When the Sun Goes Down, the Party Begins in Fort Lauderdale
By Dale Mack
Fort Lauderdale Local Expert
Of all the clubs and bars in a city, 10Best narrows the options to places with the most appeal and the best reputations. If time is really tight, though, and you don't have the leisure to look through all our offerings, we present our Fort Lauderdale Best Nightlife list. Here, we distill the best businesses down to a special selection of ten. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can't miss. For instance, one of the most popular nightspots is Christopher's, YOLO and America's Backyard. All ages gather at these clubs for the unique and special niche. Since you find yourself on the popular Las Olas Boulevard, plan to spend time at Mango's. Great live music, great drinks, great atmosphere and great food is why this place is so popular. Now, even though you are in South Florida, there is an authentic South African bar right here. Kalahari Bar on Commercial Boulevard is a fun place to join in with others who desire an international flare. For those who don't mind a loud and rather crowded venue with popular and alternative music, there is the Culture Room and the downtown gathering place, Revolution. And when you find yourself back on the beach there is the locally popular Parrot Lounge and the always fun Lulu's Bait Shack just steps from the sand.
Lulu's Bait Shack
Located at the fun Beach Place complex on the city's famous Fort Lauderdale Beach is Lulu's Bait Shack. Here you can sit with your friends and sip your favorite, colorful cocktail and drink in the never-ending activity of this sizzling hotspot. Enjoy a delicious selection of appetizers including a platter chock-full of Louisiana-style crawfish, or their favorite tangy Buffalo shrimp, soups, salads, sandwiches and seafood dishes. Lulu's Bair Shack serves your favorites beers and cocktails and provide live entertainment that will make it a night to remember. And don't forget to purchase the souvenir glass so you can brag to all your jealous friends later. (954-463-7425)
Located at the always hip and happening Wilton Manors on The Drive in the heart of this diverse island city, Hunters exudes passion and energy as they serve up quality drinks, dancing and daily entertainment which attracts a predominantly gay clientele. This is the place to be for those who enjoy Karaoke, whether participating or cheering on the singers, country and western dancing and cabaret. Happy Hour is 4-9 p.m. every night except for Friday until 9:30 and Sunday from noon-9 p.m. (954-630-3556)
Welcome to the Kalahari Bar, the first authentic South African Bar in the USA, one popular nightspot in Fort Lauderdale. Here authentic art, masks and tools don the walls and you'll feel like you're thousands of miles away in the homeland. On Saturdays patrons pack the house for a raucous karaoke party, and sports fans come throughout the week to watch rugby and soccer tournaments. The drink menu boasts rare international concoctions, as well as imported beer and wine. Mondays and Thursdays are ladies nights where they drink two for one. Join the fun on Sundays for NFL football on big screen, and remember that free pool all day Sunday and Fridays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (954-351-9371)
Outside the Casablanca Cafe is a sign that says cars must stop for pedestrians. Hope for a pedestrian to come along as it will be a pleasure to stop here. Take it as an opportunity to look at this incredible piano bar and restaurant, housed in an authentic two-story Spanish home and offering favorite Mediterranean dishes in a lovely atmosphere. Moroccan lamps, stucco walls, dark wood and wrought iron accents adorn the interior, and a balcony full of satisfied patrons provide breathtaking views of the ocean as well as a front-row seat to this famous beach. Enjoy nightly live music, excellent wine and a limited food menu at the bar. Happy Hour is from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Now, don't just sit there; park the car and go enjoy yourself! (954-764-3500)
The Culture Room is the hot spot to go for concert lovers. Hot, big-name bands with names like Down, Taproot, The Bodeans and The Heavy Pets draw fans from all over South Florida as they take the stage at this neighborhood concert hall. Easily accessible at Oakland Park Boulevard Federal Highway and just a few blocks from the beach, The Culture Room is lined with the very best in sound systems, and artful colored lights illuminate the dark interior, and the spacious, multilevel room provides comfortable furnishings. The bar offers inexpensive drinks and strong service, and a patio is also available. Come early as the place fills up early. (954-564-1074)
