wait staff to serve up the meats (turn it to green).

Open daily 5:30 to 10 pm.

Edelweiss Bakery
2909 E. Commercial Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 772 1529

A seemingly nondescript bakery in a beachside strip mall, this spot is in fact a great, low-key find where the German owners offer favorites of their homeland. In addition to the fresh breads and glistening pastries filled with dried fruit or custard, there are jars of pickled sauerkraut, imported chocolate and cookies, and cured meats to take home. The stiff, Austrian-style espresso is also delicious.

Open Mondays through Fridays 8 am to 5 pm and Saturdays 8 am to 4 pm.

The Floridian
1410 E. Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 463 4041

A glorious holdover from Fort Lauderdale's past, the Floridian (opened in 1937) packs in hungry diners day and night—whether blue-haired retirees or dawn-bruised nightclubbers. It's huge, so you'll never have to wait for a table (except perhaps on Sunday mornings); the interior is reassuringly unfussy, with its original counter, 1980s Formica furniture and walls covered in autographed, if peeling, celebrity pictures. As for the menu, it's diner-vast: you can order French toast and pancakes for breakfast or one of dozens of deli sandwiches and entrées like meatloaf and fried clams all day.

Open 24 hours daily.

Hotel Photo
Johnny V's
625 E. Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 761 7920

Johnny Vinczencz is one of the boldest boldfaced names from South Beach to make the move north. After reigning over the menu at the Hotel Astor for several years, he decamped to Fort Lauderdale to open a namesake eatery downtown. Vinczencz was an early champion of so-called Floribbean cuisine (think bikini-friendly combos of meat or fish plus fruit), and the menu here features favorites like cinnamon-crusted pork tenderloin as well as his signature dish, a short stack of meaty Portobello mushroom "pancakes." Both service and furnishings are understated and flawless; the latter features dark walnut, backlit mirrors, and plush red upholstery.

Open daily 11:30 am to 2 pm and 5 to 11 pm.

2850 N. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 567 3333

More Alessi than O Sole Mio, this contemporary Italian restaurant is industrial chic, with raw concrete floors, bright orange and lime green furniture, and a red-and-yellow tiled open kitchen. Owner Vincent Foti's modest menu is more conventional. Classic Italian pastas and entrées are served in single or family-size portions and include authentic ingredients like house-made mozzarella and flour flown in from Naples. A chalkboard of specials changes daily depending on what's fresh, but you can't go wrong with the classic hearty meatballs or gnocchi with a rich Gorgonzola cream sauce.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 5:30 pm.

La Spada's
4346 Seagrape Drive
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea , Florida
Tel: 954 776 7893

Every visitor should make a pilgrimage to this stellar sub shop. The loaf-sized sandwiches on bakery-fresh rolls come in regular (8") or large (12") sizes and start around $7. The brave and the hungry should opt for the Monster, stuffed with wads of wafer-thin ham, roast beef, and roast turkey breast, plus cheese, pickles, vegetables, and dressings. The only downside is the somewhat surly staff, but at prices like these, no one dares complain (and they'd throw you out if you did).

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 am to 8 pm, Sundays 11 am to 8 pm.

Rino's Tuscan Grille
1105 E. Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 766 8700

Chef Rino Balzano is a local character (don't be surprised to hear him break into song in the middle of the restaurant) and one wall is lined with snaps of the celebrities who've enjoyed his cooking in the past (De Niro and Demi Moore among them). His food is simple hearty Italian, much of it cooked in the wood-fired oven. Try veal scallopine or black lobster ravioli. Best tables are on the palm-tree-filled garden patio that overlooks the waterway, where there's music Thurs–Sat.

Open daily 5 pm to midnight.

Sea Watch
6002 N. Ocean Boulevard
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea , Florida
Tel: 954 781 2200

Beachfront restaurants are rare in ocean-centric Fort Lauderdale, for some reason, but this salty old favorite sits right on the sand in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. The menu of solid seafood staples like lobster rolls, crab claws, and Florida red snapper is exactly what you'd expect, as is the crowd of young families, tourist couples, and sun-kissed teens, After dinner, grab a beer on the upstairs deck and, yes, watch the sea. If only everything in life were so simple.

Open daily 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm.

1431 N. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 539 9000

It may be vegan and organic, but don't be afraid to bring your meat-eating companions to this low-key Zen-like spot, nestled among the casual dining chains on Federal Highway. The enthusiastic staff makes a strong case for dishes like the outstanding "tenderloin" (rounds of portobello mushroom au poivre served with crunchy onion rings) or the "picatta" of grilled asparagus with a lemon caper sauce. While many vegan eateries opt to go liquor-free, Sublime's cocktail list has healthy mixers like pomegranate juice and organic vegetable juice blended with vodka and sake. The standout is the green tea martini, a potent combination of green tea vodka with green tea liqueur.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm

Hotel Photo
Atlantic Resort
601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale , Florida
Tel: 954 567 8070

An expensive hot spot inside the beachfront Atlantic Resort. Trina's Chef Don Pintabona is an alumnus of New York's Tribeca Grill; the sommelier, Nick Mautone, is a veteran of Gramercy Tavern. Together, they've come up with an eatery that's allegedly Sicilian (the name is derived from the Trinakria, Sicily's signature three-legged Medusa head). Diners will likely label it Mediterranean Rim, though, thanks to the spicy Arabic touches—try the tagine of baked Florida grouper, or one of the airy flatbreads served doused in unusual toppings like arugula pesto or wild mushrooms with Taleggio cheese. The interior has dark woods, leather banquettes, and crisp white tables, though the best touch, of course, is the seafront view from the wraparound terrace.

Open daily 6:30 am to 10 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.