Head to Downtown Fort Lauderdale for the city's ultimate urban experience and partake in its plentiful offers of some of South Florida's best restaurants. From gourmet chic, to bar and grill to family friendly for every taste, it's all right here. While the Venice of America is best-known for its white sand beaches, world-class hotels and glamorous crowds, the city is also home to restaurants that offer its many visitors and steadfast locals the finest cuisine. Many of these eateries are located on or near the famous Las Olas Boulevard which is the heart of Downtown. Stop at Mango's for a delightful lunch or dinner outside or in and enjoy its well-known atmosphere and great feel of the city. Head a bit east to Chima's Brazilian Steakhouse for the ideal setting for the ideal meal. Sushi lovers will be thrilled by Asian Bay Shushi Bar & Thai. Located right on the waterway with access to the picturesque gondolas and tropical breezes, patrons feast on this restaurant tasty menu items while enjoying the perfect Florida locale. For those hungering for a diner-type menu with a truly fun and almost legendary status, stop at The Floridian. Featured nationally and favored locally The Floridian suites every family member with their delicious menu items from salads to burgers – don't forget to try the Buffalo burgers as they are amazing and super-healthy – to the best breakfast items. Downtown Fort Lauderdale buzzes with activity at all hours and every kind of eatery to satisfy every palate.
The Royal Pig
Appealing to those who enjoy a classy atmosphere while having a burger and a beer, The Royal Pig, located right on Las Olas Boulevard in Downtown, welcomes its clientele with both classic elegance and a casual sophistication that will appeal to everyone. The very name itself suggests a playful and welcoming atmosphere, and due to its upscale vibe and lists of favorite beers and cocktails, as well as their selection of outstanding burgers, steaks and tantalizing side dishes, The Royal Pig has already attained a loyal following and is surely here to stay. And with a name like The Royal Pig, the chefs take great pride in preparing their meat and poultry dishes. Many of their dishes have bacon or pork in them in some form, and they also offer burgers, seafood, chicken, turkey and even duck as choices. All come with delicious sides. (954-617-7447)
Downtowner Saloon & Steakhouse
There's simply nowhere else like the Downtowner Saloon. Located at New River Drive and South Andrews Avenue, this outdoor dining treasure is simply magical. From your table enjoy an endless parade of boats and yachts with a picture-postcard view of downtown's grand high rises. This place has it all: Lunch, dinner, wine and brunch menus, specials, history, and location. With a tantalizing menu of great starters such as Seared Ahi Tuna, chicken wings, delicious crab cakes and onion rings. After this great start dive into their entrée selections from the raw bar or of big salads, pastas, soups, steaks, seafood, or a selection from the sandwich board. Downtowner Saloon is also known for its wide variety of live music and trivia nights, so come join the fun and enjoy the incredible food! (954-463-9800)
Rocco's Tacos & Tequila Bar - Fort Lauderdale
Look for the bright sign for Rocco's Taco's & Tequila Bar on the very happening Las Olas Boulevard and you've arrived. You feel the exciting atmosphere even before you walk in. The fun and casual setting is a genuine taste of Mexico. With five locations in Florida, patrons come back again and again for the authentic food, consisting of Antojitos (soup and small plates), Ensaladas y Tortas (big salads and sandwiches), especialidades de Cocinathe (specialties), Molcajetes (their version of an authentic fajita baked and served in a lava rock bowl from Mexico), Rocco's Tacos, Enchiladas, combinaciones (combination plates), delicious guacamole prepared tableside and to sample from 225 varieties of tequila. Stop for lunch or dinner or for a late-night meal Thursday through Saturday until 1:00 a.m., and the bar closes at 2 a.m. Great place to take the kids and also for take-out. (9545249550)
Everyone knows about The Floridian. It's one of those places that's not fancy, walls covered with celebrity pictures – mostly well-known for being a Rachel Rae favorite – and tables close to one another and fellow diners just inches away, and the place that has the best food around. From salads that catch your eye as they go by to another table, and one particular favorite, the Buffalo Burger, mark this place down as your favorite. It's especially busy on weekend mornings, when folks gather for huge omelets, fresh oatmeal, biscuits, and other typical breakfast fare. Don't expect the service to be refined or sophisticated, but do expect the food to be hearty and satisfying. There's an ATM on-site. (954-463-4041)
Big City Tavern
Among the numerous eateries in this Downtown neighborhood, Big City Tavern warrants raves for its chic bar scene and outstanding selection of California wines. This welcoming eatery is reminiscent of the great old taverns of Chicago, New York and Boston with impressive high tin ceilings, wood floors and rustic brick walls. What an ambiance. Even more praise-worthy is the clever New American fare, which ranges from such familiar classics as NY strip and amazing grilled tuna to global-influenced dishes like pad Thai and duck with mango-basil risotto. Plan to top by and partake of their late-night menu available Sunday-Thursday 11:00 p.m.-Midnight for pizza only and Friday and Saturday 11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. (954-727-0307)
Asia Bay Sushi Bar & Thai
The very best in Asian cuisine is right here at the Asian Bay Shushi Bar & Thai on the very prestigeous and welcoming Las Olas Boulevard. The restaurant is a trendy and modern setting with a great option for outdoor seating overlooking Himmarshee Canal. With a menu of mouth-watering sushi and Thai cuisine made only from the very freshest ingredients to satisfy even the most asian food enthusiast, Asia Bay is a class act. Each dish is presented nearly as a work of art so it may be a good idea to snap a photo of it before you eat it. With a lunch and dinner menu and extensive wine list, Asia Bay is an experience just waiting for you. (9548489900)
Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
Step through the revolving doorway, and it's evident this steakhouse aims to be the biggest and best. Located on Las Olas Boulevard, Chima Brazilian Steakhouse offers a chic dining experience that is a step above. The swanky bar features hardwood floors, a black curved countertop and stools, and the impressive dining room is filled with tables that accommodate large and small groups. On the periphery of the room, the abundant salad bar offers a variety of specialty salads such as bean, potato, Caesar and soy, and side items might include mashed potatoes, tabbouleh, soups, cold cuts, fruits and veggies. Top sirloin, lamb, chicken wings, ribs and several cuts of beef highlight the main dishes. Arrive for happy hour or dinner, or both, and settle in for a pleasant dining experience. (954-712-0580)
If you're looking for jazz clubs in Ft. Lauderdale, Mango's Restaurant & Lounge is a great option. Although not technically a club, this local gem right in the heart of the always buzzing Las Olas offers live music every night of the week and many times to a packed house. The selection varies nightly, but many evenings are devoted solely to the smooth, velvety sounds of jazz. Try a specialty drink like the Mango-Lada or Las Olas Lemonade while you enjoy classic renditions and contemporary innovations. Show up a bit early with friends or that special someone and enjoy an amazing meal then an incredible night of incredible music. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. (954-523-5001)
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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