Dining out is a big part of South Florida culture and nightlife. For all our beach-going ways, we really just like to eat. But living in a tourist's paradise is a double-edged sword. The food is great — but you have to pay for it, just like the tourists.
That's where Dine Out Lauderdale, an annual promotion aimed at locals and tourists alike that makes dining out a little easier on the wallet, comes in. Now in its tenth year, the annual event allows patrons to eat at some of the area's most popular establishments — all for an affordable price.
The six-week program returns this summer, running from August 15 through September 30 at more than 35 participating Broward County restaurants. Each participating establishment offers a specially prepared three-course, $36 prix-fixe menu that makes sampling around the county easy and affordable, says Stacy Ritter, CEO and president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
This year, the list of participating establishments covers everything from romantic waterfront restaurants, trendy steakhouses, and sports bars to the perfect spots for Sunday brunch or sipping some wine and bubbly.
The 2016 Dine Out Lauderdale lineup will include: Beauty and the Feast, Bistro at Sonesta Fort Lauderdale, Cafe Primavera, Casa Calabria, Cibo Wine Bar, the Capital Grille, Eduardo de San Angel, 15th Street Fisheries, Indigo Restaurant, Mai-Kai, Morton's The Steakhouse, Nisi, Ocean 2000 at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Sea Level at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Seasons 52, Steak 954 at the W Fort Lauderdale, 3030 Ocean at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Timpano Italian Chophouse, Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille at the Riverside Hotel, and Wreck Bar at the B Ocean Fort Lauderdale.
Outside Fort Lauderdale, look for more participating establishments including The Cook & the Cork (Coral Springs); Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails and Juniper on the Water (Hallandale Beach); GG's Waterfront Bar & Grill, JWB Prime Steak & Seafood at the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, and Kuro at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Hollywood); Le Bistro (Lighthouse Point); Cafe Maxx and McCoy's Oceanfront at the Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa (Pompano Beach); and Ireland's Steakhouse at the Bonaventure Resort and Spa (Weston).
Can't decide what to check out first? Before you do anything, download the Fork Lauderdale app to help you navigate your culinary quest. Then, take a stab at this short list of our favorite Dine Out Lauderdale dishes this year:
4. Orecchiette at Cibo Wine Bar
4100 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 754-900-2426; cibowinebar.com.
Handmade traditional Italian pasta. More than 2,500 bottles of award-winning vino. An energy-filled, vibrant bar and open-air patio. Every corner of Cibo Wine Bar in Fort Lauderdale offers a distinctly different experience. Haven't been yet? For Dine Out Lauderdale, be sure to sample the homemade orecchiette served with rapini, spicy Italian sausage, Fontina and Parmigiana cheeses, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil.
3. Sweet and Sour Pork at Mai-Kai Restaurant
3599 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-563-3272; maikai.com.
This decades-old haunt is a feast for all the senses, a Polynesian paradise complete with palm-thatched roof, flaming tiki torches, waterfalls and lagoons, and a real orchid collection. The restaurant offers a wide array of International cuisine — many of the dishes Asian specialties — and over 57 tropical-themed tiki drinks. During Dine Out Lauderdale, go for the sweet and sour pork, cubes of tender pork prepared with roasted pineapple and sweet mini peppers and smothered in the chef’s own recipe for the traditional, tangy-sweet sauce.
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2. Tuna Rolls at Eduardo de San Angel
2822 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-772-4731; eduardodesanangel.com.
At Eduardo de San Angel, chef-owner Eduardo Pria was among the first in the area to introduce ingredients like ancho chilies and nopales (cactus paddles) to South Florida's upscale dining scene in 1993. Inside his eatery, you can sample a variety of unusual dishes amid colorful Mexican kitsch. Think achiote crepes stuffed with cuitlacoche (a fungus native to Mexico that grows on cornhusks). For Dine Out Lauderdale, we suggest more straightforward entrées to start, including his popular tuna roll: a homemade flour tortilla stuffed with organic mixed baby field greens and sashimi-grade tuna smothered in a smoked chipotle chili vinaigrette.
1. Ceviche at Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails
111 Surf Rd., Hallandale Beach; 954-699-0901; sbe.com.
Situated along the sand in the vibrant up-and-coming beachside strip of Hallandale Beach, this 1-year-old establishment is a welcome Miami Beach import that offers oceanside dining with a varied selection of small plates, entrees, and handcrafted cocktails. The house ceviche is a popular dish here, featuring firm chunks of corvina doused in a yuzu-lime sauce accented with serrano chili, tomato, red onion, and cilantro. The food is excellent, but the view alone is worth the $36 tab.
Dine Out Lauderdale will take place August 15 through September 30 and features more than 30 local establishments. Visit sunny.org.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the New Times Food & Drink Instagram.