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The 15 best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale

The best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale are serving up everything from loaded grilled cheese sandwiches to fresh caught fish

Megan duBois
Written by
Megan duBois
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You already know about the white sand beaches, boating canals and luxury hotels that line the ocean-front in this Florida city, but did you know that the waterfront district is also where you can find some of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale? And while seafood and shellfish may be king (for obvious reasons), there is plenty to explore from chill breakfast spots and steak joints to a place that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. 

After a long day of exploring the things to do in Fort Lauderdale (and before experiencing all of the nightlife that the city has to offer), consider trying one of these restaurants that's sure to delight your taste buds – and sometimes your wallet. In fact, some of the places on our list hve items that are as low as $4 and $5 for snacks that are big enought to be a full meal. And don't forget about the super Instgram worthy views, drinks, and good times with friends while out and about in Fort Lauderdale.

Best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale

Let’s be honest for a second, there’s nothing more comforting than a grilled cheese, and at New York Grilled Cheese the comfort level is at an all-time high. All of the restaurant's grilled cheese sandwiches are put in a waffle iron to let the bread get even more crispy and give way to the gooey cheese inside. If you’re a New York native then you’ll also love the clever menu board names like the Wall Street Grinder, loaded with cheese, waffle fries, bacon, onions, mayo and a scrambled egg, or the Brooklyn Porkster, which has cheese, onions, dill pickles, bbq sauce, and pulled pork.

Cuban food is a staple in Fort Lauderdale, and one location that’s using family recipes to serve it up fresh is Padrino’s Cuban. The warm and welcoming restaurant has been using the same family recipes that have been passed down since the 1930s. On the menu you’ll find the typical Cuban lunch fare like ham croquettes and Cuban sandwiches, but you’ll also find things like picadillo and mojo marinated pork that are worth the effort to tackle Fort Lauderdale traffic in the afternoon.

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Since 1974, Sea Watch on the Ocean has been welcoming locals and visitors to experience Southern hospitality and fresh seafood straight from the ocean – which happens to be just 50 yards away. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, with a decadent brunch menu every Sunday. The floor to ceiling windows bring in a ton of light and offer sweeping views of the sea. While dinner is more romantic with the sun setting in the background, lunch is our favorite meal here. You can’t go wrong with the crab tostada, which starts with a corn tortilla chip base and piles on avocado, tomato, red onion, cilantro, parmesan cheese, black beans and crab.

 

Hardy Park Bistro is best known for its impeccable sandwiches and salads and for using locally sourced ingredients for many of its lunch and dinner dishes. The neighborhood restaurant is a cute hang out spot after a morning spent at the beach. Cheese-lovers will enjoy the burrata salad, which comes with a beautiful ball of burrata cheese, grilled veggies, and a balsamic drizzle.

 

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Great coffee and a beautiful outdoor patio is what continues to bring people to The Alchemist Cafe. The little sandwich shop is known for its proprietary coffee infusion technique and its open-faced sandwiches, which are called slicers. You’ll also find everything from avocados stuffed with shrimp salad, personal-sized pizzas, and vegetable lasagna on the menu. For something sweet, ask about the waffle of the day, which usually has some type of fruit or chocolate. 

 

Tom Jenkin’s BBQ started out as a trailer in 1990 and quickly became popular with locals. In 1996, the owners were able to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and they've been serving Fort Lauderdale bbq fanatics ever since. The restaurant specializes in fall-off-the-bone ribs, juicy chicken, succulent pork, and Texas-style brisket. You’ll also want to be sure to try Southern-style sides like macaroni and cheese and collard greens. 

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Coconuts is located on the intercoastal waterways of the city, with indoor and outdoor seating where the views are only matched by the scrumptious food. And the location even offers boat docks for those who choose to get to there via water. Start your meal off with a cocktail like the Save the Whales, which combines Gray Whale gin, muddled cucumber, mint, and tonic water for a refreshing pre-dinner drink. Coconuts' loyal fans know the best time to eat here is after 5pm when the menu expands to add items like the crab empanadas and grilled oysters.

