Fort Lauderdale is a fun-in-the sun destination, no doubt about it. And one of the ways to enjoy the fantastic Florida weather is to enjoy a great meal alfresco with friends and family. And there are plenty of choices. We at 10Best have scouted the city to find ten of the finest restaurants that offer a superb menu with outdoor seating from fine dining to casual to pizza, and we're sure you'll like what we found. One restaurant that has received plenty of attention lately is Kaluz Restaurant off Commercial Boulevard near A1A. And good for diners, it has outdoor seating to enjoy views of the Intracoastal. If it's top-notch steak and seafood restaurants you're looking for, then you need to check out Schula's On The Beach, 15th Street Fisheries, 3030 Ocean or Coco Asian Bistro and Bar, the city's upscale Asian restaurant that has the local and national press abuzz. For an upscale yet casual meal don't miss Las Olas Boulevard's Mango's, the always fun and exciting Shooters right on the Intracoastal, or the tried and true Downtowner's Saloon, a Fort Lauderdale favorite. Feel like a fun and quirky atmosphere to have a nationally-famous hamburger? There's no place like La Tub with his dockside dining and, shall we say, interesting decor that has given this restaurant a fame like no other.
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)
Aruba Beach Cafe
Proclaiming itself as One Happy Restaurant, Aruba Beach Cafe at One East Commercial Boulevard in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea has a great reputation not only as a restaurant, but a great place to enjoy Happy Hour every weekday (at bars only) Monday-Friday starting at 4 p.m. Picture it: Join your friends for a relaxing drink then enjoy seafood, large fresh salads, pastas and burgers then relax and feel the balmy breezes right off the ocean just steps away, and being in the company of those who enjoy a relaxing. Aruba Beach Cafe has been a favorite among the locals for many years, and they have perfected the art of service over the years, and they are the experts. (954-776-0001)
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 entree 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)
Enjoy outside dining at its finest in the heart of the Las Olas Boulevard area at Mango's, one of Fort Lauderdale's favorite restaurant and night spots. Plenty of seating lines the street where you can witness first-hand the sizzle and shine of this amazing and historical boulevard. Dine on great chicken and seafood sandwiches, special salads and pastas. 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 be seen, enjoy a great meal, and people watch. (954-523-5001)
This is probably one of the most unusual hamburger joints around. Known for its famous hamburgers, having been voted the best hamburger in GQ Magazine and also known for being a favorite of Oprah's friend Gail. Set along the Intracoastal Waterway in a former garage guests sit among a number of old bathroom fixtures that are scattered around and surrounded by flowers and plants. The service may be slow but just be patient and take in the beautiful views of the river and the parade of boats that go by and know that when the food arrives it will be memorable. If it's not hamburgers you want decide from the menu of chicken, salads, great sides, desserts and a list of great beers and cocktails. ((954) 921-9425)
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)
Enjoy the view of the sea while dining on delectable seafood dishes. 3030 Ocean, which is part of the charm of the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa, 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)
15th Street Fisheries
If you're looking for outdoor dining with a great view of the water, then it's got to be at 15th Street Fisheries. Voted Best Waterfront Restaurant in South Florida in a 2011 Sun-Sentinel Readers Poll, this popular restaurant has rustic charm and waterfront views that make this Lauderdale Marina seafood house a popular destination. 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, calamari, 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)
Choose seating inside or out, whether to enjoy a drink from a list of beers (both domestic, imported or draft) or signature cocktails, such as the Kaluz Cadillac margarita, chocolate martini, coconut mohito or a Voli skinny cosmo. Also, choose from a stellar list of wines, including sparkling, Chardonnay, alluring and aromatic whites, Cabernet Sauvignon, bold reds, Pinot noir and others. Take in the calming waterway and subtropical scenery, and peruse the exceptional menu. This brings back diners back again and again. Choose from a list of enticing appetizers, flatbreads and salads. From a list of burgers and sandwiches for a lunch or casual dinner, Kaluz offers the veggie burger, classic cheeseburger – who can resist? – or the very decadent-sounding prime rib burger. (954-772-2209)
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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