In recent years, the 954 has seen its fair share of new and old. While many of its tried-and-true restaurants continue to impress, newer establishments have a habit of shuffling in and out, making it hard to keep tabs on what's hot — and what’s not.
From longtime favorite haunts that have stood the test of time to the flashy newcomers filled with promise, listed below in alphabetical order are the ten best restaurants in Fort Lauderdale.
Cafe Vico1125 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale
Cafe Vico chef-owner Marco Rodriguez has enjoyed more than 20 years of quiet success among the city's plethora of upscale Italian restaurants and remains one of the area's best standbys for Northern Italian cuisine with a romantic ambiance. Originally no more than five tables, Cafe Vico has slowly expanded over the years to include a stunning piano bar and a second location (3496 N. Ocean Blvd, Fort Lauderdale). Like many old-school joints, the menu has all the signposts of a traditional Italian restaurant, with a few unexpected twists. Rodriguez has given a number of traditional dishes an unconventional — yet generally successful — departure from the norm, tweaking them just so. You'll find black cherries in the chicken ravioli. The piccata — be it chicken, veal, or fish — offers a creamy lemon and caper sauce finished with artichoke hearts. And the calamari appetizer is available steamed or grilled. Don't miss the chef's signature lasagna bolognese, a longtime favorite that marries a rich Parmesan béchamel layered between sheets of hand-cut egg noodle pasta with lean ground beef and a touch of fresh San Marzano cherry tomato sauce.
Canyon20 S Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale
canyonfl.comLocated in Fort Lauderdale's Rio Vista neighborhood, Canyon has stood the test of time as one of Fort Lauderdale’s most beloved restaurants. For more than 27 years, the establishment has been a go-to for all things Southwestern but recently relocated to a larger space. Now, a reimagined menu continues to serve a stellar take on American artisanal cuisine with Asian, South, and Central American undertones. Today, new crowd-favorite menu items include the crispy pork tacos topped with manchego cheese, mashed avocado, cabbage slaw, and pico de gallo dressed in cilantro cream, or jumbo sea scallops with poblano-lime plantain hash and chipotle-honey glaze. There's also a 20-seat tequila bar where longtime patrons can still partake in Canyon's famous pink-hued, prickly pear margaritas.
Coconuts429 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
coconutsfortlauderdale.comGiven its location in the thick of the Fort Lauderdale Beach chaos, where A1A and Sea Breeze Boulevard meet, Coconuts might seem like just another tourist-themed restaurant. But if you pass up this longtime local favorite, shame on you. This is Florida dining at its finest, from the expansive outdoor patio with uninterrupted views of Fort Lauderdale’s Intracoastal waterway to the menu of Floribbean classics — with a few unexpected twists. The menu sports the requisite South Florida blackened Mahi Sandwich, smoked fish dip, and conch fritters. But there are also a few surprises, from the lobster club sandwich and crab empanadas to a massive slab of Danish baby-back ribs smothered in a chipotle-pineapple barbecue sauce. Pair any of them with a cocktail and you've just found your new favorite beachside haunt.
Dune by Laurent Tourondel2200 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
For years, celebrity chef Laurent Tourondel — best known for BLT Steak and BLT Fish in NYC — hoped to create a restaurant that was as much a feast for the eyes as for the palate. When the Dune space became available, perched atop actual dunes that offer one of South Florida’s most desirable oceanfront restaurant experiences, it felt like the perfect venue. Today, the chef's signature international influences, reminiscent of his LT Steak & Seafood and the Alley (both at the Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach), offer guests his Asian and Mediterranean-inspired take on seafood, alongside some Italian favorites. Take the grilled Spanish octopus, impeccably seared and curled atop a bed of chickpeas and chorizo. Or a seafood ravioli, mascarpone-filled pockets rife with tender shrimp and scallops. If the views fade with the nighttime horizon, soak up the sun over the newly launched "Rosé All Day" Sunday brunch. Dishes take a tropical — if hedonistic — turn from the caviar and blue crab served over an open-face croissant with a spicy citrus mousse to the rich and decadent buttermilk-coconut pancakes topped with flambéed banana and a creamy piña colada sauce.
