Best Outdoor Dining Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2007 - Casablanca Cafe
3049 Alhambra St.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Readers' Choice: Coconuts
Lauderdale architect Francis Abreu designed this terrific Moorish folly of a house facing the beach on AIA in the 1920s; almost 100 years later, it's still sucking up salty breezes and swirling them around in a vortex of pale stone rooms that look like Scheherazade's digs in Key West. Your main difficulty at Casablanca is deciding where to sit. Depending upon the way you prefer to configure your "outdoors" and who you're dining with, you can settle down at a candle-lit bistro table on the aged brick patio facing the ocean or just slightly indoors behind billowing curtains under high wooden ceiling beams and hanging lanterns or facing Alhambra Street at the open-air bar with the telly tuned to ESPN. Or climb the circular stone staircase to a second floor fit for Rapunzel, where the doors are thrown open on the night and a handful of tables line a secluded balcony with a panoramic sea view. Although the menu is Mediterranean eclectic, the best dishes here are the simplest preparations: aged steaks and burgers, grilled fish, chocolate mousse for dessert, many glasses of wine, maybe a little discreet necking behind a column. Casablanca doesn't take reservations, and it's usually packed. The trick is to time your arrival after the midevening rush has peaked. After brandy and cake, take a post-prandial hop to the beach across the street.