Restaurateur Stephen Starr will bring another of his concepts to South Florida when El Vez opens at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel, joining his Steak 954 at the beachfront resort.
The original El Vez opened in Starr's home base of Philadelphia in 2004. The restaurant, named after the man El Vez, who bills himself as "the Mexican Elvis," serves Mexican-American favorites such as guacamole, tacos, and nachos in a casual, party-like setting. About three years ago, an El Vez outpost opened in New York City's Financial District with a more rustic vibe.
Though the Fort Lauderdale restaurant marks the third El Vez, not much is known about exactly what the space will look like. Starr has been known to open several restaurants under the same name but change decor and menus to better suit the neighborhood in which they reside. A good example is the Continental, a retro concept that changes from martini bar to diner depending upon its location.
What is known is that when El Vez Fort Lauderdale opens in January 2018, it will likely offer a mix of both traditional and nontraditional items, such as the Bazooka limón guacamole, with goat cheese, pistachios, chili flakes, and roasted tomatoes, and the "nacho mama," made with black beans, smoked chili salsa, crema fresca, white cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese.
In addition, El Vez will offer an extensive tequila selection, signature cocktails, and a good lineup of margaritas available by the glass or pitcher.
El Vez will join a roster of Starr restaurants in South Florida, including Steak 954, Le Zoo, Makoto, and Upland. Starr's the Continental, a 1960s retro restaurant in Miami Beach, closed this past July.
If Starr is looking to expand his Philadelphia restaurant empire to South Florida, let's hope his next move will be to bring his other Mexican concept, El Rey, to Miami. The Philadelphia-based restaurant offers Mexican cuisine and drinks in a setting that can best be described as "lucha libre meets mom's diner." The restaurant's hidden gem, however, lies in its back alley. The Ranstead Room, located beneath El Rey, is a dark speakeasy that serves Philadelphia's best bespoke cocktails. El Rey diners in the know are escorted through the restaurant's kitchen and down a flight of stairs for après-meal cocktails shaken by the city's best bartenders.
W Fort Lauderdale Hotel. 401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-414-8200; wfortlauderdalehotel.com.