Greek Islands Taverna3300 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
greekislandstaverna.comThe signature kalamata olive-spiked Ladoregano sauce at Greek Islands Taverna is so popular, the restaurant had to bottle it. The family recipe smothers nearly everything you can think of on the menu, from the signature lamb chops, shrimp, and ribs to the family-size salads and massive mezze platters. There's plenty to love about this beach-adjacent Greek restaurant, which keeps patrons coming back for hearty, authentic Greek fare. Brothers Sam Sotiri and George Kantzavelos offer the kinds of dishes locals, tourists, and Greek natives can all appreciate.
The Katherine723 E. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
thekatherinerestaurant.comThe idea behind the menu at the Katherine, named for Miami chef/owner Timon Balloo's wife, is simple: an edible ode to the dishes the two recall from their travels. While Balloo's eponymous Miami restaurant taps into his Chinese-Indian-Trinidadian heritage, his Fort Lauderdale establishment gives fans a chance to explore the chef's personal favorite dish hit list. Eating off mismatched china in a bistro-like ambiance, guests are served a variety of seafood, vegetables, and comfort foods flavored with his signature touch. Take the clam chowder fries, a nod to Balloo's childhood in the San Francisco Bay area plus part of his career working in Belgium, and sprinkled with his wife's love of clams and French fries. Or the delicately spiced jerk chicken thighs — crisp on the outside and tender on the inside — that pay homage to Balloo's Caribbean roots.
No Man's Land666 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale
nomanslandftl.comA passion project from hospitality veteran and Big Brother reality-TV star Memphis Garrett, No Man’s Land is the new kid on the block, offering locals and visitors an experience unlike anything else in Fort Lauderdale. The sultry cocktail parlor and kitchen check all the boxes with exquisitely crafted cocktails, inventive small plates, and beautifully appointed marble tables embraced by blue velvet banquettes. Dishes flex both technique and creativity, designed for grazing and meant to pair perfectly with the bar's spirit-forward cocktail list. A perfect meal here: the foie gras “Old Fashioned” — which weds a bourbon-cured terrine, Luxardo gastrique, and Angostura mascarpone to thick slices of Demerara brioche — and an espresso martini as dessert, here topped off with a housemade French-toast whipped cream.
Rustic Inn Crabhouse4331 Anglers Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Once an old roadhouse saloon, the Rustic Inn has spent more than six decades channeling Old Florida, and is any local's go-to hole-in-the-wall fish house. The dining room is draped in a thick, seafaring rope; tables are covered in butcher paper, and sinks shaped like wooden barrels are scattered throughout the restaurant, stocked with paper towels and soap. After more than 50 years in business, the cavernous restaurant overlooking a canal has become the perfect place for diners to release their aggression on the backs of blue crabs. Most come here to savor the signature dish of garlic crab — piles of steamed blue, golden, or Dungeness sautéed in garlic-infused oil.
Steak 954401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
steak954.comAt Stephen Starr's Steak 954 in the W Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach, a slider is not just a slider. It's Kobe beef topped with sweet caramelized onions and sandwiched between rounds of buttery brioche. A bone-in veal chop is juicy; Mediterranean branzino, served with a jewel-like array of vegetables, is as light and delicate as any fish that ever swam. Even a tuna and foie gras taco (weird as it sounds) is a luscious flavor pairing. Since opening in 2009, the massive indoor/outdoor restaurant, which features a mesmerizing 15-foot jellyfish aquarium at its entrance and an oceanfront locale, creates a seductive vibe that's worth savoring.
Takato551 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
takatorestaurant.comTakato, meaning "in a state of extreme happiness" in Japanese, will deliver just that. This year-old establishment has quickly become one of the jewels of Fort Lauderdale beach. Here, executive chef Taek Lee's upscale menu of sharable small plates and entrées shows off Lee's approach to Japanese and Korean fusion. Signature dishes include braised short ribs served over a nest of sweet potato noodles and a Wagyu skirt steak topped with a wasabi-spiked chimichurri. It's not unheard of to see traditional dumpling makers kneading and filling dough from scratch before delivering fresh batches via sleek rolling carts, or catch a glimpse of diners enjoying table-side wasabi, cocktail, and culinary presentations. The restaurant has launched its own omakase lounge, offerings guests a more intimate experience.