BY REBECCA CAHILLY
South Florida may be known for its nightlife, but many cities have their own distinct district for after-hours fun. Come with us on a stroll down some of Broward and Palm Beach counties’ famous boulevards to discover the happening spots worth a wait for a table this season.
FORT LAUDERDALE LAS OLAS BOULEVARD
From its unique boutiques to its charming bakeries, Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale is a destination unto itself. You can easily spend a day here window shopping at sweet shops, selecting an exquisite piece of jewelry or a designer outfit, or dining al fresco while watching the world go by. Las Olas is also known as the address to some of the best hot spots in town, where the tables are filled with professionals by day and the fashionable and fabulous by night.
“You Only Live Once” is the motto of this hot spot located at the top (west) end of Las Olas. For nearly five years, the restaurant has packed in the patrons, serving the professional downtown community during weekday lunch hours and morphing into a standing-room only cocktail lounge at dusk. An exterior fire pit surrounded by built-in seating takes the chill off the winter months, while the indoor/outdoor feel of the restaurant makes it a great spot to sip a glass of rosé after work. YOLO’s younger sister, the music lounge Vibe, opened two years ago in the adjacent space to extend the nighttime entertainment. A personal dinner favorite at YOLO is the herb-marinated rotisserie chicken with wilted escarole and white beans served with herb mashed potatoes, followed by the famous bread-pudding dessert, after which a bit of dancing at Vibe to work off the calories is a must.
333 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-523-1000, www.yolorestaurant.com
301 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-713-7313, www.vibelasolas.com
ROYAL PIG PUB & KITCHEN
As does every popular strip, Las Olas sees its fair share of restaurant comings and goings. In the space formerly occupied by the Samba Room is a new kind of hot spot: the Royal Pig Pub. Following on the popular trend of gastro pubs, Royal Pig offers a variety of high-end cocktails and beers alongside a menu that features free-range poultry items, a sprinkling of fresh seafood dishes and, oh yes, pork in some form or another. The Royal Pig already has developed a strong following, so be prepared to spend a little time waiting for a table or a seat at the bar after work on a Friday or certainly on National Bacon Day (usually the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend). But hey, the barbecue rotisserie pulled-pork sandwich and a pint will
be well worth it.
Royal Pig Pub & Kitchen
350 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-617-7447, www.royalpigpub.com
OFF THAT BOULEVARD FORT LAUDERDALE
When I first moved to Fort Lauderdale I headed straight for the beach, thinking that this was where I could find the best restaurants and the freshest seafood. The experience nearly sent me scrambling to pack my bags and head back to 12 feet of snow in Vermont. Years later, however, there are now a few reasons to venture down to the beach for a great meal and night out, one of which is at the newly renovated B Ocean hotel on the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and A1A. SAIA features an innovative, Asian-inspired menu that is the vision of Chef Subin Chankesorn, who was raised in Thailand and traveled extensively throughout Asia and the Caribbean. Chankesorn brings his innovative flavor combinations to life in dishes such as the lovely Hamachi Jalapeño with Thai chili, ponzu uzu, cilantro and daikon. Not only does SAIA offer a great ambience and an ocean view alongside flavorful dishes, it boasts a cocktail menu so interesting that we recommend you take a seat at the bar to watch the bartender carefully craft your personal concoction. One of my favorites is the Hello Kitty — X-Rated Fusion liquor, Bombay gin and house-made spicy ginger soda. Don’t judge.
In the B Ocean Hotel , Fort Lauderdale, 999 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, 954-564-1000, www.bhotelsandresorts.com/b-ocean-fort-lauderdale/
Tasty salsa, tableside guacamole and warm chips washed down with a frosty prickly pear margarita? That’s the order of the day at Dos Caminos Mexican restaurant in the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel at the opposite end of Fort Lauderdale beach. The food is authentic and consistent and maintains this chain’s commitment to signature Mexican flavors. While you’re sure to get a seat off-season, not so much when the spring breakers are in town. ¡Arriba, abajo, al centro y adentro!
In the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, 1140 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-727-7090, www.doscaminos.com
This place is so hot it has its own theme song, not to mention books, DVDs, signature sauces, olive oil, a jewelry line, hats, T-shirts and you-name-it, all under the “Yo cuz!” brand that is the catch phrase of chef and owner Steve Martorano. Hailing from Philadelphia, Martorano has built a fabulous reputation for providing Italian/American dishes prepared with quality and consistency. The ambience is something else, with a state-of-the-art sound, lighting and entertainment system blaring the chef’s favorite tunes and showing scenes from his favorite movies. With locations at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood and Rio in Las Vegas, Café Martorano’s notoriety is spreading. But Chef Steve can still be found in the kitchen of the original Café Martorano on Oakland Park Boulevard, which will soon be unveiling a whole new look. We can’t wait to see what that is, but no matter what, book your table in advance; otherwise you could find yourself waiting for several hours. Yo, don’t say we didn’t warn you, cuz!
