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TOP Waterfront Dining in FLA

By now, you know the routine FLA...here's my top 3 errr 4. Which are yours???

Ocean Drive in South Beach really can't be considered waterfront dining since you really can't see the sea!

1. Sugar Reef-Hollywood Beach (Atlantic Ocean)

2. Smith & Wollensky-South Beach (Government Cut inlet)(only when they cook your steak right!)

3. Tony Chan's-Miami (Biscayne Bay)

4. Garcia's-Miami (Miami River)

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  1. 1 - Louie's Backyard (Key West)

    2 - Scotty's Landing (Coconut Grove) (OK, the food is hardly anything to right home about, but what a great place to get a few beers, some greasy conch fritters, and kick back).

    3 - Baleen (Coconut Grove) / Azul (Brickell Key) - have not been to either recently, and there have been chef changes, but lovely locations for both.

    1. In no particular order. . .

      -- Sunday's on the Bay, Key Biscayne
      -- Chart House, Coconut Grove (Biscayne Bay)/Melbourne (Indian River)
      -- The Ocean Deck in Daytona Beach has a fantastic view. . .the food, however, is gross. (Atlantic Ocean, Dayton Beach pier)
      -- Chowder's, Rockledge (Indian River)

      1. Let's try to at least stick to edible cuisine (good would be better)-afterall this is Chowhound. Gross, I can do without! Drinks only advisement perhaps!!!

        1. Tampa Area:

          Caddys in Treasure Island (the food is good now; most of this summer it was awful; it tends to go up and down but it is beach food, shrimp, grouper sandwiches, and oddly, BBQ)

          Island Way Grill -- this is backwater off the Clearwater Causeway (the road that goes from the mainland to the beach); high-end upscale.

          Sea Critters on Passe-a-Grille -- also backwater, on the intracoastal, watch the dolphins frolic from your outdoor perch.

          I would have put Oyster Catchers on my list but I went there recently and it was horrendous and very pricey -- just bad all over.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tandoori Girl

            Tandoori Girl, tell me more about your experience at Oyster Catchers. What was bad? I remember fabulous seafood selection...what did you get?

          2. In the St. Lucie & Stuart area, I recommend Conchy Joe's at 3945 NE Indian River Dr in Jensen Beach. Lots fun & of Old Florida flavor. It's right on the Intracoastal. Really pretty at night near the water when the bridge to Hutchinson island is lit up. Great raw bar, too. Their conch chowder recipe was in Bon Appetit or Gourmet magazine.

            1. Joan, for some reason I can't get "reply" to work after your post.

              I went to Oystercatchers for lunch a few wks. ago to meet a friend heading out from the airport. We were lucky to get an outdoor seat/table which was wonderful. First we ordered drinks. His wine was fine but my mango daquiri tasted chalky and nothing like mango. I stated to the waiter that I didn't want a particular salad because I didn't want spinach, then ordered the nicoise which usually doesn't have spinach. It came with all spinach. it was greasy and not very good. my friend ordered the grouper sandwich, the waiter brought the grouper dinner. the service was just plain bad. And a maitre d type person kept coming to our table, with sanchrine insincerity, first one, then another when there was a shift change. To add insult to injury my friend neglected to pick up his credit card and the next day there was $150 worth of charges from the Hyatt on his bill, which sounds like an inside job. They were promptly removed but it was not a very good experience, either with the food or the service.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Tandoori Girl

                I just had that problem too...upgrade your browser version to "explorer 6 or 7" that should do the trick.

                Here's two more from Broward...I have not been to either one in a long time, but they are worthy of mention and discussion:

                1. Aruba-Ft Laudaerdale (Atlantic Ocean)
                2. Shooters-FTL (Intercoastal)

                1. re: Tandoori Girl

                  Thanks for the update, TG. I know they have a new GM at that hotel, and that Massimo, the chef at Armani's, had left awhile back. Sounds like the place is not being run right to me. Too bad, because their seafood quality and selection was beyond wonderful "back in the day".

                2. Porcao and Cafe Sambau have great views and good food

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: tpigeon

                    Where is Sambau and what do they serve?

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      Could you mean Cafe Sambal at the Mandarin Oriental? If so, we used to enjoy lunch there and the beautiful views.

                    2. The Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island
                      Star Fish Co. in Cortez
                      The Waterfront Market deli/juicebar in Key West

                      1. Joan, I had been hoping for something better. I've not been there for a few years. It was close to embarassing. perhaps it was OK but for a restaurant with that reputation (and having had excellent food there in the past) i'd expect excellent. sigh. i hope armani's is still good although i haven't been there in years either but it was our anniversary spot for a few years. you can't beat that view at sunset.

                        1. Charlie's Crab in Oakland Park has a great outside dining area...haven't been there for some time so don't know if the food is still good. Has anyone been their recently? Blue Moon is also waterside dining and the fish is out of this world.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: WAYITWAS

                            Sorry, Charlie's Crab is no more. We went by for lunch 2 weeks ago and they were closed down. The dockmaster next to the Cove told us that the city had been warning them for years to fix the place, and in the absence of any effort, they were forced to shut their doors.

