Sip and Dine Your Way Through the Greater Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival

By Angela Caraway-Carlton

Calling all food connoisseurs and wine drinkers—this one's for you and it’s worth all the calories. For the second year, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival will wine and dine you from Wednesday, March 18, to Sunday, March 22, 2020. The five-day fest promises to be a delicious way to try some of the area’s best bites and meet some of the top chefs and emerging talent.

“This festival is a great way to showcase Broward County’s growing food scene and highlight the fine dining experiences it offers to locals and visitors,” says Kate Reed, co-founder of Greater Fort Lauderdale Food and Wine Festival, which will spotlight more than 100 local restaurants, leading spirit brands, wineries, and breweries. “There are several new elements to the Festival this year, but overall, we took everything from last year and expanded upon it.”

Cocktail Confidential

The food and wine festival kicks off on Wednesday, March 18, with Cocktail Confidential at Fort Lauderdale’s first food hall, Sistrunk Marketplace & Brewery. Join all the cool kids in the trendy FATVillage Arts District for the spirited affair that will feature bites and signature cocktails inspired by the artsy ‘hood. Favorites like Wandering Wines will be there, as well as interesting sips like an Indian-inspired cream liqueur.

Dine Out, Do Good

New to the festival this year is the special Catch the Love Dinner Series, where you can dine out and do good at the same time. On Thursday, March 19, four restaurants scattered throughout Broward County will offer special prix-fixe menus and wine pairings with proceeds going to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. These dinners will benefit JDCH’s Catch the Love campaign, which aims to raise $50 million in order to expand facilities, garner cutting edge technology, and add more family resources.

Among the four restaurants hosting dinners that night are the swanky Mastro’s Ocean Club in Fort Lauderdale, which sits on the water and offers fresh seafood and juicy steaks; Sardelli Italian Steakhouse in Hollywood, another spot carnivores will want to make reservations for; Capriccio’s Ristorante in Pembroke Pines, where Italian lovers will want to devour the authentic dishes; or go on a true culinary journey at Café Maxx in Pompano Beach.

GFL on the Rise

On Friday, March 20, dine with eight of the area’s culinary stars on the ocean-view terrace of The Atlantic Hotel & Spa. Soak up those stunning beach views under the stars while sampling creative dishes from top restaurants like Rivertail, Bubbles + Pearls, Wild Thyme, The Terrace Grill, and more. Five-star sommelier Heath Porter of Heathen Wine Tours will fill glasses with exciting sips as well as offer tips for perfect pairings.

Grand Tasting

Want to try some of the best in one central place? On Saturday, March 21, spend your day at the Grand Tasting at ArtsPark in Hollywood where just like its name, you’ll sample a grand variety of food and adult beverages. 

“Personally, I’m most excited about the Grand Tasting because there are so many different restaurants, brands, and businesses that will be represented,” says Reed of the event that will feature four distinct areas like Bungalow/954 for barbecue and burgers, The Cantina at the Grove bursting with Latin flavors, Paradise Circle for island vibes, and the Rosé Garden & Bistro where you’ll sip pink like a European. “These areas are separated for unique experiences and will have something for everyone.” 

While the list is growing every day, expect dishes from restaurants like Even Keel, DUNE, Bombay Darbar, El Vez, Aruba Beach Café, and Mimi’s Ravioli. And, it’s not just about eating, you can take away some cooking knowledge thanks to four cooking demonstrations from “MasterChef” season seven winner Chef Shaun O'Neale, Chef Chi Chan of Mastro’s Ocean Club, Chef Josie Smith-Malave of Bubbles & Pearls, and Chef Oliver Saucy of Café Maxx.

Family Day

Wrap up the weekend with your family at ArtsPark in Hollywood on Sunday, March 22, where there will be live entertainment, plenty of kid-friendly activities, rows of food trucks, and family-friendly cooking demonstrations. The event is free, but guests are encouraged to bring a new or unwrapped toy that will go to the kids at the pediatric hospital.

You’re having fun while helping others—see what we did there? As for the calories, that’s all on you!

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