Fort Lauderdale restaurants, bars, clubs, entertainment, cafes, theatre, nightlife -
Priscilla's Picks for all these and more!
Fort Lauderdale is where I first lived when I moved here in 1995, and I just loved it. I always thought it was the perfect size – big enough to be a city and give you the city feel, city cultural and entertainment choices…but small enough to get around pretty easily, to have favorite spots where you’d run into people you know. Enjoy your time in Fort Lauderdale and have fun checking out a few of my recommended places.
I feel like I should mention that there are quite a few attractions and things to do in Lauderdale besides eat, drink, and dance (even though it is often referred to in my circles as “Liquordale”)…and if I was going to send friends there for a weekend or week, there are a few things I’d want them to know:
-That the Renaissance Festival in Feb at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield is GREAT.
-That everyone should do the Jungle Queen boat ride one time. Touristy but fun!
-That strolling the Boardwalk in Hollywood Beach is a great way to spend the afternoon or evening (pop into Nick’s – My fave dive bar on the beach! Good food, cheeky bartenders)
-That on Birch Road, one block West of A1A, is where the best affordable “mom and pop” hotels and inns are for staying the night in Lauderdale Beach.
-And Parker Playhouse is a great place to see a concert or show!
For Fort Lauderdale Dining, Nightlife, Hotel and Other Recommendations –
Just “Ask Priscilla”! Scroll down to view all the good places to go!
In addition to my recommended places to eat, drink, and have fun -- my friend Rob has a good site that lists Broward Cty Live Music spots: It is www.weekendbroward.com
I’ll start with a place just south of Lauderdale in Hollywood, Florida. Definitely a favorite pitstop if I’m anywhere nearby. Le Tub on the Intracoastal, a few blocks north of Hollywood Blvd. West side of A1A (the beach road). I can only say BEST BURGER I’VE EVER HAD and every time I go, I say it again! The view of the huge “lake” that is the Intracoastal there is priceless, and if you peer down into the water you can often see some big tarpon swimmin’ around. Hopin for a bite-o burger meat, no doubt! Have a gold beer and a big, juicy burger hot off the grill and watch the boats go by and it don’t get much better! And the Hollywood Boardwalk is just a few steps away!
1100 N Ocean Dr Hollywood, FL 33019 (954) 921-9425
Chuck's Steakhouse is a long-established, tried and true good restaurant with steaks, seafood, and a big menu with something for everybody. Service is very good.
1207 SE 17th St. Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 (also a location on E. Commercial Blvd.)
Rendez-Vous Cafe & Bakery
Cute, quaint, affordable! This French eatery has delicious crepes, quiche, and other French and European dishes. Prices are good and the atmosphere is cozy and relaxed.
1576 E Oakland Park Blvd Oakland Park, FL 954-563-2228
Dance The Night Away
The Living Room on the Riverfront in downtown Ft. Lauderdale is great for dancing on Thurs, Fri. and Sat. nights (Fri. night is gay and lesbian night).
For a big, loud, crankin night club try Exit 66.
Good DJ's and special musical acts a couple times a month.
219 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd (behind Elbo Room) 954-357-9981
Mango’s on Las Olas Blvd. in downtown Lauderdale has a busy dance floor and cover bands – see the Live Music section. (food is pretty good, too)
As you make your way up to Fort Lauderdale from Hollywood direction, you want to exit Broward Boulevard and spend a few hours on Las Olas. This tree lined and trendy street is lined with shops, cafes, fine restaurants, bars and eateries. You can be dressed up or down and still find choices of where to sit and sip. Here are a few of my LAS OLAS favorites:
On the west end of Las Olas in downtown Ft. Lauderdale you'll find Yolo, the Samba Room, and Vibe -- all with dancing after 10 PM.
Fine Dining (Las Olas)
Johnny V’s Restaurant is to die for. The food is so good! The appetizers are all excellent and the bar service is good too! I like that! Nice atmosphere but be warned, it gets quite busy on weekends and in season. I sit at the bar and eat when I go there – but then, I sit at the bar to eat at a lot of places. I’m not so much a table person as I am a barstool or bar table person! PS – Great cheese plate!
