HOME > Chowhound > Miami - Fort Lauderdale >


South Florida's Historical Foodie Institutions

Recently I've been wondering where are the foodie institutions in South Florida - which are institutions because they've been around forever and can claim themselves as being the oldest running operation in South Florida. Honestly I'm a little clueless about foodie history in South Florida so I'm putting together what I already do know.

Tobacco Road of Miami is said to be the oldest operating bar and restaurant in Miami, since 1912.

Joe's Stone Crabs of Miami Beach has been operating since 1913.

S&S Diner of Miami, Miami's oldest diner since 1938.

Laurenzo's of North Miami Beach, South Florida's oldest Italian market? Since 1951.

Frankie's Pizza of Miami recently celebrated their 55th year of operation and claims to be the oldest pizzeria in Miami, since 1955.

Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor of Dania Beach, open since 1956.

I'm sure we have more institutions than these - Italian, French, Cuban, Colombian, an ice cream parlor, etc. The list can be endless but be of historical importance. :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Jumbo's, which has been open since 1955, won a James Beard "America's Classics" award in 2008.

    Arbetter's Hot Dogs in South Miami has supposedly been open since 1959

    The Royal Castle on 79th St. has been open (possibly not continuously) since the 1950's.

    Versailles on 8th Street is closing in on 40 years old.


    3 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      I was wondering which was also the oldest Cuban restaurant in South Florida. It's kind of hard to believe that from what I've found, most of them popped up in the 1970s and not before? La Rosa just got to their 40th year as well, since they have been operating since 1970 - on the dot - but of course, it's not as iconic as Versailles.

      EDIT: I just noticed Versailles opened in 1971, so that makes La Rosa older. But it being the first, I'm unsure.

      1. re: mialebven

        There's a good history of the Cuban sandwich in South Florida here, which includes a testimonial from someone who says their father started serving them at a place in Miami in 1947 ->

        But I think if you want the oldest Cuban restaurant in South Florida, more broadly speaking than Miami, it would have to be Columbia restaurant in Tampa which opened in 1905.

      2. re: Frodnesor

        One of my favorites, Walter's Coffee Shop has been open and family owned for 45 years.


      3. I'm feeling too lazy to research the details (sorry) but I'll throw out The Floridian on Las Olas, Southport Raw Bar on Cordova off of 17th Street Causeway, and Ernie's on US1 (all in Fort Lauderdale).

        1 Reply
        1. re: nachogirl

          I did some research for ya, nachogirl! :) Thanks for the heads-up!

          The Floridian (Fort Lauderdale) - 1936 (wow, beats out S&S Diner by 2 years!)

          Hamburger Heaven (Palm Beach) - 1945

          Egg & You (Fort Lauderdale) - 1956

          Ernie's Bar-B-Q (Fort Lauderdale) - 1957

          Southport Raw Bar - 1970's (a little too new for the thread I think?)

        2. How about Garlic Crabs at the The Rustic Inn - 1955

          Shorty's BBQ -1951

          Tropical Acres in Dania since 1949

          Can't Forget Mai-Kai since 1956

          Does the Elbo Room count? 1938

          1. Never been but know Caps Place has been around since 1920

            Tarks is an infant compared to Caps but still older than me... 1966

            1 Reply
            1. re: The Chowfather

              Caps Place - 1928

              Looks interesting - I didn't realize we had that many old places in South Florida. Maybe Cap's Place Island Restaurant is the oldest waterfront restaurant in the region! :)

            2. Did Rascal House on Collins reopen as the bottom floor of the office building that was moving in there as planned?

              3 Replies
                1. re: Fibber McGee

                  It is an Epicure market now, and it was originally a condo building that was planned for the site.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    Thanks for the update, folks. That was the talk when I was there March 2008. I guess hope is strong when there is still a glimmer of possibility.

                2. What about Fox's Sherron Inn on US-1 in South Miami? i think its been around forever....since 1946 i believe.

                  1. Testa's of Palm Beach-1921
                    Roxy's in West Palm-1935
                    Russo's Sandwich Shop in WPB-1948
                    Okeechobee Steakhouse in WPB-1948
                    Howley's Restaurant, West Palm Beach-1950
                    The Desert Inn, Yeehaw Junction-1887
                    Two George's in Boynton Beach-1957

                    That's all I've got right now.

                    1. The Old Key Lime House in Lantana - the house is old over 100 years but the restaurant is newish but anyway if you like sitting in a piece of history it's pretty cool. The views are superb and the food is ok - a bit too much like everywhere else burgers, texmex, fish and chips and so on.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: smartie

                        It opened back in the 80's as The Old House and was mostly a bar. They must have added the "Key Lime" part sometime later. It's still a nice place to drink, but I agree the food is not a big draw.

                      2. This post is poses an interesting subject. However, I believe it should possibly be narrowed down as to places under the same ownership over the years versus simply the same name existing over the years. For instance, The Floridian, The Egg and You, and Ernies in Fort Lauderdale have all had multiple owners throught their history whereas a place like Tropical Acres, although I'm not positive, has been operated by the same ownership over the years.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cucuzza

                          It is my belief the original owners of most of these establishments are long dead. I could be wrong, but in any case, that would make for an extremely short list.

                          1. re: flavrmeistr

                            I understand the original owners are long gone, but the point I am trying to make is, in my mind, an "institution" is personified by a place that has been run by the same family or family members for generations (i.e. Joe's Stone Crab. And if this definition makes for a short list, so be it.

                        2. Tarks Clam Stand - hole in the wall local dive - good wings, fresh clams, oysters - Dania on US 1. Open since 1954 and I think same owners - or still family.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: joeysmom220

                            So you're saying there has to be an unbroken bloodline pedigree among the owners for it to qualify as an "institution"? What about places that were taken over by non-related employees, for instance, that have remained utterly true to the original business concept? Conversely, what about a restaurant taken over by the kids that has been completely remade and bears no resemblance to the original concern? Would it be disqualified as an "original institution" on that basis, or what?