In Fort Lauderdale, you either need a fish dip recipe or a fish dip guy. If you don’t make your own fish dip, it is a requirement that you buy some from a local. Oh sure, in a pinch you can get store-bought. But really, what you want is fish dip that’s sold from a van or pickup truck, preferably picked up at a bar you know or an underpass that’s convenient to your house.
My fish dip guy also sings, plays guitar and sells pickles in a brine of his own devising. I respect versatility and one-stop shopping, which is why I like having a fish dip guy who can also get me a jar of pickles and a John Prine cover.
So, needing tunes and snacks one recent night, I rode my bike down to the Quarterdeck where he does a regular Wednesday-night set. The Quarterdeck off 17th got a big remodel not long ago, but it’s still the same local place – and they still do a great dolphin sandwich. (I mean, they call it a mahi sandwich; you can’t freak out the tourists too much.)
It was one of those casually perfect nights. A bike ride that’s long enough to be exercise but not long enough to be work followed by music, domestic drafts and a sandwich with a main ingredient that was caught in the ocean less than three miles away. (And even closer if you count the port and Lake Mabel.) It was the kind of night that Fort Lauderdale does best, brought to me in no small part by the Atlantic Ocean.
This is Fort Lauderdale’s Ocean issue and as ever, we strive to be local. I write about places where the ocean meets the land: the mangroves and other natural barriers that help sea life thrive and can help us fight our most existential threats. We’ve got beachy fashion, beachy gifts and some favorite seafood dishes from a few local restaurants. We even suggest a few beaches outside Fort Lauderdale – not that we think that’s necessary. We also visit the Sea Salt Fish Market, a relatively new place that brings in fresh seafood every day and has people on hand who can help you figure out what to do with it. They even sell fish dip – and as the editor of Fort Lauderdale Magazine, I decree it local enough to be the equivalent of having a fish dip guy.
At the Quarterdeck’s fancy new outdoor patio the other night, we had to shelter a bit from a passing storm. As I rode home through some of Fort Lauderdale’s oldest neighborhoods, the storm still hung in the air. The night smelled of recent rain and ready-to-pick mangoes.
I rolled home and sat for a minute in a front yard that’s not oceanfront by any means but just close enough to pick up a hint of salt in the air. I listened to the storm, now over the ocean that gave me my dinner.
Then I congratulated myself on a successful journey by tucking into some fish dip. I know a guy.