Steak 954, in the W Hotel.
Joe’s Stone Crab, South Beach, Miami – In business since 1913, this Miami instutition is a sprawling bistro, Florida-style. Start with the seafood bisque, proceed to the signature stone-crab claws (served cold, with a killer house-made mustard sauce) and finish with the textbook keylime pie. Voila – South Florida on a plate. Private dining room, seating 50, available for events.
Steak 954, Ft. Lauderdale – Uber-cool W hotel sets a new standard for Lauderdale luxe. On the plate, this translates as crunchy-shelled big-eye tuna tacos; silky-rich chocolate-banana cake; and crisp breakfast crepe, stuffed with Serrano ham, quince jam and manchego cheese, that cleverly balances sweet ‘n’ savoury. Rooms available for corporate business meetings.
Kouzzina, Orlando – Carrying the imprimatur of celeb chef Cat Cora, this sprawling, noisy space delivers trad Greek cuisine, wrought by a careful hand. The baked daurade is faultless, and the tasting trio pleases mightily (brightly seasoned lamb burger; moist, cinnamon-stewed chicken on herbed orzo; and Greek ‘lasagna’ of cinnamon-scented ground beef, noodles and rich bechamel).
Wildeast Bistro, Ft. Lauderdale – Although the chic ’n’ cheerful dining room is perfectly hospitable, the prime tables are those outside, snaking along tranquil Himmarshee Canal. Among the pan-Asian menu’s highlights are chicken and hoisin lettuce wraps; steamed black cod; and subtly spiced eggplant.
La Bonne Crepe, Ft. Lauderdale – Parisian-quality crepes, in the heart of Las Olas Boulevard, Lauderdale’s answer to Rodeo Drive. Best to dine outside, under the canopy-draped tables, to survey the passing scene, while working your way through a crepe loaded with garlicky escargots, spinach and gruyere.
Mangos, Ft. Lauderdale – Residing on the casual side of the dining spectrum, Mangos features a young and eager staff and outdoor dining, and, inside, a bustling bar and restaurant area. Order up the jerk-spiced red snapper with curry, wash it down with a margarita, and enjoy life.
Greek Islands, Ft. Lauderdale – Arrive early, especially on weekends, and order up classic homestyle Greek fare. Choose from a well-chosen list of traditional dishes (the spanakopita is head-and-shoulders above most restaurant versions), but make sure you finish with the velvety yogurt garnished with crunchy walnuts and aromatic Greek honey. Opa!
H20 Café, Ft. Lauderdale – Although it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this historic Art Deco beachside cafe, on Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, is at its most charming in the morning. Grab a table in the outdoor eating area, order up one of the massive breakfast sammies, and linger for an hour or three.
Le Marche, Ft. Lauderdale – Street-level in the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, this bright and bustling café dishes up sandwiches, panini, pizzas, gelato, breads and pastries and brews Starbucks coffee. Take your goodies and head across the street to the beach, for a sun-drenched al-fresco lunch.
North Ocean Grille, Ft. Lauderdale – Nestled in the seaside Pelican Grand Beach Resort, this pleasant restaurant is a good spot for breakfast. Morning temptations include such rib-sticking treats as egg-based, biscuit-wrapped ‘sliders’ and banana-pecan pancakes. Rooms available for business conferences