Best Of :: Readers' Choice
In Fort Lauderdale, bars come and go quicker than the tide rolls in, but every now and then, one opens and decades later new generations of locals are filling up the barstools, just like here at Cheers. From neon signs to pool tables and sports memorabilia, the drinking hole has all the quintessential trimmings, but it's the patrons who give it real character. On weekends, the stage is filled with an array of bands, but during the week, patrons can take their shot on the stage at open-mic night or karaoke.
Gourmet diners have long had Sublime as their go-to, a restaurant founded by animal-rights activist Nanci Alexander and serving an entirely vegan, and partly organic, menu. Sublime has always been beautiful, with its water wall and open brick oven and its inventive list of "healthy" cocktails and organic wines. The food lives up to the name, from a delicious tempura-battered cauliflower "frito misto" to a gorgeous sublime roll wrapped in grasshopper-greensoy paper. Classic Margherita pizza from the wood-burning oven could totally go crust-to-crust with the best brick-oven pizzas in South Florida. And a braised spinach, wood-fired artichoke, and roasted shallot "quiche" lacking either eggs or cream is a knockout. Presentation is exquisite.
This wood-oven pizzeria sits in a standalone building near Mizner Park punctuated by a large brick oven and a few rows of brightly colored industrial tables. The single-page menu features chicken wings, Italian salad, a handful of appetizers, and a few specialty pizzas (eggplant, broccoli rabe and sausage, Margherita). But the pizza is a treat. The crust crackles with a snappish crunch, and the sauce is garlicky and rich. Even better is the capricious nature of the cheese, which randomly finds its way into every other bite without ever getting rubbery.
The Salon Mantra's website spells out its mission: "To create a salon environment as unique to this planet as our clients are to us." It's clear Salon Mantra co-owner Sofia Navarro is helping meet that goal, considering she has won this poll two years in a row. The mission statement ends: "We will live this by keeping our Mantra one of trust, love, and beauty. After all... isn't that what it's about?" Yes, apparently it is.
Last year, Le Batard launched upward and onward from his days as Miami Herald columnist, local radio personality, and occasional guest host of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption. Now he's all marquee, with his name on his own show. Appropriately, he kept that personality that made him "the hatable Dan Le Batard" and called his show Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable. He's also highly unpredictable. Take the fact that he hosts his show with his father, Gonzalo. It's like nothing else you'll see on the ESPN networks, and that's exactly what makes it good.
Located where NE Fourth Avenue meets the train tracks, Laser Wolf fits in an unusual triangular space. The place vibrates with bright-red walls, a mural by pro skateboarder Kris Markovich, and the runaway trendiness of a crowd that gathers between its walls to drink sake and locally crafted microbrews. Ashtrays feature the Misfits' skull logo, and even the chairs made the trip from the moody-hip downtown hangout the Poorhouse. Dance parties instinctively emerge in front of the DJ's corner setup, while an adjacent, charming courtyard hosts bands for the rock-devoted.