Fort Lauderdale, Florida is one of America's premiere beachfront resort cities. From the world over, millions of eager vacationers arrive to experience all this Venice of America and it's only natural to gravitate toward the beach. It is here where the ultimate vacation memories are made. Everyone wants to splash in the water, walk on the warm sand, soak up the sun, swim, fish and even boat, and take pictures of it all for memories later – and to even brag online a little. And when the fun is done it's time to eat, and where better than some of the many beach and waterfront eateries that make this place even more memorable. We at 10best enjoy scouting the city to try old favorites and discover new eateries that are making the city buzz. Fine dining has plenty of offerings here for that special occasion. From the famous and the elegant Shula's On The Beach, Casablanca Café and 3030 Ocean at Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa, visitors and locals alike have found these restaurants conducive to the city's growing reputation as a world-class vacation destination. Beachside dining can also be fun. With places such as Lulu's Bait Shack and Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company, what could be more memorable? Fort Lauderdale is the complete package for those who love eating along the water. It's all here to enjoy!
Sarafina is one of those Italian eateries that draws you in just by the name and the homey feel of its signage and the sheer anticipation of what is inside. While you may miss it by driving by, look carefully and stop in. Great things come in small packages. With its warm and welcoming Tuscan style dining room, decorated with photos of Italy, features a patio overlooking Middle River. Delicately prepared dishes such as braised short ribs, roasted lamb and rigatoni Bolognese attract discriminating diners, and a selection of pizzas is also available. Service is attentive, and the wine list offers popular affordable options. (954-463-2566)
Shooter's Waterfront Cafe is the ideal outdoor setting for those who love the South Florida lifestyle. Since its opening in 1982 on the famed Intracoastal waterway just off Oakland Park Boulevard and A1A in Fort Lauderdale, Shooters is well known for being a "Gold Coast's Must See." The atmosphere here simply sizzles with enthusiastic diners taking advantage of the beautiful weather, blue skies and swaying palm trees as well as the mesmerizing view of passing boats. Here you can visit with friends and family over a meal which includes a wide variety of steaks, seafood, fabulous burgers, mouth-watering salads along with your favorite wine or beer or cocktail. (954-566-2855)
15th Street Fisheries
Voted Best Waterfront Restaurant in South Florida in a 2011 Sun-Sentinel Readers Poll, 15th Street Fisheries has rustic charm and waterfront views that make this Lauderdale Marina seafood house a popular destination. Take advantage of its unique location in this most famous nautical landmark to arrive in a car or a boat. There is no better way to enjoy this restaurant's many choices of fabulous seafood, drink specials, and their $5 Happy Hour menu, which includes chicken wings, calamarie, mini burgers and conch fritters, than in its ideal location right on the waterway near the amazing 17th Street Causeway drawbridge and Port Everglades inlet to the Atlantic Ocean. (954-763-2777)
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is that same famous restaurant everyone knows so much about, and there is a great location right here in Fort Lauderdale. With a fun atmosphere and a menu to please everyone in the family – even a kid's menu – this is a must-visit. With a tempting list of appetizers such as Mama Gump's Garlic Bread Basket, Run Across America Sampler, Shrimper's Net Catch – and more. Also available are a list of soups, salads and delicious sandwiches (there are burgers here, too, if seafood isn't a favorite). Also ask about the specials, and take a look at Forrest's Favorites (yes, that's Forrest, Forrest Gump). And, of course don't leave without trying one of their amazing desserts. For a visit to Fort Lauderdale, what could be better? (954-463-0777)
Lulu's Bait Shack
Just say the name and you know this is a fun place to be. Lulu's Bait Shack is a staple on Ft. Lauderdale Beach on the second floor of the playful and happening Beach Place complex, just north of the intersection of Las Olas Boulevard and A1A. What a perfect place for a weekend night or to bring those out-of-town guests and introduce them to the lively scene that is Ft. Lauderdale. Enjoy an amazing selection of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and seafood dishes – and even Cajun specialties. Nightly live music, tangy Buffalo shrimp, beer and enviable frozen cocktails draw a scene to this fun, hip seafood house and bar. And don't forget to purchase the souvenir glass so you can brag to all your friends later. (954-463-7425)
Latitudes Beach Cafe - Hollywood Beach
What could be better than dining on the beautiful and playful beach of Hollywood in a delightful restaurant right on the famous Broadwalk? Very little, really. This is South Florida, after all, and nothing says the good life better than this. Latitudes Beach Cafe is divinely nestled in the Marriott Beach Hotel and offers its guests an outdoor setting to eat amazing casual cuisine of salads, burgers, sandwiches, pizza and pasta, a variety of side items, an extensive wine list and desserts. Latitudes Beach Cafe also offers live music day and night which adds to the already amazing ambiance and a truly relaxing setting. (9549242202x7040)
Residing at the beautiful Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa, 3030 Ocean is a clear departure from the stereotypical seafood room, as this restaurant's interior is cloaked in rich colors and classy dark woods. The menu changes frequently and emphasizes organic ingredients. Starters such as watermelon and French feta salad complement the raw bar, and main course offerings might include grilled pompano on wild arugula salad with passion fruit vinaigrette or tempura tuna with sweet rice, pickled cucumber and sesame chili sauce. The Goombay Smash (rum, banana liqueur, orange and pineapple juices), Frozen Oreo Mudslide (Kahlua, vanilla vodka, Bailey's, Oreos and cream), and Blackberry Mojito highlight the cocktail menu. Rarely is there such an exquisite setting with such delectable fare. (954-765-3030, 954-525-4000)
Although it is primarily known as a romantic setting for a beautiful evening out, Casablanca Cafe is equally as enchanting for a luncheon with friends or for business. This Fort Lauderdale Beach treasure is artfully housed in an authentic two-story Spanish home overlooking the always changing beachfront. The lunch menu is certainly as enticing as their dinner options with Calamari Fritters, delicious Steamed Mussels and Clams or perhaps Escargot with Attitude, which just might also serve as a conversation piece. Also available are soups, salads, sandwiches and enticing entrees such as Linguini Del Mar, Tropical Florida Mahi, Hibachi Grilled Salmon and Fish & Chips. Eat outside to take advantage of this sub-tropical paradise, or take a seat inside under the warm glow of Moroccan lamps, stucco walls, dark wood and wrought-iron accents. (954-764-3500)
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 eleven 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.
Read more about Dale Mack here.
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