The Best Restaurants In Fort Lauderdale

Big Italian subs, fried seafood, and more great reasons to go eat in Fort Lauderdale.
A table with several dishes of Thai food, including a khao soi in the middle.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

Fort Lauderdale is one of the best places to eat in all of Broward, especially if waterfront dining is your goal. This city is basically one big canal—there's a lovely beach too—which explains why everyone dresses as if they're ready to go swimming at a moment's notice. But Lauderdale is diverse as well, and though the city is developing fast, there are still pockets of its old, salty South Florida spirit left here and there. The options on this guide range from old school seafood spots to the best Thai restaurant in all of South Florida. And if you're looking for bars, check out our guide to the best bars in Fort Lauderdale.




Fort Lauderdale

$$$$Perfect For:Literally EveryoneLunchWalk-InsGetting Out Of TownCasual Weeknight Dinner
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We haven’t found a better Thai restaurant in all of South Florida than Larb Thai-Isan. This narrow, colorful Fort Lauderdale restaurant is making the best versions we’ve ever had of Thai dishes like khao soi, larb, and som tum in an area that’s dense with corporate chain restaurants. Every ingredient in every dish—from each spicy strand of papaya to the tender drumstick that floats in the khao soi—tastes like the perfect form of itself. And it’s also just a pleasure to eat here. Service is friendly, quick, and most tables have a view of the kitchen, where you’ll watch cooks pound, chop, and prepare the most delicious things you’ll find in a 20-mile radius.   

It’s easy to drive by Greek Islands and think to yourself, “Hey, there goes another regular ol’ Greek restaurant.” But this deceptively casual spot is special—and a Fort Lauderdale classic. This is mostly because they serve some of the best Greek food in South Florida. These aren't trendy little tapas, but big dishes perfect for hungry friends who are ready to smell like garlic for the next couple hours. Start off with the pikilia, a platter of four excellent dips served with warm pita. The lamb chops are a good idea too, but there are no bad decisions here, especially if it involves feta cheese or olive oil. Just know that they don't take reservations and there's pretty much always a wait (especially on weekends) so try to come early.

Fun fact time: not only is Fort Lauderdale one of the yachting capitals of North America, but the city also has hundreds of miles of navigable waterways. This not only explains the amount of yachties you’re likely to match with on Tinder while in town, but also why eating seafood on the water is such a Fort Lauderdale thing. There’s no better place to do that than at Southport, a salty old seafood spot with waterfront seating and excellent seafood. The dining room has a charming nautical aesthetic, but you really want to sit outside on the dock. When it’s time to order, get anything that used to swim and is now fried. A frozen rum rummer isn’t a bad idea either.

photo credit: Steak 954



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This hotel restaurant on A1A is the best steakhouse in Fort Lauderdale. You can see the ocean from the outdoor patio, which is why everyone wants to wait for a table out there. But the indoor tables have a nice view too, thanks to big windows and an aquarium full of hypnotic jellyfish. The menu does everything a good steakhouse should: solid raw bar options, a wedge salad drenched in blue cheese and crispy bacon, and over a dozen steaks. But the 18oz dry-aged ribeye boosts this restaurant from good to great. It has a glistening crust and one of the more perfect edge-to-edge interiors we’ve ever seen in a steak. Keep this place in mind for parent birthdays or giving out-of-towners some exceptional protein with a lovely view. 

If you’re looking for something a little more modern among Fort Lauderdale’s sea of old school spots, this is a good place to go. The menu has its creative flourishes—like truffle morcilla rice and clam chowder fries—but also enough straightforward plates to make a non-adventurous eater feel comfortable. Their burger is one of the city's best and the wings are supremely crunchy. Service is friendly and the narrow dining room has an energy appropriate for date nights.

