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The 15 best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale

Savor these casual, yet tasty hole-in-the-wall joints and restaurants, from fresh seafood to hearty subs and soul food
By Emily Bloch |
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Not too long ago, it was hard to be a foodie in Broward County. You either had to head south to Miami for something fresh and hip, or you were stuck with the likes of Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Recently, however, Fort Lauderdale has become home to some of the most eclectic (and for the most part, wallet-friendly) options in the area. A few are long-standing, even iconic things to do, like overeating the best subs in all of Florida, while others are less than a few years old (some attached to the area's new crop of high-end hotels). But all are worth trying if you want to feel like a local and eat well during your time in Laudy.

Best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale

1
The Foxy Brown
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Nicole D.

Foxy Brown

A hipster’s take on comfort food without being pretentious or skimping on portions, Foxy Brown is a gastropub known for putting twists on classics. Think Beefaroni—their version is comprised of a house braised short rib ragout with local ricotta—or the grilled cheese that features banana bread stuffed with Nutella. Whether you’re in for lunch, dinner or weekend brunch (the real star of the show), make sure you pair your meal with a signature drink like the mango mimosa, or flavored cereal milk that comes with the doughnut holes.

2
Temple Street Eatery
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Samantha D.

Temple Street Eatery

Temple Street Eatery merges Chinese, Vietnamese, American and Latin influences. This young business is a great place to go for a casual lunch or dinner where you don’t want to spend a lot of money, but still want to impress. Options like the kimchi quesadilla and edamame falafel pita sandwich are bold twists on familiar favorites, while the restaurant’s classic noodle bowls are more traditional and unrivaled within the city. You’re going to want to try the specials if you can—they’re always seasonal and go quickly. You’ll also want to pair your meal with a seasonal sake or cider.

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3
Green Bar & Kitchen
Photograph: Eduardo Schneider

Green Bar & Kitchen

This fast-casual spot is known for its burgers, cheesesteaks and buffalo sandwiches. The minimalist location serves up cold pressed juices, beer and kombucha on tap, as well as wine, and preaches about sustainability, using compostable straws and to-go boxes. Oh, and it’s completely vegan. Whether you’re full-on plant-based already or a carnivore trying to ease your way into meatless Monday, Green Bar makes vegan dining attainable with options like creamy macaroni and cheese with crispy mushroom bacon or the Impossible Burger—a meatless patty that bleeds just like real meat, served with all the typical fixings minus any of the guilt.

4
Kelly's Landing
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Doug S.

Kelly’s Landing

You can’t do South Florida properly without at least one good seafood experience. Since 1987, Kelly’s Landing has been serving fresh, local seafood to tourists and residents alike. It’s the kind of place that’s packed on a Tuesday at 5:30pm with friends fighting over a plate of fried Ipswich clams. Unlike other, fancier seafood spots in South Florida, what you lack in a waterfront view is made up for in a quality meal at a fair price. One Yelp review puts it best: “Not much of a view, but who needs a view when you're face down in the best fried oysters?”

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5
925 Nuevo's Cubano's
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Soy S.

925 Nuevo’s Cubano’s

Don’t expect air conditioning, but do brace yourself for some high octane Cuban coffee at this hole in the wall (sans walls). 925 Nuevo’s Cubano’s is a walk-up, open-air institution known for its over-the-top Cuban memorabilia and drool-inducing sandwiches. You can’t go wrong with a classic, like the Cuban, but the signature 925—layered with pork, steak and ham—or the Vaca Frita platter—shredded steak served with sides and a drink—are also staples. Some tips: Try the homemade hot sauce, order the ropa vieja before it sells out for the day, wash it all down with un cafecito.

6
Shuck 'N Dive
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Samantha D.

Shuck ‘N Dive

Everything at this mardis gras-beaded sports bars—duck and cover if there’s a Saints game on and you’re wearing an opposing team’s merch—is served cajun style. That added heat, especially paired with crawfish and po’ boys, is hard to come by in Florida. Shuck ‘N Dive is one of the only places in South Florida where you can find crawfish étouffée—a creamy roux served over rice—or a fried oyster po’ boy. They even have Zapp’s Voodoo Heat chips as one of the offered sides.

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7
Noor Deli & Bakery
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Kerry J.

Noor Bakery & Deli

Walk into the tiny shack with barely any seating—or air conditioning —and you’ll see a rotating oven cranking out hand-stamped pies filled with aromatic herbs, creamy sauces, fresh cheeses and fres falafel balls. Noor is a husband-and-wife owned, authentic Lebanese bakery that makes around 15 types of hand pies, all of which are savory and surprisingly filling. You can’t go wrong with the bakery’s falafel sandwich, but for something different, order the zaatar and labneh—an open-faced spiced pita with a dollop of thick, Lebanese yogurt, topped with black olives, tomatoes and fresh mint.

