If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I love to travel, and that I am constantly planning trips to look forward to. On these vacations, my days usually revolve around one thing, food. This time, instead of telling you all the places I’ve been on my trips, I figured I’d take the time to tell you about some of my favorite spots where I live, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
I’m obviously biased, but I am pretty sure it’s one of the coolest cities in the country. It has plenty of fun things to do, but still has small city / beach town vibes, and isn’t super congested. It’s also in between Miami, and West Palm Beach, and with the new Brightline Train it’s extremely easy to get to either.
This post is going to be mostly food related in an attempt to keep it somewhat short (I like food, a lot), but I’ll let you know about all the other fun things we have to do here in a separate article. I hope this list gives you a little insight into what great spots there are, and helps you out if you’re ever in the area!
There are so many coffee shops in Fort Lauderdale that it’s really difficult to pick just a few. I’m going to include the three that I visit the most, and think are places you really should’t miss if you’re in the area, but if you’re ever here for an extended period of time and want to know of some others, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Brew Urban Cafe – Photo by Tamara Cardona @Tammyrc
- Brew Urban Cafe is my favorite coffee shop in Fort Lauderdale. It’s right in the heart of FAT village (Flagler Arts and Technology) in Fort Lauderdale. Books line the back wall with a massive chandelier in the center to make you feel like you’re in a vintage library. The outside walls are covered in art murals, and if you’re there at the right time you can even catch a glimpse of the train going by out back. If you get hungry, Henry’s Sandwich Station is right next door.
- The Alchemist is in a really fun area of Fort Lauderdale, with multiple different restaurants, art vendors, and rainbow roads. They make (hands down) the best iced coffee you will ever have – that’s a promise. There is limited indoor seating so I try to go here when it’s a little nicer out, but that doesn’t really stop me from going year round. They also serve a variety of food items which are all really good as well (I particularly recommend any of the slicers). They also just recently opened a second location in Aventura.
Ann’s Florist and Coffee Bar – Photo by Tamara Cardona @Tammyrc
- Ann’s Florist and Coffee Bar is an adorable little flower shop off of Las Olas that also serves coffee and snacks. It’s fun to hang out here and study while people watching, or to listen to the live music they sometimes have playing. They also have an adorable flower wall if you need a cool backdrop for photos.
- One of my favorite spots to study and have a coffee is Warsaw Coffee Company. How many coffee shops do you know that you can grab a beer at when you’re done studying? It’s also attached to Milk Money Bar and Kitchen, so if you need a bite to eat, they have that covered too. The coffee is great, the people are nice, and the food is on point.
Picking the right brunch spot really depends on what kind of brunch you’re looking for – so I’m going to include one of each… (side note: these playes are also amazing for dinner – esp. Louie Bossi, and Blue Moon Fish Co.)
Louie Bossi – Photo by @LouieBossi
- Best Bottomless – Sometimes, your crazy friends are in town that want to party and get the best bang for their buck. That is going to be either at Louie Bossi ($13 unlimited Mimosas, Bellinis, Bloody Marys, or Aperol Spritz) or Big City Tavern ($13 for unlimited Mimosas or Bloody Marys). Both are on Las Olas and have really good food, but I usually prefer Bossi (Italian food) as a dinner spot than a brunch spot.
- Best Ambiance – When looking for a great brunch I usually tend to lean toward which has the best food, and which has the best ambiance. Two of my favorites are Burlock Coast (in The Ritz), and Shooters Waterfront. Both restaurants have really amazing food (Shooters has a buffet option as well), and even better scenery. Burlock is on A1A across from the beach, and Shooters is on the Intracoastal.
- Best Buffet – If you’re like me, and like to stuff your face with food, there are two places that I recommend for the best brunch you’ve ever had – Coastal (across from the beach), or Blue Moon Fish Company (on the Intracoastal). Coastal is $39.99 + $18 for unlimited drinks (champagne, mimosa, bellini, prosecco, bloody marry, or screwdriver), and Blue Moon is $69.95 (but comes with unlimited champagne, mimosa, and bloody mary). Both of these spots have phenomenal food, and I can guarantee you won’t have to eat for the rest of the day.
These are my favorite “lunch” spots, though you can obviously eat here for dinner too. They are also very good if you are looking for a “healthier” option, and they all have vegetarian and vegan options as well.
