Fort Lauderdale is a famed Florida destination for good reason: Not only does it draw visitors on spring break and those in search of a dreamy second home to its stunning beaches, but it’s also a tough place to narrow down where you want to eat. The city’s neighborhoods, from the lively stretch of Las Olas Boulevard to one of the many beach communities and beyond, boast plenty of fresh fare and top-notch local eateries.
Spanning waterfront dining and high-end steakhouses to eating aboard a gondola or scooping ice cream from a kitchen sink, unique dining experiences await you in Fort Lauderdale. Here are the city’s top restaurants, compiled by U.S. News with the help of expert knowledge and dozens of review sites.
The Top Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale
Past the hustle and bustle of Las Olas Boulevard’s main thoroughfare is the Brazilian steakhouse Chima. Diners are greeted by banyan trees aglow with lights in the restaurant courtyard, favored by past guests for the outside bar accompanying it; you can enjoy a drink alfresco or head inside for a full meal. There are two ordering options, each for a set price: getting access to the salad bar plus one cut of meat and two other skewers, or indulging in the all-you-can-eat rodizio dinner. With the rodizio, inspired by the diet of traditional Brazilian gauchos (cowboys), the restaurant staff bring various meats on a skewer to your table and cut slices as you wish – choose from picanha, filet mignon, New Zealand lamb chops, flank steak and more. For those with food sensitivities, there is a full gluten-free menu available as well. To top it all off, certain nights at Chima include live entertainment in the courtyard. Travelers recommend this classy spot for meat lovers, adding that you should come hungry and dress to impress.
Japanese and Latin fare blend together at Casa Sensei, a fusion waterfront restaurant by the Himmershee Canal. It’s not just the views that make this place so special, but also the variety of ways you can enjoy your food: Dine next to the water, sit inside the establishment, or take it to the next level with a ride on the Riverfront Gondola. The tour company has a partnership with Casa Sensei, making for a romantic dinner cruise on the waterways of Fort Lauderdale if you book in advance. Some favorites from past patrons to order at this downtown destination include bao buns, blue crab Rangoon, Mongolian duck, charred octopus and more. Diners laud the creativity of the flavors and the beautiful presentation of the food.
The combination of Champagne and orange juice is a brunch staple, but The Floridian takes it a step further with its “Fat Cat” special: Breakfast classics like eggs and home fries pair with a New York strip steak and a bottle of Dom Pérignon. Of course, there’s also the “Not So Fat Cat” breakfast, complete with a bottle of The Floridian’s “finest el cheap champagne” – but if you’re looking for something even simpler, you can’t go wrong with the 111 Special, which offers an egg, toast, bacon, and potatoes or grits for only $5. Open since 1937, this 24-hour diner serves breakfast all day long, every day of the week, but also has a massive menu of lunch and dinner bites – including desserts for that sweet tooth. If you want to go where the locals go, The Floridian is the place to be. Travelers enjoy the large portion sizes and the food’s appeal even to picky eaters amid the eclectic vibes of this breakfast spot.
(Courtesy of Wine Garden)
In the Central Beach neighborhood, just across the street from Fort Lauderdale Beach, Wine Garden is a tucked-away spot where diners indulge in scratch-made Italian dishes and Neapolitan-style pizza under a canopy of bistro lights. You can enjoy an alfresco date night in the romantic garden setting. Wine Garden’s daily happy hour offers deals on glasses and bottles of wine as well as select food items. Patrons find the homemade pastas like the lobster ravioli to be a hit, and another fun addition to the evening is ordering the s’mores for dessert to enjoy over one of the restaurant’s fire pits.
Fort Lauderdale may be a spring break hot spot, but this waterfront restaurant is all grown up. Open since the 1980s, Shooters underwent an overhaul in 2014 that changed it from a collegiate hangout with a party vibe to an upscale restaurant that features a light nautical interior and outdoor dining with fire pits. Diners can watch the yachts go by on the Intracoastal Waterway, or even dock their own boats at the restaurant while trying the coconut shrimp, lamb chops or lobster roll. Past guests recommend sitting outside but appreciate that you can catch a breeze even from the indoor dining area. With menus for weekend brunch, weekday happy hours and even dog-friendly dining, as well as a schedule of free events, this eatery near the Lauderdale Beach area has it all. For more local flavor, you can take the Water Taxi to Shooters, which is one of the stops on its route.
Arched windows, low lights, white tablecloths and a Spanish-style interior set the mood for a romantic dinner date at this unassuming restaurant in a strip mall near Lauderdale Beach. There’s plenty for guests to enjoy at Café Seville, from the classic gazpacho to escargot and garlic shrimp, but the piece de resistance is the seafood paella, a heaping plate of saffron rice topped with mussels, clams, calamari, fish, scallops and shrimp. While this dish serves two, you may still have some delicious leftovers for tomorrow. Restaurantgoers heap praise on the quality and flavor of the food as well as the friendly service.
DUNE by Laurent Tourondel
(Ella Photography/Courtesy of DUNE)
Crowned the best restaurant in Fort Lauderdale by the Miami New Times in 2022, DUNE by globally renowned chef Laurent Tourondel is making waves among the plethora of eateries in the Lauderdale Beach neighborhood. Set within the Auberge Beach Residences, this restaurant mixes American favorites with French influence as well as an array of sushi offerings. You’ll have your pick of elevated dishes such as lamb chops, mushroom and truffle flatbread, grilled Spanish octopus, and the diner-favorite spicy tuna roll. Enjoy the ocean breeze from elegant outdoor dining tables, or head inside for a sophisticated ambiance, including private dining options like the wine cellar. Recent patrons say they appreciate the inventive food, well-crafted cocktails and beautiful decor at DUNE.