                            1. re: diablita FL

                              Charley's Crab was open this weekend. I don't know if I'd call it "top dining;" but ok. I walked by before dinner at Taverna Opa..which I consider fun waterfront dining sometimes...but not "top dining."

                              1. re: 9lives

                                Right. Sorry! I forgot it's a mini chain. The Charley's Crab that closed is the one in Deerfield next to the Cove.

                              2. re: diablita FL

                                The Charlie's Crab I know about is a Deerfield Beach location. Is this the same one?

                                1. re: feelinpeckish

                                  The one I'm referring to is in Fort Lauderdale..on the ICW. I think it's off Oakland..next to Shooter's, Taverna Opa, and another place.

                                  I usually take the water taxi..Shooter's Stop.

                            2. Regarding the Tampa area, I agree with the recommendation of Island Way Grill and would also add Salt Rock Grill in Indian Shores to the list. In the keys, Marker 88 on Islamorada had some of the tastiest, innovatively-prepared seafood I have ever had in my life (and I'm a big seafood hound!)

                              1. Los Ranchos Bayside Miami for their 2 4 1 menu! 4-7 M-TH, 4-6 F. Butterflied Filet Mignon $15, it looks like a skirt steak, but oh so much better! Also, Filet Mignonettes (3)with a rich mushroom gravy sauce for just $10! 2-4-1 Well drinks too! All served by tuxedo wearing waiters toting silver platters of all you can eat "gallo pinto" big red beans/rice and fried plantains. Now that's the place to start your show/game off right when heading to the AAA. Shakira - Shakira! Ya baby Ya!

                                Mangia bene en MIA...waterfront!

                                1. Smith and Wollensky: dim sum brunch is fun. Dinner with the cruise ships passing is wonderful. I have never had my steak not properly prepared here.

                                  3030 Ocean: Fort Lauderdale Great view of ocean from the dining room unless there is a function on the terrace. Excellent seafood and really not that well known yet. In the Harbor Beach Marriott

                                  Baleen: Miami...lovely restaurant and food is good but not spectacular.

                                  Cap's Place: I know you can't eat scenery but this old speakeasy tucked in the middle of the Intracoastal is a lot of fun. Eat simply and you should enjoy yourself.

                                  Beach Bistro: Anna Maria Island classic. Sand in your toes with very well prepared food.

                                  Turtle Club: casual with sand set tables in Naples, just a walk up from the Ritz Carlton. Seldom mentioned.

                                  1. Also, regarding the Tampa area, drive up to Tarpon Springs. Largest Greek coommunity in the U.S. and their food (particularly the fresh lamb dishes) are outstanding.

                                    1. In Miami, Joe's next to Garcia's is okay. But the Red Fish Grill in Matheson Hammock is really lovely.

                                        1. re: netmover

                                          My parents used to go to the Cove to listen to a steel drum band while having cocktails. Gosh, that must have been about 25 years ago. I think I've eaten there once as an adult but it's been a while. They have a website: www.thecoverestaurant.com. Pretty location.

                                          1. re: netmover

                                            We eat at the Cove sometimes when out on the boat. The food is not bad, though not great. Excellent french fries, though! Any of the mixed drinks we've tried (e.g., mojitos, daquiri's, etc) have been awful.

                                          2. fiddler's green, vilano beach - or one of their other two st. augustine restaurants which are both also 'waterfront'. (on marshes)

                                            also in st. augustine - if it's still there - i heard they were getting bought out and possibly closed to build condos? the conch house http://www.conch-house.com/

                                            how about the outback crab shack at six mile marina, SR 13 http://www.theoutbackcrabshack.com/

                                            1. SeaWatch in Pompano is also first rate. View is spectacular and a good raw bar to go with it!

                                              1. For romantic, outdoor dining- Redfish Grill in Matheson Hammock Park. The foor is very good, the setting is spectacular. Outdoors, on the beach. Time your visit for 30 minutes before sunset. It will remind you why you live in Florida. Great place to take out of town guests. Moderate.

                                                Expensive, but top steaks- Smith and Wollensky on South Beach. At the extreme southern tip of the island on Government Cut. If you time it right on Saturday or Sunday you can watch the cruise ships leave Port of Miami. They float past just a few dozen feet from your table. Really cool, though it requires you to get there fairly early as the ships usually leave around 5-6 PM.

                                                Funky, with great burgers- Le Tub in Hollywood, on the Intracostal. Decor is wierd (toilets, sinks, tubs scattered around the outdoor seating) but the burgers are great.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: kate7047

                                                  Le Tub was voted "Best Burger" by Oprah so be prepared to wait if you do not arrive early. The burgers are very good though and the atmosphere is fun, very Florida.

