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Fort Lauderdale

yolo lounge fort lauderdale food restaurantAs you might expect from this sunny city on the water, Fort Lauderdale has its share of seafood restaurants and beachfront burger joints. However, as the city has outgrown its old reputation as a spring break bastion, it's also seen an influx of gourmet restaurants and ethnic options -- including places where you can try out the local "Floribbean" cuisine (which combines the influences of the Caribbean and the Southern U.S.). Las Olas Boulevard is dining central with dozens of eateries along its two-mile stretch.

Take the opportunity to enjoy some people-watching at Mangos, on trendy Las Olas Boulevard. You'll find reasonable prices and inside (air-conditioned) or outside (sidewalk) dining; the restaurant serves everything from seafood to steak.

Also on Las Olas Boulevard is La Bonne Crepe, a charming French provincial country restaurant with alfresco dining on its terrace. Watch the town come alive while dining on an assortment of crepes stuffed with cheese, chicken or seafood. La Bonne Crepe is also a "don't miss" for breakfast, serving up waffles, French toast, eggs and -- of course -- crepes.

Johnny Vinczencz is Fort Lauderdale's celebrity chef du jour. His popular restaurant, Johnny V, is expensive, but the decor is chic and the signature "Floribbean-style" menu is compelling, with ingredients like cranberry-mango chutney and barbecue demi-glace flavoring plates.

Open 24/7, The Floridian, a Las Olas landmark, is renowned for its breakfasts, but they have great burgers too, plus meatloaf and other "American diner" favorites. You can order breakfast at any time of the day or night, so if you suddenly develop an urge for an omelet, head on over.

Find your Zen at Yolo, a happening spot located downtown. Yolo, which stands for "you only live once," is an energetic place with a simple menu. Items range from Yucatan dolphin tacos to veggie burgers and prime rib. At night, the place transforms into a hip spot to clink cocktails and toast your vacation, and the outdoor fire pit makes for a nice place to sit and chat.

Located on the Intracoastal Waterway, with glorious views, 15th Street Fisheries is a fish-'n'-chowder house offering both casual dining downstairs and more formal meals upstairs. The Fort Lauderdale landmark serves up fresh fish, crab cakes and other seafood delights.

What fun to sit right on Hollywood Beach's Broadwalk, watching the skaters, mimes and kids having fun, with a yummy kebab in hand. Istanbul on the Beach is cheap, casual beachfront dining at its finest. Drawing on Turkish and Mediterranean influences, the fare is light, featuring choices that range from cucumber, tomato and feta salad to baba ganoush and hummus.

The specialty at the Bimini Boatyard Bar & Grill is fresh seafood -- like mahi mahi, Caribbean spiced salmon, swordfish and more -- prepared on a wood-fired grill.

The breezy, modern H2O Cafe serves mostly Italian cuisine and supplements its menu with Cuban- and Asian-inspired dishes. Situated just off of the beach, it offers outdoor dining with beautiful views of the ocean, and it's also a great place to watch passersby. The moderately priced menu features hot and cold antipasti, salads, sandwiches, pastas, chicken, seafood and steak.

Casablanca Cafe, a brilliantly restored Mediterranean-style home that dates to the 1920's, has been voted Fort Lauderdale's most romantic restaurant. The menu comprises dishes from Spain, Italy, France and even Africa, and live jazz/contemporary music fills the air in the evenings. After dining, take a romantic stroll on the beach -- this restaurant is on the peninsula between the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.
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