With no shortage of innovative and delicious restaurants to dine at in Fort Lauderdale, experiencing the local culinary scene is reason enough to book your next visit. We've rounded up some of the most exciting new spots to make a reservation in the city — plus a few other fun places to visit during your next vacation to the “Venice of America.”
AIDA Fort Lauderdale
If you're looking for a trendy spot with a welcoming vibe, check out AIDA Fort Lauderdale. The contemporary restaurant opened its doors in the booming Flagler Village neighborhood in mid-November and features innovative dishes that transcend typical Mexican gastronomy. With freshly sourced seafood at its core, get ready for a culinary adventure.
Among the praiseworthy dishes: Corn Crusted Chilean Seabass, Ceviche Verde de Camaron (pink shrimp with cillantro kimchi) and Tiradito de Atun (big eye tuna with chile marinade, cucumber and avocado). Of course there are tacos, tostados, steaks and decadent desserts, like homemade apple crumb churros and Mexican cookie with dulce de leche ice cream. Make sure to take a picture in front of the show-stopping mural created by the famous Cuban American artist, ABSTRK. AIDA also offers happy hour starting at 5 p.m. with specials like 2-for-1 margaritas.
Rio's Tequila Bar
Set among the tree-lined streets of the Rio Vista neighborhood, you'll find Rio’s Tequila Bar. Open since November, this is Fort Lauderdale’s first and only tequila-dedicated cocktail bar offering a curated lineup of some of the finest tequila distilleries. The hidden bar features a select menu of craft cocktails, tequila flights with educational tastings, and globally-inspired, tapas-style bar bites. With an intimate feel and elevated ambiance, Rio’s modern Southwest décor will transport you with a chic desert vibe in the 25-seat bar.
Sistrunk Marketplace, Fort Lauderdale's first food hall, has expanded with five new food vendors, bringing the total to 13. They include Made in Italy, Mari’s Kitchen (Italian), Henry’s Sandwiches and Island Made (Caribbean).
Dream State Brewing bar and taproom opened in November and features a 10-seat bar offering guests 36 taps, including 7 original brews and 3 collaboration beers. After you've satisfied your palate, head on over to SistrunKollective, a boutique featuring items for local artisans. Sistrunk Markeplace also hosts a variety of experiences such as cooking classes, distillery tours, DJ classes and more, so perusing their experiences is suggested.
Visit the new Fireman Derek's Bake Shop (opened in November) to indulge your sweet tooth. Delicious-looking desserts are on prime display, but you can also get milkshakes, hand-churned ice cream, empanadas and pot pies. Enjoy the over-the-top, seasonal pies, cakes, cookies, and more in the bright shop just north of downtown or take them to go. Insider's tip: The Key Lime pie is a customer favorite.
Timpano Las Olas
Timpano Las Olas has been a namesake in Fort Lauderdale for decades. In August, the restaurant officially reopened its doors to diners after a more than $1 million renovation. Set on Las Olas Boulevard and helmed by chef Michael Ferraro, who appeared on “Beat Bobby Flay” and “Bar Rescue,” the Italian restaurant is pulling out all the stops. Take for example the bucatini al pesto dish that’s prepared table side and presented in a parmesan wheel. Or try the skillet roasted mussels, a Timpano staple. Where Hollywood meets Art Deco, savor every bite of the dessert donuts filled with cannoli cream.
Patio Bar & Pizza
Whether you prefer a pizza topped with pepperoni or pineapple, Patio Bar & Pizza has toppings to please every palate. After opening this summer, the Flagler Village restaurant has quickly become known for its hand-crafted artisan style pizzas baked to perfection in a brick oven. Set in the 100-year-old landmark Progresso Plaza, Patio Bar & Pizza has an expansive outdoor patio with a bar, fire pit, and Adirondack chairs to lounge in while sipping specialty cocktails like the "Filthy Flamingo" between bites. Step inside for a vintage speakeasy feel.
If you like to dance, then make sure to head over The Angeles during your next night out in Fort Lauderdale. This live entertainment venue is set inside a 100-year-old former Lutheran church that, from the outside, still looks like a place of worship, but on the inside has been totally transformed.
Vegan and plant-based restaurant, PLANTA Queen, opened in the spring on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The 4,400-square-foot location features vegan dishes with bold Asian flavors, including sushi, dumplings and noodles. The beautifully-presented entrees will satisfy even the most discerning palate.
We recommend the Spicy Tuna Roll, made with ahi watermelon, avocado and toasted coconut and the Japanese Sweet Potato (torched miso, kimchi, cilantro and basil). PLANTA Queen has great specials, too. Maki Mondays features unlimited maki rolls after 5 p.m. Pour Decision Wednesdays offers 1/2 priced bottles of wine. Disco & Dumpling Fridays after 5 p.m. features dumpling platters.
Ya Mas! Taverna
With almost a year under its belt on Las Olas Boulevard, Ya Mas! Taverna is the destination for mouthwatering Mediterranean food that Fort Lauderdale was missing. Meaning “cheers” in Greek, Ya Mas! Taverna is an indoor/outdoor restaurant adorned with bougainvillea that climb a pergola-covered patio.
The best time to go is during Opa! hour, when guests enjoy discounts on shareable plates, like falafel, dolmades, and ceviche; meze plates with hummus, tzatziki, and muhammara; and drinks, like a classic Aperol spritz.