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Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Broward-Palm Beach® 2012 online.
Hotel restaurants; they're the bane of any food lover's existence, no? Uninspired food, lame decor, high prices, and lack of ambience do not a fine dining experience make. So why would any local with a functioning automobile (not to mention palate) willingly stroll into a hotel looking for a meal? Because there happen to be a few here South Florida that buck the trend, that's why. The fact that most of them take up prime ocean real estate only sweetens the deal. Read on for Clean Plate Charlie's list of the ten best hotel restaurants in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Don't see your favorite on the list? Sound off in the comments.
10. Via Luna (at The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale)
While the menu isn't breaking any new culinary ground -- familiar dishes like spaghetti pomodoro, mozzarella salad, and beef tenderloin dominate the dinner hour -- the dishes tend to be well executed examples of classic Italian comfort food. The setting is gorgeous and serene (this being the Ritz, after all) and the quiet atmosphere is more "romantic getaway weekend" versus "wild playground for unattended minors." Outdoor seating provides a clear view of the ocean across the way, while the well-adorned dining room will keep you comfy on those few days when the weather is less than optimal.
9. China Grill (at Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina)
Hidden away in a spot overlooking the Intracoastal, the Fort Lauderdale branch of this long-standing chain positions itself as a "special occasion" (read: pricy) dining option. But get there for happy hour, and you might be able to score drinks and apps at a steep discount. Things have quieted a bit since the glitzy restaurant first opened and won New Times' 2009 award for "Best Restaurant for Hotties," but service remains attentive and congenial and the menu is dotted with enough left-of-center items (lobster pancakes, spiced crispy pork belly, sake-marinated chicken) to break free of the boring-as-all-get-out hotel formula.