625 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 761-7920
SoLita is a modern, sleek, cool lounge-restaurant and the bar is bustling for happy hour, especially on Fridays. Italian food, attractive wine selections. Love it! DJ/dancing on wkend nights.
1032 E. Las Olas Blvd Fort Lauderdale FL 33301 954-357-2616
St Tropez french bistro - just say, "Yum!" Such a cute, cozy place. Sit outside with doggies. I so enjoy a good crepe and you can get one here with a nice dry champagne alongside - to quote a Simpson's character, "EX-cellent!!" (rub hands together while saying this and squint your eyes)
1010 E. Las Olas Blvd Fort Lauderdale FL 33301
A Shout Out to Jimmy! Chef at Trata Greek Restaurant - staff is warm and inviting as is the place. Tzatziki was SO good! Calamari, kabobs, seafood - you can't go wrong dining here. Tell them Priscilla sent you. I'll be doing some wine tastings there during the summer.
1103 E Las Olas Blvd Fort Lauderdale FL 33301 954-712-8933
***Feel free to enjoy a night or weekend in Lauderdale without lifting a finger. Use Priscilla's inexpensive Concierge Service***Just Contact her and inquire.
For “You Only Live Once” – what a happenin' place. I avoid it on wkend nights and suggest you do, too – unless you are there and seated by 6 PM. Love the diverse menu that appeals to meat and seafood/fish lovers and has a decent amount of vegetarian items, too. Try the cedar smoked salmon entrée or prime rib sandwich – both delicious. Lively (very crowded) happy hour on Fridays and a hip vibe and crowd. Sorta “the place to be seen” if you are a professional working downtown. So if I’m in the “business professional” mood – and dressed for it – this is one of my stops after work.
333 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 524-3511
Fine Drinking (Las Olas)
The Riverside Hotel is a good call if you want a good glass of wine or nice cocktail. Slow paced, nice ambience, great people watching. Be sure to walk through the lovely lobby then step out back for a quick peek at the New River, running behind the place. Old fashioned bartenders that know how to make drinks and know their bar etiquette.
620 E. Las Olas Blvd. Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 467-0671
Live Music on Las Olas
Mango’s has a fun atmosphere – it is crowded, peppy, and a lot of the people are dressed up. They get good cover bands and for months at a time will feature the same house band on the wkend nights, but you can expect to boogey-oogie-oogie to 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s dance tunes with the occasional current hit thrown in. Dance floor is full on the wkends but I never mind because it is as fun place. The food is good – not great, but good enough to tide you over if you are there for the music and dancing. Otherwise drink and dance at Mango’s and hit one of the other Las Olas restaurants for dinner.
904 E Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 523-5001
DOWNTOWN LAUDERDALE AND
Drinks / Pubs
The Elbo Room
Now this place has history. Shown in the movie “Where the Boys Are”, this open-air corner bar is the local-yocal place where even the tourists feel like locals. Dark, dingy, and just great! Cold beer on tap, a stiff drink, and good looking bartenders that are seasoned will take good care of you (in other words, they know their drinks and they’ve been doing this for a while). Always jammin'.
241 S Atlantic Blvd Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 (954) 463-4615
Dicey Rileys (same owners as the Briny Pubs)
Good beer selection, good pubgrub - just plain fun. Just do it. Cut loose a bit - it's okay here. : ) Downtown
217 Southwest 2nd Street Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301-1821 (954) 522-1908
Cafe Del Mar is great for drinks, food, and to catch a great musician. Face the ocean and feel the breeze!
13 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. Fort Lauderdale · 954-767-8233
Fine Dining - Upscale drinks
If you want upscale, visit Trina Restaurant & Lounge at the Atlantic Hotel. NICE! Martinis, lunch, dinner, brunch - they are all good for all of it!
601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Black Orchid Cafe
Fancy, modern, and filled with beautiful orchids, this place has great ambiance. Varied menu that can include unusual meats like emu, buffalo - you never know. Nice wines, full bar, a very nice dining experience - not for everyday, but perfect for once in a while/ break from the norm.
