Where To Eat In Fort Lauderdale

Big Italian subs, fried seafood, and more great reasons to go eat in Fort Lauderdale.

Where To Eat In Fort Lauderdale  guide image

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

There are many occasions that can bring a Miamian to Fort Lauderdale, our Broward cousin about 45 minutes north. Maybe it’s work, meeting friends, a concert, the mid-I-95 realization that your gas tank is empty and you need to get off at the nearest exit ASAP. But we’re here to tell you that great food can also be one of those reasons. Fort Lauderdale is one of the best places to eat in all of Broward, and the options here range from old school seafood spots to Italian subs to some of the best Thai food in all of South Florida. Here are our Lauderdale favorites. 


photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

Larb Thai-Isan  review image

Larb Thai-Isan


Fort Lauderdale is home to perhaps the best Thai restaurant in all of South Florida. This spot specializes in food from Thailand’s northeastern region, Isan. They make some of the best larb in the state as well as lemongrass-flavored Isan sausages, kai yang (grilled marinated chicken), and mok nho mai—tender shredded bamboo shoots and pork belly wrapped in a banana leaf. But if you order one non-Isan dish here, let it be the phenomenal khao soi. And please do not leave without getting a dessert, like the kluay tod banana fritters, a perfect mango sticky rice, or scoops of coconut ice cream on a bed of sweetened sticky rice stuffed into a brioche bun. Food is definitely the main event here, but the restaurant is also fun, colorful, and the service is overwhelmingly friendly. 

It’s easy to drive by the unassuming 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.

The Katherine is from the same team that gave us one of our favorite Miami restaurant openings of 2019, Balloo. And while the pandemic sadly forced Balloo to close, The Katherine has many of the same qualities: a creative menu, friendly service, and a narrow dining room that feels like a dinner party. If you’re looking for something a little more modern and exciting among Fort Lauderdale’s sea of old school spots, this is where you want to be. The menu includes clam chowder fries, Thai-style crab rice, and more dishes that are influenced by Indian, Caribbean, and Mexican cuisine. 

While Miami’s Italian sub scene has gotten better recently, Broward is still the place to go for huge hoagies 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.

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. It’s one of our favorite places to drink in the city, but we always end up eating too, because the bar food is really good. The fried chickpeas are a perfect drinking snack and the hoagies never disappoint—but it's the BBQ chicken pizza that's our go-to order. 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.

photo credit: Courtesy Evelyn’s

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open table

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, yellowfin tuna "nayeh", wagyu beef kibbeh, and more dishes that utilize local seafood. 

This casual Haitian restaurant is on the edges 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.

We are unapologetic fans of the “adorable little natural wine shop” genre—and now Fort Lauderdale has one too. We just thoroughly enjoy drinking good wine in a relaxed space with string lights and tasty bar food. Such is the case at Sidewalk Bottle Shop. The wine bar is located in the same complex as Laser Wolf, which is also one of our favorite places to drink in the city. Sidewalk pumps out a small but 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, an Italian beef sandwich, or steak. We really love it here, and if you need to plan a date in Fort Lauderdale, this is the place to do it.

Wreck Bar is a historic bar located in the lobby of B Ocean, a hotel on A1A. It's 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 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 drunken 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 effect prop comedy. It's a bit of a tourist trap, and a tad expensive. Tickets cost $65 ($35 of that is applied as a credit for food and drinks) and we recommend eating before you come and sticking to beer, wine, or straight liquor for drinks.

Step outside and throw a baseball in Fort Lauderdale and you will hit an Italian restaurant. But if we had to pick just one to visit, we’re going with Il Paesano. This place is a little Italian market that 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 so good. Options include a creamy pear fagotini, gnocchi, crab ravioli, and one of the best bowls of penne al vodka we've ever had. 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 or any night when you want a bowl of outstanding pasta and some wine. 

Fun fact time: not only is Fort Lauderdale one of the yachting capitals of North America, but the city also has over 165 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.

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 be aware, you can pretty much always 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.

Yes, Miami has its fair share of NYC transplants these days, but the New York/Jersey pipeline has long been flowing in Broward. And Time Square Pizza makes our favorite NYC slice in Fort Lauderdale. 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 happy place for fans of floppy, cheesy, appropriately greasy slices.   

This Fort Lauderdale Haitian bakery has a great selection of pates with fillings like beef, turkey, and cod. All their pates are made with a flakey, buttery crust that has a nice chewiness towards the center. Besides the baked pates, Sunrise also makes fried pate kode with fillings like hot dog and hard-boiled egg in a tomato sauce. They also have a selection of desserts, including almond-flavored frosted yellow cake, ginger-spiked pen patat (yam bread), and one of the best pineapple upside-down cakes we’ve ever had. Wash it all down with a chokola: hot chocolate flavored with sweet spices and citrus peel. 

Heritage is the sort of buzzy restaurant you just don’t see a lot in Fort Lauderdale. It’s located in MASS District (Fort Lauderdale’s arts district) and is one of the harder weekend reservations to book (so plan ahead). It has that trendy new restaurant energy—the dining room is loud, crowded, and everyone seems to be having fun. It’s a good table to book when you want dinner to feel like going out, but it’s not just a scene. The Italian food is good. They make a wonderful chopped salad with big cubes of mortadella, solid pizza, pasta, and small plates like a tasty sweet long pepper stuffed with ground wagyu. Just don’t expect to walk in without a reservation on the weekend.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

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Croissan'Time is everything you want in a great bakery, and this French spot is where your 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 of what to eat, then grab a seat on the covered patio (most of the seating is outside), where there’s usually 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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