Southport Raw Bar is required eating in Fort Lauderdale[mappress mapid=”285″ alignment=”left” initialopeninfo=”false”]Whenever I pick up visitors from out of state at the Fort Lauderdale airport, our first stop is always the Southport Raw Bar to immediately immerse them in the ambiance of South Florida. And it works every time. Seated at the raw bar or out on the patio, looking down a serene canal filled with sailboats and yachts, you are definitively aware you have arrived. The Southport has been around since 1973, although it seems as if it’s been there forever. There is definitely an ‘Old Florida’ feel to the place. The outdoor patio on the docks was added in the ‘90s, and you have to wonder what took them so long. We always start with a pitcher of beer and a couple of orders of spiced shrimp — Southport staples — and then move on to whatever strikes our fancy. The locals will tell you, and I’m a local, that the cheese steak and roast pork hoagies are the most popular menu items. (The roast pork is served on garlic bread with duck sauce.) Clams and oysters are shucked to order, and there is a variety of fried baskets and seafood platters (blackened dolphin is my favorite). For newbies, the dolphin is the fish, not Flipper, but we like to give you a little scare. This tasty, flaky local fish is also known as mahi mahi. It is abundant in our ocean waters, and you can almost always get it fresh off the boat. I can also recommend without hesitation the smoked fish dip as an app and, of course, the Key Lime pie for dessert. After a few beers and bites, I take my guests for a ride east on the 17th Street Causeway for a view of the port and cruise ships, then continue across the bridge to A1A for their indoctrination to Fort Lauderdale’s famous beach.
Hot tip: A nearby alternative to Southport is Kelly’s Landing, just a half-block south on Cordova Road. Kelly’s imports New England seafood, and the fried belly (Ipswich) clams are to die for. A friend had the fish and chips at Kelly’s, and he said it was the best fried scrod he had eaten since visiting Ireland. Don’t forget the malt vinegar!
If you go:
Southport Raw Bar, 1536 Cordova Rd Fort Lauderdale; (954) 525-2526
How to get there by boat:
The Southport sits at the dead end of the 15th Street canal, which can be accessed from the Intracoastal Waterway one canal north of the massive 17th Street Causeway bridge. You can usually find an empty slip to park your boat.
How to get there by car:
The Southport is a block north of the 17th Street Causeway on Cordova Road, next to Brownie’s Third Lung (a legendary dive shop).
Parking Tip: Parking can sometimes be a challenge at the Southport, especially on weekends. The only visible parking lot is out front, and space is very limited. Go a half-block south, turn east onto SE 16th Street and you will find Southport’s “hidden” lot wedged into an alley in the shadow of a marina’s boat storage racks. The path to Southport’s outdoor deck is at the end of the alley.
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Bob Rountree is a beach bum, angler and camper who has explored Florida for decades. No adventure is complete without a scenic paddle trail or unpaved road to nowhere. Bob co-founded FloridaRambler.com with fellow journalist Bonnie Gross 14 years ago.