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Wanna eat like a local

Hi all, I will be traveling with the family to Ft Lauderdale for the first time for a week at the end of this month. We always find the best way to really get to know a city is to eat where the locals eat.
To that end, I have been doing some research on restaurants in the area. I thik I have found a few that would be worth trying. So all you chowhounds chime in and let me know if I'm on the right track. Should I avoid any of these places ? Anything I shouldn't miss that's not on the list?
Anyway, I would love to hear about where the local chowhounds chow down. So here's the list so far

Aruba Cafe'
Candela Cafe'
Catfish Dewey's
El Tablazo (Miami)
Green Street Cafe' (Miami)
Joe's Stone Crab (Miami)
Jungle Queen
Le Tub
Mai Kai
North Ocean Grill
Southport Raw Bar
The Floridian
The Mess A'round
The Palm
The Parrot
Vicenzo's Pizzaria

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  1. Won't be much help and only my opinions...
    Joe's Stone Crab - good but very expensive. better to go to a fish market and but a couple of pounds cracked, get some mustard sauce, a couple of six packs, and have a feast.
    Le Tub - if you don't mind the wait the atmosphere is great and food ok.
    Mai Kai - they have been around forever so they must have something going.
    Jungle Queen - way too touristy
    Tarks - my absolute favorite, probably because I grew up with them. Whenever I go for a visit they are 1st on my list. You won't find fresher clams or oysters and the wings are great.

    Joe's Stone Crab
    11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

    Le Tub
    1100 N Ocean Dr, Hollywood, FL 33019

    1. Wow...I think you are on the wrong track with many of these...Aruba Cafe-pretty location.... That's it.
      For an island feel, try Coconuts.
      Bravo-Very mediocre Italian food that you can find in any town.
      For great Italian, try Valentino's

      1. Mai Kai you can go for the atmosphere but forget the food, and you're going to drop a lot of dough.

        Calypso in Pompano has been a locals favorite for a long time. Casual Florida atmosphere, excellent food all around. Family friendly. Southport, Tarks, Aruba are good somewhat similar choices - but if it comes down to food Calypso wins by far.

        1. Have to agree with Jungle Queen, Mai Kai being too touristy. If you want to do the boat thing there are many other options that come without bad food. If you want to do the Polynesian thing, go for drinks and an appetizer and have dinner someplace good. I also agree with Bravo being mediocre Italian. There are many other choices. Valentino's is delicious, but a lot more expensive than Bravo. Joe's SC is very overated IMHO, but the food is good and it is a local institution. I can't comment on many of your other choices because I've never been there. I agree with the comment on Le Tub. As far as Tark's and Southport they have a strong following so they must be doing something right. The Floridian has been around forever, too, but whenever we're having breakfast or brunch or lunch on Las Olas, we go down the street to the crepe place or YOLO or Johnny V. I also agree with Calypso. Food is fresh and delicious. Have a good trip.

          Johnny V
          625 East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

          Le Tub
          1100 N Ocean Dr, Hollywood, FL 33019

          333 East Las Olas Boulevard, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

          1. For something with a much more local feel, I'm going to have to third Calypso. It's not fancy, but the food is excellent and definitely popular with the locals. I'd also agree with everyone about cutting out the Jungle Queen.

            1. Here are some of my local Ft. Lauderdale/Pompano Beach area favorites. In no specific order of preference, I've tried to categorize them somehow:

