The concept of “season” no longer applies in South Florida. Instead of waiting for winter to roll around, Greater Fort Lauderdale is having a true spring awakening and welcoming a slew of hot new hotels, restaurants, breweries, and bars. From Mexican speakeasies and salsa dancing to Tokyo-worthy sushi by the sea, here are some of the best spots to visit right now in Fort Lauderdale and beyond.
Dine, Drink & Dance
With a background spanning over 20 years at some of the region’s top sushi spots like ZUMA and Makoto, chef Taek Lee (Taka) recently launched a first-of-its-kind concept in Greater Fort Lauderdale: a Japanese-Korean fusion eatery dubbed Takato at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach. Watch the chefs at work from a seat at the 26-foot-long sushi bar or take in the views from the terrace over Fort Lauderdale beach and the Atlantic Ocean.
Shooters Waterfront is known to have one of Fort Lauderdale’s best brunches with a view (it’s hard to beat this prime locale on the Intracoastal!), but now you can feel good indulging on decadent dishes like blue crab benedict with bearnaise sauce and buttermilk fried chicken with bacon gravy thanks to a newly launched pre-brunch, hour-long yoga class weekend mornings at 8:30 a.m. Not only will you be rewarded with a champagne toast following your flow, but you’ll also receive $5 off brunch.
On Las Olas, Miami Beach’s Sushi Garage recently opened the second outpost of the Japanese eatery known for its panoramic open kitchen, soaring ceilings and unexpected twists on traditional fare (think truffle shiitake nigiri and miso maple seabass). Chef-partner Sunny Oh’s popular, fast-casual Poke bowl restaurant, Sunny Poke, will also be prepping from the Sushi Garage kitchen and delivering bowls across town if you need restaurant-worthy picnic fare.
Another Miami favorite, Bodega Taqueria y Tequila, has also popped up in downtown Fort Lauderdale with its signature Mexican street food-meets-speakeasy concept. Take your pick of grab-and-go tacos from the taco truck, cleverly disguised as a vintage airstream trailer, or head back into the taqueria’s hidden lounge for late-night cocktails and live music. Another newcomer on the scene offering nightly live music and weekend Flamenco dancing is Spanish tapa-themed Eatapas in Fort Lauderdale. Modeled after Madrid’s lively tabernas, the tapas bar features classic Spanish small plates like patatas bravas (crispy potatoes with spicy sauce) and croquetas de jamon (ham croquettes), as well as shareable paellas, Spanish charcuterie and cheese, and tableside sangria. Downtown Fort Lauderdale’s speakeasy Unit B Eatery + Spirits also just opened a sister spot with small plates and craft cocktails over in Pembroke Pines at the outdoor Shops at Pembroke Gardens, if you happen to be staying out west.
Late-night salsa dancing and dinner shows will soon be a fixture at newly opened Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar on Las Olas. Inspired by Cuba’s Old Havana district, two-time James Beard Award-winning chef-partner Guillermo Pernot looked to the island’s traditional fare served at paladares (independent, family-run restaurants) when crafting the menu for the restaurant’s modernized Cuban cuisine. For the best seat in the house, reserve a spot at the eatery’s centerpiece wood-burning Latin Grill & Chef’s Counter.
Further south, in Dania Beach, celebrity chef Richard Sandoval recently reopened Toro Latin Kitchen, which offers steakhouse-style fare like Kobe strip loin and coal-grilled fish of the day. At the den-like La Biblioteca Tequila Library, the second half of chef Sandoval’s Pan-Latin concept, take a seat at the intimate bar for a guided tequila tasting from the “bible,” which features over 400 selections of tequila, including premium pours and rare finds.
Greater Fort Lauderdale’s craft beer scene is continuing to grow as small-batch breweries keep popping up in places like Lauderhill, home to Yeasty Brews, which features a taproom open for tastings Thursday through Sunday, as well as a kitchen with reimagined bar fare like pretzel bites sprinkled and served with garlic salt and house queso blanco. In Fort Lauderdale’s historic Sistrunk, the more expansive indoor food hall Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery also recently debuted. At the 24,000-square-foot space, you’ll find everything from a local craft ale and lager brewery to a food hall with tacos, pizza, creêpes, and Poke bowls; a boutique with local artisan-produced products; cooking classes; a DJ and production music academy; and events like Saturday yoga and mixologist-led cocktail courses.
Sleep in Style
Kimpton recently opened up its first Fort Lauderdale Beach property, Kimpton Goodland Hotel, a few blocks behind A1A and the beach. Housed in a former 1950s historic hotel—which was the first year-round resort on Fort Lauderdale beach when it originally opened—the 96-room boutique property is like a tucked-away wellness retreat with a retro feel (think amenities like yoga in the courtyards and complimentary beach cruisers). Onsite restaurant Botanic weaves local ingredients into Latin- and Caribbean-influenced dishes, while the poolside Good Bar serves up cocktails crafted with freshly squeezed juices. Take one of the hotel’s loaner bikes for a spin along Fort Lauderdale beach or post up on the rooftop pool terrace for a glass of wine and live music while watching the yachts drift by.
Over in Flagler Village, you can also soak up the sun from a daybed at the rooftop pool and lounge at The Easton, located at the newly opened Courtyard Fort Lauderdale Downtown. From the 137-room hotel, guests can easily explore the surrounding street art, galleries, and eateries in FATVillage and MASS District, like high-end Italian restaurant Heritage or laid-back beer garden Rhythm and Vine.
If you’re looking for beach views, book a room at 141-room Hotel Maren Fort Lauderdale Beach, a Curio Collection by Hilton, which recently opened on A1A. The 12-story hotel on Fort Lauderdale beach shows off sweeping views of the water from the fifth-floor pool deck, but those looking to get out on the water also have access to a full-service marina. While you’ll be just a five-minute stroll away from the buzzy eateries lining Las Olas Boulevard, you’ll definitely want to make a reservation at the coastal Italian-inspired onsite restaurant, Riviera, helmed by celeb chef Fabio Viviani.