Miami may get all the credit for being a foodie haven, but it turns out Fort Lauderdale is a pretty excellent place to eat too. Andrew and I have had some great meals around here many times in the past, but on our most recent trip, I had most delectable cuisine I have had in a long time. I wanted to share these places and a few others that make up the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants.
The following post contains 30 different options for where to eat in Fort Lauderdale. I have broken it up by affordable, moderately priced and splurge restaurants. This includes casual counter-service spots as well as sit down meals, with so many different types of cuisines. I have visited most, but not all of these Fort Lauderdale restaurants and can assure you these are some of the best options in the area!
For a free Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale Printable Checklist, sign up for my email newsletter here.
Affordable Fort Lauderdale Restaurants
If you are looking for a cheap place to eat in Fort Lauderdale, there are so many different options. This is definitely a place you can visit on a budget. Whether you want a European breakfast, a barbecue dinner or anything in between, here are some of the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants to visit for an affordable meal.
925 Nuevo Cubano’s
For a taste out South Florida, you can’t go wrong with 925 Nuevo Cubano’s. This window serve eatery has some of the most authentic Cuban food around, with everything from Tostones to Ropa Vieja. They are known for having the best Cubano Sandwiches around, so make sure you grab one of those and a Café Con Leche for dessert!
If you are in the mood for Asian fusion, Noodle Station is a black-owned business with an excellent section of noodle bowls and bao buns. With it’s quick, counter-service experience you can have savory eats in minutes to either eat there or to-go. Ramen is the specialty and is made to order with whatever toppings, but do not hesitate to try the Veggie Bao Buns or an Udon Noodle Salad either.
The Alchemist Cafe
Our favorite meal in Fort Lauderdale was definitely at the Alchemist Café and it also turned out to be one of the cheapest! This rustic spot is tucked away into a forest of backyard surrounded by rainbow eucalyptus trees, making it feel like you are dining in a magical forest. They have a scrumptious selection of toasts, salads and pizzettes, perfect for breakfast or lunch. However, you can even just visit here for coffee or a flavored Iced Yerba Mate Tea.
Charm City Burgers
One of the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants for burgers is definitely Charm City Burgers. Locals adore this tiny, fast-casual spot! They serve hefty steak burgers with all sorts of toppings to choose from. I recommend getting the spicy Volcano burger, with a classic (or vegan) milk shake to ease the delicious burn.
Sometimes there is nothing better than a slice of pizza after the beach and Beach Pizza is there to satisfy this craving. Right across from the beach, you will find this beloved spot serving up pizza by the slice or by the pie from lunchtime through the wee hours. It may not be the most groundbreaking Fort Lauderdale restaurant, but stick with the pizza and you will enjoy that taste of summer nostalgia.
Everyone needs a sweet treat on vacation and Pan’e Dolci Gelato is one of the best places to go. This little shop is on the Las Olas strip making it an awesome spot for an Italian dessert. You can choose from a variety of flavors and end your night with a refreshing dessert for less than $5.
Tom Jenkins Barbecue
South Florida is not exactly known as a barbecue spot, but Tom Jenkins BBQ is good enough to put it on the map! This is by far one of the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants for barbecue, especially if you like ribs and brisket. With platters that include two sides for less than $10, you can feed a whole family for cheap here and even have leftovers for later.
Tastes of Europe Bakery
This list mainly includes the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants, but I had to include this Hollywood bakery. Tastes of Europe is known throughout the area for their traditional Hungarian baked goods that you can’t find anywhere else. Whether you come here for breakfast or an afternoon snack, there are so many delectable delicacies like Lango Flatbreads and Shuba Salad.
Hot Diggity Dogs and More
Another cherished Fort Lauderdale food stand perfect for a quick bite is Hot Diggity Dogs & More. They are known for their Chicago Style Hot Dogs and Sausages that are less than $5 per order! They also have Philly Cheesesteaks that everyone raves about and Chicken Fingers for picky eaters. Whatever you order, this no-frills spot is fast and fun for an outdoor meal.
The Grind Coffee Project
My husband Andrew is always obsessed with finding the best local coffee shop in each area visit. We loved Alchemist Cafe, especially for breakfast, but The Grind Coffee Project had the best beans around! We tried a cold brew made with their unwashed Costa Rican coffee beans and it was amazing! They also have pastries and desserts, but you have to get a coffee while you are there!
Moderately Priced Fort Lauderdale Restaurants
If you are looking for a nice atmosphere and tasty food without breaking the bank, I have found ten moderately priced options. These are all between $15- $30 per person and most are sit-down options. Even though they are not the fanciest places, these ten are still some of the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, and often even better than the high-end options!
There are a lot of great Mexican restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, but TacoCraft excels in the taco category. They have over 13 different protein options from Korean Short Rib to Exotic Shroom, customizable in every way! I especially enjoy coming here for happy hour where you can get $6 cocktails from 4 PM to 7 PM.
