The soul of Fort Lauderdale, Las Olas Boulevard has undergone a significant transition in recent years, from a collection of tourist shops and art galleries to the cosmopolitan heart of downtown. Luxury condominiums like the 44-story Icon and mixed-use towers like One West Las Olas— with its buzzing rooftop bar —are bringing an element of sophisticated, urban cool to residents and visitors. Most of all, Las Olas has become a haven for foodies. With carefully curated tenants along the main drag, a food crawl down this restaurant row could take you on a tour of American, Italian, French, Brazilian, Mexican and Asian cuisines. Whether you’re looking for a solid lunch spot or a new place for date night, Las Olas is where to go.
Meet Our Las Olas Guide
Originally from England, Caroline Carrara has been living in Fort Lauderdale for five years and on the team at EWM Realty International for nearly 12 years. Now managing broker of the firm’s Las Olas branch and treasurer of the Las Olas Association’s board of directors, she is more than familiar with the Boulevard and its growth. “When I first came to manage the EWM office 10 years ago, it was kind of a sleepy town,” Carrara said. “Now with the boom of downtown, the Brightline train, new building developments, and all the key developers of Miami, everybody wants a piece of Fort Lauderdale.”
How to Satisfy a Sweet Tooth
“My son is a Valentine’s Day baby, therefore a must for him is a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries from Kilwins. Their sea-salt caramel fudge is my favorite.” 809 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-523-8338; kilwins.com.
Las Olas Boulevard’s Ultimate Happy Hour
“When I want to catch up on the gossip with a girlfriend or have a low-key happy hour, we go to Thursdays. From 4 to 8 p.m., they have two-for-one wine, complimentary chicken wings and the best guacamole. On Saturdays, they have a lounge singer so you can get your Sinatra on.” 1521 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-368-4630; thursdaysfortlauderdale.com.
Your Best Bet for Brunch
“Brunch is my favorite food time, especially in Fort Lauderdale on a sunny day! Make reservations at Louie Bossi, as it’s always packed for brunch. Unlimited mimosas, bloody Marys, bellinis or Aperol spritzes for $13.” 1032 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-356-6699; louiebossi.com.
Where Fort Lauderdale’s Power Brokers Eat Breakfast
“The Floridian Diner has strong coffee and the best greasy eggs in town. Open 24 hours, it’s an institution on Las Olas — powerful people in the city come here for early meetings.” 1410 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-463-4041; thefloridiandiner.com.
Go for the Panini, Stay for the Meatballs
“An intimate café and great place for a business lunch, Noodles Panini has the best meatballs on Las Olas. Get the meatball appetizer with a field of greens — homemade and heavenly.” 821 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-462-1514; noodlespanini.com.
For Lunch or Late-Night
“I like American Social for a cozy lunch atmosphere. Try the shrimp and arugula salad, or Monday at happy hour, they have $5 ribs and burgers.” 721 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-764-7005; americansocialbar.com.
Time to Get Fancy
“Lust over everything and gaze at the fresh fish in the glass case at Lobster Bar Sea Grille as you walk to your table. Some standouts are the Nova Scotia lobster tail and my favorite drink, the St. Germain cocktail with Champagne, soda and lemon.” 450 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-772-2675; buckheadrestaurants.com.
For a Bite on the Go
“When I am manic at work and starving, I walk down to Eten and grab something homemade, clean and healthy. The soup, shepherd’s pie and veggie burger are all excellent.” 1404 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-383-4460; etenfoodcompany.com.
To Celebrate Something Special
“When I have a craving for oysters and prosecco, I go to the Riverside Hotel’s Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille. At happy hour they have half off oysters and prosecco!” 620 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-467-2555; wildsealasolas.com.
Great Spot for a Working Lunch
“Big City Tavern is a steadfast business lunch option. With varied menu items, it pleases everyone. Some of my favorites are the jerk chicken and chicken Milanese.” 609 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-727-0307; bigcitylasolas.com.
For a Splurge That’s Worth It
“Chima is a favorite of my teenage son, London, who knows how to get his money’s worth for a special splurge. This is not somewhere you take someone who only picks at their food! Save room for the all-you-can-eat rodizio, and the house bread is addictive.” 2400 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-712-0580; chimasteakhouse.com.
“Rocco’s Tacos has stellar margaritas, and the Korean taco is an all-time favorite. Also, the mole poblano — it’s rare that you find outstanding mole around here.”1313 East Las Olas Boulevard; 954-524-9550; roccostacos.com/fortlauderdale.