Fort Lauderdale is an incredibly casual city. We like that about it—but this also means there aren’t a ton of special occasion restaurants worth dressing up for. Evelyn’s is a wonderful exception. This Eastern Mediterranean restaurant is located on the roof of the Four Seasons Hotel on A1A and has a great ocean view—both from the indoor and outdoor seating. That view is worth coming alone, but Evelyn’s also has really good cocktails and one of the best menus of any upscale spot in Fort Lauderdale. There are seafood towers if you want to ball out, as well as great mezze, wagyu beef kibbeh, and more dishes that utilize local seafood. 

If you want something even fancier than Evelyn’s, walk downstairs to Maass, a restaurant that treats each dish like a piece of art about to be put up for auction. Inside the bright dining room, serious chefs furrow their brows at fancy plates of foie gras macarons, avocados stuffed with caviar and king crab, and more meticulously fussy wood-fired dishes that usually require lengthy explanations from well-dressed servers. The snacks and starters are the most fun and delicious parts of the menu—especially the macarons and avocado. For bigger plates, get the buttery sturgeon or whatever fish is available. Expect to spend around $100 per person (or exactly $195 if you do the chef's counter tasting menu), so it's far from a practical weekday dinner. But you’re coming here for dishes that don’t look or taste like anything else in Fort Lauderdale.

Takato is another solid option if you’re looking for something upscale with a nice view of the beach. This Japanese/Korean fusion spot directly next door to Evelyn’s is Tanka's sister restaurant, but these menus are all very different. One side of Takato’s menu is devoted to Japanese dishes—mostly very good sushi—and the Korean side is a bit more meat-focused. It has dishes like short rib kimchi tacos, kimchi fried rice, and a handful of steak options. The food, service, and view of the beach (at least while the sun is out) are all worthy of a special occasion meal if you’re coming here to celebrate something—even if that something is just being in a dining room where everyone’s not wearing sandals.

You can’t go inside Taqueria El Paisa. But this takeout spot makes the best tacos in Fort Lauderdale. They put so much meat in them, you can barely pinch together the top of the two-ply tortillas. Asada and pastor are great choices. But if it’s available, order a cabeza (slow-cooked cheek and head), lengua, or our favorite: chicharron simmered in salsa verde. All tacos are topped with onions, cilantro, and come with a side of sliced radishes and cucumbers. But also ask for chiles toreados if you want roasted jalapeños (you do). You can order at the window and eat your tacos on a bench, but food can take around 20 minutes, so call in your order if you’re in a rush. 

Spud’s is a cafe near the beach serving great coffee alongside a menu of very good breakfast dishes, sandwiches, and baked goods. It’s the kind of relaxed space where you can come to work alone and snack for a couple hours (they have wifi)—but the food is good enough that it’s also worth coming here if it’s just the morning and you’re hungry. If you’re in a sandwich mood, go with the BKT, a BLT riff with sweet and salty jerk maple bacon. The quiche is soft as a cloud, and there is a rotating pie of the day. It’s never not fun to be pleasantly surprised by a pie. 

South Florida is full of people fleeing cities with winters, and Hot Dog Heaven feels like it was ripped straight from a freezing Chicago sidewalk, in the best way possible. You can get a wonderful Chicago dog at the little shop (which has been open since 1979), but there are also Italian beef sandwiches, sides of giardiniera, and—the sleeper hit of the menu—a grilled salami sandwich. Hot Dog Heaven is home to the best hot dog in Fort Lauderdale, but it’s also just a classic and a lovely place to stop for a nostalgic weekend lunch. Just know you’ll probably have to sit outside or take it to go. This place is tiny.

Top Hat Deli is a shiny, modern Jewish deli right by downtown Fort Lauderdale. It’s a great option for a group breakfast, brunch, or lunch. The menu has lots of good options—matzo brei, breakfast sandwiches, bagels with lox, challah french toast, and more. They have cocktails in case you’re trying to have that kind of brunch, but also plenty of hangover-friendly foods (like ramen with bacon broth, pizza bagels, pastrami sandwiches) in case it’s that kind of brunch. Top Hat is also less than a mile from Las Olas if you want to take a digestive stroll down Fort Lauderdale’s most walkable street.

