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Where To Eat In Fort Lauderdale, According To The Chefs Who Work Here

Trying new restaurants always seems to be on the top of everyone's to-do list. But with so many great new food options in Fort Lauderdale, it can be hard to decide where to make reservations first.

While putting together our March Foodie Issue, we began wondering where chefs in the area prefer to head for a meal on their days off. And most importantly, what do they eat while they're there?

Here are some of the best answers from 15 culinary experts who work in the Fort Lauderdale area. 

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Shuji Hiyakawa

Executive sushi chef, Kuro

Shuji Hiyakawa

Age: 47 

Hometown: Fukuoka, Japan 

Favorite spot: Council Oak

Why you like to dine there: Because I usually eat healthy Japanese food when working at Kuro, and I want to eat something heavy like seafood and steak! 

Recommends: The 30-ounce Long Bone Cowboy Ribeye and Lobster Mac & Cheese

I love the food scene in Fort Lauderdale because of: The growth and development of the Japanese restaurant industry.


Gavin Pera

Chef de cuisine, Burlock Coast

Gavin Pera

Age: 34

Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida  
Favorite spot: 3030 Ocean

Why you like to dine there: They have amazing raw bar selections and handcrafted cocktails. 
Recommends: Risotto with Key West pink shrimp

I love the food scene in Fort Lauderdale because: There is so much variety that you can find a cool spot anywhere you go.


Adrienne Grenier 

Executive chef, 3030 Ocean

3030 Ocean

Age: 32 

Hometown: Hollywood, Florida

Favorite restaurant: Market 17

Why you like to dine there: Lauren DeShields is a great chef with great experience and brings it all together there. Her charcuterie program is exceptional. She does an amazing job curing meats.

Recommends: I would obviously recommend the charcuterie board. You will not be disappointed. It takes a real skill to do what they do, and they do it well.

I love the food scene in Fort Lauderdale because: There are so many great new chefs in the area that are really putting out great food. 


Philip Darmon

Chef and owner, Hardy Park Bistro 

Hardy Park Bistro 

Age: 42

Hometown: Sydney, Australia 

Favorite restaurant: Casa D'Angelo

Why you like to dine there: Simple fresh food, done right.

What to try: Any of the homemade pastas; they are always perfectly prepared. Scolapasta - Zabaglione with berries prepared tableside.

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because: [There] are more small chef-owned restaurants, less massive warehouses of mediocrity.


Giovanni Rocchio

Chef and owner, Valentino Cucina Italiana

Valentino Cucina Italiana

Age: 49

Hometown: New York

Favorite restaurant: Café Maxx in Pompano Beach

Why you like to dine there: Straightforward creativity that has stood the test of time! Their attention to quality and detail, as well as great ownership has made them a winner for over 32 years.

Recommends: Tuna Sashimi Pizza

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because: The culinary horizons and expectations are changing. More people than ever before are accepting and enjoying new, innovative styles of creative cuisine.


Steven Zobel

Executive chef, Big City Tavern

Big City Tavern

Age: 46

Hometown: New York City

Favorite restaurant: Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille

Why I like to dine there: I love to get off work and head over.

Recommends: A glass of champagne and fresh oysters on the 1/2 shell.

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because: I love the fact that since I have been down here for five years, the restaurant scene has just been getting better and better. People are choosing local restaurants rather than the chain restaurants. I can't wait to see what the scene will be like in five more years.


Lisabet Summa

Founding chef partner, Big Time Restaurant Group

Big Time Restaurant Group

Age: 55

Hometown: Chicago 

Favorite restaurant: Foxy Brown

Why I like to dine there: It's a great low-key foodie locals spot still somewhat unfound by the masses! 

Recommends: They do a "Foxy Dip" with sliced Prosciutto and a perfectly poached egg in this incredibly bright herbed oil. [It's] one of my favorites.

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because: The dining scene in Fort Lauderdale is a great mash up. It is residential and touristy, and we have a thriving business community, so all types of customers are driving the success of all types of restaurants. Whether it is fine dining (Valentino’s), whiskey bars (Stache cocktail lounge), local craft coffee roasters (love Warsaw Coffee Company), bakeries (Gran Forno), plenty of green markets, it’s all happening! It promotes great diversity in the types of businesses that can flourish when they’re being supported.