 

When it’s time for breakfast, one spot worth venturing to is Cynth & Co. The coffee shop serves traditional coffee and breakfast sandwiches for locals who are on-the-go, along with some Instagram-worthy lattes like the blackberry almond latte and the blue butterfly latte. Cynth & Co. also sells delicious breakfast sandwiches, waffles, quiches and baked goods – many of which are vegan or can be made vegan with an easy substitution. 

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A few minutes from the Fort Lauderdale Country Club is Dar Tajine Moroccan Restaurant. The inside of the restaurant is colorful and warm thanks to the traditional cloths hanging on the walls. The menu is filled with traditional fare like a roasted eggplant dish called zaalouk, ground beef kofta and merguez sausage sandwiches. The restaurant also serves a variety of tajin dishes like lamb shank with prunes and almonds, and a half chicken with olives and preserved lemon. 

 

 

Food halls are all the rage right now, and the favorite in Fort Lauderdale is Sistrunk Marketplace. The combination food hall and arts market is known for its cooking classes, distillery tours and retail boutiques. When hunger strikes, you can find everything from slurpable ramen and fresh tuna poke, to sweet and savory crepes and towering ice cream sundaes. You will need to make a reservation to get in, and while reserving you’ll choose if you want to sit inside or outside on the patio. 

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Latin and Asian flavors are combined to make mouthwatering dishes at this popular water-front restaurant. Casa Sensei is dishing out some of the freshest sushi in town, along with Asian noodle dishes like pad Thai, and Latin favorites like mojo pork chops. For a decadent starter, be sure to try the lobster guacamole (house-made guac topped with seared lobster tail skewers). To get the best of both worlds, you’ll want to try the Korean grilled steak chimichurri, which starts out as a marinated skirt steak, topped with bright green chimichurri sauce, and served with jasmine rice and fried sweet plantains. 

Spectacular ocean views and coastal cuisine with a Latin flair are on the menu at Dune. The signature restaurant is located inside the Auberge Beach Residences and Spa, but you don’t need to be a club member to dine here. The restaurant has three distinct dining spaces, each of which has panoramic views of the beach. You cannot go wrong ordering the roasted Atlantic octopus, which is impeccably cooked without being rubbery, or the seared diver scallops which seared to golden perfection and served with toasty brown butter.

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Since 1957, Grampa’s Bakery and Restaurant has been serving hungry customers in a cozy down-home eatery filled with diner-like nostalgia. In fact, the restaurant has been featured on Food Network’s 'Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives' with Guy Fieri. Grampa’s specialties include tender lamb shanks, fluffy pancakes, and baked goods that can be taken to-go to munch on later. Even though the strip-mall restaurant doesn’t look like much on the outside, the kitchen is pumping out meals just like mom used to make. 

 

Blue Moon Fish Company is dishing out fresh Florida seafood with a Cajun-Louisiana flair. In fact, the restaurant is often mentioned as the best seafood place in Fort Lauderdale. We love the ceviche, which is made fresh everyday with fish and shrimp that were caught just hours before serving. For the Cajun twist, consider getting the seafood gumbo, which comes loaded with shrimp, crab, crawfish, andouille sausage, okra and file. Be sure to leave room for a slice of key lime pie that’s been topped with toasted coconut meringue. 

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The local hangout for weeknight drinks and weekend brunch is Milk Money Bar and Kitchen. The restaurant has an impressive list of daily happy hour specials including $5 microbrews on Monday and a bartender’s choice of shot for $3 on Friday. You’ll find some of the typical bar food like chicken wings and burgers on the menu, but you’ll also find elevated dishes like short ribs with coconut infused rice, kale and pickled vegetables, and a pork belly banh mi with all of the usual toppings. 

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