Vegan Fine Foods
Whether you are on a plant-based diet or not, Vegan Fine Foods is a must for a healthy meal. Inside this black-owned market, there is an adorable café with sandwiches, acai bowls and salads. The sandwiches are a shocking spin of meat-based classics, like Tempeh Banh Mi and a Mushroom Philly Cheese Steak. However, the acai bowls are perfect for breakfast too or a midday treat!
I’ve mentioned my love of food halls many times here, and finally there is one in Fort Lauderdale! Sistrunk Marketplace is brand new and has everything I love about food halls – a fun atmosphere, diverse dining options and even its own brewery!
Currently, they are having waiters bring you your food instead of ordering at each stand, and this makes the meal relaxing and easygoing. There is no worrying about having to find a table after getting the food and the waiters brought things out quickly too! We loved the ceviche from Hot Lime and the Mezze from Needa Pita, but as far as the best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale go, you can’t go wrong with anything here!
For a trendy, Mediterranean meal on Las Olas, IT! Italy is a unique spot with all the pasta and pizza a carb lover can dream of! We enjoyed sitting on the plant adorned patio and getting some Eggplant Parmiggiana to eat with our rose. With lunch and dinner options and happy hour deals, this is ideal for a nice Italian dinner date with a twist.
The Foxy Brown
One neighborhood spot everyone loves for brunch and dinner is The Foxy Brown. Here, you can get comfort food classics like a Pot Roast or Crab Cakes in a retro atmosphere. Their cocktail selection is also a hit, especially during brunch with the BLT Mary. Whether you are in the mood for a pancake brunch or a hearty, American dinner, check out this spot tucked away downtown.
Probably the most scenic restaurant on this list is Casa Sensei, an Asian fusion spot right on the canals. Diners can enjoy a magical waterfront view while sampling a selection of sushi, dim sum and Latin inspired bites. Though this can be a splurge meal, especially if you try their gondola dinner cruise option, there are plenty of entrees under $20 per person and Happy Hour deals.
You can’t have a list of best Fort Lauderdale restaurants without the iconic Rocco’s Tacos. Though this restaurant originally started north of here in West Palm, it has become a cult classic. Where TacoCraft is ideal for unique tacos, I find Rocco’s Tacos ideal for a full Mexican meal with margaritas, fajitas or burritos and all the traditional sides. Between the frequent live music and energetic atmosphere, it is so much fun to come for a whole meal or just some tequila.
Just Spoons Café
If you are in the Western part of Fort Lauderdale, near Plantation, then Just Spoons Café is an excellent lunch or dinner option. They serve elevated southern food, such as Honey Butter Glazed Chicken on a Biscuit and Curry Shrimp and Grits. It’s tucked away by the mall, but this hidden gem is worth seeking out for the cuisine and the sophisticated ambiance.
Vinnie’s By the Sea
Though Beach Pizza is good for a slide in a pinch, the best Fort Lauderdale restaurant for pizza is definitely Vinnie’s By the Sea. This is the place to get brick oven Neapolitan Style Pizza, including their specialty Meatball Ricotta Pie. If your party wants pasta or salads too, these are also delicious and they even serve oysters on the half shell. The restaurateur, Vincent Foti, is well known throughout the Fort Lauderdale foodie scene and you can find out why for yourself here!
Tarpon River Brewing
Usually I am not a huge fan of brewery food, as it can often be an afterthought. This is not the case at Tarpon River Brewing and it is possibly the best brewery food I have had! We went here for a flight and were pleasantly surprised by the Hangover Fries and the Buffalo Cauliflower! It made us want to come back for their burgers and tacos, which are also highly praised. With a varied beer selection, simple, yet satisfying bites and a relaxing, open air atmosphere, this place is worth visiting whether you are a beer drinker or not!
Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale to Splurge At
During vacation, I always plan at least one splurge meal. This gives you an excuse to get dressed up and try some of the finest food in town. Regardless of if you want an elegant meal on vacation or are a local looking to have a celebratory meal, these ten options are the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants for a luxurious experience.
With such beautiful canal views, it’s essential to have a waterfront meal in Fort Lauderdale. Kaluz is an excellent choice for this, whether you are dining for lunch or dinner. Here, there is an outstanding array of surf and turf options, such as Pomegranate Scallops or Danish Ribs. They offer happy hour deals on drinks and appetizers during the week, but with such an airy atmosphere and stunning cuisine, it will be hard not to stay for dinner!
Swirl Wine Bistro
Tucked away in Coconut Creek, Swirl Wine Bistro is the ultimate place for wine lovers. This black-owned restaurant offers a variety of share plates to compliment the exquisite wine collection. You can choose from Waygu Beef Over Polenta or an Enoki Mushroom Handroll. With intimate seating and unique pairings, it’s the ideal date night spot.