Steven Dapuzzo

Director of Society 8 Hospitality Group, which owns and operates Beauty & the Feast

Beauty & the Feast

Age: 48 

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Favorite restaurant: Blue Willy’s BBQ

Why you like to dine there: Authentic, no-nonsense barbecue.

Recommends: The brisket.

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because: [It's] developing at a rapid pace and attracting new talents and concepts.


Danny Hernandez

Executive chef, PizzaCraft Artisan Pizzeria

PizzaCraft Artisan Pizzeria

Age: 36

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York 

Favorite restaurant: Timpano

Why I like to dine there: They make delicious food, and it's somewhere I enjoying going on my time off. Executive sous chef Julian Davis is also a good friend of mine, and I love what he and his team create in the kitchen.

Recommends: The Skillet Clams Oreganata is my favorite dish there—a must-have.

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because: The diversity—there are so many options to choose from. It is definitely a melting pot; you can have amazing, well-done cuisine from almost any region or culture. 


Chris Miracolo

Executive chef, S3


Age: 42

Hometown: Roslyn, New York

Favorite restaurant: Hot 'n Soul

Why you like to dine there: It’s the perfect "hole in the wall" where a husband and wife team of chefs make incredible food inspired by their past. I always love food with a story behind it.

Recommends: I always get their tasting menu when I go, which they are constantly changing. Some of my favorites would be the mole pork shoulder, the gnocchi with oxtail and the mushroom manchego toast.

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because of: How the infusion of cultures play out on the plate. SoFla cuisine is a mix of classic Latin, Asiatic and Deep South, just to name the influences on the top of the list.


Daniel Elmaleh

Executive chef, Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails

Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails

Age: 41

Hometown: Haifa, Israel

Favorite restaurant: Steak 954

Why you like to dine there: The restaurant has a beautiful view, and you can’t go wrong with the menu. But it’s tough to choose just one restaurant; my favorite part of visiting is trying somewhere new each time.

Recommends: The big eye tuna and foie gras tacos. 

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because: The South Florida food scene features such a melting pot of flavors, much like the melting pot of cultures we have here. Everything is constantly evolving and with each visit I find another hidden gem.


Andres Teran

Executive chef, Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort

Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort

Age: 38

Hometown: Miami Beach, Florida
Favorite restaurant: Go Bistro

Why you like to dine there: Located right near Young Circle in downtown Hollywood, it is truly a hidden gem. The restaurant features authentic ramen noodle dishes, sushi, sashimi and more. The quaint and cozy restaurant is incredible, and the food is always so fresh.
Recommends: Their Ramen Tonkotsu is my favorite dish. [It's] a rich pork broth with scallions, bamboo, nori, nitamago egg and pork belly.

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because: I love that the South Florida food scene is so diverse; there are so many options, whether it be Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale. You can truly find every different type of cuisine here, and there are some incredible restaurants.


Victor Franco

Executive chef, Oceans 234 

Oceans 234 

Age: 37

Hometown: Sunrise, Florida

Favorite restaurant: Grille 401

Why you like to dine there: The ambiance, service and menu is always on point.

Recommends: Baby back ribs all the way!

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because of: The fusion of cultures.


Doug Riess

Executive chef, Boatyard 


Age: 60

Hometown: West Islip, New York

Favorite restaurant: Masamune sushi restaurant

Why you like to dine there: I just love the vibe of sushi-style restaurants and the complexity of Asian-style foods.

Recommends: Kampira (burdock root), aged tofu, soba zura, jelly fish salad – and any chef's special. You can always bet on that.

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because of: The seafood variety and all of the Caribbean flare on the foods. And there are so many great and eager chefs trying out new ideas and concepts.


Nicolay Adinaguev

Executive chef, Steak 954

Steak 954

Age: 35

Hometown: North Miami Beach, Florida

Favorite restaurant: Hot & Soul

Why you like to dine there: They have delicious comfort food at a great price point. It’s not the type of food that I usually cook for myself, so it’s always a treat.

Recommends: Love the Mushroom Manchego Toast with 'shrooms and sherry cream. It’s a great snack food. Also, I’m a big, big beer guy, and I love their craft beer selection. 

I love the Fort Lauderdale food scene because: It is really starting to take off. I remember interviewing at Steak 954 in 2009 when we were first opening, and I was asked my favorite restaurants in Lauderdale. There were places I loved in Miami, but I really didn’t have many in Broward, other than a few little dives. Now there are great restaurants in the area.