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One thing you can say about the South Florida dining scene is that it’s never boring.

Places come and go so quickly you can barely keep track. The pandemic hasn’t slowed anything down. Here are a few changes taking place in the area.

Doin’ the Drive

It’s got to be difficult opening a restaurant in these trying times, so you have to give Chef Nate credit for that. The former chef of Tropics has taken over the spot formerly occupied by Mind Your Manors, right across the street from his old stomping grounds, the simply named, Chef Nate’s. I don’t review places until they’ve been open a few months, to give them time to smooth out any problems encountered on opening.

Chef Nate’s

2045 N. Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors 

no phone number listed yet

Siam Cuisine, the first Thai restaurant in South Florida, and a staple in Wilton Manors for decades, is another casualty of the COVID pandemic. It shuttered quietly a few weeks ago and although the website is still active, the phone number has been disconnected. The new business going into that space will be called The Violet Hour. There is a similarly named lounge in Chicago that specializes in recreating cocktail parties of the 1920s, but they inform me that the Wilton Manors location is not affiliated with their establishment. Let’s hope it’s just as upscale, we could use a swanky nightspot. We need an excuse to put on real shoes and long pants every now and then.

Musical Chairs

Canyon, long a popular place to grab dinner before a movie at the Gateway Theater next door, has moved.  It will take over the spot at 620 S. Federal, formerly home to One Door East, and its next-door neighbor, formerly home to Valentina Cucina, will now house Primadonna. Both restaurants are co-owned by chef Chris Wilber and his business partner Mario Di Leo. One of the reasons for the move is additional space. Wilbur says that by taking over the new space, Canyon will almost double its dining-room and bar seating (to 115 seats), allowing the restaurant to offer reservations for the first time.

Primadonna will serve both traditional and inventive interpretations of Italian classics. This is high-end Italian; appetizers start at $12 for a simple salad and go up to $20. Entrees are $20-$30 range for pasta, and up to nearly $50 for meat and fish dishes. There’s also a serious dress code; no shorts, Bermuda shorts, tank tops, baseball caps, sneakers, or flip-flops!


620 S. Federal, Fort Lauderdale  




620 S. Federal, Fort Lauderdale  


Taking over Canyon’s old space on Sunrise is Gastrotheque. The new venture from Wilton Wings owner Gary Bouvier, is quite a few steps more upscale than his wings spot. Appetizers start at $12 for an order of truffle fries and go upwards of $25, entrees climb nearly to $50. The menu is the creation of executive chef Gaston Campaña, who has trained in Argentina, Thailand, Germany, and Spain, as well as notable local favorites Fontainebleau & Valentino’s.


1818 E Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale 


Rick Karlin is SFGN's food editor. Visit 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..