Escape To Fort Lauderdale- The Real Scoop

As the omicron variant swept through the US, here at the Crocodile, our catering sales took another hit due to cancellations and not many companies placing catering orders. Result? We had to escape for a week for our mental health! We needed somewhere quick and easy since we were planning with only three days notice. And we needed warmth too. After examining a map of the southern United State we settled on Fort Lauderdale.

Beach View Hotel Maren

Fort Lauderdale is primarily a tale two cities- a strip of hotels, shops and restaurants along the beach (the tourist part). Further inland is where the local folks live and also the most famous street in town for eating and drinking- Los Alos Boulevard.

Most of the nicer hotels are along the beach. Upon arrival, we opted for the Hotel Maren because it is on the beach and close walking distance to many of the restaurants on our wish. The hotel is nice on the inside (with a very nice gym), but the pool was small and it is right in the middle of a slew of high rise hotels (think Ocean City Maryland). With two busy highways on either side highway, the hotel lacks the relaxed, tropical vibe that we prefer (5 out of 10 possible points).

Prior to arriving at any culinary food trip, our catering culinary team does internet foodie research and makes a wish list of interesting restaurants and bars in the area. Then when we get to our destination, we ask the locals where they recommend and edit our wish list further. Result? A very reliable list of culinary destinations!

Then we group our wish list of restaurants geographically.  This research makes it more efficient to visit more spots to find ideas for recipes/menus and to write our food and travel blog.

Here are some of the highlights.

Rocco’s Tacos

On (or near) The Beach (all easy walking from Hotel Maren)

The Wine Bar.  Indoor and outdoor dining. A nice (and inexpensive) list of wines by the glass (7 out of 10 possible points).

Hunter’s Beach Bar. A total dive bar (which we love!). Primarily locals who are having a great time buying each other drinks. A great place for shots of tequila and beers. We liked it so much, we went there twice (9 out of 10 possible points)

Coconuts Oyster Bar. They had oceanside dining which looked out over the bay and the marina. We settled in for a crisp chardonnay, a dozen oysters and some coconut shrimp. Quite tasty (9 out of 10 possible points).

Drunken Taco. Ooops! Are you serious? We only went there because it was the first place we saw when we got to our hotel and we were starving. Right on the boardwalk, the atmosphere is beachside casual but the guacamole was discolored and the margaritas sampled were very sweet. (2 out of 10 possible points).

Los Alos Boulevard

Coconuts Bar

Louie Bossi’s.  This is a bustling, old-school Italian restaurant. We settled in at the bar and sampled a charcuterie plate and a mushroom pizza. The food was great and the service was attentive (8 out of 10 possible points).

Tarpon River Brewery. Just the way we like our breweries- funky, not too big, and not at all modern or sleek. We opted for a couple of IPA’s which were well balanced and free of malt (8 out of 10 possible points).

Bombay Darber. We thought this spot looked great one day while walking down the street. It has a warm, comfortable atmosphere. We opted for Lamb Rogan Josh, Indian spiced chicken wings(huh?) and some toasty garlic naan bread (8 out of 10 possible points).

Louie Bossi

Cafe Sensai. Fancy, pan-Asian. We sat down outside overlooking a charming canal and ordered up a bottle of sauvignon blanc, salt and pepper shrimp, pork dumplings, and a roast duck with mango salsa (7 out of 10 possible points).

Rocco’s Tacos- We usually avoid chain restaurants, but we had gotten a boots-on-the-ground recommendation from a local. And it was quite good!! The guacamole is prepared tableside and we also sampled chili rellenos and a very servicable wet burrito. Oh, and a pitcher of margaritas that were very well balanced and quite potent (7 out of 10 possible points).

Funky Buddha Brewing- this is a pretty far Uber (not on Los Alos boulevard), but it seems to be the most famous brewery in the area, so we just had to visit. It is a big, renovated garage or something so the atmosphere is pretty good brew pub vibe. Alas, we were disappointed to find only one IPA we enjoyed and some very flabby, lukewarm chicken wings (2 out of 10 possible points).

Please send your comments and recommendations to [email protected]