Rustic Inn Crabhouse
Sometimes you just want a casual spot to eat a bushel of crabs straight off butcher paper, and that’s where Rustic Inn comes in. In 1959, the owner, who had never actually named his restaurant, snagged the sign for the closed-down motel up the road, and the rest is history. Located off the Dania Cutt-Off Canal, Rustic Inn encourages diners to “forget your table manners, and eat with your hands.” The restaurant is best known for its world-famous garlic crabs, but customers have also taken a liking to the Alaska king crab legs, fried frog legs, fried alligator and other crab baskets.
Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant
A staple for locals, this family-run ice cream parlor adorned in license plates from around the country has been in business since 1956 serving up American favorites like hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and more. Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor, as the name suggests, also boasts old-fashioned scratch-made ice cream in more than 50 flavors, served in sundaes, goblets, shakes, floats, banana splits and atop waffles. But what brings guests to this iconic spot is its famous The Original Kitchen Sink – 1 pound of ice cream per guest plus bananas, homemade whipped cream, mixed nuts, and cherries topped up with sparklers. You can’t miss this dessert as it’s paraded through the dining room – especially since it’s served in a literal kitchen sink. Before you leave, don’t forget to make a pit stop at Jaxson’s Country Store, filled with candy from yesteryear, stuffed animals, retro toys and other goodies. Pro tip: There’s no reservations at Jaxson’s, so on some days you’ll need to be prepared to wait in line. Past patrons call this staple South Florida eatery timeless, saying the ice cream is worth both the money and the wait.
This award-winning steakhouse within the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood is known for its dry-aged prime beef and impeccable service to boot. Standout dishes include the filet mignon, lobster mac and cheese, and sea bass, but travelers say you can’t go wrong with any cut of steak from this fine dining establishment. Plus, with more than 350 wines to choose from, guests are in for a treat from appetizer to dessert. The restaurant is named for the meeting place for the council of Seminole leaders in the 1950s, under an oak tree. If you have the chance, ask for a table by the window to enjoy the fountain and light show from The Guitar Hotel.
Tropical Acres Steakhouse
For an old-school steakhouse experience, don’t miss Tropical Acres. The Fort Lauderdale staple in the Dania Beach neighborhood is always recommended when foodies are in search of an incredible steak, from prime rib or filet mignon to a porterhouse steak. If you’re in town for certain major holidays – think: Valentine’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and others – you’ll get the opportunity to indulge in the restaurant’s special menus. Another unique feature of the restaurant is the Tropical Acres Butcher Shop, where customers can purchase steaks, chops and seafood to take home to cook themselves. Past guests say they can’t wait to return to Tropical Acres, and even diners who aren’t steak enthusiasts were pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed the steakhouse fare.
15th Street Fisheries
A Fort Lauderdale tradition is to order your meal at 15th Street Fisheries in Harbordale and feed the tarpon as you wait for your clam chowder, crab cakes, mahi-mahi tacos or conch fritters to be prepared. The fish wait at the marina, knowing customers are on the way with shrimp. You can enjoy the feeding frenzy and occasional live music at the casual Fisheries Dockside, one of two very different dining experiences available at 15th Street Fisheries. If it’s a special occasion, opt for the upstairs dining room for the same great food in an elevated atmosphere – and an equally impressive view of the Stranahan River. Recent diners call the cuisine superb and the waterfront views unbeatable at this seafood spot.
Union Kitchen & Bar
(Courtesy of Union Kitchen & Bar)
When a Peruvian wife and a northern Italian husband open a restaurant together, you get the eclectic menu of Wilton Manors’ aptly named Union Kitchen & Bar. The menus focus on local ingredients and therefore change seasonally. Diners have a tough time nailing down what they’ll eat for dinner when all the options are so tempting – like pork belly tacos, campanelle pasta with porcini mushrooms, pumpkin ravioli or other innovative dishes. The drinks are just as fun, such as the Instagram-worthy Japanese smoked old-fashioned presented on a cake stand with a dome, releasing smoke at the table. Patrons call this restaurant a hidden gem in Wilton Manors – a Fort Lauderdale-area city known as South Florida’s LGBTQ capital.
Blue Moon Fish Co.
You don’t have to wait for a blue moon for an immaculate meal in the charming seaside town of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Enjoy some seafood by the waterfront at Blue Moon Fish Co. – fit with a dock for boaters to park their vessels and join friends for lunch, dinner or brunch. With both indoor and patio dining options, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bad view of the Intracoastal Waterway. This eatery highlights locally sourced ingredients and seasonal specialties. Choose from an array of fresh-caught seafood, such as the signature iced seafood tower (though it doesn’t come cheap), blue crab or mahi-mahi, as well as plenty of meals for landlubbers. From the bar, you can make your choice of signature cocktails, beers (including one from Florida breweries), and an impressive selection of new and vintage wines. Reviewers commend Blue Moon Fish for the fresh fare, top-notch service and scenic views, noting that the ambiance is perfect for a romantic date night.