3343 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-561-2554. www.cafemartorano.com
DELRAY BEACH/ ATLANTIC AVENUE
Delray Beach has an energy that is eclectic, wholesome, vibrant and down to earth, all at once. The beachside community is home to one of our favorite strips: Atlantic Avenue. From the bustling weekend farmer’s market — complete with live farm animals and a line around the block for raw milk — to the historic shops, charming inns and famous restaurants, Atlantic Avenue has it all, including some of the region’s best hot spots.
BUDDHA SKY BAR
With Florida being as flat as it is, having the opportunity to dine with a view is something special. Buddha Sky Bar offers a view and more, particularly in the form of fabulous pan-Asian cuisine. The rooftop arboretum is enclosed in glass and overlooks downtown Delray Beach out to the ocean. From Dim Sum to sushi and spectacular Chinese and Japanese-influenced wok dishes, Buddha Sky Bar is not only a great place for a romantic dinner where you can stay for an aperitif as the evening wears on and the nightlife starts, it is also the spot for Friday Happy Hours. A late-night sushi menu is available from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. to complement that second (or third) Strawberry Geisha.
Buddha Sky Bar
217 E. Atlantic Ave. #3, Delray Beach, 561-450-7557, www.buddhaskybar.com
Whenever we go to PRIME we feel like putting on the ritz — me in my flapper dress and he looking dapper in his three-piece suit. PRIME could lay claim as the original supper club, certainly on Atlantic Avenue, and dining here is an experience unto itself. Trace your finger around the edge of your martini glass while the piano singer croons or enjoy a premium cigar from your personal liquor cabinet (if you’ve arranged for one, of course.) PRIME prides itself on its selection of USDA-certified beef and high-quality seafood and offers the service to boot. With plenty of events and special offers throughout the week, you can make plans to step back in time and enjoy the days of glamour—along with a great steak or lobster—anytime.
110 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, 561-865-5845, www.primedelray.com
What happens when two guys who consider themselves nightclub and cocktail aficionados team up to create a unique dining experience? You get a unique dining experience, a fantastic nightclub scene and some rather interesting cocktail concoctions. This is the premise behind the relatively new Union asian supper club and Candyfish sushi bar on Atlantic Avenue, which caters to a wide spectrum of clientele by offering an equally wide spectrum of dining experiences. For a quiet, even romantic, dinner, opt for a table on the patio, shaded by palms and cooled by misters. Or, if you’re looking for sophisticated ambience with a hint of shabby chic, nibble on your wonton cones from the comfort of a high-backed booth inside the restaurant or sip on your three-for-one drinks (yes, full drinks) at the bar during the daily happy hour. But if you are under the same spell as Cinderella or otherwise have a curfew, take your cue to move on once the staff begin clearing away the tables, because on weekend evenings Union shows yet another side of its personality and morphs into a thumping night club. You might never know this when you’re enjoying a civilized dinner followed by a decadent chocolate fondue, but this is what makes Union a harmonious blend that is anything but boring.
8 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, 561-330-4236, www.uniondelray.com
We tiptoe one block off the Avenue to include one of the best local spots that is quintessentially Delray Beach. Book your reservations in advance for dinner at Dada, a charming restaurant situated in a cozy two-story Florida home complete with a white picket fence, twinkling lights and an old-fashioned wraparound porch. You can’t go wrong with the menu here, but the popular favorites are the grilled brie, the butternut squash ravioli and most definitely the mojitos. Dada knows how to do a mojito in a variety of flavors, including blackberry and mango. Poetry readings and live music round out what is simply a gem of a spot. Leave the stilettos at home.
52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach, 561-330-3232, www.dadaofdelray.com
PALM BEACH/ THE ISLAND
While The Island enjoys a fine reputation for fabulous upscale boutiques and antique shops, it has not been known for its restaurant hot spots. Until now.
If you’re a regular reader of City & Shore, you won’t be surprised to see būccan or Imoto on this list. Not only are we great fans of both restaurants – the vision of award-winning Executive Chef Clay Conley – they have quickly gained a reputation and have become notable hot spots. būccan delivers with its small plates and fantastic atmosphere, while Imoto provides a delight to the senses with its Asian-inspired cuisine. The menus at both restaurants stand out for their fabulous play with flavor, and each dish is as much a work of art as it is delicious. Book your table in advance; it will be well worth the wait, especially for the Laurent-Perrier bubbles-by-the-glass specials on Thursdays.
Hot Spots for the Oenophile
A blend of culture, the arts and a gracious mix of restaurants, ice cream parlors and lounges define Young Circle in Hollywood, which seems to get better with each passing year. Steps away from the Circle is Fulvio’s 1900, a Hollywood institution known for its fine upscale Italian cuisine. While it’s not exactly a hot spot of the same decibel level as others mentioned in this listing, wine lovers take notice: Fulvio’s now features an extensive wine-by-the-glass menu that will curl your toes. Salut!
1900 Harrison St., Hollywood, 954-927-1900, www.fulvios1900.com
The Blind Monk Wine Bar & Tapas
If you like wine, and tapas, and music, craft beer and more wine… you must check out The Blind Monk. This place is not only hip, you can enjoy a fabulous glass of wine from a wide selection of high-end varietals in a cozy,
The Blind Monk
401 Evernia St. #107,West Palm Beach