By Rachelle Lucas
Does your idea of a vacation include sipping a fruity cocktail and indulging in a decadent meal, all while gazing out at a spectacular water view?
If so, we're kindred spirits. Whenever I'm traveling near the ocean, a view that’s as delicious as dinner is a must. And there's a destination in Florida that has more water views than most. With its beach, plus 165 miles of waterways, Fort Lauderdale has been called the "Venice of America.” As such, the area offers countless opportunities for picturesque seaside or dockside dining.
Here, you can have breakfast while watching the sun rise over the Atlantic, then celebrate the sunset with dinner on the Intracoastal Waterway. From casual vacation-type eats like coconut shrimp, to hand crafted cocktails and farm-to-table fare, here are eight great dining spots and waterfront restaurants in Fort Lauderdale.
Shooters is fresh and modern with a relaxing resort-like vibe and 340 feet of dock space, so you can arrive by boat if you so choose. The subtle landscape lighting gives everything a warm glow, even after the sun has gone down. It’s the type of place where you want enjoy dinner slowly, course-by-course, from sunset to starlight, forgetting that time even exists. The revamped menu at Shooters is as sophisticated as the setting, with cocktails like blueberry ginger bellinis and dinner plates such as their chorizo crusted snapper and locally sourced Zellwood sweet corn.
Locale: On the Intracoastal
Style: Romantic resort style
Address: 3033 Northeast 32nd Avenue
While the breakfast menu is pretty standard (you can’t go wrong with an omelet, pancakes, or eggs benedict), the view is anything but ordinary. Out on the veranda underneath the palms swaying in the beach breeze, this waterfront restaurant in Fort Lauderdale is the best spot for watching the sunrise. Doors open at a bright and early 7 a.m. for breakfast, and believe me when I say this incredible view is worth getting out of bed for.
Style: Southern charm meets island oasis
Address: 2000 N. Ocean Blvd., in The Pelican Grand Hotel. If you're not a guest at the hotel, have your valet ticket validated at the Fort Lauderdale restaurant and pay only $5 for parking.
Out on a dock beneath the shade of beach-blue umbrellas and right next door to the Swimming Hall of Fame and the city marina, you can enjoy a continuous parade of the most impressive yachts you’ve ever seen while digging in to some tasty eat-with-your-hands seafood. The menu offers a delicious fresh take on traditional beach-vacation nibbles, including conch fritters, coconut shrimp, and crab cakes, but they also have a daily special called “scoobies,” a bowl of luscious snow crab legs soaking in roasted garlic butter. This is a great place to order some drinks while watching the sunset.
Locale: On the canal
Style: Finger foods and family friendly
Address: 429 Seabreeze Blvd
Fine dining without the fuss, McCoy’s Oceanfront has a speak-easy theme and a dine-easy atmosphere with a dreamy pool view only steps away from the beach. It’s quiet, relaxing, and very family-friendly. The menu offers a sophisticated selection of choices with fresh, locally-sourced produce and seafood in mind. I had a hard time deciding between the Tuscan Kale Salad, the Pan-Seared Grouper with carrot hummus, and the House-Made Gnocchi with Florida rock shrimp.
Style: Fine dining that’s family friendly
Address: 1200 N Ocean Blvd, Pompano Beach, in the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa. If you’re not staying at the hotel have your valet ticket validated for a discount.
I think S3 could also be called S5 for Sun, Surf, Sand, and Superb Sushi. In addition to their extensive list of specialty rolls and sashimi, they also have some Southern-inspired fare such as chicken and waffles. Their island-like lounge atmosphere just begs for lazy days relaxing by the fire pit, cocktail in hand, with the sound of the surf rocking an hypnotic melody in the background. S3 is a quick walk over from the beach if you want to pop in for lunch or stroll over later in the day to enjoy their snacks and small plates during happy hour.
Locale: On the beach
Style: Island-like lounge with fresh seafood
Address: 505 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., in the Hilton.Valet parking is only $5 with restaurant ticket validation.
Because one of their offerings is to go out fishing with the chef, you know the seafood has got to be good. This elegant Florida restaurant right on the canal is perfect for a lunchtime business meeting, romantic date night, or even a culinary adventure. Blue Moon regularly hosts cooking classes and their “Hook, Line, & Dinner” fishing charters are truly an ocean-to-table experience.
Locale: Canal side
Style: Sophisticated dockside dining
Address: 4405 W Tradewinds Ave, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
Located right on the beach, the view from this waterfront restaurant so mesmerizing you might get distracted from the food. But Aruba’s offers an array of casual nibbles including fish sandwiches, fried shrimp, and french fries. There’s also a selection of desserts inspired by beach flavors, like the coconut rum cheese cake. Don’t worry though, calories don’t count when you’re on vacation.
Locale: Beach side
Style: Casual Caribbean-style fun
Address: 1 Commercial Blvd, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Be prepared to pay for metered parking or valet.
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