Fort Lauderdale has many names. Some refer to it as the Venice of America, and others call it the Florida Riviera. For us, it's known as a delicious place to eat. Just 30 miles north of the cultural and culinary hub of Miami, Fort Lauderdale benefits greatly from the close proximity to the Magic City. Urban creep has led to a blossoming restaurant scene, where a mix of fresh concepts from talented chefs exists beside tried and true staples. With over 300 miles of Intracoastal canals and 24 miles of beachfront, there is also an abundance of waterfront restaurants in Fort Lauderdale.
While waterfront dining isn't hard to find in Fort Lauderdale, not every restaurant with a view has a menu that's worth dropping your hard-earned dollars on. With that in mind, we spent two weeks in the area researching eateries, both old and new. The result is a collection of restaurants offering exciting takes on Peruvian, Italian, and other international cuisines, traditional American cooking, and bushels of fresh, local seafood.
1. The House On The River
Having opened in May 2023, The House on the River is one of the newest additions to waterfront dining in Fort Lauderdale. Thanks to recently renovated historic digs and a verdant atmosphere, it has quickly become a destination for refined brunches, sophisticated high tea service, and aesthetic dinners.
Shrimp and crab squid ink tagliatelle share a menu with a thick pork chop overtop mushroom and red wine cream sauce. However, it's an expansive collection of seafood-focused small plates that brings the abundance of the region into focus.
thehouseontheriver.com (954) 825-2929301 SW 3rd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
2. Cafe Bastille
Cafe Bastille's Fort Lauderdale outpost is the second location for the French duo Estelle Bellegy and Benjamin Amsallem. The all-day cafe and bakery takes inspiration from the pair's travels throughout Paris and the rest of their mother country, with omelets, Benedicts, French toast, and a delicious assortment of pastries gracing the menu.
A sweet pancake section features red velvet and dulce de leche flavors. Perched alongside the edge of the flowing Himmarshee Canal, a bite of these breakfast delights evokes as much romanticism as if you were beside the Seine.
cafebastilledowntown.com(786) 425-3575704 SE 1st St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
3. Southport Raw Bar & Restaurant
Set at the end of a canal offshooting the Stranahan River, Southport Raw Bar & Restaurant operates from a primo location, which it has done since time immemorial. (The company history marks the current iteration of the bar as having been born in the 1970s; however, the building has been serving food since long before that decade.)
These days, the back deck offers a dining opportunity that is simple, with no frills and a salt-of-the-sea character. It's highlighted by raw or fried clams, Old Bay-steamed shrimp by the half-pound, and fresh oysters on the half-shell.
southportrawbar.com(954) 525-25261536 Cordova Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
4. 15th Street Fisheries
15th Street Fisheries is on-sight dining for the Lauderdale Marina. As far as the waterfront dining goes, the restaurant is split in two, with an upscale eatery claiming the top floor and the Fisheries Dockside inhabiting a more casual experience alongside the Stranahan River. Both menus include a wide array of fish-focused food, from Prince Edward Island mussels to Florida bayou fried gator.
Humans aren't the only ones who get to fill their bellies at 15th Street Fisheries. A lower dock is home to schools of tarpon fish, which diners can feed by purchasing shrimp from a nearby dockside store.
15streetfisheries.com(954) 763-27771900 SE 15th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
5. Olive & Sea
2023 was a booming year for the growth of waterfront restaurants in Fort Lauderdale. Olive & Sea, which blossomed into being at the mouth of Lake Mabel, was a cutting-edge addition. Replete with tasteful design features like a mosaic-laid brick oven and an outsized tropical mural, the restaurant adds a flood of worldliness to your Intracoastal dining options.
The food of chef Miguel Toro Franco is brought forth from a completely open kitchen and inspired by the flavors and styles of the East Mediterranean and the Middle East. Take the Village Table as your option for a shared feast, and don't miss out on wildly fluffy laffa bread crust pizzas.
oliveandseaftl.com(954) 527-67161881 SE 17th St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
6. Riva At The Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa
Hotel dining can be hit or miss, and sometimes, accommodation-based restaurants succumb to the pitfall of prioritizing convenience or ambiance over producing an exceptional meal. With the unparalleled oceanside views available from Riva at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, you'd probably be happy with eating a shoe. Fortunately, the food is given proper consideration, and nothing on the menu comes close to tasting like feet.
Instead, a consistent, quality meal of classic American dishes awaits. It's a premium spot for breakfast or Sunday brunch, including three-egg omelets, Belgian waffles, and a silky-smooth lobster Benedict.
