When Frank and Yaddi Rodriguez fell in love with a truly homey location for their Latin restaurant, they had no idea it would be six years before they served their first empanada. There was even more red tape, rebuilding and expense than they expected involved in transforming a decrepit 1924 house into a charming neighborhood destination. But The Chimney House Grill & Cafe is looking like a dream come true for the Colombian-born couple.
Open since August on the edge of Fort Lauderdale’s artsy Sailboat Bend, the restaurant is already drawing a steady stream of regulars for authentic fare at reasonable prices (all items under $20) served by a gracious staff in a unique setting. The menu offers a few American (burgers, sandwiches) and Spanish (omelets, rice dishes) items, but it’s largely a pan-Latin mix. One cook is from Guatemala, the other from Peru, and Frank Rodriguez’s Colombian mom is often in the kitchen as well (yes, there’s even mom’s meatloaf).
Ambience: We picked a table on the covered deck, which looks like a front porch, and enjoyed a soundtrack of soothing Spanish guitar riffs and Latin jazz. Inside, the dining room only has 24 seats; the Rodriguezes had to work around the original brick fireplace, which proved integral to the structure and inspired the name. There’s also a dog-friendly patio, with water bowls for your pooch.