Colleague Donna Carter provided readers with a nice perspective on Fort Lauderdale and the Everglades in last month’s edition of The Montrealer. Allow me to add some tips for those of you possibly headed down to this area in the near future and share a lovely dining experience.

As Donna noted, Greater Fort Lauderdale was once famous – or infamous – as a top U.S. Spring Break haven.

Today it is a much calmer locale. New facilities such as the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and the 600,000-square-foot Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center were built. Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport – which now stands as the fastest growing large airport in the U.S. over the past decade – was greatly expanded and Port Everglades emerged as the country’s top luxury cruise port.

Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Blue Wave beaches have been complemented by upscale hotels and a wide variety of top attractions and activities. The upscale Galleria mall is the result of a recent $100 million renovation. More than 60 golf courses make the destination a golfer’s paradise. Attractions such as Butterfly World – the largest butterfly aviary in North America – and the natural wonder of the Everglades bring visitors in touch with nature and native culture. Two of my favorite destinations here are the giant Swap Shop flea market and the Sawgrass Mills mega-mall.

I must admit that a particular fish restaurant proved to me the real draw. Many people I know had been raving about the 15th Street Fisheries (www.15streetfisheries.com), a Fort Lauderdale legacy since 1979. It is located at Lauderdale Marina (1900 SE 15th Street), providing a spectacular view of the Intracoastal Waterway. In addition to their world-famous award-winning cuisine, the location is by far one of the best in South Florida. You just can’t get closer to the water or to the nautical history of the area. Dine here above the docks where a daily parade of boats keeps the vistas fresh. We sat in a room called “The Porch”. Manager Guillermo Puthon, who just a few years ago worked on the cruiselines, pointed to some large fish swimming below. The large tarpons are fed by customers throughout each day. This is quite a sight, especially at night. Lights have conveniently been installed at the bottom of the water. There are some other pretty fish to view upon your entry. And just in case you wondered, there is no fishing permitted here.

Emphasizing seafood, the restaurant offers a casual dining environment on the lower floor, featuring sandwiches, oysters and ‘peal and eat’ shrimp. Upstairs dining is more formal, with an abundance of seafood appetizers and entrees, along with steaks, ribs, prime rib, and chicken as well as exotic foods from around the world and local specialities.

Homemade breads, a specialty, come with a cheese-and-chive spread and they are served by a “bread girl.” Grilled mahimahi and alligator are among the more than 50 entrées. Our servers Rich and Veronica were superb, welcoming us with a unique menu displayed on a large billboard. Rich provided detailed explanations of each dish. We began with salads and some clam chowder and then decided to share an order of stone crabs as an appetizer. For the main course, three of us split a pair of two pound Maine lobsters which were beautifully pre-cut making then dining experience that much easier. The key lime pie for dessert was outstanding.

Reservations are required for dining upstairs. Call 954-763-2777 Valet parking costs $2 at dinner, but it’s free at lunch. For more on Greater Fort Lauderdale call (800) 22-SUNNY or visit www.sunny.org.

Mike Cohen’s email address is info@mikecohen.ca. Log on to his travel advice column at www.sandboxworld.com/travel.

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