One of the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants for Japanese dining happens to be Kuro, at the Hard Rock Hotel. Regardless of whether you are coming here to gamble, it is still a worthwhile spot for a night out. The restaurant has an impressive selection of Nigiri and Sashimi, as well as land dishes cooked on a robata charcoal grill. If you really want to splurge, go for the Chef’s Choise Sashimi Omakase and prepare to be wowed!
One restaurant we made sure to dine at while visiting was Rivertail. This was started by Chef Jose Mendin who is renowned in South Florida by starting the fabulous Pubbelly restaurants. This one focuses on seafood instead of sushi and has one of the nicest outdoor patios I have seen. We had such a relaxing time enjoying Madagascar Prawns and devious Crab Mac and Cheese under the string lights here. Rivertail excels at culminating a laid back, tropical atmosphere, while still serving the highest quality seafood you can find.
Another upscale spot to visit with a gorgeous patio is Bistro Mezzaluna, where they are serving flawless pasta and steak dinners. For those in the mood for Italian, their pasta is irresistible with options like Jumbo Crab Fettuccini Alfredo or classic Rigatoni Bolognese. However, they also have Filet Mignon and New York Strip for anyone craving red meat and all your standard sides. This is a great choice to go with the whole family for a mix of traditional and creative cuisine.
Rustic Inn Crabhouse
For more of a timeless fish camp feel, Rustic Inn Crabhouse is a no-frills seafood spot that will transport you to a different era. With their quiet dock seating, you will forget you are in one of the largest Florida cities and with such tasty Blue Crabs, maybe Florida all together! Though there is lobster, snapper, shrimp, steak and pasta the crabs are the specialty. You can get steamed clusters, buttery Alaskan crab legs or grilled soft-shell crabs, or just go all out and get the sampler! Serious seafood lovers will not be disappointed by the portions or the quality here.
With a restaurant mantra like You Only Live Once, YOLO has to excel at being unique and it definitely came off that way to us. With intricate décor inside and outside, it is hard this Las Olas spot perfect for a drink and apps or a full meal. The menu varies from wood-fired grilled specialties like a Double Cut Rotisserie Pork to Vegetarian options like King Trumpet Mushroom Risotto. One thing is for sure, you have to get a cocktail or even a martini flight, because their bar comes up with brilliant creations.
Nothing says a splurge meal like a steakhouse and Steak 954 is one of the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants to go for that! Inside the W Hotel, this spot has everything you want in a steakhouse taken to the next level. Not only do they have a variety of prime, dry aged steaks, but there are also savory sides like Bacon Mac and Cheese and a raw bar with all your oyster and shrimp delicacies. Whether you come here for breakfast, lunch or dinner, this restaurant will bask you in luxury and tasty eats.
Blue Moon Fish Co.
I know there are a lot of seafood restaurants on this list, but Blue Moon Fish Co. Is another fantastic option with its own enticing opportunity. Though you can dine on flavorful scallops or grouper here for dinner, I highly recommend coming for brunch. The champagne brunch is what put this place on the map, as it has so many irresistible things to choose from at this all-you-can-eat and drink buffet. This definitely errs more on the lunch side with dishes like braised short ribs, charcuterie, prime rib, oysters and fresh ceviche. Make sure to end your trip with this lavish affair, because you will definitely want to burn some extra calories after this brunch!
S3 – Sun Surf Sand
One last quintessential best Fort Lauderdale restaurant, is the beachfront S3 located in the Hilton hotel. With gorgeous interiors and exteriors, we were already impressed, but the food really seals the deal. They have a variety of sushi rolls and small plates, so there are tons of delicious bites to try. We especially loved the burrata, alongside an array of sushi wrapped in soy paper instead of seaweed. They do have large plates to and some lunch options, but sampling a variety of shared bites is sure to make for a memorable experience.
Know Before You Go: The Best Fort Lauderdale Restaurants
I hope this list helps you decide where to eat in Fort Lauderdale. These locally owned restaurants are worth supporting whether you are a local or a visitor. With such a variety of cuisines and price ranges here, there is no shortage of delicious food to choose from. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are visiting the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants!
- It is customary to tip 20% in Fort Lauderdale and most restaurants do not include this in the final bill, unless you have a large party.
- Many restaurants accept reservations, so be sure to check the website or Open Table beforehand.
- The best way to save money in Fort Lauderdale when going out to eat is to go during Happy Hour, when many places have deals on drinks and appetizers.
- Dress codes vary, but for the upscale restaurants on the list, I would err on the dress to impress side.
- Finding parking can be a challenge, so walk if you can, especially to restaurants on Las Olas. Public parking usually costs between $2-$4 per hour, though locations vary.
- Support Black-Owned Restaurants! Black-Owned restaurants included in this list are: Noodle Station, Tom Jenkins Barbecue, Vegan Fine Foods, Just Spoons Café, Swirl Wine Bistro.
Do you think these are the best Fort Lauderdale restaurants? Let me know if I missed any of your favorites! For more tips for visiting the area, be sure to check out posts on Where to Stay and Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale and my Miami Beach Guide.