Best Food in Fort Lauderdale-Restaurants & What to Eat
Food in Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale offers some of the best restaurants in Florida with a wide variety of cuisines. Traditionally known as a spring break haven, Fort Lauderdale has more to offer than just beaches and sights for vacationing families. Because of the diverse population, an eclectic culinary scene has developed which sprawls out into the suburbs where you can find some amazing restaurants. Of course, one thing is certain no matter what type of food you choose, at Fort Lauderdale restaurants, most will have an extensive menu of fancy drinks.
Due to its warm climate Florida is more than a tourist spot. Many people relocate here from South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia looking for a better life. To sum up, these cultures have brought with them their unique and delicious cuisines. Here are the most popular that make up some of the best food in Fort Lauderdale and the best restaurants to eat them!
What to Eat in Fort Lauderdale & The Best Fort Lauderdale Restaurants
Spanish Food in Fort Lauderdale
The oldest continuously inhabited city in the US is St. Augustine which dates back to the 1500s. Since that time Spanish explorers have colonized the majority of South America and many Caribbean islands. In addition, over the centuries many of these inhabitants have then migrated to South Florida to escape political unrest or to look for better economic opportunities.
These immigrants have brought with them their cuisine which developed into a mixture of traditional Spanish food mixed with that of the Aztecs, Incas, and Africa. Over 30% of the population here is Hispanic (in addition to the 70% Hispanic Miami population) leading to an eclectic mix of cuisines like Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, Peruvian, and Colombian. As a result, this area has a wide range of culinary delights. And although you will see these influences in some other states, as far as food in the U.S. goes, the influence in Florida is the greatest.
For example try a Mexican tamale, ground corn mixed with shredded pork wrapped and cooked in its own husk. Subsequently, snack on an empanada which is a pastry filled with shredded beef. On the other hand, Cuban specialties include Churrasco, a skirt steak served with a spicy chimichurri sauce, or Chicharrones de pollo which are fried cubes of chicken topped with onions. In addition you can buy croquetas, fried pastry made from ham paste, at any Cuban bakery. For seafood try Peruvian ceviche, fish “cooked” by using citrus juices instead of heat. Most Latin foods will be served with sides of rice and beans.
Best Ft. Lauderdale Restaurants for Latin American Food
El Mariachi Restaurant- 2153 N. University Drive i Coral Springs 33071 in the Coral Palm Plaza. Open from 11am-10pm. Serves Mexican, Southwestern, and Latin food.
Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine- 2807 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Ft. Lauderdale 33306. Open 11am-10pm. Serves Carribean, Latin and Cuban food.
Casa Maya Grill- 301 SE 15th Terrace Cove Shopping Center Deerfield Beach 33441. Open 11:30am-10pm. Serves Mexican, Latin, and Vegetarian friendly food.
Pachamanka Authentic Peruvian Cuisine- 321 Johnson Street Hollywood 33019. Open noon-10pm. Serves Peruvian, Latin, and Seafood.
Fresh Seafood in Fort Lauderdale
Florida is a Peninsula meaning it is surrounded on 3 sides by water. With the Atlantic Ocean to the East, the Gulf of Mexico to the West, and the Florida Bay to the South, sea life is abundant.
As a result, it's no wonder South Florida hosts such a large amount of seafood restaurants. For example, gulf shrimp, grouper, mullet, pompano, stone crab, Spanish Mackerel, spiny lobsters, and scallops all find their way from Florida waters to the table.
Best Fort Lauderdale Restaurants for Seafood
Muddy Waters- 2237 W. Hillsboro Blvd. Deerfield Beach 33442. Open Sun-Thurs. 11am-9pm and Fri- Sat. 11am-10pm. Named for the Blues Singer this joint serves a wide variety of specialty drinks as well as amazing seafood. Indoors you can sit at the bar or in one of the two dining rooms. Outside sit in some colorful Adirondack chairs attached to your table. Dine on appetizers such as Escargots in Garlic Butter, Steamed Clams, Blackened fish bites, or peel N Eat Shrimp. They also serve tacos, wraps, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, and entree choices for landlubbers.
Wild Sea Las Olas- 620 E Las Olas Blvd in the Riverside Hotel, Fort Lauderdale 33301. Open 7am-2pm and dinner from 5-10pm. Offers raw bar, hand-crafted pizzas, burgers, seafood and entrees for landlubbers.
Rendezvous Bar & Grill- 2525 Marina Bay Drive W., Fort Lauderdale 33312. Open 11:30am-11pm Mon-Sat, Sunday closes at 10pm. Fresh seafood appetizers, burgers & chicken , salads, seafood entrees, po boys, tacos, and sandwiches. Try a shrimp po’ boy, broiled lobster tail, or king crab and shrimp pasta.