(954) 766-31003030 Holiday Dr, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
A visit to Coconuts is a must for diners in Fort Lauderdale, but a table is harder to come by. And who would want to leave? The restaurant is nestled alongside the New River Sound, so it's easy to spend hours watching mega-yachts and fishing boats float along the Intracoastal as you enjoy the copious, well-priced food.
You'll want to dive into the ultra-fresh ceviche, but if you are in need of something even more substantial, watch out for the seafood tower. The tall spire of choice raw bar sea fare is easy to mistake for the towering bridge of an oncoming boat.
coconutsfortlauderdale.com(954) 525-2421429 Seabreeze Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
8. Primanti Bros. Pizza & Grill
Although Primanti's is a nationwide chain that calls Pittsburgh home, the pizza joint is a low-key spot that fits right into the waterfront dining environment of Fort Lauderdale. The only thing that separates it from the ocean is A1A. Like the cars traveling down this famous beachside road, your trip to Primanti Bros. Pizza & Grill can also be breezy.
Stop in for a large (and we mean large) slice of saucy, old Italy-style pizza. Pick up a deli-fashioned sandwich. Add a cold glass of white wine. Primanti's is a classic and casual food shop for the everyday beachgoer.
primantibros.com (954) 565-0605901 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Chef Danny Kou isn't only a native of Lima, Peru — he is one of the country's greatest culinary ambassadors. Having studied first in the kitchen of his family's restaurants before going on to train at Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles, Kou has served in many different roles across the industry, including as the executive chef of La Mar by Gaston Acurio in San Francisco.
The Fort Lauderdale location of Kousine is a culmination of his experience and expertise. Naturally, the menu — a mix of Asian and Peruvian dishes — is loaded with ceviches. But it also features tiraditos, another raw form of seafood that is a must-have. Just steps away from the beach, the smells of the food and the fresh sea breeze pair effortlessly.
kousine.com(954) 787-5364841 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
10. Thai On The Beach
Thai on the Beach is located on the second floor of a beachside A1A building, just above Primanti Bros. Pizza & Grill. From this crow's nest height, diners have an excellent view of the ocean from which their seafood comes.
Along with a mix of fresh sushi rolls (obviously not Thai), the menu also includes various versions of traditional street food dishes, soups, and noodles. The only better view to eat a tangy bowl of tom yum would be at the real Pattaya Beach.
thaionthebeach.com (954) 565-0015901 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, 2nd Floor, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Truth be told, MAASS fits into the category of Fort Lauderdale's waterfront restaurants more through proximity to the ocean than it does through any particularly stunning views. You get the sense of the ocean being just outside, but it's not in full view.
Instead, fine food is a higher priority than watching the swells, and a Michelin-quality kitchen focused on wood-fired techniques delivers waves of flavor in its place. A scallop crudo with smoked vinegar is flavorful enough to be an entree, but the five-spice roasted duck has wings of its own.
maassftl.com (954) 256-0000525 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Some cuisines are better with an ocean view. Japanese is certainly one of them. Takato steps into that pairing but also combines Korean influences into its fusion menu, as well. In fact, everything seems to blur borders here, as the indoor and outdoor dining area makes it easy to view the sea or feel like a part of it.
Along with food offerings that see wagyu galbi sliders and short rib jabche sharing space with agemono and sushi, the drink menu also leans into the playful immersion of multiple cultures. The Japanese Hugo (St-Germain, sake, shiso, and Prosecco) is one example.
takatorestaurant.com (954) 414-5160551 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
13. Lona Cocina & Tequileria
Well known for his restaurant Amaranta in his home state of Toluca de Lerdo, Mexico, chef Pablo Salas also heads the Fort Lauderdale-based Lona Cocina & Tequileria. The beachfront eatery has an array of lunch, dinner, and happy hour foods that are steeped in Mexican tradition but served with a modern flair.
One such example, the shredded duck carnitas, comes with a pink mole balanced with spice from a chile de arbol vinaigrette. Though the food is outstanding, the restaurant's tequila and mezcal choices are the true draw and include rare varieties of Del Maguey, such as the brand's infamous pechuga.
lonarestaurant.com (954) 245-3069321 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
14. Burlock Coast At The Ritz-Carlton
Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, Burlock Coast's cathedral interior — which is part of The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale — adds a feeling of continuity between the crashing waves and the endless sky just beyond its walls. To find even more harmony between the restaurant and the natural world, take your meal on the patio section.
