Where to Eat and Drink in Fort Lauderdale
To eat and drink in Fort Lauderdale is far from low-cal, but close to nirvana.
Snowbirds have long recognized the benefits of fleeing northern climes in the winter months for warmer states in the South, especially Florida, “The Sunshine State.” What some do not realize, however, is that in the winter months, the northern part of Florida can not only be chilly but downright cold at times; there are years when it has even had snowfall.
For boaters, the best chances of a snow-free winter without leaving the country is in the southern third of the Florida peninsula (Lake Okeechobee and south). Fort Lauderdale in Broward County is a safe bet weather-wise, and its wide range and abundance of boating-related services make it the “Yachting Capital of the World.” It’s a smart location from which to arrange every type of marine service and repair and is the perfect starting point to hop over to The Bahamas or head down to the Keys.
Beach-lovers will appreciate over 23 miles of sandy shores, and over 300 miles of waterways provide easy access from which to view sprawling mega-mansions that line the many canals that make it the “Venice of America.” But if those reasons aren’t enough to rank Fort Lauderdale at the top of your cruising destination bucket list, foodie-cruisers will
find dining options for every predilection with many on the water and accessible by boat.
At one time, Fort Lauderdale’s reputation as the Spring Break capital earned it the less-than-flattering moniker “Fort Liquordale,” but the city offers more than just an abundance
of cocktail establishments. Eateries from elegant and upscale to casual bistros line both sides of swanky Las Olas Boulevard where it’s not unusual to dine next to celebrities and sports professionals and find happy-hour specials on drinks and appetizers for the after-work crowd.
Foodies are hard-pressed to choose and sample each of the available options. After appetites are sated, stroll through the chic shops and art galleries, where locals and
visitors mix and mingle.
Here’s where to eat and drink in Fort Lauderdale
Regardless of where you dock, cruising the New River on your RIB or tender is a fun and easy way to explore the waterways in Fort Lauderdale, the preferred method of transportation to favorite eateries for many locals. As you cruise upriver, The Downtowner is on the south side of the river just before the Andrews Avenue bridge and has a floating dock for your tender.
Dine inside or out and take in the downtown view with a craft cocktail. Menu suggestion: fish tacos and a Bloody Mary. A little farther upstream and past the railroad bridge is the
Riverwalk area with historic buildings, the Broward Center for Performing Arts and the Sunday Jazz Brunch with live music the first Sunday of every month. Municipal floating
docks are there, but take care to verify availability, time restrictions and the security of your tender.
Continue upstream through the waterway neighborhoods where most homes have boats and yachts at their docks. You’ll see a sign indicating where the New River forks. Take the South Fork, which twists and turns—known locally as “the Wiggles” and is a challenge for the large megayachts being towed to and from one of the many shipyards on the river and the section along State Road 84 known as Marina Mile.
Just west of the I-94 overpass on the south side of the river is Marina Bay, a large marina with condos and townhomes and marine services. The Rendezvous Bar & Grill is at the far south end of the marina
with floating docks.
Even more delightful dining options are along the ICW. Starting up north next
to the Commercial Boulevard Bridge is the trendy Kaluz, which offers indoor and
outdoor dining. No matter which you choose, you’ll have a view of the waterway. Be
warned, there’s no bad menu selection here, so it may take a while for you to decide.
As you head south, restaurants with alongside docking dot the waterway, including Shooters Waterfront and Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill next to the Oakland Park Bridge.
Just before the 17th Street Causeway is 15th Street Fisheries, a favorite and where we bring all of our out-of-town guests, not only for the consistent food and service, but also for the after-dinner entertainment: feeding the fish in the marina.
Underwater lights illuminate with a green glow after the sun goes down, and a bag or two of frozen shrimp bought at the adjacent marina store provides fun for the whole family. Several tarpon and many jacks have made the marina their home, and their eager appetites make them compete for food, even to the point of jumping out of the water! Be careful about trying to feed them by hand, however. Leave that to the restaurant staff who feed them with kitchen scraps of octopus daily around 5 PM. Menu suggestion: fish dip, Joe’s Sizzler Skillet or Lauderdale Marina Salad (served for more than 36 years), and white wine of choice.
If you haven’t reached your gastronomic limit yet, there are a couple of fine dining
options in Hollywood, Florida, worth mentioning: Billy’s Stone Crab and GG’s
Waterfront Bar & Grill.
Cruise south on the ICW past Port Everglades, one of the
busiest ports on the southeast seaboard, but take your time; it’s fascinating to watch
containers being loaded on and offloaded from huge ships destined to all parts of the
world. This port is also home to some of the largest cruise ships in the world, so take
care to share the waterway and give them wide clearance. (The port authorities will
remind you lest you forget!)
With all the dock-and-dine opportunities in Fort Lauderdale, foodie-cruisers get their cake and eat it too… and mahi-mahi, and craft cocktails, and everything else.
By Liz Pasch Southern Boating, April 2019
Restaurants on the New River
Boathouse at the Riverside Hotel
620 East Las Olas Blvd.
10 South New River Drive
Marti’s New River Bistro
201 SW 5th Ave.
Rendezvous Bar & Grill
2525 Marina Bay Dr. W.
The River House
301 SW 3rd Ave
Restaurants on the ICW
3300 E. Commercial Blvd.
Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill
3115 NE 32nd Avenue
3033 NE 32 Avenue
Grille 66 & Bar
2301 SE 17th St.
15th Street Fisheries
1900 SE 15th Street
The Nauti Dawg Café
2841 Marina Circle
Lighthouse Point, FL
Billy’s Stone Crab
400 North Ocean Drive
GG’s Waterfront Bar & Grill
606 N. Ocean Drive