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Creativity, comfort thrive at the top 11 South Florida restaurants

This is part two of a five-part series: Top 55 places to go in Southeast Florida.

Did someone say “Let’s eat”? Dining out in South Florida offers an array of limitless options, but who has limitless time to go through all of them? That’s why we went out and did the research for you, shining the spotlight on 11 area restaurants that rank as true standouts.

Here you’ll find something for everyone, from the adventurous eater unafraid to trust a chef’s every-changing list of courses and ingredients, to the traditionalist who enjoys a hearty Italian meal or some down-home Southern cooking.

One thing that all these restaurants have in common: They draw raves from locals and tourists alike. Now it’s your turn to make a reservation, pull up a seat and get ready to savor some truly special dining experiences.

3030 Ocean

3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

Open since 2001, 3030 Ocean has a menu that changes daily and that specializes in modern American seafood. It’s now under the leadership of Executive Chef Paula DaSilva, who trained under former Chef Dean Max, a local legend for his elegant menu of local seafood and farm-to-table cuisine. It’s also helped Da Silva’s reputation that she was runner up on Season 5 of the Fox Network reality show “Hell’s Kitchen” several years ago.

In her restaurant, tables overlook the Atlantic Ocean, and specialties run the gamut from corvina ceviche and local buratta salad to roasted Atlantic cod with homemade pasta, butternut squash, black truffle and baby turnip.


Bâoli Miami

1906 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139

This restaurant recently made Open Table’s list of on the 100 Hottest Restaurants in America, and in the Top 20 of Florida’s hottest. An export from the French Riviera, Bâoli Miami features the cooking of Executive Chef Gustavo Vertone, whose menu reflects original recipes from France, Italy and Spain with a touch of the Orient.

Colorful and intimate, Bâoli also features an open-air garden in the back. It’s a favorite hangout of celebrities and pro athletes, but it can get pricey. It serves a $65 burger that features kobe beef, foie gras, quail eggs, caramelized onions and black truffles. As Zagat notes, it’s the most expensive burger in Miami.



350 S. County Road, Palm Beach, FL 33480

Since Chef Clay Conley opened the doors to Buccan in 2011, he’s been making the eclectic into something electric: combining the influences of his New England childhood with Asian cuisine, rustic Mediterranean flavors and the sensual influence of Latin America. Recognized in Conde Nast Traveler, Esquire and Forbes Travel Guide (which named it Palm Beach’s “hottest spot”) Buccan has a menu that’s both playful and punchy. Menu items range from a smoked brisket and pulled pork belly pizza to “simply wood grilled” large plates that include scallops, Atlantic striped bass, swordfish and a 12 oz. strip steak. Buccan uses ingredients from local farmers. Be sure to try the Astro Pop, a lavender drink that’s a hit with the locals and mixes blueberry vodka with sweet prosecco.


Casa D’Angelo

1201 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

Casa D’Angelo, which has a sister location in Boca Raton, has earned kudos as one of the best Italian restaurants in South Florida. Chef Angelo Elia is widely recognized as a rising culinary star; there’s a oak-burning oven on the premises and the wide assortment of entrees runs the gamut from free range chicken with roasted garlic and white wine (prepared in the oven) to the “Puttanesca Don Teo” (rigatoni with anchovies, black olives, capers, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and Italian plum tomatoes). The wine list boasts several hundred bottles and nightly specials offer unique takes on traditional Tuscan-style Italian cuisine.


Chez Jean-Pierre

132 N. County Road, Palm Beach, FL 33480

It’s a family affair at Chez Jean-Pierre, as owner/chef Chef Jean-Pierre Leverrier and his wife, Nicole, opened the doors to this Northern French bistro in 1991. Their younger son, Guillaume, cooks with his father, while their older son, David, runs the dining room with his mother. Located on the Island of Palm Beach, Chez Jean-Pierre has a menu that reflects the family’s Normandy background (with traditional coq au vin), but also extends far beyond it (roasted rack of Australian lamb). Zagat gives Chez Jean-Pierre a 28 out of 30 rating, with the food ranging from “extraordinary to perfection.” Closed July through mid-August.


