By Rochelle Koff
You’re sipping a pina colada at twilight, watching the mega yachts glide by on a shimmering sea. The foam tickles your nose. The heady aromas of garlic, smoke and simmering sauces mingle with the balmy breeze. Stress melts away. Ah, to be on vacation in Fort Lauderdale. But wait; you live here. Welcome to Coconuts, one of the best restaurant-bar scenes in Fort Lauderdale. Since taking over in 2007, owners Elliot Wolf and Merv Jonota have worked on honing the menu, turning out better food to go with the laid-back vibe and primo location, Coconuts’ best feature.
During the summer, the atmosphere is lively but not as frenetic as during tourist season. And the young staff is well-trained and more attentive than you’d expect at a beach business.
- Sweet, succulent locally grown heirloom tomatoes bolstered by a bracing champagne vinaigrette, a sprinkling of Maytag blue cheese and crunchy crumbled croutons
- Grilled whole artichoke with a sprinkling of Parmesan and bread crumbs
- Crunchy, plum and supple coconut shrimp
- Perfectly grilled striped bass topped with lump crab and a light lemon butter sauce
- Feast-worth paella with mussels, chorizo, pork, swordfish, shrimp, a halved, five-ounce lobster tail and tender chicken thighs on a bed of moist saffron rice
- Plump and juice pan-seared scallops served with thick-sliced tomatoes and arugula
- Coconut cheesecake with lots of flaked coconut
What Didn’t Work
- Conch fitters with little flavor and a too-doughy batter
- Good but oily fish and grits (sautéed snapper, served with cooked tomatoes) were good if a little oily, that didn’t live up to the high expectations of a Southern dining companion
Coconuts: 429 Seabreeze Blvd, Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-2421; Hours: 11:30am-10pm Mon-Sat, 10am-10pm Sunday (brunch until 1pm). Prices: Starters $8-$16, entrees $17-$26 (some dishes market price), sandwiches $9-$15, sides $3-$4, desserts $7.
FYI: Acoustic guitar Wednesday-Thursday, steel drum Friday-Saturday, 7-10pm. Full bar; no corkage fee; by-the-bottle wines half-price Monday-Tuesday. Free parking lot. AX, DN, DS, MC, VS.