The Mediterranean is an intercontinental sea that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean on the West to Asia on the East, and it separates Europe from Africa. It has often been called the incubator of Western civilization, and its cuisines offer some of the most interesting and delicious tastes, colors, and textures of global gastronomy.
To indulge in Mediterranean fare is also to take a journey toward better health: Studies have shown that those who eat a diet rich in seasonal and fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and oils are less likely to die from heart-related diseases.
Stay healthy as you indulge your palate. Check out our selection of the ten best Mediterranean restaurants in South Florida.
1. A La Turca. Turkey is known for its eclectic cuisine — a mix of Mediterranean flavors spiced by African and Asian influences — and A La Turca in Hollywood showcases some of the country's most delectable specialties. An extensive menu of offerings includes mezze (small sharing plates), alongside flatbreads with shrimp, lentil soup, and a variety of kebabs, including the Adana, made with minced lamb breast and crushed red peppers served with lavash bread and cracked wheat. The dessert list includes the kunefe, a lush, crispy, and cheesy Turkish pastry with pistachio filling that is served hot out of the oven. 1848 Harrison St., Hollywood; 954-925-5900; myalaturca.com.
2. Al-Salam. Al-Salam has been serving a feast of Eastern Mediterranean flavors in Plantation for the past 17 years. The menu opens with delectable appetizers such as falafel, spanakopita, tabolie, and the kibbeh, a crispy shell of cracked wheat stuffed with ground meat, onion, pine nuts, and spices. The list of entrees includes the lamb shank kabsa, the halal ribeye steak, the arrosa sandwich with ground lamb served in pita bread, and the fattoush salad, a mix of vegetables with toasted pita bread, olive oil, lemon juice and spices. There's a wide variety of desserts to savor, along with fresh drinks including tea with mint leaves. 1816 N. University Dr., Plantation; 954-916-5193; alsalam-restaurant.com.
3. Cafe Boulud. The elegant atmosphere and polished French menu at Daniel Boulud's Palm Beach eatery is a Mediterranean delight with a touch of South Florida flavor. The list of standout dishes includes the gazpacho verde with avocado and marcona almond, a duck a l'orange with endives and sauce bigarade, and a pan-seared barramundi served with cauliflower, hen of the woods, and mushrooms. For a post-dinner treat, there's the cheese selection and the pomegranate pavlova with rose cream, honey meringue, and granny smith sorbet. Cocktails, wine, and craft beer are served throughout the day. 301 Australian Ave., Palm Beach; 561-655-6060; cafeboulud.com.
4. Cafe Seville. Traditional Spanish, regional cuisine has been cooked to order at this eatery for more than two decades, and the fresh flavors of one of the most diverse Mediterranean cuisines shine through each dish. The list of tapas includes the entremes Sevillano, a cold platter of Spanish Serrano ham, manchego cheese, chorizo, and stuffed olives, and the gazpacho Andaluz, the famous cold soup of Spain's southern region. Main course options include the pato tostizado a la frambuesa o al romero, which is one half roasted Long Island duck served with raspberry or rosemary sauce, and the ternera San Jacobo, veal cutlet stuffed with imported Serrano ham and manchego cheese. The paella, Spain's national dish, is the eatery's specialty; a combination of fresh fish, shrimp, scallops, calamari, mussels, clams, boneless chunks of chicken, chorizo, pork, and Spanish saffron rice. Pair it with the sangria or one of the many featured selections on the restaurant's wine list. 2768 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; cafeseville.com; 954-565-1148.
