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Ft. Lauderdale Faves: Casual Dining

May 15, 2013

One of the wonderful things about getting to visit my parents in Ft. Lauderdale so frequently is the abundance of excellent restaurants. There are hundreds of restaurants in the city, many of which are phenomenal.  There are delicious fine-dining seafood eateries (try Blue Moon Fish Co.), trendy sceney spots (see Rocco’s Tacos), and delicious dives (i.e. Southport Raw Bar).  But these days, my family’s favorites have been some of the great casual dining restaurants in the area.  During our short stay in Ft. Lauderdale, we were able to hit up two of my longtime favorites and one that’s sure to join their ranks.

The night after our great dinner at Kaluz, we went to one of my favorites: Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza.

Denver friends, this is not the Anthony’s in your neighborhood.  It is SO. MUCH. BETTER.  They do have locations around Florida, as well as in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Pennsylvania – check out their website for details and go if you can.  The Anthony’s where we dined is located right down the road from the Ft. Lauderdale airport, so if you’re looking for a quick bite after your plane lands I couldn’t imagine a better place.  Anthony’s is a casual but nice pizza joint.  The atmosphere is comfortable and their food is just so good.

Anthony's Ft. Lauderdale

The serve a nice beer and wine list but no liquor, but who cares about that.  And you shouldn’t care about us, either, but I like this picture:

Anthony's

On to the good stuff… we started our Anthony’s meal the way we always do, with a family-style salad and an order of their Coal Oven Roasted Chicken Wings served with roasted garlic and focaccia bread.  These are the best wings I’ve ever tasted and earn similar praise from Stan, who’s a bit of a wing connoisseur.  They don’t come with any sauce on them but are so flavorful and juicy that you wouldn’t want to ruin them with sauce anyway.  I forgot to snap a picture of them, but you all know what chicken wings look like, right?  By this point in the weekend, my sister and her hubby had joined us so we split a couple of large pizzas between the six of us.

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza

That’s a Fresh Mozzarella, Sliced Tomato & Basil in the foreground and a Paul & Young Ron in the background.  Paul & Young Ron comes with meatballs, sausage, hot or sweet peppers and ricotta cheese.  We had half sweet peppers and half hot and agreed that the sweet peppers were the way to go.  Anthony’s doesn’t skimp on the quality or quantity of their toppings, and the coal-fired crust is to die for.  It might be my favorite pizza ever.

Moving on to more “Florida-ish” eats the next night, we tried out a new favorite:  Pelican Landing at Pier 66.

Pelican Landing

Pelican Landing, which I’d always known as the Pelican Bar (and it appears to have its own identity crisis based on the above photo, so I’m going to keep calling it the Pelican Bar), has been around for a while, but until recently it served bar food in baskets alongside umbrella drinks.  Recently they improved their menu, putting the eats more on par with the awesome space the restaurant occupies.

The Pelican Bar seen from the Intercoastal.

The Pelican Bar seen from the Intercoastal.

The Pelican Bar sits on the pier at Ft. Lauderdale’s famed Pier 66, which is right near where the Intercoastal meets the ocean, and where the most ostentatious yachts dock when they are in the area.  It makes for a great spot to sit and take in the sights over cocktails or dinner.

Pier 66

View from Pelican Bar

It was Saturday night and half of the restaurant was reserved for what looked like a beautiful private party, so we were lucky to get an outdoor table for six without a long wait.

Pelican Bar

Pelican Bar

This is one of those places that could (and used to) coast on its views alone and serve up sub-par food, but we really enjoyed our dinners that night.  We ordered some Conch Fritters for the table that were delicious, as well as an order of coconut shrimp to start.  Then my sister and I shared a couple of really tasty dishes for our dinner.  The Grilled Caribbean Chicken Salad came on a bed of arugula with grilled pineapple, coconut and other goodies, and the Grilled Fish Burrito with avocado was my favorite dish of the night.  It was more of a crispy wrap than a burrito – no rice and smaller than your typical burrito, filled with fresh delicious fish.  The only dud of the night was the Jerk Chicken Sandwich.

I loved our dinner, and especially if you’re a first-time visitor to Ft. Lauderdale I’d recommend dining here and then strolling around the docks after dinner.  It’s not every day that you get to see some of these ridiculous boats.  Sorry – yachts.

Pier 66

For our last meal out in Ft. Lauderdale, we went to one of my other favorite spots and one that my family probably visits more frequently than any other restaurant in town: Coconuts.  Coconuts is near our house and can be accessed by boat or by car.  We usually arrive by boat, as we did on Sunday while on a Cinco de Mayo Intercoastal booze cruise.

Boat Ride

Coconuts is consistently busy, so we were surprised to find an open boat slip and only a 15-minute wait for a table right around noon during Sunday brunch.  May marks the beginning of their offseason so things were starting to slow down considerably.  After a gentle reminder to finish our beverages on the boat and make sure we had on shirts and shoes, we did just that and made our way up to our table.  The outdoor tables at Coconuts are the place to be, overlooking the Intercoastal yet again.

Coconuts Ft. Lauderdale

I cracked up a little at this sign.  My photo cuts it off (great job tipsy Lauren), but at the top it says 2,211 mi. to Steamboat Springs, which is just up the road from my house.  On that warm afternoon it felt at least that far.

Coconuts sign

The food at Coconuts is consistently delicious.  They make the best coconut shrimp I’ve ever tasted, and each of the dozen or so times I’ve eaten there I remember being thrilled with my meal.  For Sunday brunch, they also offered a long list of creative, decadent and delicious options like a Crabcake BLT, Breakfast Chilquiles, Breakfast Cuban, and other items that got my mouth watering.  But from the moment I’d sat down I could only think about their delicious fish tacos, so that’s the route I chose.

Coconuts Fish Tacos

Not the most beautiful meal, but man were they good!  They also poured a mean brunch cocktail, and we raised a cheers to a fabulous Cinco de Mayo with our Mimosas, Bloody Marys and Bloody Marias.

Cheers at Coconuts

What are your favorite go-to spots in your neighborhood?  Especially if you live in Chicago or Boston – two of my next stops – let me know!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2013 7:01 am

    I don’t live in Chicago or Boston, but if you are ever in Philly….

    • May 21, 2013 9:26 am

      No Philly trips on the agenda at this time, but if my tour of great American cities continues I’ll be sure to hit you up for some recommendations – thanks!

Trackbacks

  1. SUP in Ft. Lauderdale | Peaks and Passports
  2. My “Peaks” of 2013 – Year in Review | Peaks and Passports

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