It’s rare in South Florida to find restaurants that have stood the test of time, surviving for three decades or more. Here are three Broward institutions we decided to revisit.
Chuck’s Steak House is the steakhouse I remember from my South Florida childhood. At its peak, the national chain had four locations in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Today there are just two, both in Fort Lauderdale, including the 1973 original on 17th Street Causeway. Local owner Paul Proffer started with Chuck’s in Los Angeles in 1963, delivering bread and waiting tables. Chuck’s menu hasn’t changed much over the years (though it no longer arrives on a Lancers wine bottle). Expect simple grilled steaks, seafood and chicken served in a casual but comfortable setting complete with a country-western singer on a recent Saturday night. An open, contemporary look with brick accents keeps it from feeling dated. Chuck’s fresh, all-you-can-eat salad bar still sets it apart. Plus you’ll find extras like fresh baked bread and house-made pasta salad. Entrees also come with a choice of starch or vegetable. Chuck’s prides itself on the fact that its meat is aged and hand-cut on premises. My favorite remains the Black Diamond Steak, a top sirloin flavored by a tasty marinade. A New York strip steak also came out tender and juicy, and the classic Sir Chuck, a chopped sirloin steak with mushroom sauce on the side, remains a simple winner. This is one childhood memory that’s well worth revisiting.
Walking into 35-year-old Old Florida Seafood with its wood tables and dark red vinyl banquettes is like taking a step back in time. All dinners come with soup or salad, potato and vegetable of the day, and the early-bird special adds dessert and coffee. Many customers choose to split the generous entrees, and the restaurant has a $9.95 sharing charge that provides another salad, potato and veggie. The menu sticks to the basics with lots of fish and shellfish served broiled and fried, with française, scampi, marinara and Cajun preparations also available. The menu may not be particularly creative, but the quality of the seafood stacks up well. Broiled shrimp and scallops were incredibly fresh and perfectly cooked. The portion was more than ample with four large shrimp and about twice as many bay scallops. The only quibble was it needed a little more seasoning than a dusting of paprika. Cajun snapper packed a punch with lots of spice. A special of stuffed tilapia royale included a moist and well-seasoned crab meat stuffing with baby shrimp.
Owned and operated by the same family since 1949, Tropical Acres bills itself as Broward’s oldest steak and seafood restaurant. Closed for about six months for repairs and renovation after a fire, it reopened in March. The kitchen is new, and one side of the dining room has been redone, but what hasn’t changed is the menu and attentive service. The focus is on the classics with a wide range of char-broiled steaks and chops plus Italian specialties and seafood selections including shrimp scampi, sea bass française and lobster. Entrees come with a salad and choice of starch or vegetable. We have enjoyed their steaks in the past, but were disappointed on our recent visit by a 10-ounce strip steak that was chewy and not very flavorful. On the plus side, a pair of crab cakes were loaded with lump crab meat and very little filler, lightly pan-fried so they weren’t greasy at all.