For many years, Miami left Fort Lauderdale in the dust when it came to four- and five-star dining establishments. Now, the Magic City’s little sister is all grown up. Below, we’ve shared all the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, from seafood to soul food. Try one or try them all—maybe you’ll even have room for seconds.
Lona Cocina Tequileria
This award-winning restaurant at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is run by Chef Pablo Salas—and it just might produce the most authentic Mexican dishes in all of South Florida. Grab a table on the patio (it's so close to the ocean, you can smell the salt water). All menu items here are superb, but we recommend the tuna tostada made with chipotle aioli and crispy leeks. The short ribs are a must, as are the lobster tacos with black beans and habanero salsa. Pair your meal with a couple of margaritas, of course, and finish strong with an order of churros—chocolate sauce optional.
If you want food that’s ingredient-driven, fresh, and fancy, look no further than DUNE. This restaurant at Auberge Beach Residence & Spa boasts tasty coastal Latin cuisine, as well as wines hand-selected from Northern California. Order a whole roasted branzino with charred lemon and heart of palm, or opt for the prime Delmonico rib eye with yukon gold potato cake and béarnaise sauce. Want something truly mouthwatering? Try the rum-infused tres leches cake, a lovely combination of guava, dulce de leche, and vanilla crumble. It doesn’t get more Floridian than that.
Valentino Cucina Italiana
Open since 2006, Valentino Cucina Italiana has been serving fine Italian dining for over a decade. You have the option of ordering à la carte from the dinner menu here, but the prix fixe seems to be the way to go. For just $45 a person, the set menu includes one glass of wine and three courses. Go for the chicken scarpariello with roasted fingerling potatoes as your main. And the rum cake—made with 1796 Santa Teresa Rum and bourbon vanilla chantilly cream—will steal your heart, for sure.
Catch a glimpse of cruise ships passing through the intercoastal waterways when you dine at Coconuts, a laid-back beachy spot where all good dogs are welcome to dine (just remember to bring a leash). Enjoy a sunset along with a seafood-heavy menu that includes conch fritters, coconut shrimp, and lobster rolls. While you're in the area, you might as well book a reservation for Sunday brunch. With its seafood frittatas, lobster Benedicts, and savory seafood bread pudding, this delicious affair deserves the hype.
The Foxy Brown
The focus here is comfort food with a twist. Although lunch and dinner is served at the Foxy Brown daily, you mustn’t miss the award-winning brunch. The menu has everything you didn’t know you could possibly want: doughnut holes served with cereal milk, banana bread grilled cheese, and chicken and waffle sliders. Round out your meal with a mimosa or Bloody Mary, or if you need a caffeine boost, try the cold brew coffee on draft. Your belly will not regret the impending food coma.
Betty's Soul Food Restaurant
Barbecue and soul food isn’t abundant in South Florida, but when you do find a rare gem like Betty’s Soul Food, you hold on tight and don’t let go. In a diner-like setting, Betty’s is the go-to spot for fried chicken, BBQ ribs, corned beef hash, and a tall glass of iced tea. This no-frills restaurant opens at 6 a.m., so it’s the perfect place to start your day when you have an early morning wake-up call.
Boathouse at the Riverside
Overlooking the New River at Fort Lauderdale’s Riverside Hotel, the Boathouse offers an unparalleled waterfront dining experience. Run by celebrity chef Toby Joseph, this restaurant serves burgers, guac and chips, hummus, and other fresh dishes on a first-come, first-serve basis. Prefer to order poolside or at the bar? You can do that, too.