4. Market 17 (1850 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-835-5507; market17.net)

"Farm to table" has been a "thing" throughout most of the country for years now. While some local chefs have made efforts to source locally and sustainably as much as possible, Market 17 really brought the ethos to Fort Lauderdale. Here you'll find a menu that continually changes based upon what is humane, environmentally conscious, and seasonally available. Today you might find grilled locally caught grouper with crispy mofongo cakes, farm zucchini, sautéed kale, pickled pearl onions, and chimichurri sauce. Tomorrow it could be pan-roasted pork tenderloin with brown butter corn bread, mustard greens, broccolini, rutabaga, rainbow carrots, and mustard demi. There's no telling what will be here on a given night, but one thing is certain: You can choose what you like with peace of mind.

3. d.b.a./cafe (2364 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 954-565-3392; dba2z.com)

Sea Restaurant's marinated tuna crudo.
Sea Restaurant's marinated tuna crudo.

What happens when you take a classically trained French chef and put him in a laid-back gastropub-type environment? Haute comfort. Dishes like apricot glazed duck confit with acorn squash crepe and Brussels sprouts, goat cheese and poached pear strudel with walnuts and sweet red wine reduction, and chicken liver crostini with onions braised in sherry offer an unexpected but ambrosial gourmet experience for the intimate and casual habitat. That's exactly what draws you in; after a visit or two, the amicable staff will have you feeling like you're eating in a mate's kitchen — specifically, one who really knows how to cook.

2. Canyon Southwest Cafe (1818 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-765-1950; canyonfl.com)

Long hailed as the gourmand haven of Fort Lauderdale, this place continues to never disappoint. Executive chef and owner Chris Wilber delivers a flavorful selection of Southwestern — and globally inspired — menu items celebrating bold and spicy flavors. Although the menu changes regularly, expect to see adventurous yet not-unfamiliar options ranging from cornmeal-crusted herb goat cheese poblano and smoked salmon tostada to ancho crusted salmon fillet with green chili black bean ragout and shrimp pico de gallo. Few restaurants truly stand the test of time — this one does so with a vengeance.

1. Valentino Cucina Italiana (620 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 954-523-5767; valentinoscucinaitaliana.com)

For years, Valentino Cucina Italiana sat in a small strip mall on Federal Highway just south of the tunnel; the food was always great, even if the location wasn't. Then it got an upgrade, moving to a bigger and better space across the street, complete with a huge open kitchen, chef-side seating, artistic pastries, a bar with a mixology program unparalleled in these parts, a private dining room, and an overall boost in ambiance. The kitchen now churns out a dynamic menu of innovative dishes such as homemade pastas, venison with butternut squash, braised red cabbage, and blueberry as well as monkfish accompanied by sunchoke, black trumpet mushroom, and crispy shallots. Posh digs, creative cocktails, and imaginative cuisine earned this spot our pick for Best Broward County Restaurant 2013, and we're yet to change our minds.

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frankd4 topcommenter

well it's NOT what we think about ourselves BUT what our visitors and guests who spend money on such things think is what matters and as per ZAGAT they voted LA SPADAs our number ONE "restaurant"

we simply do not have the base clientele to support or even match restaurants elsewhere

recently of the top 20 ITALIAN restaurants in the world, ten were in NYC, rated by many as even better than in italy !

ft liquordale is sun and sex with beach and booze - unless you are invited onto one of those super-yachts by an uber-wealthy friend, the high-end F O O D here simply sucks as OVERrated and UNDERwhelming yet OVERpriced and INferior quality and freshness