JB & C – Photo by Me (@DoctorDiaries)
- JB & C stands for Juice Bar and Cafe. It’s new, and very good. They have great smoothies, bowls, toasts, and panini’s. The food is awesome, but the space is even better. There is a lot of natural light, so you can come here to study, and a cute little nook if you want to just grab a bite and hang with friends.
- Poke House is actually from the same creators as JB & C. The name is pretty self explanatory (they sell poke bowls, duh), but the Hawaiian flare of the restaurant is what actually makes it unique. Aside from that, the fish is fresh, and the ambiance is on point. Great to sit in for a bite or to pick up and take home.
Mayapapaya – Photo by Dorie Passen @Plantforward
- Maya Papaya is one of my favorite spots. It’s a great little restaurant that serves fresh sandwiches, organic salads, small batch soups and raw cold pressed juices. The food is healthy and delicious, and I always leave feeling like I just did something good for my body. They also just opened a second location on the water.
It’s very hard to narrow the restaurants down to my “favorites” because there truly are so many good ones, but these are definitely the ones I crave (and visit) the most…
- Sun, Surf, and Sand aka S3. This has and always will be one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a tapas restaurant, across the street from the ocean, with an outdoor fire pit, small shareable dinner plates, amazing cocktails, and incredible desserts – oh, and they serve sushi too. Honestly, what more could you ask for? I went here with my entire family for my med school graduation, I’ve been here for New Years Eve dinner, anniversaries, birthdays, and even just on a random weeknight. Oh, and they have happy hour specials as well.
- Doc B’s – This place is fairly new, but I’ve already been at least 5 times. It is actually a chain restaurant, though they only have about 7 locations right now. I would describe the food as American, and the menu has apps, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and sides. The guacamole with sweet potato chips is absolutely incredible, but everything else that you order I can guarantee will be amazing as well.
Sushi Rock – Photo by Me (@DoctorDiaries)
- Sushi Rock – If you’re looking for really delicious sushi in Fort Lauderdale, this is your spot. All of their signature rolls are named after different rock bands, and they’re all amazing. It’s honestly hard to pick just one roll, but if I had to make recommendations I would say the Sublime, Wallflower, Pink Floyd, and Big Bopper are my favorites. They also have really good appetizers (great balls of fire!) and Thai entrees.
- Canyon – A lot of people don’t know about this restaurant because it’s not in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, and I almost feel like I should keep it that way, but I would be doing you a disservice if i didn’t include it on my list. Canyon is a “southwest” restaurant, but don’t let that fool you. Their steak tacos are made with filet mignon and their shrimp and grits are probably the best I’ve ever had. They are also famously known for their prickly pear margaritas. The prices are on the medium-high side but if you sit at the bar any day (except Saturdays) from 5:30-8 pm it’s half off small plates, half off prickly pair margaritas (for women), and 2 for 1 well martinis for men. They also have other specials depending on what night of the week it is. Oh, and their white chocolate bread pudding is the best you will ever taste.
These places are good for lunch, dinner, brunch, you name it. But are waterfront so you are also getting the best views while enjoying your grub.
15th Street Fisheries – Photo by @15StFisheries
- 15th Street Fisheries is a staple in Fort Lauderdale. There is a downstairs restaurant and bar that is much more chill, and an upstairs dining room for your more special occasions. Both are great, but the menu’s are a little bit different. I personally prefer the vibes downstairs right by the water, and you can even feed the massive tarpon that swim around the dock (check out their dock cam!). They also have happy hour on Fridays, half of bottled of wine on Tuesdays and Wednesday, and brunch specials on Sunday.
- Coconuts is one of the best waterfront spots, hands down, period. The food is phenomenal, the mojitos are top notch, and their homemade ice cream cookie sandwich tastes as amazing as it looks. Ask for their Scooby Snacks (not on the menu) if you want to try the best little baby crab claws you’ve ever had. They do get pretty busy on the weekends and don’t take reservations, so get there early.
Southport raw Bar – Photo by Christine and Mark Swenson @CM_Swenson
- Southport Raw Bar is pretty much a local hangout with the best seafood. They have the. best. oysters. (which you can get raw, or grilled with garlic and Parmesan). They also have a signature clam chowder, which you can get mixed (red and white) and it’s fire. It’s right on the water and has a nice little breeze so it’s not unbearable sitting outside.