              Dona Raquel's Taqueria: Authentic Mexican (not Tex Mex, not cheesy -- literally)
              Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza
              Blue Moon Fish Company: Great Intracoastal venue
              Caffe Maxx: One of the best in the area...definitely worth the expense.
              Panorama: Neighborhood Brazilian....sit at the bar for beer and some incredible bacalao fritters.
              Cafe Sharaku: Interesting and wonderful Asian/French zenlike experience.
              Cafe Vico: This is my favorite Italian. My boss swears by Franco & Vinny's...I've never been.....kind of divey with amazing food, so he says.
              Calypso: I agree....good place, casual....not as fabulous as I would like.
              Casablanca Cafe: Actually across the street from the beach in Lauderdale in a landmarked house....love the venue and the big cocktails....food is so so.
              Chima: If you're not familiar with Brazilian rodizio, this is the best in the area....and a really great place overall. Expect to get a meat high.
              Greek Islands Taverna: Excellent, homestyle Greek near the beach.
              Tom Jenkins: My favorite Lauderdale BBQ. Pork rules.
              Southport Raw Bar: I agree....great place, terrific local atmosphere.
              Rustin Inn Crabhouse: Local institution for good crabs, nice outdoor tables, good value.
              Madras Cafe: My favorite local Indian....so good. Amazing buffet for lunch...dinner too but don't know if dinner is buffet every night.
              La Spada's: Yes, it's just a sandwich but it's amazing. Don't know if I agree with its being voted Zagat's #1 in Broward....but it's local and very good. Take a couple to go and bring them (walking distance) to the beach.
              Kitchenetta, IL Mulino, Serafina: Italians I like...

              Hope this helps. Let me know if you need more :-)). Hope you have a great visit!!!

              Madras Cafe
              1434 S Powerline Road, Pompano Beach, FL

              Tom Jenkins Bar-B-Q
              1236 S Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

              Calypso Restaurant & Raw Bar
              460 S Cypress Rd, Pompano Beach, FL 33060

              Southport Raw Bar
              1536 Cordova Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

              Panorama Restaurant
              900 E Atlantic Blvd Ste 9, Pompano Beach, FL 33060

              Cafe Sharaku
              2736 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306

              Rustic Inn Crabhouse
              4331 Ravenswood Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312

              Taqueria Dona Raquel
              791 S Dixie Hwy W, Pompano Beach, FL 33060

              Cafe Vico
              1125 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

              Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza
              2203 S Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

              Chima Steak House
              2400 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

              1 Reply
              1. re: Suzyummy

                Thanks for all the info. I think I will have no problem finding some good food. I've got a lot of updating to do on my GPS now! lol. Now I know I can cross a few off of the list and add a few more. Thanks again, and let's keep 'em coming

              2. I'm only mentioning the restaurants that I feel strongly about. The rest, in my opinion, you can skip!

                Aruba Cafe - Fun just for drinks and atmosphere - nothing more.

                Mai Kai - Yes it costs a pretty penny, but if nothing else, go for the knock-you-on-your-ass drinks, great show, and awesome atmosphere. Don't miss the little outside tiki trail!

                The Floridian - Yes yes and yes. Go for brunch, try for a weekday to avoid the crowds.

                Tark's - No question. It's a must go. Awesome.

                Southport Raw Bar - Kinda same type of food as Tark's, but with a broader menu. They are definitely different dining experiences. I'm a fan. Chill and down to earth.

                Jungle Queen - Fun, touristy, overpriced. SFL institution. Can't vouch for the food though.

                Le Tub - Fantastic burger, great fries. Be prepared for zilch on service and friendliness, but amazing atmosphere. Only go when the weather is nice since it is pretty much all outdoors. And yes, that means you may have to deal with bugs.

                Calypso - Yum. Great scorched conch. Don't love the atmosphere or prices as much as I would like to though.

                LaSpada's - Definite yes. Grab your subs and eat them on the beach.

                Cafe Maxx - If you want fancy and quality, this is it. Impeccable. Every time. You can also go to 3030 Ocean instead and also have a great time.

                Casablanca Cafe - Great atmosphere, perfect view of the beach. Food can be up and down though.

                Greek Islands Taverna - Yummy! Authentic. Quality. I'm a fan. But I think Greek is Greek, so it may not change your life or anything.

                Tom Jenkins - Yes, great bbq and best we have, but if you've ever had real southern BBQ then you kinda know what it's like.

