Prolific restaurateur Stephen Starr expands his South Florida empire with this latest outpost of a Philly favorite, El Vez, now open at the nightlife-friendly W Fort Lauderdale. Chef Steven Menter, who has worked with Starr for several years and opened El Vez New York, presides over the kitchen.
A sprawling waterfront spot beside its nine-year-old sibling, Steak 954, in the former Whiskey Blue lounge, this 300-seater features brick murals of Frida Kahlo and tropical plants, red-striped semicircular booths and a Mexican beer-can wall. And indoor-outdoor bar features an expansive wraparound terrace with cacti, a lounge, dark-brown trellises and games such as shuffleboard and corn hole.
Mexican favorites like guacamole, quesadillas, and enchiladas along with salads and ceviches. Prices are reasonable with small plates $8-$18 and larger mains $18-$29.
Guacamole is done three different ways here: classic, verde with mixed herbs and Meyer lemon and the “tinto” with jicama, mango and red pepper. Crispy Mahi Tacos lead the taco list, along with grilled local snapper, al carbon and carnitas. All come neatly wrapped and tied in flour tortillas.
The kale salad is dressed with a vegan Caesar dressing while black bean enchiladas are a good option for vegetarians. Largers mains include a chipotle-rubbed flat iron steak and a whole branzino Baja-style.
Desserts keep the Mexican vibe going with a Mexican chocolate sundae, a citrus flan and spicy chocolate churros.
If you’re in Ft. Lauderdale and looking for views of the ocean along with solid Mexican eats, you’re in luck.