I’m dining out less often due to the upswing in COVID and the new Delta variant (how long before we have a drag queen named Delta Variant?)

So, this week I went to two restaurants, both with Deck in the name and with vastly different experiences. What are the odds?

I really tried to like The Deck on 13th, finally open along the 13th Street corridor, just down the street from Milk Money and The Pride Factory. That area is working so hard to become something. The problem is it just doesn’t know what. The same could be said for The Deck on 13th. I live in this area and am grateful that co-owner J.J. Rojas (along with Laura Serrano) has done something to improve this space. Rojas says her confidence in the potential of 13th Street never wavered. “We saw that the street had a purpose. The vision of the landlord, the vision of the community ... We needed the street and the street needed us. It was a mission,” she says.

I hope she’s right, but my first impressions weren’t stellar. You can walk along the side of the building into the backyard-like space or enter through the front door into a lounge area decorated with thrift store furniture that makes it look like a college kid’s first apartment.

There’s some innovative use of 45 records to make an art installation of sorts and I suppose this is supposed to feel like a quirky hangout space. The problem is, no one is there to serve you or make you feel welcome, and it just looks dirty and dingy.

Head a bit farther back and you encounter a deli counter/bar with two friendly twink bartenders. This is where you order your drinks and a charcuterie platter, should you want one … and if they happen to have the ingredients. On the day of our visit, (a weeknight around 6 p.m., by the way) they were out of numerous items and the draft beer dispenser wasn’t working. BTW the cheese and meats looked as if they were nearing the expiration date, so we passed on those. If you do decide to assemble a board, it’s $5 for each cheese or meat selection.

For the only other dining option, you need to head out to the large backyard and titular deck. The backyard and outdoor deck are decorated with what seem to be cast-offs similar to those in the lounge area. There is a sun sail, but as the sun goes down it is situated so that there are few places to escape the blazing sun. This seems like more of a late-night hangout so that may not prove to be as much of a liability as it appears.

Lola’s Tacos and Sliders is emblazoned across the food truck nestled in a corner of the yard. The truck is operated by Rojas and Serrano and the menu is right up there with the name of the truck. Tacos and sliders predominate, along with really good shrimp ceviche and tasty guacamole. Service is not as quick as you would expect from a food truck. For our meal of a side of guac and a large ceviche, it took a good 30 minutes to get our meal (and we were one of two couples ordering food) and we paid $40!

Normally after an experience like that, I’d write the place off, but I’ll give it another chance, maybe we’ll stop by for Taco Tuesdays when the namesake hand-held start at $1 each.

Deck on 13th 
545 NE 13th St., Fort Lauderdale 

And now for something completely different. We stopped by this place for lunch when my mother-in-law was in town, and we all were delighted. The beautiful waterfront dining was reasonably priced (for lunch items — dinner entrees are a bit pricier). The $15 veggie burger was well-prepared and came with a large order of fries. An appetizer of empanadas proved enough for a lunch portion. The grilled shrimp Caesar salad bore little resemblance to a classic Caesar (tomatoes and cucumbers?) but was delightful and featured plenty of large perfectly grilled shrimp. The bacon-wrapped meatloaf was the sole disappointment. There was more bacon than ground beef and what meatloaf there was, was so light and airy it practically disintegrated on the fork. 

The service was friendly and attentive. Note: parking in the area can be difficult, but there’s a valet behind the restaurant, enter off the side street.

Deck 84 
840 E. Atlantic, Delray Beach 

Rick Karlin is SFGN's food editor. Visit SFGN.com/Food to read his previous reviews. Have a culinary tip to share? Email Rick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..