- Shooters Waterfront (discussed previously under brunch options) is a little north of downtown Fort Lauderdale but worth the short drive. They have a really good brunch on Sundays (buffet style OR a la cart) and a very fun outside patio. If you sit outside you will also get great views of the Intracoastal Waterway to watch all the incredible boats go by.
For nights when you want to do something fun, but don’t feel like raging til 2 am.
Rooftop – Photo by @Rooftop1WLO
- Rooftop is the newest (and only) rooftop bar in the area. Despite its very unoriginal name, it’s actually a lot of fun. It’s located in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale so you can make this just one stop on your list, or can stay here the whole night. They have really awesome craft cocktails, and just as delicious ‘nibbles‘. AND on Sunday’s you can come here for brunch + ProsecoPong.
- Glitch is the coolest bar in Fort Lauderdale. Why? because it’s full of arcade games that you can play, for free. They also have a ridiculously long list of beers on tap and by the bottle, in addition to really cool cocktails (including “The Bomb” which comes with a frozen firecracker ice pop inside). They don’t serve food, but you should definitely go here for an evening of fun and games.
Rooftop – Photo by @Rooftop1WLO
- Rhythm & Vine is a very cool indoor outdoor bar (Side note: this is where I met Erik for the first time!). You can go here at any time (day or night) if you literally just want to hang out for a little. It’s kind of secluded so bar hopping isn’t really an option (unless you Uber). They have a fun air-stream bar outside, and the inside bar is made out of train crates (how cool is that?). They also play really great music.
- Funky Buddha Brewery is located on the North Side of Fort Lauderdale. This place is ideal for large groups of people. They have a huge tap room that you can take a tour of if you want, but the best part about Funky Buddha is their beer flavors. You can go on their website to find out what beers they currently have on tap, or just show up and hope that ‘No Crusts’ (their PB&J beer) is one of them.
I would say I’m more of a Netflix and chill kind of person, but if I’m leaving my house it’s usually for food… or wine.
Wine Garden – Photo by Sarah Updike @Dike_Pix
- Wine Garden is similar to Vinos, but it’s very close to the beach. Because of this there is a nice breeze, and it’s very easy to go for a stroll on the sand to watch the sunset before stopping in for a glass of wine. They also have snacks if you are hungry.
- Vinos on Las Olas is one of the cutest wine bars I’ve ever been to. It’s right off of Las Olas, which is the main street that runs through downtown Fort Lauderdale. To get to the wine bar, you have to walk through a tiny little alley, which opens up into an adorable wine garden patio. They have a great wine selection, and as assortment of food items as well. This is a great spot for a date night, or just to hang out with friends.
Wine Watch Bar – Photo by @SecretsOfSouthFlorida
- The Wine Watch Bar is the biggest secret of Fort Lauderdale – you guys are lucky I am telling you about it. It’s not even listed on their website so I honestly don’t know how to give you the address, except to say that it’s directly across from the Wine Watch store. The owners (husband and wife) created this space to give you wine at wholesale prices. They also sell some small plates and charcuterie boards if you’re hungry. The walls are lined with wine bottles and the ceiling with huge chandeliers. They hold special tasting events as well.
My downfall is my sweet tooth. I love chocolate, ice cream, and a good cupcake. These are the go to places to satisfy that sweet craving.
Photo by Gary James @Garydrj.Photog
- Sweeter Days Bake Shop is the best bakery. You have not lived if you haven’t had their Cinnamon Bun Cream Cheese Swirl cupcake, but they have so many other flavors that it’s really hard to pick just one. They also have the most ridiculous cookies, and some phenomenal cakes (for any celebration). Not that you need a cake while on vaca in Lauderdale, but definitely stop by for a cupcake (or two).
- Chill’n Nitrogen Ice Cream is my most recent obsession. For starters, ice cream is everything. But this ice cream, is everything and then some. It’s so creamy, I just don’t understand it (they must use magic). You can pick any base (I usually use coconut milk to make it dairy free), any flavors (I do PB + Nutella, because why not), and any mix ins (rainbow sprinkles and Oreo’s over here). Its heaven in a cup.
- The two best chocolate shops in Fort Lauderdale are Kilwins, and Hoffmans. You can find anything here from your typical toffee and fudge, to chocolate covered bacon. When I’m craving some serious sweets, these are where I go.
I know this post was long, but I hope I have relayed to you how truly passionate I am about the local spots we have here in my cute little beach town. I hope you highly consider coming to visit to try them out for yourselves, and please feel free to reach out if you’re ever in the area!