Start by ordering up some Middleneck clams sourced from Florida waters (the Sebastian Inlet), which are doused in an herbaceous green sauce. A vegetal, coriander-crusted wahoo is another of the many local catches you'll want to try at this seafood-focused hotel eatery.
burlockcoast.com(954) 302-64601 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
If there is any restaurant on this list that helps to make Fort Lauderdale feel closer to the Venice of America it's regarded as, that would be Serafina. The trattoria-style restaurant stands alongside the Intracoastal Canal, and though you won't see any stripe-shirted gondoliers, it presents Northern Italian cuisine to match the environment.
Word on the water is that the charred octopus with orange vinaigrette is a sweet and tangy plate to try. The mahi-mahi Adriatico, studded with artichoke and capers and dressed in white wine and lemon sauce, also comes highly recommended.
serabythewater.com (954) 463-2566926 NE 20th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Rivertail is set a bit further inland than many of Fort Lauderdale's other waterfront dining restaurants. It sits along the New River and, even better, is right off the Riverwalk, a pedestrian parkway that has walkable views of the waterway. Whether you end up at Rivertail after a float downstream or a sweet stroll down the path, make sure you come hungry.
James Beard Award-nominated chef José Mendín has constructed a menu that blends the fresh seafood traditions of the region with a wide, global outlook. You can find crab donuts or ceviche taquitos, seafood nachos, or kimchi al ajillo-topped prawns and grits. Although everything is executed sharply, nothing at Rivertail is taken too seriously.
rivertailftl.com(954) 306-26654 W Las Olas Blvd, Ste 120, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
17. Pirate Republic
Hang out by Florida's coastal waters long enough, and you're bound to find a restaurant or two that leans into the pirates association. Most often, these places have the decor and a Caribbean-inspired menu to match the theme. By expanding the menu's focus further throughout the global South, the folks at Pirate Republic avoid the Disneyfication of buccaneer culture and geography.
Caipirinhas flow from the bar. The menu boasts Puerto Rican asopado de mariscos, a seafood mix cooked with bell peppers, brandy, and a boatload of savory spices. Jamaican-style escovitch can be added to your fried red snapper, but maybe the biggest draw is a Brazilian mixed seafood stew called moqueca. Along with prawn and calamari, it introduces an equatorial taste with coconut milk and palm oil.
piraterepublicseafood.com (954) 761-3500400 SW 3rd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
Kaluz has several establishments throughout the region, but none of these restaurants have a view like its Fort Lauderdale location. Tucked beneath the Commercial Boulevard Bridge, diners have a prime location for watching Intracoastal traffic drift past. The traditional American menu, full of flatbreads, grilled steaks, and seared seafood, is made for the whole family (there's a kids menu, as well).
Plan to stop by for a happy hour, which goes on at the outside bar tops Monday-Friday. On offer is an affordably priced collection of small bites that includes smoked salmon dip, crabcake sliders, and draft beers under $5.
kaluzrestaurant.com (954) 772-22093300 E Commercial Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
19. Blue Moon Fish Co.
Catty-cornered to the Commercial Boulevard Bridge, diners can discover a refined and upscale eatery in Blue Moon Fish Co. The restaurant's priority in forming relationships with local seafood vendors can be tasted in its firecracker oysters, seafood gumbo, and seared yellowtail snapper with corn pudding.
A visit to Blue Moon unveils some of the freshest jumbo stone crab claws in the city, and a whiskey-buttered swordfish filet proves the kitchen staff isn't just letting the seafood do all the work. If seafood isn't your game, the turf side of the menu has its highlights, as well. Roasted lamb chop with sweet and sour pomegranate demi adds a flair of diverse flavor to an already stacked menu.
bluemoonfishco.com (954) 267-98884405 W Tradewinds Ave, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, FL 33308
20. Sea Watch On The Ocean
As a truly historic restaurant founded in 1974, Sea Watch on the Ocean is an incomparable destination for dining on Florida's coast. Large bay windows look out on the beach, where dunes, greenery, and a cleverly angled dining room separate your eye line from any trace of development. It encourages full visual immersion into the waterfront dining. The food, which is a natural collection of regional offerings, completes the sensory experience.