Eduardo de San Angel

2822 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

You’d expect South Florida to have great restaurants with a Latino flair, and Chef Eduardo Pria, a Mexico City native, graduated the Escuela de Hosteleria y Turismo in Madrid, Spain with high honors. From there he worked in Rome and Paris, and in Ft. Lauderdale he brings diners adventurous fare such as Herb Oil Brushed Grilled cactus Paddle Bocadillo (accompanied by grilled pork loin) and key lime oil brushed grilled loin of sashimi grade yellowfin tuna. Named by Zagat as one of America's top restaurants, Eduardo de San Angel is also a big hit with Open Table diners, who consistently give it much higher ratings than its Florida competitors.


La Sirena

6316 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Palm Beach Illustrated lauded La Sirena as “a world class restaurant that just happens to be Italian.” That means you’ll find classic dishes here such as rigatoni alla vodka, cotoletta di vitello alla zingara (veal cutlet with a sauce of artichoke hearts) and zabaglione (a classic warm custard flavored with Marsala wine and seasonal berries). With more than 900 selections of wine covering 10 countries, La Sirena has an extensive cellar, but it isn’t snobby: Its list includes “50 under $50,” and in 2012 La Sirena teamed up with Marchesi de’ Cordano in Abruzzo, Italy to create specific blends of grape varietals only available at the restaurant.


Market 17

1850 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

Who says you should never go into any dining experience blind? Market 17 features “Dining in the Dark,” a tasting menu served in a dark room in order to heighten your senses. Whether you choose to eat there or in the main dining room, Market 17 follows the theme of serving farm-to-table organic food without chemicals, hormones or steroids. The traditional French cooking is all capped off by an eclectic international wine list that features more than 350 labels. Among the more exotic entrees, try the grilled antelope filet. It’s served with ginger orange bulgar wheat, marcona almonds, roasted shiitake mushrooms, kale and a chocolate saba demi.



661 Brickell Key Drive, Miami, FL 33131

If there’s a sushi restaurant that’s earned a reputation as a must-dine destination, NAOE is it. Chef Kevin Cory specializes in natural Japanese cuisine made from traditional ingredients including uni, wasabi, eggs and rice, and the menu is prepared specially each day. NAOE carries quite the hefty price tag at $200 per person plus tax and gratuity, and the dining room is small, seating just eight people. But diners rave about Cory’s innovative cuisine, which is built around tasting menus. NAOE recently claimed five stars from Forbes Travel Guide; note that certain food allergies cannot be accommodated, and special requests need to be cleared 10 days in advance.


Prime 112

112 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139

As steakhouses go, Prime 112 certainly has its history going for it. It’s located in the Browns Hotel, built in 1915 as Miami Beach’s first hotel. Prime 112 also claims to be the first modern steakhouse in the United States, opened in 2004 by restaurateur Myles Chefetz. It’s still a draw for local celebs and movie stars, and wait times can be long. But once you get in, you’ll be treated to a lively, sensuous atmosphere and a surf-and-turf menu that features Maine lobster, New York strip steak and a Japanese A5 Kobe filet that costs $35 per ounce. Be sure to save room for the fried Oreos with French vanilla ice cream.


Farmer’s Table

1901 N. Military Trail, Boca Raton, FL 33431

When chef Joey Giannuzzi and real estate developer Mitchell Robbins opened Farmer’s Table, they set out to provide Florida’s discriminating diners with a meal that not only tasted great but one that was also honest in its origins and intentions. Judging from customer accolades and Farmer’s Table focuses on real food, tapping into a local network of farms for the freshest and cleanest vegetables, fruits and meats for your dining experience. They call it “feel good food,” not only because of its local connections but also because of its careful preparation, designed to maximize the nutrition and nourishment in each bite.


Brand Publishing Writer



Want to burn up some of those calories? Plan a fun outing with our next installment, Top 11 day-trips in South Florida, the third part of our series, Top 55 places to go in South Florida.

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