Cafe Martorano
Cafe Martorano

Fort Lauderdale is not a city lacking in restaurant options, so proclaiming a certain establishment the best is a tall task. Thankfully, Cafe Martorano—brought to us by a South Philly export, the big-mouthed and bigger-muscled Steve Martorano—makes it a little easier to call. Linguine and clams ($28), chicken cutlet broccoli rabe ($34), and veal parmesan ($42) are just a few of the Italian classics that keep loyal Martorano customers (and celebs like Dwyane Wade) coming back to this mainstay for more. Martorano's "gravy" (don't call it sauce!) is to die for, and his meatballs are so renowned that Jimmy Kimmel once booked Martorano on his show to demonstrate how to make them. The open kitchen provides a front row seat to the action, while mafia movies showing on TV provide a welcome tongue-in-cheek respite from the oh-so-serious farm-to-table joints around these days.

Readers' choice: Scolapasta Bistro

The Tipsy Boar
CandaceWest.com

The Hollywood restaurant scene is a beast that is always changing, especially since Margaritaville flung open its doors. The Tipsy Boar stands out among the rest as one of the restaurants that doesn't need to change too often, because what it is doing is already as good as it gets. Looking for a quick martini and bite to eat after work? Tipsy's menu includes a delectable goat cheese croquettes dish ($7) that pairs perfectly with a stiff after-five drink. Looking for something a little lighter on a hot South Florida day? Grab an IPA and some lobster BLT tacos ($15). Whatever mood you're in, if you're in Hollywood, the Tipsy Boar is your surest bet.

Readers' choice: Le Tub

Kuro
CandaceWest.com

After graduating from Johnson & Wales University in 1999, Alex Becker jetted off on a globetrotting adventure that would bring him from Michelin-starred Ristorante Gardenia in Turin, Italy, to Japan for a seven-year career at world-renowned Nobu, where he acted as executive chef for restaurants in New York, Hawaii, and Los Angeles. Later, he served as corporate executive chef for equally well-respected Katsuya in Los Angeles. Today, he's Kuro's executive chef as well as the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's creative culinary director. The chef sources exotic items for the restaurant's new-style Japanese creations—dishes grounded in tradition and executed via a unique kaiseki (carefully prepared multicourse experience). The idea: Offer a menu where no two dining experiences are alike, each tailored to a patron's specific preferences. Fish for sushi is delivered three times a week and stored in a subzero freezer. The bar is stocked with several Japanese whiskeys, shochu, and more than 20 different sakes. Dishes feature four varieties of miso, several types of wasabi, and several types of soy sauce, and exotic produce including yuzu, mushrooms, and lotus root comes from overseas. If it's a taste trip you're looking for, Becker is the man to give it to you.

Readers' choice: Angelo Elia of Casa D'Angelo

As soon as you arrive, your table is ready, napkin neatly folded into a half-moon and ready to be draped across your lap. Minutes after you order your tom kha gai ($6.95), it spins out of the kitchen, piping hot and closely followed by a tray of spices with flavors ranging from "Sweet Odin's Raven!" to "Honey, Why Are You Sweating?" With a menu so extensive (more than 30 entrees!), it helps to have a knowledgable staff who can assist you when deciding between the Chicken Cashew Nut Thai Style ($15.95) or the Choo Chee Chicken ($18.95). And let's be honest: Even if the food is stellar, bad service can ruin your appetite for coming back. Since Siam House has been around since 1981, you know they're doing something right.

Sunny days, warm waters, beautiful views... and eats under $10. At Giorgio's Bistro & Market, dine with a waterfront view of Florida's Intracoastal Waterway without breaking the bank. The restaurant—open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—offers everything from French toast ($6.50) and omelets ($5.95), to Mediterranean cheese platters ($9.95) with feta and brie, to chicken crepes ($9.50). It's known for its freshly baked breads and pastries, and it also offers an extensive wine list with glasses starting at $4.95. The restaurant's motto is, "You'll never have to cook again." With Giorgio's nearby, why would you?

Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails
Hyde Kitchen + Cocktails

Broward County's shorelines are no Miami Beach. But the opening of Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails in Hallandale suggests that the all-night, over-the-top soirees typically found 20 miles south might just be coming our way. The two-story chic building oozes a 305 vibe. Neon lights, swank design, eclectic food, and occasional DJs fill the SBE Hospitality Group's newest eatery. But the real draw is the location: situated on the sand overlooking the ocean without an obstruction in sight, making guests feel like they're dining (and partying) on a private island. The contemporary-American restaurant draws influence from Asia, India, Italy, Greece, and Latin America, resulting in a 30-dish menu. Nosh on freshly baked pumpkin butter rolls ($7), Niman Ranch short rib with Yukon mashed potatoes ($26), and mushroom gnocchi ($15) as you gaze into the sea. Hyde guests can legally drink on the sand, so once you finish dinner, grab that cocktail and dip your feet into the water.

It's not exactly the easiest thing to find a family-friendly restaurant these days. Either an eatery is packed full of people slamming down happy hour drinks or so quiet that any sound your kids might make will cause the other, uptight guests to scoff. Bru's Room is a good compromise: Kids won't stare at their iPhones or want to leave the entire time. Games and TVs provide some entertainment, and for Mom and Dad, if it's been a long day, hey, the bar is right around the corner. Ex-Miami Dolphin Bob "Bru" Brudzinski has grown the Bru's Room brand in South Florida to the point where we've dropped the "Room" from the title and just ask the family if they want to go to Bru's—that's how you know this place has arrived.

Quarterdeck Dania Beach
Courtesy of Paul Flanigan

What's better than a restaurant on the water? A restaurant situated on a pier overlooking the water. It's like the culinary equivalent of an infinity pool. A really, really big infinity pool. A pool so big, entire ecosystems can live in it. And in those ecosystems, there are fish. Fish made entirely of sushi. Sushi so big, it takes a sushi boat to serve it. Fortunately, that sushi boat docks nicely atop Quarterdeck's outdoor bar (and pairs well with one of the many craft beers on tap). Unfortunately, on the menu that boat is named the Titanic ($130 and feeds four). But this story has a good ending: happy hour, all day, every day.

At this adorable brunch spot, man and man's best friend alike can come enjoy pancakes or paninis under the colorful umbrellas on the outdoor patio. The omelets are fluffy and mimosas fresh at the Boca Breakfast & Lunch Club, where your pup can enjoy the sunshine and a treat right by your side. The staff will kindly bring out a water bowl for your furry friend. Breakfast is served until close at 3 p.m., and everything on the menu is under $15. The French toast is particularly delectable, but fresh salads and crisp sandwiches are available too, if lunch is more your style.

Deck 84
CandaceWest.com

As the host, you'd like to find a respectable place that won't break the bank, but you're not sure grandma will appreciate Hooters. The kids can't be trusted in a chi-chi setting, so options are limited... until you remember Deck 84. The food is well-presented and skews slightly fancy (pear-and-brie flatbread wows 'em every time). Most importantly, there's something for everyone, including options that will please the young'uns, like sweet potato fries ($6) and popcorn shrimp ($12). Spacious outdoor seating means you won't bother anyone when you're gossiping on about Cousin Jack, while views of the water distract your spawn and keep them from punching one another.

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