Thai Food in Fort Lauderdale
The Thai people originally migrated to Thailand from China and brought Chinese cuisine with them. Over the years their food has been influenced by traders from India bringing dry spices such as coriander, cumin, nutmeg, cloves, and turmeric. These spices along with the chili pepper from Portugal helped Thai food evolve into a unique cuisine. Thai meals usually have a base of rice or noodles. Many of the dishes are prepared with a form of curry paste which is made from grinding a combination of spices with a mortar and pestle. The strong flavors of the spices are often toned down by the addition of coconut milk.
Thai cooks use traditional Chinese ingredients such as Chinese mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, ginger, and oyster sauce. On the other hand you can see the Indian influence through the use of cilantro, eggplant, tamarind, and rich spices.
Thai food uses more seafood than meat making it very popular in South Florida. Fresh spring rolls make a light appetizer with shrimp, noodles, and vegetables wrapped up in Vietnamese style rice paper. Another favorite is the Khanom Jeeb which is a steamed wonton stuffed with pork, bamboo shoots and scallions. Or try a traditional creamy soup called Tom Kha which emanates flavors of coconut, lemon grass, chili peppers, and kaffir leaves. Options include chicken, shrimp, or vegetable.
See Best Fort Lauderdale Restaurants for Thai Food and Sushi below for restaurant picks.
Japanese Sushi in Fort Lauderdale
Japanese food is very popular in the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants as well. Often you will find sushi bars in with other Asian restaurants such as Chinese or Thai. And who can blame Floridians for craving sushi? We love our seafood!
For sushi, most restaurants have a wide assortment of rolls stuffed with rice, raw fish, and assorted vegetables served with fresh ginger, wasabi paste (spicy horseradish) and soy sauce. As an alternative you can get a sashimi platter which is slices of raw fish without the rice. Most popular fish options are salmon, yellowfin tuna and hamachi.
Best Fort Lauderdale Restaurants for Thai Food and Sushi
Thai on the Beach- 901 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd on 2nd floor 33304. Open Tuesday through Sunday. The restaurant closes at 10 on weekdays, 11 on weekends and opens at noon. However Tuesdays it opens at 4pm. Offers Thai food and Sushi.
Asia Bay Sushi Bar & Thai- 1111 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale 33301. Open noon until 10pm, 7 days a week, and open until 11 Fri and Sat. Offers Thai and sushi.
Thai Spice- 1514 E. Commercial Blvd, Ft. Lauderdale 33334. Open for dinner daily from 3pm-10pm and 11 on Fri. and Sat. Open for lunch weekdays from 11am-3pm.
Moon Thai- 9637 Westview Drive, Coral Springs 33076 with 6 other locations in South Florida. Hours are Mon-Thursday for lunch from 11:30-3pm and for dinner 5-11pm. Hours Fri-Sun are 11:30am-11pm. Offers Thai and Sushi.
Indian Cuisine in Fort Lauderdale
Indian cuisine uses many of the same ingredients found in Thai food due to merchants bringing Indian spices to Thailand. However, Indian cooks use lentils, chickpeas, and beans in many of their dishes, making this cuisine vegetarian friendly. While they still use chicken, lamb, and seafood in some regional dishes, you will not find beef in Indian cooking due to religious reasons.
Indian meals usually consist of at least 3 dishes. A rice dish such as spiced rice with yogurt and cucumber form the base of the meal. Then 2 or 3 other vegetable or meat dishes accompany the rice. Indian food is often served with a variety of chutneys or raitas to cool down the spice of some of the dishes as well as to enhance the flavors.
Indian cooks make chutneys from fruits and vegetables mixed with sugar, spices, and vinegar. Whereas cooks create raitas with a combination of cooked or raw vegetables with yogurt. Traditionally the Indian people used flat breads made from chickpea or wheat flour to scoop their food rather than using forks and spoons. Restaurants still serve a variety of Indian breads to accompany a meal.
Best Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale for Indian Food
Moksha Indian Brasserie- located at 2823 E. Oakland Park Blvd, Fort Lauderdale 33306. Vegan friendly. Open 7 days a week 11:30am-3pm for lunch 5-10pm for dinner. Fri and sat open until 11pm. Sunday 9am-10pm.
Bombay Darbar- located at 1521 E. Las Olas Blvd. Ft. Lauderdale 33301. Open 7 days a week. Times vary. Vegan friendly.
The Indian Harbor- located 1515 Southeast 17th Street Unit A102, Ft. Lauderdale 33316. Open 7 days a week 11:30am-3pm for lunch 5-10pm for dinner.
