I like heading to Fort Lauderdale for a quick weekend getaway. It’s an easy ride down the turnpike, and the atmosphere in FTL is more relaxed than South Beach, a little farther down Interstate 95.
And whenever I visit, I always look for places to dine on the water. Not necessarily the ocean, because there aren’t too many restaurants on the beach — they’re usually across the street, which will invariably be busy with traffic to block the view.
I look for places on the Intracoastal Waterway, where restaurants have seating that is actually dockside. And if something blocks the view, it’s bound to be a mega yacht that has pulled in so that the passengers can enjoy a meal.
There are a lot of such places along Fort Lauderdale’s riverways, but in too many cases one must sacrifice food quality for atmosphere and location. On my most recent visit, I found Kaluz, a not quite two-year-old restaurant that has a beautiful facility and terrace on the river, excellent food and some of the better service you can find in town, to boot.
My guest and I stopped in without reservations on a busy Saturday evening during the popular boat show weekend. An hour wait for a table, we were told, but if we could find a place at the bar — either inside or outside — we were welcome to grab it. Outside was our only desire — that’s why we were here — but the bar was packed, and there were already other hopefuls hovering over guests with the hope they’d finish and give up their seats.
Then I spotted two open lounge chairs, comfortable seats that looked like they belonged in someone’s living room, right next to the dock and I asked if food could be ordered there. “Full menu,” came the smiling reply from a passing server.
With a low coffee table as our only surface for food, we weren’t likely to order something that would require a lot of cutting. Or anything too messy, either.
We shared a sausage and peppers flatbread, which had hunks of spicy Italian sausage with red and yellow bell peppers and some red onions mixed in. The flatbread wasn’t too flat and in fact has a nice bit of chew to it, and the toppings were more than substantial for a starter course.
My guest went with a Classic Cheeseburger and I chose the Prime Rib Burger, thinking that it was just a different way of saying that it was a prime rib sandwich. But no, it was a burger patty that was then topped with shaved prime rib, so basically beef on beef. Both burgers were cooked just so. I think I liked the goat cheese and caramelized onions that came with my burger over the yellow cheddar on my friend’s.
Our server couldn’t have been better. This place was absolutely packed, yet she kept her composure, didn’t mind our questions or requests and generally made it a pleasant experience.
And of course there was the parade of boats on the water as we sat beneath a tall, beautifully lit palm tree. The two guys from Maine sitting across from us who were attending the boat show were envious that we get to experience such an evening all year round. Yep, it’s pretty much waiting for us whenever we want it.
Kaluzis at 3300 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 954-772-2209.