At 1410 East Las Olas Boulevard, the Floridian Restaurant is at the epicenter of where the downtown Fort Lauderdale district meets the isles and the beaches, and the restaurant flair and character reflects that.
In the busy eatery that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you will find makers and shakers in shirts and ties mingling with tourists in shorts and sandals. What they will all have in common, steady locals or random travelers, is plenty of food, served without fanfare.
Every town has a local diner that has become an institution, and in Fort Lauderdale, that would be the Floridian Restaurant, where portions are generous, the prices are moderate, and the service is steady. For over five decades, the Floridian has been serving everything from oversized omelets to big, big burgers, all with a touch of character and South Florida style. There are over 20 burgers to choose from, including the very memorable 2 pounder, the ‘Bigg Kountry Burger,’ so big you need 2 plates and 2 hands 2 handle it.
Owned and operated by Butch Samp, if you catch him at the head of the table with his morning cadre of regulars, you can also get a dose of his sarcasm and history with your meal. The walls are filled with photos capturing Lauderdale’s history, recorded by retired Sun Sentinel photographer, Lou Toman. If it seems like everyone from Wayne Huizenga to Dan Marino have eaten here, they have. It’s a place to be and be seen. Even the popular Rachel Ray from the Food Network has filmed a show there. SFGN’s publisher, Norm Kent, once hosted his daily morning radio show live from the restaurant.
More importantly it’s a great place to eat, breakfast, lunch, dinner or anything in between. Weekend brunches are especially popular, featuring huge 3 egg omelets, a variety of eggs benedicts, buttermilk pancakes or a uniquely southern biscuits and gravy. Of course, nothing matches the ‘Floridian Fat Cat Breakfast,’ serving up steak and eggs, home fries, grits, toast, and a bottle of Dom Perignon for two.
Dinner can be special at the Floridian as well, with its diverse wine list, family style seating, and an informal relaxed environment. It is also a place with the largest salads and lo-cal platters in town, and surprisingly delightful fresh fish dishes, including my favorite, a healthy portion of fresh teriyaki salmon, served with steamed broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes. There is also over a dozen subs and wraps on the menu.
Daily specials are always available, but the Floridian’s everyday menu creates unlimited choices. They own the rights to the largest cheese steak in town, and a Mexican Meat Loaf, topped with chili and cheddar cheese, that will leave you thinking you are south of the border. One of their more unique favorites is the ‘Hot Florida Grill,’ with sliced chicken breast, sweating with melted Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and thousand island dressing, served on a 12 inch hoagie roll. Bring the doggie bag.
As a local meeting place, you can park there and walk up to the shops of Las Olas, stopping here for a never ending cup of coffee, or a wide selection of iced or hot lattes, cappuccino, or espresso. Late at night or early in the morning, it is a welcome and inviting restaurant with a rich history.