Best Restaurant Fort Lauderdale

Lona

Lona Cocina Tequileria
Photo by Lona Cocina Tequileria

For those in search of awe-inspiring Mexican fare, chef/owner Pablo Salas's two-year-old establishment inside the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort offers a definitive step above what passes for "Mexican" in South Florida. Lona ticks all the boxes, serving upscale cuisine in a festive cantina setting. The restaurant's combination of high-end fare, laid-back atmosphere, and approachable price points — not to mention a picturesque waterfront setting — is a winning one. If you judge a Mexican restaurant by its tacos and tequila, you'll love Lona's taco flights and tequila-themed tasting room. Guests can choose from starters such as crabmeat-studded guacamole, queso fundido, Mexican ribs coated with a guajillo-caramel dry rub and roasted with adobo, or tuna tostadas with chipotle aioli, soy, ginger, serrano pepper, crispy leeks, and sesame seeds. A variety of traditional Mexican items such as tacos and enchiladas make up a large part of the menu alongside options such as lobster quesadillas — but the chef's specials are the show-stealers here. Try the Arroz Cremoso con Langosta — butter-poached Maine lobster, chili oil, and truffle over risotto — or the salmon mole, an unusual pairing of the rich sauce with piloncillo squash, roasted peanuts, and crema fresca.

Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen

The South of Fifth neighborhood in Miami Beach has truly turned into a place where diners go for an expensive, dress-up dining experience — which is why Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen, or Abba, is such an unexpected surprise. The eatery is inside a tiny white house with a porch filled with bougainvillea and comfortable benches festooned with tufted pillows. The homey and charming setting is perfect for chef Samuel Gorenstein's menu. Gorenstein, best known for making fresh seafood accessible at My Ceviche, partnered with Omer Horev, founder of Pura Vida Miami; the restaurant's name comes from the Hebrew word for "father," and it celebrates the food that the owners share with their families at home. Start with the Holy Grail ($6) of tahini, grated tomato, and green harissa served with fire-baked pita before digging into a shakshuka ($18), a baked Mediterranean egg dish, or a roasted local fish ($32). Abba's Mediterranean dishes are perfect for Miami's climate, served in a beautiful setting.

Hiyakawa
Photo by Luis Mora

We're almost tempted to give Hiyakawa this award on design alone. The overarching, concentric wood structure is like the ribcage of a whale, and you're lucky enough to be dining in the belly of it. And dining you are: on some of the most imaginative Japanese cuisine in the city — which is a pretty bold statement to make, given how much of it has arisen this past year. These dishes come courtesy of a vastly experienced team, including proprietor Alvaro Perez Miranda of Wabi Sabi and executive chef Masayuki Komatsu, who prepare no more than 50 meals per night using traditional techniques with boutique, seasonal ingredients. They also invite guest chefs for residencies, including Alex Chang from the original Vagabond and Anthony Inn, chef/partner of New York City's renowned Satsuki and Suzuki restaurants. Watch the restaurant's social channels for announcements — reservations disappear as a fast as a bite of omakase.

Asian grocery stores vary widely in the scope of their products. While many small markets in South Florida carry specific ingredients — be it chewy rice cakes for tteokbokki, pickled mustard greens for your homemade dan dan noodles, vibrant seaweed salad, or a huge selection of instant noodles — what's available often depends on the nationality of the store's owners and regular shoppers. But Foodtown doesn't seem to adhere to any specific region or demographic; it stocks an extensive array of, like, everything. The produce section rivals that of Whole Foods in terms of assortment, though for a fraction of the cost. Cilantro, culantro, Thai basil, and mung bean sprouts all cost less than a dollar per bundle. Oyster, enoki, king trumpet, beech, and shiitake mushrooms are also readily available on the cheap. The tofu shelf is overwhelming, as is the seafood section, which offers standard grocery fare like salmon fillets along with more exotic items (see: shark meat; live frogs). The cafeteria in back offers some seriously delicious and seriously cheap samosas, and Cubanos are sold alongside mooncakes at the bakery counter to the right of the cash registers. If you're looking for an eclectic, affordable shopping experience, get yourself down to Foodtown.

Yellow Green Farmers Market
Photo by Laine Doss

Yellow Green Farmers Market is more than a market: The sprawling, 100,000-square-foot weekend venue is a destination all its own. You could spend an entire Saturday or Sunday here shopping for everything from farm-fresh produce, local honey, and baked goods to spices, hummus, and quail eggs. Start your adventure with a coffee or fresh-pressed juice, then shop to your heart's content. The market hosts local farmers and artisans, and their prices are much lower than those at the supermarket, so don't be surprised if a week's worth of veggies costs around $20. Hungry for lunch? Options include barbecue, Cuban sandwiches, ceviche, wood-fired pizza, Thai food, and more. When you're done shopping, relax under one of Yellow Green's massive tiki huts with a cold beer or wine from one of the on-premises bars and listen to live music. Yellow Green could be one of the best things to happen to South Florida.