While Miami’s Italian sandwich scene has gotten better, Broward is still the place to go for huge subs stuffed with cold cuts. For our money, Laspada’s makes the best Italian subs in South Florida. They have a few locations, but our favorite is in Broward’s most hyphenated town, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. Only there can you grab your sandwich (our order is a large Italian, no tomatoes, no mayo) and then walk a few blocks down to Commercial Pier for a little beach picnic.

This casual Haitian restaurant is on the edge of Wilton Manors and serves some of the best griot in Broward. Whether you’re biting into a lean piece, a fatty piece, or a bit of crackling, every part of the pig is crisp on the outside and meltingly tender inside. The griot is perfect on its own, but the pikliz are also exceptional—made with a combination of citrus and vinegar. Piman also serves other fritay, like tassot, along with Haitian staples like legim and poul nan sòs. They have some indoor seating, but most people get their food to go.

The New York/Jersey transplant pipeline flows strong in Fort Lauderdale. And Time Square Pizza makes our favorite NYC slice in the city. There’s not much to this place—just a handful of tables and a steady stream of people grabbing pizza boxes to go. But if you’re trying to bring a pie to the beach or get some pepperoni pizza for a pool day, this is where you want to order from. Times Square is a reliable, simple place for fans of floppy, cheesy, appropriately greasy slices.   

Step outside and throw a baseball in Fort Lauderdale and you will hit an Italian restaurant. But if we had to pick just one, we’re going with Il Paesano. This little Italian market pulls double duty as a restaurant—and their ever-changing menu has never let us down. The menu isn't huge—there are generally a handful of antipasti and entrees that mostly consist of pasta. But it's all good. Options include a creamy pear fagotini, gnocchi, crab ravioli, and one of the best bowls of penne al vodka around. It’s one of those places that feels more like eating at a friend’s house than a restaurant, so keep it in mind for dates. 

Yes, Southport is our favorite waterfront seafood spot in Fort Lauderdale, but we also couldn’t publish this guide without shouting out Rustic Inn Crabhouse. This is another Fort Lauderdale classic. The seafood is all solid, but you’re coming here to wear plastic bibs and smash big piles of dungeness, garlic blue crabs, and Alaskan snow crab with little wooden mallets. Plus, if it’s your birthday, the whole restaurant starts banging their crab mallets on the table like a bunch of butter-splattered judges. They also have a double-decker boat docked outside that you can eat on, weather permitting. Just expect a wait.

Noor is a bakery specializing in mana’eesh—thin flatbreads with topping combinations like zaatar, cheese, vegetables, and sausage. They have a handful of tables inside and a few outside, but this is mostly a takeout spot. While you wait for your order, you can watch them stretch the delicate discs of dough and add toppings before passing them through a conveyor belt pizza oven. You could easily inhale a couple of these for lunch or a late breakfast. But if you want something heartier, order a mana’eesh wrapped around shawarma, falafel, or kefte kebabs. If you’re pressed for time, Noor has a hot box filled with ready-made spinach pies and feta pies.

Croissan'Time is everything you want in a great bakery, and this French spot is where your casual and/or last-minute breakfast/brunch plans should happen. You walk in and are greeted by a slightly overwhelming amount of options—everything from sweet pastries to baguettes to French hot dogs stuffed into rolls like a cold camper in a sleeping bag. They also have cooked dishes like croque monsieur, crepes, and a pan bagnat. Order at the counter when you’ve finally made the very hard decision, then grab a seat on the covered patio (most of the seating is outside), where there’s sometimes a band playing on the weekend. 

Jack’s is a Broward classic that serves burgers that taste like the year 1972, which is when the little burger restaurant opened. Since then, Jack’s has been the place to celebrate youth sports victories, consume aggressively thick milkshakes, and dive headfirst into burger nostalgia. There’s really nothing trendy about these burgers—no smashed patties or secret sauce. It’s just beef, bun, and there’s a little toppings bar in the center of the dining room so you can customize to your liking. The roughly inch-thick patties range from a quarter-pound to a half-pound and are cooked on a flat top that remembers when Nixon was president. 

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