2985 North Ocean Boulevard • Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304 954-561-9398
Himmarshee Bar and Grille
I think this is one of the best restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale - it's elegant but unpretentious and the menu is diverse. I dig the Lava Cake. Good place just for a cocktail and an app, too.
210 Southwest Second Street • Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304 954-524-1818
The Elbo Room
Also listed under the “Drinking” section – you can almost always here a good guitarist or guitar-singer duo playing at the Elbo Room, jamming out Tom Petty, U2, Bob Marley, Jimmy Bufett, Rolling Stones, etc. Always good tunes anytime I’m there, it seems like. Love that ocean breeze rolling in and the people watching on that corner (Las Olas and A1A) is priceless!
241 S Atlantic Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 (954) 463-4615
Cafe Del Mar entertains you with Flamenco guitarists, guitar duos, and other musicians - every time I go the music is very good. So is the food. Great beachfront spot for good music and a libation to sip on. All up and down A1A you'll find live entertainers.
13 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. Fort Lauderdale · 954-767-8233
Himmarshee's (above) has good performers on weekend nights in the bar area.
Waxy O'Connors, Irish Pub on 17th Street, sometimes has a great Irish band on weekends. Call to check.
The Culture Room is a funky, sort of "alternative" style nightclub that consistently gets good live bands -- jazz, fusion, blues, rock. i saw Blues Traveler there 5 years ago and again recently, and was happy to note that the vibe, atmosphere, and interior hadn't changed much - with the exception of the renovations on the outdoor courtyard bar.
SW corner of Oakland Park Blvd and Fed. Hwy. 954-564-1074
LAUDERDALE BY THE SEA - A favorite spot of mine!
I just love "LBTS" and lived there for a short time. I also bartended at the Village Pump, a long-established favorite locals watering hole. It is well worth getting a room in this little village and spending a night (I'm happy to recommend a hotel and dining - use my Concierge Service
for a Lauderdale by the Sea getaway!)
Here are the best places to pop into:
Eating, Drinking, Live Music
Aruba's Beach Cafe has all of the above - and is good at all of them, too! On the sand where Commercial Blvd. meets the ocean. Great food (try the lobster sandwich!), good martinis and mixed drinks, and they don't cringe if you order a frozen drink. Almost always live musicians / singers on stage and a little dancing happens here, too.
i have to mention the little souvenier shop and 5 & Dime on the corner at the beach & Commercial - you can go in and pick out some penny candy. OK, nickel candy!
Athena's Greek Restaurant at A1A and Commercial Blvd. has really good food and the best Gyro Platter you could find! When all the other bars are busy I like to sneak in and have a wine and some hummus and fresh pita at their 5-stool bar.
Blue Moon Fish Co. is great for a nice dinner out. Nice bar, too. LOVE the firecracker oysters (imagine combining jalapeno poppers with a friend oyster and a sweet tangy sauce - to die for!) On the Intracoastal at Commercial Blvd.
If you're a wine lover, head west over the bridge to the Gold Medal Wine Shop on the south side of Commercial at Bayshore. Nice wines always!
A little further west is Eduardo San Angel- a gourmet Mexican restaurant with cozy atmosphere, top service, and delicious dishes.
The Village Pump is a bar-lovers bar, and the weekend bands are great! Good wine, good cocktails, good live music -- spells a good night!
4404 El Mar Dr Lauderdl By Sea, FL 33308-3606 - (954) 202-1996
A Few Neat Places to Stay
Upscale: The Riverside Hotel on Las Olas and The Pillars Hotel on the New River
Beachy Casual: Ask Me Inn on Birch Road and Wish You Were Here Inn also on Birch (one block west of A1A) - both in Ft. Lauderdale Beach
In Lauderdale by the Sea try the Sea Lord or Little Inn by the Sea or Rainbow Resort for something more quaint
I also have to throw in a recommendation to go to Jazz Brunch on the Riverfront, first Sunday of each month from 11 til 3. You stroll the waterfront walkway for about a dozen blocks, and there are great bands and musicians performing, with street vendors selling food and drink. But you can bring your own backpack, cooler, blanket to sit on. It's great.
REMEMBER - FOR INEXPENSIVE EVENT ASSISTANCE AND WEDDING EXPERTISE