Fort Lauderdale

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Gone are the days when Fort Lauderdale dining was little more than greasy-spoon diners on the budget end and surf-and-turf on the fancy end. Among the 3,500-plus local restaurants, interesting options ranging from Brazilian to Thai are springing up like porcini mushrooms all over the county. And don't be put off by a fancy restaurant in a strip mall: Outside the Las Olas pedestrian corridor, that kind of setting is pretty common. Whenever possible, call ahead and make reservations, especially at the hotter spots along Las Olas Boulevard and A1A.

Top Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale

Blue Moon Fish Co.

Watch yachts cruise by from an elegant dockside table while dining on super-fresh seafood. Sunday's brunch buffet ($29.95) is an overstuffed affair with peel-and-eat shrimp, salmon strudel, and omelet bar.

4405 W. Tradewinds Ave., FL, 954-267-9888, www.bluemoonfishco.com
Tags: seafood | expensive | smart splurge | waterfront

Canyon

The upscale southwestern fare (brie quesadillas, ancho chili chicken) and signature prickly-pear margaritas are best savored in one of the intimate curtain-draped booths.

1818 E. Sunrise Blvd., FL, 954-765-1950, www.canyonfl.com
Tags: romance | expensive | southwestern

Casablanca Cafe

Tropical dishes like lobster salad on Bimini bread and sautéed grouper complement the ocean views from this renovated two-story historic home with a sunny outdoor patio.

3049 Alhambra St., FL, 954-764-3500, www.casablancacafeonline.com
Tags: moderate | seafood | patio

Croissan'Time

Drool over the cases of homemade cakes, fruit tarts, quiches, and croissants while queuing up at this authentic French bakery.

1201 N. Federal Hwy., FL, 954-565-8555, www.croissantime.com
Tags: budget | bakery | dessert

Greek Islands Taverna

Join the locals for saganaki (brandy-flamed cheese), chicken ladoregano with lemon and olive oil, and other tasty Greek treats. Tables are first come, first serve, but the line moves fast.

3300 N. Ocean Blvd., FL, 954-568-0008, www.greekislandstaverna.com
Tags: moderate | local favorite | greek

Le Tub

Locals groaned when Oprah discovered the divine mega-burgers at this worth-a-drive outdoor dive. Weeknights are better for dodging the herds and snagging a table along the waterway; cash only.

1100 N. Ocean Dr., FL, 954-921-9425, www.theletub.com
Tags: budget | waterfront | local favorite

Mark at Las Olas

Mark’s impeccable wine selection, great service, and ever-changing menu of nouveau American favorites titillate all of the senses. The oak-grilled Mountain Meadow rack of lamb, crusted with goat cheese and pistachios, and served with gratin of potato and Pinot Noir sauce is to die for.

1032 East Las Olas Blvd., FL, 954-463-1000, www.chefmark.com
Tags: expensive | notable chef | smart splurge | notable wine list

Shula’s on the Beach

Nestled inside the Westin Beach Resort, portions of prime eats are hefty at this waterfront outpost of Hall of Fame football coach Don Shula's signature steakhouse chain. The house special (dubbed the Steak Mary Anne after the coach's wife) is a double serving of 28-day aged black-Angus filet . . . just how Mary A. likes it. The fresh local seafood options are as heart-stopping as the steaks, with juicy lobster tails, BBQ bacon-wrapped shrimp, and pistachio-encrusted grouper making for a tough choice of whether to surf or turf (if you must choose). Live music Tuesday through Saturday and televised games nightly.

321 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., FL, 954-355-4000, www.donshula.com
Tags: hotel restaurant | waterfront | steakhouse | american food

YOLO

In the midst of Fort Lauderdale's burgeoning restaurant scene, YOLO ("You Only Live Once") has proven its pull since opening in 2008. An open kitchen overlooks dining tables (each is covered in white paper that's stamped with the fresh catch of the day), while an eclectic New American menu features popular comfort foods like meatball sliders, Szechuan calamari, piles of truffle-oiled potato chips, and a delectable spin on the classic ice-cream sandwich. Dressed in shades of crimson with an attractive waitstaff clad in sleek black ties, the space is happening and hip, without feeling too sceney. Outdoor fire pits reel in the after-work crowd, especially as temperatures slip.

333 E. Las Olas Blvd., FL, 954-523-1000, www.yolorestaurant.com
Tags: moderate | trendy | new american

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