Mario’s Catalina Restaurant is named for its flamboyant chef/owner Mario Flores, who puts equally strong emphasis on creating an elegant ambiance and providing outstanding service and cuisine. White linen tablecloths contrast with an assortment of colorful paintings with ornate frames and Mario’s collection of tchotchkes. The food is a combination of Cuban and Spanish favorites, like roasted pork with caramelized plantains, white rice and black beans, vaca frita, and garlic shrimp.
Dockside dining is just one attraction at this eatery perched on the Intracoastal just south of Oakland Park Boulevard near A1A. The vibe is Florida-casual, and you can expect to see men in Hawaiian shirts disembarking from boats and strutting inside. Traditional bar bites, Floribbean fare, and international offerings comprise the menu, including crabcakes, fried calamari, coconut shrimp, seared ahi, and conch fritters. You can also order half-pound beef burgers, overstuffed wraps, and out-of-the-ordinary takes on fish, like the blackened mahi Reuben sandwich. Cocktails run the gamut, including fruity martinis, thick frozen margarita-like concoctions, and enormous fish bowls filled with fizzy, vodka-based drinks.
Founders Robert and Abby are longtime surfers and beach lovers. They were inspired by their many trips to exotic beach locations including Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, California and Hawaii. Each destination featured its own spin on acai or pitaya bowls. When they came back home, they were inspired to recreate their versions of some of their favorites. The menu features a wide variety including banana bowls like the Nica Bowl (banana blend topped with granola, banana, cocoa nibs, walnuts, strawberry and peanut butter).
The new location in Southport Shopping Center on 17th Street offers what customers have come to love from the first location on North Federal Highway. The Mexican restaurant is inspired by the food originating from the Baja Coast Peninsula, to be specific. They strive to bring light and fresh Mexican food that can be eaten every day to South Florida.
The healthy fast casual concept stays true to its local supply chain philosophy by sourcing much of its produce from J&J Family of Farms in Loxahatchee and herbs from Harvest Sensations in Miami. The name’s a bit of a misnomer; Just Salad also does wraps, smoothies, “warm bowls” featuring dishes like shawarma and umami, and soups.
The popular Cuban bakery and café has opened its first Broward location and has been attracting foodies looking for a Cuban coffee and pastelito fix. Owned and operated by a third generation Cuban-American, the food is authentic and offers a twist on classics. Be sure to try the arroz con pollo bites (chicken, yellow rice, mozzarella fritters and sazon aioli).
THIS INCREASINGLY POPULAR chain recently brought its brand of bird preparation to Fort Lauderdale. Chicken Kitchen prides itself in providing a fresh and healthy menu. Try their world famous “Chop-Chop” by choosing a combination on the menu or creating your own. Chicken Kitchen offers take-out, dine-in and delivery. You can even get them to cater an event.
It’s hard for Fort Lauderdale locals to imagine a summer without taking a dip in the water…well, what about their bagels? Known for a 14-step water filtration process that goes into its authentic Brooklyn-style bagels and coffee, Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. has officially opened its second Fort Lauderdale location. In addition to bagels and coffee, menu items include breakfast and deli sandwiches, baked goods, omelets and “baninis” – bagel paninis, naturally.
Shake Shack, known for its 100-percent all-natural Angus burgers, fresh-made frozen custard and crinkle-cut fries, has finally opened in Fort Lauderdale. The East Coast rival of West Coast icon In-N-Out Burger also serves chicken sandwiches and griddled flat-top dogs (which have no hormones or antibiotics). Keeping things local, they offer brews from Wynwood Brewing Co., Due South Brewing Co. and Funky Buddha Brewery. Lucky for us, this location includes a collection of frozen custards exclusive to Fort Lauderdale: Pie OH My, S’more and Caramel Crumble (in addition to the classics).
This locally owned restaurant offers a wide selection of classic American dishes. The lunch and dinner menu includes Jamaican grilled wings, crispy walnut shrimp, orange chicken and a deep-sea tuna burger. On Saturdays and Sundays, guests can choose from a selection of made-to-order brunch dishes, including six styles of eggs Benedict.
Owner and Chef Angelo Elia has created a South Florida restaurant empire out of his original North Federal location. His dishes are punctuated by an attention toward great ingredients, like the branzino, so fresh it needs nothing more than a light butter sauce. The outstanding antipasti includes truffle-lemon carpaccio and pancetta-wrapped tiger prawns over broccoli rabe, and the fresh pasta is made in-house. Or go big with the oak-grilled NY strip, marinated in olive oil, garlic, and rosemary.
Known for its wood-fired dishes, J. Alexander’s serves classic cuisine in a sophisticated setting. Enjoy Tuscan steak, grilled fish with mango papaya salsa, chicken Milanese and seafood czarina. Pair your meal with wine from the full-service bar.
Chicken marsala, veal picatta, meatballs, and Milanese are what’s for dinner at owner and Chef Marco Vico’s Fort Lauderdale fixture, voted one of America’s 1,000-best Italian restaurants by Zagat. Indulge in hearty bowls of pasta fagioli, lasagna that features a mix of meat sauce and béchamel. The ambiance is like a resplendent Tuscan villa, complete with walls adorned with old family photos.
Only USDA prime beef is used for the six signature steaks: filet, petite filet, rib-eye, cowboy rib-eye, T-bone, New York strip and porterhouse (for two). Also available are lamb chops, lobster, stuffed chicken breast and barbecued shrimp.
The dishes Myapapaya puts out feature ingredients found in few South Florida restaurants, healthy items owner Adam Kanner says he found while traveling the globe. The kale salad, for instance, features almonds roasted with tamari, a soy sauce brewed with a deeper flavor. The Whole Grain Bowl — overflowing with quinoa, brown rice, tomatoes, peppers, chickpeas, feta, and coconut oil — has a bit of dulse flakes, a snack food from Iceland that provides a nice saltiness to a stunningly beautiful and delicious dish.
The juices, sold in 16-ounce plastic bottles for about $9, are made in a cold-press system that keeps more nutrients and allows them to stay fresh longer. They also feature blends like the Peruvian Pink, with beets, ginger, pear, pineapple, and a Peruvian fruit called maca, which some believe improves libido.
They’ve got Taco Tuesdays and brunch on the weekends, and the new craft bar and restaurant is making a name for itself as a fun, lively option. Favorite dishes include Oak’s Jerk Chicken Pasta and the Oak Burger (lettuce, tomato, onions and bacon with signature oak barbecue sauce), plus salads, desserts and more.
This casual restaurant run by the owners of Coconuts and The Foxy Brown offers a slight twist on the typical barbecue place. In addition to North Carolina style pulled pork and dry-rubbed (and beer-steamed) baby back ribs, you can enjoy a bahn mi (pork with a pickled watermelon rind) or a “pork-strami.” Sides include sweet potato grits, cauliflower mash and fried Brussels sprouts.
This ’80s pizza parlor features free retro video games – as well as gourmet pizzas like the Godfather (steak tips, caramelized onions, Gorgonzola blue cheese, mozzarella and cheddar cheese) and Cheeseburgerlicious (burger pieces, pickled onions, bacon and tomato, over Thousand Island dressing, mustard, mayo, ketchup, topped with mozzarella and cheddar cheese and finished with lettuce). Other menu items include salads, wraps, subs, wings, stromboli and calzones.
Located on the eastern side of the Gateway Shopping Center, this restaurant mixes Japanese and Thai food. Signature sushi rolls include Dancing Eel, Red Dragon (built around tempura shrimp), Yamu (broiled salmon) and Monster Lobster. Also available are fried rice, pad Thai and a variety of teriyaki dishes.