Now in its fifth year, the Visit Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival will take place from Jan. 8-14, 2024, with a week-long series of hands-on experiences, celebrating the ever-evolving epicurean scene in South Florida. Here's a glimpse into the events scheduled.
“Bar Fight!” on Jan. 10 at Rooftop at 1 W. Las Olas will feature reigning champion mixologist Myles Robinson up against expert mixologists in a head-to-head, no-holds-barred matchup that’ll declare the “Official Cocktail of Downtown FTL.” “Wok 'n Roll” on Jan. 11 at Backyard Fort Lauderdale will celebrate the flavors of Asia paired with rock ‘n roll at an Asian street food and music experience.
A “Poolside BBQ Battle” on Jan. 12, 2 at Hyatt Centric Las Olas will have pitmasters display their best BBQ creations. “The Grand Tasting” on Jan. 13, at Las Olas Oceanside Park will be a four-hour culinary celebration of unlimited bites and sips, cooking shows, celebrity chefs, and live music. The weekend will conclude with a “Picnic in the Park” on Jan. 14 at Las Olas Oceanside Park with a curated lineup of food trucks, culinary classes, kid-friendly cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, and local artisan vendors. To purchase tickets for any of the events, go to VLFoodWine.com.
NEW AND COMING SOON
Savvy Sliders opened its first Florida location at 2400 W. Commercial Blvd. The 2,300-square-foot joint, part of a Michigan-based chain, serves sliders in the $3.79-$4.99 price range, stuffed with crab cakes, codfish, fried and grilled chicken, ribeye, Angus beef, and spicy falafel. There are also chicken fingers, fries, onion rings, cheese curds, and specialty shakes for dessert.
Greek Guys Souvlaki, a fast-casual eatery from Montreal-based restaurateur Ted Dranias opened in the space vacated by Monster Subs at 1978 E. Sunrise Blvd. Dranias says it’s been going well and that he’s already thinking of expanding to a vacant space next door. The cuisine concept is Greek fast food and meals-to-go.
Emilio Ballato opened his namesake Italian restaurant inside the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, 551 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., on Nov. 28. His Soho restaurant with chef Anthony Vitolo’s New York-style red sauce fare is a celebrity magnet. Many similar menu items will be featured at Emilio’s; linguini alle vongole and house-made tagliatelle Bolognese, and other classics that evoke a blend of nostalgia and innovation.
Spilling the T. Railcar 91 Tea Room at the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum offers a gourmet Gilded Age experience with a prix-fixe high tea menu. The museum was formerly Whitehall, Flagler’s 75-room, 100,000-square-foot mansion — constructed in 1902. The menu highlights a black tea blend developed especially for the museum’s restaurant. Also on the menu are sandwiches such as English cucumber, salmon, and herbed crème pinwheel, and French tuna salad with capers and cornichons on rye. Sweets include fresh-baked scones and tropical macarons. The tearoom is open from Thanksgiving to Easter, with seating at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and noon and 2 p.m. Sundays.
Sweetwaters, a three-story, 12,000-square-foot restaurant, with an additional 5,846 square feet of outdoor dining area, is being built adjacent to Huizenga Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale. The restaurant is nearly twice the size of that which was originally approved and is expected to break ground in early 2024. The contemporary design will include new terraces and public seating areas, a dog run, a renovated fountain, public restrooms, and other amenities. The makeover is being overseen by Fort Lauderdale’s Downtown Development Authority, owner of Huizenga Park.
CLEAN AS A WHISTLE
Congrats to Wilton Manors’ Sozo Sushi Bar, The Venue, and Wilton Creamery, all of which received perfect scores during a recent health department inspection. I was also pleased to hear that my favorite drunk food stop, Popeye’s on Sunrise, also received a perfect score.