Greek Cuisine in Fort Lauderdale
Greek food holds similarities to Middle Eastern food and Italian food due to its Southern European location. Basic ingredients include olive oil, honey, and cheese such as feta. Mediterranean spices and herbs such as oregano, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and parsley give Greek dishes their flavors. Lemons grow abundantly and flavor sauces, soups, and meats. Traditional Greek cooking used all parts of an animal so you would often find meals including tongue, brains, etc. However, modern Greek restaurants cook with chicken breasts or lamb meat.
Most Greek restaurants in Fort Lauderdale serve the well known favorites. Begin your meal with Dolmades, grape leaves stuffed with rice and either beef or lentils. After that, have Pastitsio, a layered pasta dish similar to Italian lasagna. However, Bechamel sauce, a thick white sauce, is used instead of cheese and some of the seasonings are different. Moussaka is another layered dish, however this is usually made with layers of beef, eggplant, and Bechamel sauce. You can also try Spanakopita which means spinach pie. Made with spinach and feta cheese between layers of crispy phyllo dough, restaurants often offer this as either an appetizer or main dish. Then to top off your meal indulge in some Baklava and some Ouzo, a traditional Greek anisette liquor. Greeks make their famous Baklava with layers of phyllo dough filled with crushed walnuts baked with honey.
Best Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale for Greek Food
Greek Islands Taverna- 3300 N Ocean Blvd. Ft Lauderdale 33308. Open from 11am-10:30pm Mon-Saturday and on Sunday from noon until 10pm. Greek, Mediterranean, and Vegetarian friendly
Mini Pita- 1019 W. State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale 33315. Offers Mediterranean, Greek, and Middle Eastern on the cheaper side.
Taverna Evia- 1933 N. University Drive, Coral Springs 33071. Offers Greek, Mediterranean, and Vegetarian friendly cuisine. Open for lunch and dinner.
Ethos Greek Bistro- 4437 Lyons Road Unit E104, Coconut Creek 33073. Opens daily at 11:30am and closes Sun-Thursday at 9pm and at 10pm Fri- Sat. Offers Greek, Mediterranean, and healthy choices. Another location available in Wilton Manors.
A Must Try for Russian Food in Fort Lauderdale
Although the Fort Lauderdale area is not known for Russian restaurants, Tatiana is a hidden gem. Located in a strip mall at 1710 E Hallandale Beach Blvd in Hallandale Beach, once inside you feel as if you stepped into the time of the tsars.
Crystals adorn the ceiling. Treasures glisten within glass display cases. And the fancy wait staff all speak fluent Russian. Make sure you stay for the show which is a combination of song and stage acts similar to Cirque du Soleil.
An all inclusive meal including the show is available, but I recommend ordering a la carte for more authentic Russian cuisine. Cold appetizers include several types of caviar, lox, herring, and a variety of meats. Hot appetizers include Khachapuri which is a Georgian dish of puff pastry filled with cheese or lamb tongue. Tatiana’s offers a wide variety of Vareniki which are similar to Polish pierogi. Fillings include your choice of potato, sour cherry, or cheese. Also try the Siberian Pelmeni, dumplings filled with minced pork and veal. Of course you will find several varieties of hot or cold borsch, beet soup. Entrees include beef stroganoff which is beef with mushrooms in a sour cream sauce served with pickles and mashed potatoes, as well as a variety of shish kabob, steaks, and seafood. It’s a bit pricey, but definitely worth the experience.
Ice cream in Fort Lauderdale
South Florida gets hot so a popular dessert is ice cream.
My favorite is Cherry Smash. They serve old fashioned ice cream and their shop looks like an old soda shop/candy store. Flavors include Cookie Monster, Cotton Candy, and Superman to name a few.
The ice cream is good, but the decor will mesmerize you. The shop is full of movie collectibles plus nostalgic signs and kitsch from times long gone. They even have a miniature train running around the walls up near the ceiling which is plastered with photographs.
Best Fort Lauderdale Ice Cream Shoppes
Cherry Smash- 8000 Wiles Road, Coral Springs, FL 33067 Opens at 1pm on weekdays, noon on Saturday, and 2pm Sunday. Closes at 10pm, 11pm on Fri and Sat
Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor- 128 S. Federal Highway, Dania Beach 33004 Opens at 11:30 am, noon on Sundays. Closes at 11pm, midnight on Fri and Sat. Serves burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, wraps, and salads in addition to ice cream
Kilwin’s- 809 E. Las Olas Blvd, Ft. Lauderdale 33301. Opens at 11am daily. Closes 10:30pm Sun-Thurs and midnight on weekends. Serves baked goods and chocolates in addition to ice cream. Several locations throughout south Florida
Sloan’s Ice Cream- 112 Commercial Blvd. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea 33308 Great place to grab ice cream after being at the beach
Final Thoughts on Food and Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale
All of the above listed best restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale have good ratings through Trip Advisor. Often tables can be booked through Open Table and delivery can often be ordered through Grub Hub.