The fine dining at these South Florida luxury resorts raises the restaurant bar to new heights

In South Florida, now more than ever, an upscale meal can be just steps away from a pillow-top mattress and free, fancy toiletries. Whether you chalk it up to quality, service or sheer convenience, the fact of the matter is that hotel dining is on the rise.

An industry study from earlier this year noted that restaurants within hotels and resorts have been trending upward over time. According to Technomic, a global food-service data company, total spending by consumers in hotels totaled to $48.7 billion last year.

And it’s only supposed to go up in 2018. South Florida Sun Sentinel food critic Mike Mayo says that resort dining poses advantages for all parties involved.

“Because the hotels are usually attached to big corporations, the hotels are able to pay well and bring in big-name chefs,” Mayo says. “It also enables them to get better products at lower prices.”

The Technomic report also noted that local and regional offerings are more in demand. It’s something we’d safely bet our South Florida resorts have caught wind of—whether looking at JWB Prime Steak and Seafood’s fresh fish that is literally speared hours before hitting a plate at Margaritaville or Terra Mare’s cold-pressed juices at The Conrad.

To celebrate South Florida’s best fine dining establishments that are connected to luxury resorts, check out the following restaurants.

 

JWB Prime Steak and Seafood • Margaritaville
Where: 1111 N. Ocean Drive, Hollywood
Kitchen confidential: Deeming itself “laidback luxury,” JWB Prime Steak and Seafood joins fine dining and fresh seafood with exposed wood and brick walls, mid-century modern furniture and fun, graphic printed bar stools. The Margaritaville restaurant serves up classic surf ’n’ turf staples, including prime bone-in rib-eye ($55), plus lobster and oysters. Don’t let the fact that JWB is named after James William Buffett con you into not taking this place seriously. Each morning, the seafood being served that day is spearfished. Within hours, it hits the menu.
Don’t-miss dish: Comparable to snapper, one of JWB’s unique offerings is its lionfish (market price). The invasive species that’s infamous for reef destruction is spearfished and served with simple seasoning and lemon.
Contact: 954.874.4470, jwbrestaurant.com

Grille 66 & Bar • Pier Sixty-Six Hotel & Marina
Where: 2301 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale
Kitchen confidential: Despite the white linens and gratuitous views of yachts rolling by this waterfront option, Grille 66 still finds a way to make diners feel comfortable. Perhaps it’s the “Potatoes & Stuff” section of its menu that does the trick. This upscale venue, lauded for its sea bass and crab cakes, has six potato offerings, including Parmesan truffle fries, au gratin and mashed ($10-$12). The Pier Sixty-Six restaurant also offers a happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. at the bar that’s worth trying. The star of that show? Succulent grilled marinated lamb lollipops ($12), served with mixed greens and a house sauce.
Don’t-miss dish: We’ve seen “build your own” menus before—often with pizza and pasta dishes. But it’s a whole new ballgame when you try it with filet mignon ($39-$49). This barrel-cut steak is boasted as 28-day primed and aged and broiled at 1,800 degrees. From there, patrons can add toppings—like blue cheese, peppercorn crusts or jumbo lump crab—sauces and butters. The additions range in price and extravagance from horseradish cream ($3) to foie gras truffle butter ($4).
Contact: 954.678.3917, pier66hotelmarina.com

Terra Mare • The Conrad
Where: 551 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Kitchen confidential: This chic, waterfront location offers global cuisine that’s made with love—the kind of love that’s evident in true, devoted tableside preparation and freshly cold-pressed juice for your cocktails. Terra Mare has a range of locally sourced and market-fresh breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner options—all with an added twist. Take the spicy peach breakfast toast for example ($12), featuring goat cheese, peach jam and fresh jalapeño on top of multigrain bread. Other standouts include the blistered shishito peppers ($10) with black truffle ponzu sauce.
Don’t-miss dish: We’ve seen Terra Mare’s tagliatelle—the long ribbon-shaped pasta, made in house—served two raved-about ways. One comes in a root vegetable bolognese and topped with Parmesan ($25). The other is full of lumps of crab, with an egg and sea urchin butter. Both are intoxicating the way only a luscious, homemade pasta can be.
Contact: 954.414.5160, terramarefl.com