The Best Bars In Fort LauderdaleThis spring break epicenter of South Florida has some non-awful places to drink too.
Fort Lauderdale never quite shook its spring break reputation of the ‘80s, and it’s still a city where you can drink like a fish and pay a bartender to slap you in the face (Backyard in Downtown, if you’re curious). But there are also plenty of great spots for a casual beer, natural wine bars, and even one historic hotel bar where you can watch mermaid burlesque. If you get slapped at any of those, well, that’s probably your fault.
Mona’s is a bar that lives in a perfect intersection between gay bars and dive bars. It’s been around for over 20 years, and has our favorite bar interior in the universe. It feels somewhere between Ripley's Believe It or Not! and an excellent thrift store. There are decommissioned church pews for seating, original Tiffany lamps dangling from the ceiling, and popcorn served in dog bowls (the bar is named after the owner’s dog). You can smoke inside, there’s a pool table, and we absolutely love this Fort Lauderdale LGBTQ institution.
Riverside Market is a beer bar with a few locations in Broward, but the original near downtown Fort Lauderdale is the best. The space has communal seating (both indoor and outdoor) and couches to hang out on. Beer fans will love this place. It used to be a convenience store and they have a wall of refrigerators where you can browse through hundreds of beers, pick one out yourself, and just pay for all your empty cans at the end. It’s one of our favorite places to drink in the city, but we always end up eating too, because the bar food is solid.
We are unapologetic fans of the “adorable little natural wine shop” genre—and Sidewalk Bottle Shop is a perfect example. The wine bar is located in the same complex as Laser Wolf, which is also on this guide. The wine selection here is excellent, but Sidewalk also pumps out a small, delicious menu from a little food truck parked out back. The rotating options could include dishes like oysters with a frozen honeydew mignonette, honey butter biscuits, sandwiches, and more. We really love it here, and if you need to plan a first date in Fort Lauderdale, this is the place to do it.
If you like video games, especially the nostalgic ones of your youth, you’ll probably love Tenth Level Tavern. We’re branching into Oakland Park here, but it’s close enough to Fort Lauderdale. Plus, we’re not aware of any other place where you can drink good local beer while sitting at the bar and playing dozens of N64 games you didn’t realize were burned into your subconscious. They have screens set up at the bar that have dozens of games from multiple vintage consoles. You can order a beer without having to put down your controller. It’s a great date night option, but also just a fun and unique bar option to mix things up.
Laser Wolf has been the best beer bar in Fort Lauderdale for a while now, and it’s still a favorite for a relatively casual night of drinking and talking to people at a reasonable volume. The indoor space is small, but there’s an outdoor courtyard you can hang out in. There’s often a good food truck situation outside too, and they’re in the same building as Sidewalk Bottle Shop, in case you want to bounce around between the two.
Speaking of excellent places to drink beer in Fort Lauderdale: Invasive Species. The brewery is within walking distance of Laser Wolf, and we like it for all the same reasons. The beer is great, the crowd is pretty chill, and you can drink inside or on their back patio. The brewery’s name is an ode to the many invasive species of South Florida (excluding midwestern college students on spring break, who you probably won’t find here). Many of those invasive critters decorate the space in various taxidermied poses.
Wreck Bar is not home to the best drinks and food in town—far from it. But we're telling you about it because it is home to one of our favorite things to do in Fort Lauderdale: mermaid burlesque. It's exactly what it sounds like: an underwater ticketed mermaid burlesque show viewed via the little portholes behind the bar, which look into the hotel's pool. You want to come here for the adults-only show on Friday and Saturday, when you can have a good time hooting and hollering with some really talented performers, who manage to not only look cool underwater—but do so while wearing mermaid tails and doing very effective prop comedy.
Small Wine Shop is exactly what it sounds like. And if you like small, quiet spaces where you can enjoy a glass of orange wine while picking at olives, then you’ll enjoy it here. The staff is friendly and happy to explain any of their wines to you in great detail. But in addition to buying wine, you can sit down and drink it too. This is a very laidback bar option—and those are few and far between in Fort Lauderdale. So keep this place in mind for a first stop of the night, or next time you just want to have a conversation over some excellent wine.
Park & Ocean is a pretty basic bar and restaurant in a really cool location. The outdoor spot is located at the entrance to Birch State Park on A1A. This means from your seat underneath one of the seagrape trees, you’ve got the ocean on one side and a great little state park on the other. There's food, but we like this more as a place to drink and snack. So use it for a pretty day when you’re feeling outdoorsy, or when you need a post-beach spot to grab a few beers.
If you’re looking for a bar with a little more energy—perhaps one that plays top 40 hits at a fairly high volume—try The Wilder. This place will definitely make you feel like you’re at a bar, but it’s not too chaotic. There are plenty of places to sit down and the drinks are solid. The bar is broken up into three different spaces: a front bar, a bigger lounge, and an outdoor patio. They’re all perfectly fine places to sip cocktails in nice clothes on a Saturday night.