The Best Bars, Restaurants, and Cultural Centers in Downtown Fort Lauderdale
[According to the locals]
We’ve checked the online reviews, listened to the word of mouth recommendations, and respected the social media shoutouts. According to the locals, these are the best bars, restaurants, and cultural centers in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
YOLO is a long-loved staple in Fort Lauderdale, offering a new-age, American style dining experience. It is a foodie’s paradise and socialites playground, infamous for happy hours, Sunday brunch, a welcoming courtyard lounge with an open fire pit, and an outdoor garden patio.
“YOLO is a super fun place to go for Lunch, Dinner, After-work Drinks, on a date, or with a group of friends or family. With plenty of outdoor space, and usually live music, and indoor space under air conditioning, YOLO suits parties large and small. I’ve been there several times for happy hour and dinner, and enjoy the place as a favorite Las Olas destination.” — 5 Star Review on TripAdvisor
2. Louie Bossi’s
Louie Bossi’s is Las Olas’s Italian stunner. You won’t find a more diverse selection of fine Italian recipes any place else in the area. They make all their pasta in-house and put modern spins on traditional dishes. They have an incredible 900-degree brick oven for Neapolitan pies, serve high-end charcuterie boards and have a fantastic selection of wines to pair with dinner.
“Consistently good food – stays authentic and true to itself, keeping true Italian roots with its approach to food and the menu. You won’t find many places with polenta as a side, wont find many places that do a carbonara sauce – just two examples. The back patio is enchanting especially when lit up at night. Will keep going as often as I can. Really love it and have never had anything but a good experience.” — 5 Star Review on OpenTable
3. El Camino
El Camino has quickly risen in the ranks as Las Olas’s favorite Mexican eatery. The food is delicious and authentic, but what really stands out is their unmatched happy hours! Every day from 4-7 PM they serve up $2 tacos, $8 tequila flights, and handcrafted margaritas for only $5. They also feature a late-night happy hour for the night owls who aren’t ready to end the festivities.
“Excellent food, best guac and pico de gallo ever! Wait time was 1.5 hr, but totally worth it…also my niece lost 20$ in there and we went back later and they found it and returned it. Honest people, great food, I recommend the Chile steak fajitas.” — 5 Star Review on Facebook
4. Bombay Darbar
Bombay Darbar features authentic, gourmet Indian Cuisine. Their kitchen uses the very best and freshest ingredients in the making of their near-perfect recipes. Their exotic, upscale decor and phenomenal service and management elevate Bombay Darbar above most restaurants in South Florida.
“I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this place sooner. This is my all time favorite Indian restaurant. The food is so rich and authentic, it is the best in town, without a doubt. I used to frequent this place every Thursday after class as a way to de-stress. Each time I go I receive the best service and my meal is always so painfully good. No really it hurts, I leave there so full! But satisfied, very satisfied.” — 5 Star Review on Yelp
5. Temple Street Eatery
Temple Street Eatery is an urban, counter-serve Asian fusion restaurant with mastery in dumplings and ramen. Their recipes are bright and uplifting, crafted to enlighten your palate. Trust us, once you visit you’ll be coming back for more. Besides, there is a lot to be said about a restaurant with a 4.5 star average on Google with over 700 reviews.
“1st time here and very impressed! The wings were flavorful! The pork dumplings were steamed and excellent but the wonton ramen was superb! The broth was very good and bok choy was spot on. Shrimp wonton was perfect! I highly recommend it! Next time I am going for pork belly ramen🍜” — 5 Star Review on Google
BARS & BREWERIES
6. WLO Rooftop
WLO Rooftop is a stellar rooftop bar in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Their expert bartenders specialize in concocting craft cocktails with premium spirits. But their true majesty of this urban locale is the stunning city-wide views and pleasantly natural aesthetic of their lounge area.
“Great place. Bartenders were friendly and service was fast. Views were awesome. Weather was good so we enjoyed the rooftop 100%. Good vibe and good music. I can’t wait to go back. Entrance was a little hard to find. but the security guard came out and guided us in. Definitely recommend for those looking for a good vibe with great views.” — 5 Star Review on Google
7. Tarpon River Brewing
Tarpon River Brewery is a family-friendly neighborhood favorite. Their rotating draft selection of craft beers is reason enough to come back time and again. They have a full food menu with a killer IPA Mac N Cheese Burger and host live music weekly.
“This place is popular enough without my review chiming in, but I really loved my first visit! This is definitely a great spot to bring friends from out of town for a drink. It really showcases the Florida vibe, with a great selection of beers.” — 5 Star Review on Yelp
Township is a German-style pub and sports bar. It is the only bar in Fort Lauderdale serving full litres of beer! They offer a full food menu of German classics, like pretzels and cheese curds. This place is always active on the weekend, especially Saturdays. Locally, it is known as a Florida State University gameday hangout but is a welcoming place for all sports fans.
“I think township is my new favorite go to bar. I came here for the first time last weekend and had a blast on Saturday. Jordan is an awesome bartender, we didn’t have to wait long to order and it was a great crowd and vibe! My friends come here often for ladies night and I’ve been wanting to. Tonight is my First Ladies night and the bartenders have been awesome.” — 5 Star Review on Yelp
9. NSU Art Museum
The NSU Art Museum is a centerpiece for arts and culture in Fort Lauderdale. Founded in 1958, the art museum has continually perpetuated artistic expression in South Florida. There are ample exhibits to explore, a large auditorium for live art, educational courses for all, and a cafe to enjoy relaxing moments.
“Great way to spend a couple of hours while in Fort Lauderdale. Our docent was informative and wonderful in every way. She shared her knowledge and engaged us through the entire tour. Lunch at the museum was perfect as well.” — 5 Star Review on Facebook
10. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is the most expansive cultural institution in the area. It attracts Broadway shows from around the globe and remains a pivotal driver for the arts in the Fort Lauderdale community. Situated along the Riverwalk — a beautiful stretch along the downtown Intercostal waterways, the Broward Center is a fantastic place to visit whether you are attending a show or just enjoying the weather.
“Awesome place for a night out. Easily accessible parking and many restaurants to choose from help make this a great date night location. Today’s show prices make it a pricey night out that we can’t partake in as often as we would prefer but that is fairly typical everywhere. Great acoustics, classy and clean. Well worth the price of admission.” — 5 Star Review on Google
There you have it!
If you’re new to Fort Lauderdale or just visiting, set aside time to visit one (or all) of these great local establishments. We’d love to hear about your experience so drop us a line some time. Happy exploring!