Although Sea Watch does offer lunch and brunch menus, the tastefully designed dining room is an uber-romantic spot for sunset dining. The broiled grouper drips with umami, imparted by capers, anchovy, and a pungent Dijon mustard. Herb-decked seared scallops are another prime choice, topped with a fresh corn relish. Further down the menu, a decadent bouillabaisse is expertly prepared.
seawatchontheocean.com (954) 781-22006002 N Ocean Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
21. Ocean2000 At Pelican Grand Beach Resort
Dramatic and sweeping ocean views await anyone who makes a reservation at Ocean2000, the in-house restaurant for the ocean-facing Pelican Grand Beach Resort. A stunning veranda offers plenty of seating with breakfast through dinner menus written to please. While we've never been particular fans of grilled octopus, the restaurant serves one with the light vegetal addition of green pea tendrils and a smooth provençale sauce that could convert staunch opponents.
Although the ahi tuna tartare might be calling your name, there are few opportunities to enjoy a sunrise breakfast as startling as what Ocean2000 offers. Service starts at 7:00 a.m., and if you can make it, blue crabcake Benedicts await.
pelicanbeach.com (954) 556-76672000 N Ocean Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305
22. Shooters Waterfront
Although Shooters Waterfront has a modernist aesthetic of clean white and verdant green, there's nothing stuffy or sanitized about the place. A large back deck is just the place to get any evening off to the right start. Shooters' proximity to the Intracoastal promises to provide lots of fun boat watching, and a regular calendar full of events keeps things lively.
Perhaps one of the best things about Shooters is how many different eating experiences it offers. Want something romantic? Opt for private dining a stone's throw from the river. Planning for a large group? There are offerings for that, too. Shooters even has a menu for your dog, because you certainly will want the pup distracted so as to put all of your attention into your own plate of massive stone crab claws.
shooterswaterfront.com (954) 566-28553033 NE 32nd Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
23. Casablanca Cafe
Between the historic digs and the evening piano bar, Casablanca Cafe is one of the more unique waterfront restaurants in Fort Lauderdale. It's set right at the one-way split of A1A, so traffic begins to move a bit slower here, making it easier to catch a glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean just beyond.
Along with breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner menus (the pan-roasted mussels in chardonnay broth are a must), the all-day cafe offers a stable of reliable cocktails. The house sangria is an ideal mix, not too sugary, but a classic Havana mojito might convince you that Cuba's in sight.
casablancacafeonline.com (954) 764-35003049 Alhambra St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
From our experience, Houston's can be a polarizing pick. The location, technically in northern Pompano Beach, is one of several. The food served isn't necessarily groundbreaking, but maybe that's a good thing; Houston's is so close to the water that if any ground broke, it might just tumble into the canal. Instead, the menu focuses on a reliable collection of American cuisine.
Your biggest target at Houston's should well be any of the grilled options. The kitchen dishes out some exceptionally well-seared (and buttered) steaks, along with various grilled fish that are masterclasses in simplicity and the employment of blackening seasoning.
houstons.com (954) 783-94992821 E Atlantic Blvd, Pompano Beach, FL 33062
25. The Historic Downtowner
It would be hard to make a listing of Fort Lauderdale's significant waterfront restaurants without mentioning The Historic Downtowner. The family restaurant is stationed in a business location that can trace its history back to the 1920s. As it stands, the current iteration has been serving food to the local community for 20+ years. With Riverwalk accessibility and New River views, it's a simple place to find yourself going with the flow.
Regardless of whether it's a weekend night or a group of vacationers having lunch, there's a convivial atmosphere at the Downtowner. Try the dolphin fingers, a dish of blackened mahi-mahi nuggets, and you'll also find yourself dancing with delight. The salmon Rockefeller provides a nice fork-and-knife twist on the typical oyster dish, but outside of seafood, this restaurant puts some Southern gumption into its baby back ribs.
thehistoricdowntowner.com(954) 463-980010 S New River Dr E, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
To find the best waterfront restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, we opted for direct experience, spending approximately two weeks in the city for research. We began our time there by contacting a handful of residents and developing a list of where the locals like to eat. From there, we built a list of all waterfront restaurants, both on the beach and the banks of the Intracoastal highway. The list was narrowed down using research on diner review sites. Once it reached a manageable size, we sampled dishes in as many of these locations as possible.
The criteria for our picks were simple. We looked for eateries that offered great views along the ocean or canal fronts. The views, however, could not come at the expense of a delicious menu. Fresh seafood options were a large priority, though the expanded selections (happy hour, beverage lists, and non-seafood options) weren't ignored. Additionally, the restaurant concept and accessibility to the public (some of these spots are hotel-based) were also taken into consideration.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.