5. Ferdos Grill. A family-run business based in Fort Lauderdale, Ferdo's Grill highlights the best of Syrian, Greek, and Lebanese cuisines. Start your meal at this "house of the kebob" with the Ferdo's escargot, sautéed in a blend of garlic herb butter and shallots and garnished with flaky puff pastry, or the chicken liver, sautéed in garlic with onion, mushroom, lemon juice, and seasonings. For the main course, try one of the signature kabobs like the shish tawook, made of two skewers of char-grilled marinated cubes of chicken breast and green pepper, or the broiled yellowtail snapper with artichokes and fresh mushrooms served with rice and steamed vegetables. On Saturday nights the eatery becomes even more lively with an Arabian belly dancing show. 4300 N. Federal Hwy.; Fort Lauderdale, 954-492-5552; ferdosgrill.us.
6. Oliv Pit Athenian Grill. Fresh local produce and Mediterranean-sourced ingredients come together to create a high-end, fine casual Mediterranean list of offerings at this Boca Raton eatery. Classic Greek recipes are infused with a modern spin and served in a cozy, friendly atmosphere. Specialties include the zucchini croquettes, the Moroccan sardines, pita wraps, braised short rib with brocollini, and a mixed grill platter with lamb meatballs, gyros, NY strip minute steak, and chicken. The dessert list features an orange cake and the Greek yogurt with local honey and salted pistachios. Try the Greek beer or choose from tea, coffee, or a list of worldwide wine selections. 6006 SW 18th St. #6B, Boca Raton; 561-409-2049; olivpit.com.
7. Olive U Mediterranean Grill. Jordan native Abdul Aburmaieleh's fast-casual concept opened its doors in September, but it has already garnered a steady clientele that regularly savors the Mediterranean flavors they can bring together in one bowl for less than $10. In addition to staples such as pita, hummus, chicken shawarma, gyro, and falafel, the menu also includes crispy tofu and greek fries topped with feta cheese and house sauce. For dessert, there's baklava filled with chopped nuts held together with honey. 2632 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-500-0103; oliveugrill.com.
8. Sardelli Italian Steakhouse. Italy is home to one of the most beloved Mediterranean cuisines, and the Sardelli family has been serving up delicious meals from the boot-shaped country for decades. Their 35-seat steakhouse in Hollywood is housed inside a four-story villa which features a wine cellar and a rooftop terrace with a bar. Served in a casual-sophisticated atmosphere, the menu includes dishes such as Porcini rubbed ribeye with shiitake and oyster mushrooms and pork chops served with green apple risotto, rosemary, kale, and apple cider. The list of homemade pasta features a black pepper pappardelle lamb ragu with rosemary and black garlic and the rigatoni with meatball, sausage, short rib, and pomodoro and basil. Sides include options of potato croquettes and creamed corn. 331 Van Buren St., Hollywood; 954-921-8331; sardellis.com.
9. Screaming Carrots. Guy Braverman moved to South Florida and had trouble finding a vegan restaurant with the food he loved, so the Israeli entrepreneur decided to open his own. The intimate eatery offers a menu that incorporates Mediterranean and Thai flavors. Start your meal with the chickpea omelet or the bruschetta, made with arugula pesto, seasoned artichoke, kalamata olives, and grape tomatoes. The Spanish paella is made with tofu, seaweed, and saffron. The Middle Eastern pudding is crafted with almond milk, rose flower extract, and raw, organic pistachios and coconut flakes. There's also a list of cold-pressed juices and shots to savor, along with smoothies and organic teas. 26 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach; 754-400-9624; screamingcarrots.com.
10. Temple Orange. Nestled inside the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Temple Orange serves up an innovative Mediterranean-inspired cuisine featuring a mix of Southern France, Israeli, and Greek options where seafood takes center stage. For breakfast, offerings range from a brioche French toast to the shakshuka; poached eggs and saffron roasted peppers with spicy tomato sauce in pita bread. The lunch and dinner menus feature options like steak frites, the burger with roasted garlic hummus, olive tapenade with mayo halloumi cheese, and the poached and chilled shrimp with lime cocktail sauce. The eatery also offers a Sunday Mediterranean brunch with live music and seafood, dessert, and carving stations. 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 561-533-6000; eaupalmbeach.com.
Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong address for Olive U Mediterranean Grill.