If you love food festivals, dining deals, and exploring new food and drink destinations in your own backyard, there's a month dedicated to providing all three: Crave GFL.
Miami Spice is still going strong, and Flavor Palm Beach is ongoing through the end of the month, but Broward County has its own food-focused month too. This year, Crave GFL features more than 40 of the Greater Fort Lauderdale area's top restaurants and chefs offering various tastings and dinners specially created for the event, including three-course meals priced at $35 to $45 per person. One stipulation worth mentioning: Most restaurants will not offer their Crave menu on Fridays and Saturdays.
While GFL stands for "Greater Fort Lauderdale," it can also mean "good food and libations," says Stacy Ritter, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Crave GFL gives food lovers the opportunity to taste innovative flavor creations from our world-renowned celebrity chefs at sought-after restaurants."
Crave GFL runs September 1 through 30 at restaurants located across Broward County from Hallandale Beach to Weston. New Times published the full list of participating restaurants last month, but here's our list of must-dos for the month-long festival:
1. 3030 Ocean. In Broward and Palm Beach counties, the hotel restaurant has become a unique breed of an establishment. It can be hip and casual à la the Rusty Hook Tavern at the Sands Harbor Resort & Marina in Pompano Beach or custom-built and cutting-edge like Burlock Coast at Fort Lauderdale's Ritz-Carlton. But over the years, 3030 Ocean has stood the test of time. First opened in 1999 under the watchful eye of celebrity chef Dean James Max, during Crave you can have a staycation dinner with drool-worthy dishes prepared by his former sous chef and current 3030 executive chef Adrienne Grenier. 3030 Holiday Dr., Fort Lauderdale; 954-765-3129; 3030ocean.com.
2. Burlock Coast. The Ritz-Carlton's 3-year-old restaurant, Burlock Coast, is a reinvention of the typical hotel restaurant. In fact, its creators didn't want you to think of the Ritz at all. The restaurant here isn't just for celebratory occasions; it offers counter-service breakfast and lunch at the market, a rum shop offers dozens of Florida and small-batch spirits, and the restaurant delivers brunch with views. Visit for a kitchen that prides itself on locally sourced ingredients, from raw bar offerings like Cedar Key clams and stone crab to mains like whole snapper. 1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-302-6460; ritzcarlton.com.
3. JWB Prime Steak and Seafood. Forget you ever heard the song. There are no cheeseburgers in paradise here. Instead, at the Margaritaville Resort in Hollywood Beach, you can get a perfectly seared prime bone-in rib-eye, local spear-caught fish, sushi boats, and a homemade banana cream pie that's better than your mom's — all in our own little slice of South Florida heaven. Named JWB after the hotel chain's founder, James William Buffett, this steakhouse is the type of place Crave was designed to feature. 1111 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood; 954-874-4444; margaritavillehollywoodbeachresort.com.
4. Steak 954. Become intimately familiar with Stephen Starr's Steak 954, set in the austerely swank W Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Over the years, the popular, 8-year-old establishment has continued to offer rave-worthy dry-aged meats and seafood in a resort setting. The jellyfish aquarium along the dining-room wall still glows and wows visitors, and the pastry chef still prepares the restaurant's signature key lime baked Alaska. Even the restaurant's own take on the cheesesteak — a recognition of Starr's Philadelphia roots — prepared with choice meats, cheese, and bread remains a menu feature, although considerably more affordable these days at $65 (including a split of Moët & Chandon champagne). 401 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-414-8333; steak954.com.
5. Cafe Maxx. This Pompano Beach eatery offers up a whole season's worth of meals, price-wise. Maxx's Crave menu features not three, but eight main dishes, featuring many of the restaurant's favorites from onion-crusted yellowtail snapper to peppercorn-dusted pork tenderloin — dishes that ordinarily command $40 or more on the regular dinner menu. The best part here may be dessert. A total of five options that include the menu's best, from a carrot cake and key lime pie to a seasonal pumpkin cheesecake. 2601 E Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach; 954-782-0606; cafemaxx.com.
6. GG's Waterfront Bistro. For all its uninterrupted miles of oceanfront shore and cozy Intracoastal coastline, it's Florida's waterfront restaurants that make dining out so quintessentially, well, Florida. The best seat in the house is outside at one of the tables that lines the narrow, dock-like strip running alongside the restaurant's wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. The kitchen delivers a classic pairing of steak and seafood with a decidedly Italian touch. Diners can start the feast at the raw bar. Meat and fish are delivered whole to keep up with the demand, so the filets are fresh-cut and the meat butchered; and a daily dedicated pastry chef prepares beautiful, hand-made pastries for dessert. 606 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood; 954-929-7030; ggswaterfront.com.
7. Coco Asian Bistro. If you love sushi, this is the spot to check out during Crave. The establishment is best known for its large array of creative, gourmet Asian fare prepared by chef and owner Mike Ponluang. Expertly crafted main plates and an ever-rotating lineup of specialty dishes and sushi rolls means it's never a dull dining experience. During Crave, Coco Asian Bistro isn't playing it safe with boring, basic dishes either. Instead, it's bougie pan-seared foie gras for an appetizer or the Surf & Turf roll for dinner, prepared with tempura Maine lobster, avocado, and asparagus topped with seared Wagyu filet mignon with a spicy barbecue sauce and a dusting of black lava salt. 1841 Cordova Rd., Fort Lauderdale; 754-209-0400; cocoasianbistro.com.
8. Eduardo De San Angel. Another Fort Lauderdale mainstay, Eduardo De San Angel offers traditional Mexican favorites served with modern flair. In the 1990s, chef-owner Eduardo Pria — featured on Food Network, Gourmet Magazine, and Bon Appetite — introduced ingredients like ancho chilies and nopales (cactus paddles) to South Florida's upscale dining scene. Today, you can sample Pria's unusual dishes like the achiote crepes stuffed with cuitlacoche (a fungus native to Mexico that grows on cornhusks). For Crave, that ingenuity can be found in dishes like the Mexican cheese-filled ravioli cilantro pasta with walnut and Guajillo chile cream sauce. 2822 E Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-772-4731; eduardodesanangel.com.
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9. 15th Street Fisheries. Situated inside the historic Lauderdale Marina, this two-story Fort Lauderdale establishment has been a go-to for Intracoastal views, fresh seafood, wines, and its long list of must-try desserts for decades. The more polished upstairs dining room offers an ambitious menu, with items to please food snobs. For Crave, the restaurant is even kicking it up a notch with a different three-course meal every night during the month-long event. 1900 SE 15th St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-763-2777; 15streetfisheries.com.
10. Le Bistro. This old-school Lighthouse Point eatery was once the site of a Gordon Ramsay overhaul on Fox's Kitchen Nightmares. That said, Le Bistro is going strong, and chef/owner Andy Trousdale's menu still reads like Frenchified resort fare from the 1980s with duck eggs Benedict, tuna tartare, Caesar salad, and grouper en papillote. Give it a try during Crave for the chance to nab teak Diane in a mushroom, cream, and Worcestershire-based sauce or breast of duck with vegetable potato hash, blueberries, and candied orange. 4626 N Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point; 954-946-9240; lebistrorestaurant.com.