                                                2. Here are my waterfront recommendations for the Naples area:

                                                  On the Gulf:

                                                  Gumbo Limbo, on the Ritz-Carlton boardwalk, south of Vanderbilt Beach Rd. Great sunet views. Try the lobster quesadilla.

                                                  Turtle Club, right on the beach at Gulfshore Blvd, just north of Vanderbilt Beach Rd.

                                                  Buzz's Lighthouse, 9180 Gulfshore Drive. (Informal, laid-back, linexpensive).

                                                  Vanderbilt Inn, Gulfshore Blvd. 1 mile north of Vanderbilt Beach Rd.

                                                  Venetian Village, Park Shore Dr, 1 mile west of US 41. Pretty.

                                                  HBs on the Gulf (435-4347), Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club, 851 Gulfshore Blvd.

                                                  The following places are on Naples Bay near Old Naples:

                                                  Tin City, US 41 and Goodlette-Frank. Touristy but with a couple of decent restaurants.

                                                  Joe's Crab Shack, north side of US 41 east of Goodlette-Frank. Nice view of Gordon River.

                                                  The Boathouse, 990 Broad Ave. S. (643-2235). Nice views of Naples Bay.

                                                  The Dock, at the City Docks, 12th Avenue S. (263-9940). Informal, good, very popular.

                                                  1. I got to nominate ARUBA in the FTL as one of the best waterfront options in South FLA. It's as if you were being launched out to sea from the beach. Seaside @ Commercial Blvd in Fort Lauderdale. Nice Happy Hour eats with 2-4-1's. Last night's free grub was Baby Suckling Pig (Tenderloins) served up with a nice brown gravy.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: netmover

                                                      Miami Yacht Club is cool. Can't vouge for the food - only the vibe!

                                                    2. I like Houston's in Pompano Beach for casual. It's right on the intracoastal near the bridge (northwest side of bridge). It may be a chain, but it's consistently good and the view is lovely. There's always a long wait for tables outside, but there's a bar out there while you wait or you can stroll along the dock and/or sit on a bench looking at the water.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: OysterHo

                                                        Funny you mention Houstons! They have one down here in NMB which is also right on the water, Biscayne Bay to be exact...and it is very rustic as I recall. It's been years since I've gone, but I do remember it fondly. I noticed the one in Pompano about a month or so ago and marveled at their location. I agree, Houstons is one of the better chains in the casual concept class.

                                                        1. re: netmover

                                                          I wouldn't exactly call Houston's "rustic". They do all tend to have the same exposed beam type interiors, with lots of wood and metal and leather on the booths, but I'd call it more "modern ski lodge" than "rustic". In any event the NMB location does have nice water views, and I agree on the quality of food. There's a big space on 79th Street Causeway near me which looks out on Biscayne Bay and is perfect for a Houston's, and I keep hoping they'll put one in, but it's probably too close to the NMB location. In fact, someone tried a Houston's knock-off there called "Rogers" which didn't work, but certainly got the look right. It's now a very mediocre Italian place called "Barchetta's on the Bay".

                                                          1. re: Frodnesor

                                                            Houston's in Pompano is always packed but like Aruba's (Lauderdale by The Sea), they are more for the "meat market", weekend or after work hanging out young crowd(s) rather than for food. Aruba's has the ocean and great drinks though, if you can wedge your way into a bar seat...or find parking.
                                                            Cap's Place (which someone mentioned) is a neat location -- the best part being the little boat ride there and back, but it's living on its laurels and past reviews v.v. the food. Certainly wouldn't go out of my way to dine there.Their famous salad with hearts of palm doesn't live up to the hype. Haven't been to the Sea Watch (in Sea Ranch Lakes...on the beach, between LBTS and Pompano Beach) for some 20 years. Understand they have reasonable early bird in the summer that might make it worth fighting the condo crowds...Although I should point out that it was a place (years ago) where all the tourism promoters would bring journalists and travel agents to show off our beach. No one's mentioned Trina's (across the street from FLL beach/ocean; between Las Olas and Sunrise Bvd.) for upscale dining...And would like to second someone's mention of Blue Moon Fish (on the intracoastal just north of Commercial Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale). Now Blue Moon is a DINING place...although they have a good selection of wines by the glass and a nice bar, this is a place to savor the FOOD.

                                                      2. We had dinner at Serafina on Saturday night (www.serabythewater.com) in FLL on the Intracoastal and were delighted. They've had a new owner and chef since the beginning of the year, apparently.

                                                        The food was delicious, the service excellent and we had a great time. We opted to sit inside b/c of the heat and humidity, but the intracoastal views were beautiful.

                                                        1. What's new on the waterfront Florida???

                                                          We got an ultra high end addition on the Miami River called Sea Salt & Pepper... What U got ???

                                                          Don't forget Monty's Happy Hours for great waterfront vibratioins, libations and raw bar.

                                                          Cheers FLA Saludos