8
Casablanca Cafe
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Phillip Pessar

Casablanca Cafe

Romantic Casablanca Cafe lies within a restored two-story home from the ‘20s, modeled as if Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman themselves were about to take a seat at the piano bar or outside for the waterfront view. The Moroccan-American cuisine is on the pricier side, with dishes like blue crab crusted mahi mahi and walnut chicken. But to the venue’s credit, they have a happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-7pm that’s more budget-friendly than most, with spirits and upscale bar snacks (less wings, more escargot) starting at $5.

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9
Betty's Soul Food Restaurant
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Gen S.

Betty’s Soul Food

Betty’s isn’t a glitzy joint, nor should it be. It’s a daily-special diner, covered in Obama and Miami Dolphins memorabilia, cranking out food that should be measured by spoonfuls of butter and heaps of love instead of calories. From oxtail and rich collards to cornbread (included with dinner orders) and some of the juiciest fried chicken cooked to order, dishes at this 40+ year-old institution are the dictionary definition of authentic home cooking. This is also the place to go for red Kool-Aid straight from the fountain.

10
Jet Runway Cafe

Jet Runway Cafe

Jet Runway Cafe is on the runway of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport; don’t let the location or wait times scare you; regardless of the occasion, you’ll never find another view like this. Aim for a window seat if you can and watch planes take off, land and undergo maintenance while you eat. Popular items include the steak chimichurri and the blackened mahi sandwich. The salads here aren’t for the faint of heart either, coming fully loaded with fried goat cheese balls and crab cakes. If watching the sunrise from your table doesn’t steal the show, the fried bread pudding topped with bananas, powdered sugar and white chocolate will.

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11
Colada
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Greshka P.

Colada

Colada's fresh take on Cuban food offers fun twists on classics, like the Cuban Philly, a ropa vieja sandwich topped with red and green peppers and cheese. Another prime example, from the brunch menu, is a sinful, decadent tres leches waffle stack which comes topped with guava whipped cream and powdered sugar. It’s the kind of food Cuban grandmas will make 30 years from now, and it’s served with bottomless mimosas at brunch, a rotating selection of local craft beers and, of course, authentic Cuban coffee.

12
Sushi One
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Allison B.

Sushi One

Sushi One is a beloved, no frills hole in the wall that locals have been praising for years. With barely any seating, employees or overhead space, Sushi One can channel more funds into the food quality: the seafood is fresh, the portions are great and the prices are all single digits. The New Times Roll is an oversized eight-piece of tuna, scallions and tempura flakes topped with fresh hunks of additional tuna and spicy mayo on top. The miso soup costs less than a can of Coke and is satisfying without being too salty. Another favorite, the shrimp shumai, is under $4 for six pieces, freshly steamed.

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13
Laspada’s Original Hoagies
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Samantha D.

Laspada’s Original Hoagies

“The best damn hoagies in town” has been this sub shop’s slogan for more than 40 years, and there are plenty of diehards who will fight you if you say otherwise. Laspada’s is the only place you’ll see a bunch of cooks literally throwing cold cuts at each other; it’s part of their schtick as they craft your order. The shop, which now has six locations, is best known for its “Monster,” which is made with slices of ham, turkey, roast beef and cheese. The portions are hefty and the hoagies are always overflowing with your toppings of choice. Lines get long around lunchtime, so call ahead if you can.

14
Coconuts
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Wally Gobetz

Coconuts

Coconuts, accessible by both land and water, serves up comfort food staples like jambalaya, conch fritters and mac and cheese. Order the “scooby snacks”—an off-menu dish comprised of crab claws sautéed in a bowl of garlic, butter and herbs and paired with soft bread to dip. Another splurge worth making is the comfort bowl, a pasta dish baked in a sriracha cheese sauce and served with chicken, sausage or lobster. The conch fritters and desserts are also must-tries. Everyone always goes for the key lime pie, but the coconut cheesecake is the star of the show.

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15
Canyon
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Canyon

Canyon

Come for the tuna tartare and cornmeal crusted poblano with goat cheese; stay for the prickly pear margarita (half off during happy hour). That pink-hued drink, salted rim and wedge of lime is irrefutably this restaurant’s greatest hit. It’s a sweet but tart delicacy that locals have enjoyed for more than 20 years. Even better, it’s included as one of Canyon's happy hour specials—Sundays through Fridays, 5:30-8pm—along with half-off small plates like the Maine lobster nachos and short rib tostadas. 

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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Kolossos
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Fort Lauderdale is like Miami’s younger, cheaper and slightly less gentrified cousin. Whether with good coffee and eclectic food, locally brewed beer, waterside activities or niche museums, this city holds its own. 

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