                Rustin Inn - You have to go here. This is South Florida, old school, in a nutshell. Go when you want to have a really good fun time, can handle lots of noise, want to drown yourself in crab, and spend at least 100 bucks.

                Seawatch - Another old school South Florida seafood establishment. On the beach. Dark wood. Charming.

                Deerfield Pier - For a cheap and yummy breakfast on the beach, head to the Deerfield Beach pier. Counter service with tables. VERY local. Great little greasy spoon.

                Beefeater Steakhouse - Sooooo much cheaper than the competition, like Chima, and amazing quality. Very local, very latin. Delicioso churrasco steak. Can sit on sidewalk in Hollywood and people watch or eat inside. As an aside, Chima is truly out of this world, but so are their prices... so take your pick!

                Sage - AMAZING and fairly affordable French. Inconspicuous spot in a strip mall, but the food rocks.

                Sunfish Grill - Pricy but perfect fish place. Fine dining, but with a good relaxed vibe.

                The Jib Room - It's awesome. Two different rooms - two totally different experiences. Fantastic and fancier food in the dining room. Flip-flops, chill hangout, often with live music, in the barroom.

                Bimini Boatyard - Spacious, open air, lofty, great atmosphere, good food. Very Florida. Casually elegant. Bimini bread is the best.

                Cap's Place - Why should you go here? Well, you park in a local Lighthouse Point neighborhood and wait for a little boat to pick you up on the dock. Then you putter over to the Cap's Place "compound", which used to be a speakeasy and gambling joint. Enjoy a drink in the old school creaky bar, where they actually know how to make an old fashioned, and ask the barman to tell you the history of the place. Then retreat to the dining room, marvel at the photos of Florida's history on the walls, and enjoy some seafood, before you boat it back to your car. Like the Mai Kai, this is the kind of place that is an experience. Maybe not the best food in your life at either place, but the experience is sooo worth it.

                Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor - Ice cream ice cream ice cream. Landmark. Kids love it. Will probably never come down from their sugar high. Portions as big as your head.

                Zona Fresca - Inexpensive Mexican with a salsa bar. If you need a break from seafood and want a quick delicious eat, this is it.

                Pomperdale New York Style Deli - 'Nuf said. Great Jewish deli. Get it to go and go hang on the beach.

                Well that's it. The end of my recommendations!

                I'd love to hear if you agree or disagree with everyone's advice post-trip... Or if you find any great tasty spots on your own! Have fun!!!!!!!!

                Le Tub
                1100 N Ocean Dr, Hollywood, FL 33019

                Southport Raw Bar
                1536 Cordova Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

                Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor
                128 S Federal Hwy, Dania, FL 33004

                Sunfish Grill
                , Pompano Beach, FL 33060

                Jib Room
                2104 E Oakland Park Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33306

                Zona Fresca
                1095 S University Dr, Plantation, FL 33324

                3030 Ocean
                Harbor Beach Resort Marriott, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

                1 Reply
                1. re: RedheadedPippi

                  Second the Beefeater. Great find and very inexpensive for a steakhouse. Had an excellent bottle of Malbec for 22 bucks.

                2. Mai Kai has a great happy hour every night 5-7. Half price drinks and apps. Not sure if they have a band every night because we were there on a Friday, but it was a killer surf music band, one rum barrel drink and a poopoo platter and I loved it. Good deal otherwise too expensive.

                  Don't be dissin' my Mai Kai :p It's a tourist trap but not for happy hour!

                  1. Aruba has a decent Happy Hour Buffet and you cannot beat the vista, the main menu is ho hum.

                    Calypso is knock your sox off seafood!

                    Jack's Old Fashioned Hamburgers across the street is off the chart too!

                    Philomena's for lunch is probably the best Sicilian in all of Florida!

                    Dona Raquel's has NO iquals.