Pura Vida
Photo courtesy of Lauren Gnazzo for Gnazzo Group

Pura Vida locations throughout Miami are all-day breakfast hangouts, inviting spaces with a vibe that's peak tropical Miami: bright décor, plenty of greenery, and outdoor patios overlooking the street. It's easygoing breakfast fare, served through the evening. Start off with a hearty bowl, wrap, or salad, and finish with a chia parfait or a fruit salad, and you've got the perfect satisfying meal. Fresh juices pack in plenty of produce, and the blended drinks sub in superbly for dessert.

Jaya at the Setai
Photo by CandaceWest.com

TheSunday late-morning meal at Jaya is a luxurious mix of Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Indonesian specialties, a riot of color and flavor served in the main dining room and in the hotel's refined courtyard, anchored by a stone-filled pond and equipped with a retractable awning. The lavish buffet, accompanied by a live smooth-jazz soundtrack, is a feast of specialty delights — butter chicken, lamb samosas, masala fish, barbecued and grilled meats. Make it all even better with a bottomless cocktail option and multiple visits to the dessert station. Brunch runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is priced at $95 per adult and $45 per child 12 and under.

Zitz Sum
Photo by FujifilmGirl

An unforgettable dish we tasted at Zitz Sum perfectly encapsulates what chef/owner Pablo Zitzmann is doing at his new restaurant, a culinary mashup of Asian, Mexican, Latin American, and Italian influences: the pork in brodo, a hybrid dumpling-tortellini riff on wonton soup. Ground pork shoulder is flavored with aromatics, then tucked into a tortellini-like wrapper and plunged into a Japanese dashi broth infused with Parmesan rinds and a touch of soy. Native Colombian Zitzmann's love affair with Asian cuisine dates back to his days at Nobu under chef Thomas Buckley and stints in Hong Kong, Japan, and Hawaii. He returned to Miami in 2014 and opened No Name Chinese. That spot closed in 2019, but Zitzmann revived its Instagram account during the pandemic to launch a home-based takeout service. Success propelled him and wife/partner Natalia Restrepo to open their Coral Gables restaurant earlier this year, with chef de cuisine Guido Parodi bringing an Argentinian-Italian element to the mix. Although the menu changes frequently, the best of Zitz Sum can be found in dishes like Parodi's charred cabbage, brined in a sweet and salty liquid and charred over Japanese charcoal, then mopped with an onion purée and chile vinaigrette and topped with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and dry miso. Another Italian-Asian-Latin blend: shrimp har gow served in the chef's stew-like ragout flecked with minced pork and garnished with fresh cilantro.

Monique Messer and Keon Lewisopened Groovin' Bean to be more than a simple coffee shop. Sure, you can get a great latte or a banana smoothie and relax, but this coffee bar, located in the center of historic Overtown, is also meant to be a community hub. Groovin' Bean offers free Wi-Fi and a comfortable place to work, gather, or just read. Instead of the usual coffee-bar doughnut, have a warm beignet. If you're hankering for a midday treat, by all means try the banana pudding frappé: It's like a Starbucks frappuccino married a banana cream pie in a Vegas wedding ceremony. On the weekends, Groovin' Bean hosts live music and spoken-word performances. Oh, and did we mention that Groovin' Bean also has wine, beer, and cocktails? Let's see your strip-mall chain coffee shop compete with that!

Miami Diner
Photo courtesy of Stillwater & Co.

When Alex Karavias opened Meraki Greek Bistro in early 2017, downtown Miami got a go-to spot for affordable taverna fare. But Karavias had always kicked around the idea of an American-style diner, and late last year he and chef/partner Giannis Kotsos doubled down downtown with the Miami Diner. The décor is retro, from the black-and-white checkered floor to the booths and barstools, vintage memorabilia and the refurbished Seeburg jukebox — albeit with a significant splash of Miami Vice pink and blue and a strong hit of neon. The diner is open late on weekends and serves breakfast all day, every day. There are plenty of non-breakfast options, though —chicken wings, coconut shrimp, burgers, subs, salads, pasta dishes and entrées like steak and eggs and Greek lemon chicken. Milkshakes come in all the classic flavors, but the adventurous diner diner might want to try "The Munchies," made with mint chocolate chip ice cream infused with CBD oil and finished off with a brownie or a mint chocolate Kit-Kat. If milkshakes aren't your beverage of choice, there are soda floats, local craft beers, and, of course, coffee. The partners have also opened a second location on Alton Road in Miami Beach.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®