In the sprawling dining room, white tablecloths drape over square and circular tables. Atop these tables are platters of the Mandarin, Szechuan, and Cantonese cuisine that fills Christina Wan's menu. Favorites such as general tso's chicken and sesame beef share space with less-known dishes such as saigon steak kew (filet mignon with snow peas) and lemongrass-marinated rack of lamb.
Bright spotlights shine down as the doors swing open. Grinning faces look up in recognition. Dishes emerge from the kitchen at Panda Buffet like celebrities, draped in boas of steam and mantles of honey-garlic or bourbon glaze beneath the lemongrass-hued walls and wood paneling. Waiters toting traditional concoctions such as General Tso’s chicken scoot past mirrors painted with bucolic Eastern scenes that let diners experience exotic locales without hiding in a shipment of pith helmets.
15th Street Fisheries illustrates a key facet of the circle of life: you feed the fish, and the fish feed you. Every evening, guests head to the edge of the docks to feed schools of giant tarpon—fish that can grow up to 8 feet long—with shrimp from the nearby store. It's a feat made possible by the restaurant's location on the Lauderdale Marina, a hub for pedestrians and boats alike on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Floating above the silvery tarpon, yachts, fishing boats, and other charters pass in view of the upstairs dining room. The space resembles an upscale boathouse with eclectic seafood entrees to match. Start with a bowl of Bahamian-style conch chowder or shrimp and grits, then choose from an impressive list of prepared fish, including miso-glazed Chilean sea bass and pan-roasted black grouper. The Maine lobsters on the menu weigh 2 to 3 pounds, depending on how often they crawled ashore to go to the gym, but you can also order a spiny lobster tail with baby bok choy. Downstairs, the dockside café offers more casual fare and live music on weekends.
Shooters Waterfront Cafe USA showcases vistas of the intracoastal waterway as servers ferry plates of fresh seafood, burgers, and sandwiches to outdoor tables. Boat docking with valet assistance allows diners to pull up to the waterfront eatery after a day spent negotiating record deals with musically gifted whales. Shooters serves drinks on an outdoor patio, while their swimming pool allows guests to mimic those musical whales. On the weekends, a raw-food bar lures seafood lovers with fresh-caught oysters, clams, shrimp, and crab legs.
The fish used in Ceviche by the Sea's namesake dish is delivered to the restaurant daily, allowing diners to savor the flavors of fresh white fish, tuna, and calamari marinated in tangy lime juice, spicy rocoto pepper sauce, or salty soy sauce at this eatery voted Best Peruvian Restaurant of Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2014 by the Broward Palm Beach New Times . Seafood also steals the show in the pan-seared sea bass entree, which a reviewer from Go Riverwalk called "total perfection" thanks to its crisp, seared outside and moist, tender interior. Staying true to the restaurant's Peruvian roots, the chefs here also prepare skirt steaks and grilled chicken, as well as whipped potato cakes known as causas and mounds of quinoa that can be shaped to resemble Machu Pichu.
It takes four weeks for Lauderdale Grill's prime rib to age to the tenderness deemed best by their chefs. Then, after cooking onsite in hickory smoke, these succulent cuts are available by the 10 or 14 oz serving or as a sandwich on a grilled roll. The cooks here also plate up tuna, mahi mahi, and salmon, as well as bar food favorites such as wings and burgers. Tastier and more fun than a daily sock darning schedule, a daily soup schedule also holds a place in the menu, featuring chilis, chowders, and stews each only offered once a week. And happily for cocktail-lovers, the Broward/Palm Beach New Times raved about the spot's weekend bloody mary bar, calling the homemade mix used "outstanding."