                    Noodles and Panini is good stuff on Las Olas.

                    Le Tub - go in OFF hours or you will be waiting. It's incredible and the vista top notch!

                    Of the 3 you mentioned in Miami, I'd go with Joe's for sure. You can always do Takeaway and I either eat it right there or walk across the street to South Point Park where the cruise ships sail in and out in the laste afternoon. The other two are nothing to write home about. If you do make it down to Coconut Grove go to Jaguar and get their Ceviche Spoon sampler than order up an Amazona of the one you love! Their Mexy stuff is awesome too.

                    Le Tub
                    1100 N Ocean Dr, Hollywood, FL 33019

                    1. I'm going down in a week and these are great rec's.

                      One question: On Tark's web page they say they have a happy hour. Is there actually a place to sit? I picture it as a take-out only kind of place.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: pastoralia

                        There are about 15-20 stools around the "bar" and a couple more at windows - tight seating - and a table or two outside. Sit at the bar and talk to the shucker - all part of the experience.

                      2. Here is my list.

                        Bistro Mezzoluna
                        Coco Asian
                        Southport Raw Bar
                        Aruba (I've had excellent meals here and they have an outstanding happy hour on Friday night, roast an entire pig and it is free)
                        Charley's Crab
                        Season 52
                        Big City Tavern
                        Cafe Martorano
                        The Floridian
                        Le Tub
                        Rustic Inn

                        I think what is so surprising to me is that places like Charley's Crab and Aruba usually have crappy food because they have the outstanding water view (CC ICW and Aruba is on the Atlantic) but they have excellent food.

                        Le Tub
                        1100 N Ocean Dr, Hollywood, FL 33019

                        Southport Raw Bar
                        1536 Cordova Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

                        Big City Tavern
                        5250 Town Center Circle, Boca Raton, FL 33486

                        1. Some of my favorites are listed here. I live in Hollywood so a few of my recommendations are South. If not Ft Lauderdale, I noted the city of the location.
                          Enjoy your stay!!!

                          Calypso - actually in Pompano, 15 mins North of Ft Laud in a residential area next to a laundrymat - don't be scared, it's delicious!! I LOVE the Calypso Cutter (sandwich with shrimp cheese and mushrooms...YUM!)
                          Southport Raw Bar
                          Kitchenetta - wow - pricey but worth every dime
                          Beefeaters - Hollywood - 15 mins South - inexpensive - take a table outside if the weather's nice.
                          Le Tub - Hollywood
                          MaiKai for happy hour - live music on Friday
                          Anthony's Coal Fired - have an order of wings with the pizza...
                          Zona Fresca - no table service
                          Catfish Deweys - residential area

                          Shuck and Dive - Cajun - Best fried oyster po boy outside of the big easy - hubby loves their big greasy burger with sauteed onions...unique beer, indoor and outdoor seating, dog friendly. Somewhat overpriced for food, but the atmosphere makes up for that.

                          Thai Spice - delicious and fresh - make a reservation on the weekend

                          Istambul on Hollywood Beach Boardwalk (right on the bach) If you like lamb, have the gyro...made with real lamb.

                          Capone's Flicker Light - Hollywood - good Chicago style pizza - indoor or waterfront seating.

                          p.s. I like the Jungle Queen - used to take my mom for her birthday - she loved it!
                          It's campy and fun. Not for the food (peel and each shrimp and ribs) but the evening cruise is a fun way to see where the rich and famous live in Ft Lauderdale and if you have children, they will enjoy it as well.

                          Le Tub
                          1100 N Ocean Dr, Hollywood, FL 33019

                          Catfish Deweys
                          4003 N Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309

                          Southport Raw Bar
                          1536 Cordova Rd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

                          Zona Fresca
                          1095 S University Dr, Plantation, FL 33324

                          Thai Spice Restaurant
                          1514 E Commercial Blvd, Oakland Park, FL 33334