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Fort Lauderdale's culinary scene

Fort Lauderdale’s Restaurant Renaissance

We’ve been hearing a lot of locals talking about all the restaurants closing their doors in recent months.

Heck, we’re among the league of diners still craving chicken adobo from Hot and Soul. After seeing other iconic spots like Sublime, Revenant Coffee, Tarpon Bend, Gaysha Sushi, and Market 17 closing, us foodies had to know what was happening.

What we originally considered to be a red flag, though, we realized was a welcome sign for local chefs and restaurateurs to add new creative concepts to the legacy of Fort Lauderdale’s culinary scene.

Fort Lauderdale's Culinary Scene

Don’t get us wrong, it is still a little sad knowing we will no longer be able to explore the wine room at Market 17—but what is really cool about this culinary shift is that long-standing concepts are actually being absorbed and incorporated into new and existing restaurants.

Market 17 had this really cool dining experience called “Dining in the Dark.” With their doors closed, we assumed “Dining in the Dark” was over. But…they kept it in local hands and passed the idea along to One Door East.

The same goes for Tarpon Bend which had a few of its core elements, menu items and staff absorbed into the new beer garden dining concept, Township.

So what about this restaurant renaissance?

Fort Lauderdale's Culinary Scene

Already, there are more than 35 restaurants and bars on Las Olas to choose from. That’s really impressive, especially because no themes or menus are repeated. You can literally have lunch and dinner 7 days a week and never eat the same meal twice.

Michael Mayo of reported that “three new restaurants — Sushi Shack, Talento and the Balcony — will operate side by side on the 1300 block of East Las Olas, next to the Fort Lauderdale location of Rocco’s Tacos and near many established eateries such as Louie Bossi’s Ristorante, Bao Bar + Asian Kitchen, and Caffe Europa.”

That’s 7 different style dining experiences all within a block from each other…and more are on the way.

Look beyond Las Olas, though.

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Newly developed areas across Fort Lauderdale are providing more space for community amenities. This would not have been possible 5 years ago. It’s also great to see that those who have been developing our community for years are still shaping the landscape.

The Be Nice restaurant group, for instance, which has given us awesome spots like G&B Oyster Bar and Foxy Brown, are opening a second sandwich shop, “Lunchroom,” on 17th Street sometime this year. If you can’t wait, though, you still have the original location just past Oakland Blvd on Federal Hwy.. 😉

We also have El Vez, a new restaurant at W Fort Lauderdale that serves classic Mexican fare with an emphasis on Baja-style flavors to celebrate the fresh seafood of South Florida. And The Wilder, a hidden getaway with over 20 hand-crafted cocktails that serves up these unexpected Heart of Palm Tacos, which are a must try by the way.

After all this digging, we’ve realized that despite a few losses, a lot of really special culinary additions are being thought up.

Local chefs are taking risks to expand the scope and attitude of our culinary scene. There’s room to grow; room to experiment with new ideas and kitchen concepts. We’re seeing so much flexibility among restaurant goers (both new and native to the area) that suppliers are given an even greater ability to play.

One of the more unique concepts to open up recently basically extinguished all of our original concerns of seeing local restauranteurs throwing in the towel.

Fort Lauderdale's Culinary Scene

TRP Taste by The Restaurant People is a very intimate space with limited seating. They do not have a standard menu. Nor do they have a standard chef. The kitchen changes frequently, taken over by guest chefs curating their own unique pop-up dinners.

Hot and Soul chefs Mike Hampton and Christy Samoy were serving up culinary masterpieces there on July 28. If you were like us and were already missing the duo, then we hope you got to share in this new dining experience with them.

Oh, and if you’re still worried about the few culinary losses, don’t be. This is going to be an exciting new age of local dining.