Enjoy the experience of outside dining in the heart of the Las Olas Boulevard area. Mango's is a popular mainstay that draws crowds every night of the week. Plenty of seating lines the street where you can dine on great chicken and seafood sandwiches, special entrées and pastas, and especially their seafood salad served on crispy greens with its popular signature mango vinaigrette dressing. Inside, you'll find a large, cozy dining area with a bar that's popular with the locals. Live music fills the air most evenings, and the place tends to get packed. A great place to see and be seen, enjoy a great meal, and people watch. (954-523-5001)
Blue Martini has earned a reputation as a sleek and sophisticated gathering place for those who know a great thing when they find it. Weekday happy hours, nightly live bands and dancing make this sleek cocktail bar a winner. Try the bar's signature blue martini (a mix of vodka, Cointreau, blue curacao, sweet 'n sour mix and orange juice) or select your favorite martini from a menu of 14. An assortment of appetizers such as sushi, hummus, a steak sandwich martini, seared tuna and even chocolate cake satiate the hungry. Hang out on the outdoor patio, or if you're willing to pay the freight, sip a cocktail under the blue skylight in the VIP lounge. Located at the upscale Galleria, Blue Martini is a wonderful stop after hours, after shopping or for an exceptional night out. (954-653-2583)
Join the others in America's Backyard for South Florida's largest outdoor party. Located in the very happening Downtown Fort Lauderdale, America's Backyard is the place to go for its fun and playful setting, and the ideal location for your next party or group gathering. Just call to book your event. Also, everyone is invited to get on their guest list. Plan a great night with friends at America's Backyard and by being on the guest list you get a complimentary cover and one free drink upon arrival. You just can't beat that! Ask about their 99-cent Drink Specials, and be sure to stop by for their Country Power Happy Hour! (954-449-1025)
YOLO (You Only Live Once)
You Only Live Once, and by this place's name YOLO, you can see why, especially at Happy Hour. It's hard to imagine that in just four short years the amazing Yolo has become the talk of the town. And that's a tough thing to do in Fort Lauderdale. But there is good reason why. Located on the very chic and elegant Las Olas, this beautifully designed night spot and eatery welcomes its patrons in its modern and comfortable setting and presents its delightful lunch menu consisting of delicious starters, soups, sandwiches and specials. And don't rush back to the office before trying their delectable desserts and topped off with your favorite coffee. And remember the restaurant's name is short for You Only Live Once, so enjoy! Happy Hour is M-F 4 p.m.-7 p.m.and $2 off all drinks at the main bar or O Lounge. ((954) 523-1000)
Being labeled as the biggest and hottest dance club in South Florida, especially for the 30+ crowd, Christopher's welcomes those who come for salsa dancing, cocktails, a bite to eat, and weekly live music. The bar offers reasonably priced beverages, including a wide variety of martinis, and various drink specials are available throughout the week. Most nights, DJs provide the entertainment while patrons cut loose on the large dance floor. Thursdays are Latin-infused ladies night where unescorted ladies drink free from 9-11 p.m. On Fridays put on your platform shoes and enjoy the $5 Disco night. Food is served through 1 a.m., and menu items include burgers, salads, wings, nachos, chicken fingers and fries. (954-561-2136)
About Dale Mack
Dale Mack has been involved in Fort Lauderdale tourism and promotions for over twenty years. Working for Travelhost Magazine in Dallas, Texas, he was especially drawn to the edition published by the Fort Lauderdale Associate Publisher; the city's beauty, its energy and the fun-in-the-sun atmosphere. When an opportunity came to relocate to Fort Lauderdale by another company, Dale accepted. He has spent the last nine years discovering "the Venice of America" and South Florida itself. Dale is the author of three children's books and numerous articles. He has also worked as a copywriter for the South Florida real estate market.
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