Let’s face it, our community will turn anything into a celebration and a reason to go out to wine and dine. You got a new job? Let’s go out for dinner! You quit your job? Let’s go out for dinner! While cocktails may be in the forecast later in the evening, celebrating any special occasion seems to call for getting together for dinner at a fancy (read expensive) restaurant. Here are a few places that, while they will run you a few bucks (more than $25 a person, for dinner and a drink) are perfect for celebrating that special event.


Celebrating a Promotion

Canyon Southwest Café

1818 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale



Expensive, but not so much that you need to get a second mortgage, Canyon has been one of our area’s favorite restaurants for more than 20 years. Canyon serves artisanal cuisine with Asian, South and Central American undertones. Although the dining room is intimate, the selections from the menu and bar are vast and varied. Try the specialty of the house, the prickly pear Margarita!


Mom and Dad’s Anniversary


3300 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale



The menu features some inventive takes on American classics, as well as more straight-forward fare such as steaks, roast chicken and fish. There’s an excellent, fully stocked bar should you need fortification to last an entire evening with the parental units, or arrive early and take advantage of the happy hour deals on the expansive deck lounge. The waterfront location is gorgeous, and even the inside seats have great water views.


Boy’s Night Out

J Mark’s

1245 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale



J Mark’s isn’t as pricey as some of the other places on this list. That is why it’s perfect for a night out with your friends. There’s something for all budgets and tastes, from burgers and salads to steaks and seafood, which is one reason it’s been a long-time favorite gathering place for our community, or maybe it’s because happy hour runs from 2-6 p.m. and then starts again at 9 p.m.! Appetizers are big enough for the whole table or to serve as an entrée.


Your Vegan Sister’s Birthday


1431 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale



The upscale décor and top-notch service have made Sublime a world-wide destination for vegetarians and vegans. While you won’t be able to get a hamburger or steak, the food is so good here you won’t care that you’re not getting your protein from the usual sources. The Sun-Sentinel summed it up pretty well, “Best reason to go: for the sheer experience of taste, ambiance and elegance… Sublime is a culinary wonderland.” If that’s not enough of an incentive, keep in mind that 100% of Sublime's profits support animal welfare organizations.


Romantic Date Night in Miami

The Forge

432 W. 41st St., Miami Beach



If you want to experience what it would be like if Downton Abbey came to modern day Miami Beach, make a reservation at The Forge. The ingredient-driven menu varies somewhat, but there are certain must-order dishes; lobster pot-pie, pastrami-style duck breast or any of the dry-aged steaks. The very definition of special event dining (entrees range from $30 to $90, a la carte). However, there are some deals to be had; through the end of September they’re offering a free personal-size banana soufflé and glass of dessert wine for each Florida resident (must present a valid photo ID). It will still be a pricey evening, but you didn’t think those folks at Downton Abbey shopped at Costco, did you?


Romantic Date Night in Town

Cafe Seville

2768 E. Oakland Park Blvd



Don’t let the strip-mall exterior dissuade you; Café Seville boasts a romantic atmosphere, complete with candlelight and live guitar music. The excellently curated wine list perfectly augments the authentic, excellently-prepared, Spanish-influenced cuisine. While the service may not be the most polished, it is friendly and accommodating. You’ll feel like an honored guest, because you are.


‘Cause It’s Friday Night

Blue Martini

The Galleria, 2432 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale



6000 Glades Rd., Boca Raton



If you want a bit of a giggle, head over to Blue Martini’s patio either at the Galleria or in Boca Raton, for Friday cocktail hour. It’s a great deal because it’s half-off the entire menu (drinks and food) from 2 – 8 p.m. That same deal is in effect every day of the week but Fridays are special because it’s (unofficially) “Cougar Night.” On Friday nights the elderly gals show up pulled tight, stuffed into Spanx and push-up bras and go prowling for love – and there are plenty of young men there to accommodate them. Sit back with a martini and enjoy the show!