Casablanca Cafe is a favorite eatery of locals and tourists alike. Sitting on A1A with oceanfront views, Casablanca blends old world charm with upscale trend and is recognized as Ft. Lauderdale’s most romantic restaurant. The restaurant is housed in the 1927 historic home of J.J. Jova – officially the oldest building in Ft. Lauderdale Beach. While renovated in 1993 to create the cafe, the original Mediterranean Revival architecture was preserved, giving a Spanish/Middle-Eastern feel to your alfresco dining experience.
The uniquely prepared gourmet menu intertwines American and Mediterranean cuisines offering an abundance of land, sea and vegetable options. The lunch menu boasts house specialities that include baked escargot in garlic lemon butter with Reggiano toast, phyllo-wrapped baked brie with blueberry chutney and Moroccan kebabs with grilled vegetables and spicy harissa yogurt sauce. The dinner menu attracts foodies for its roasted eggplant and goat cheese ravioli, the roasted duck “Kal-Bi” with stir-fried veggies and cucumber kimchee and the blue crab crusted mahi-mahi with lobster sauce and whipped potatoes. Without a doubt, there is delectable dish for every palate.
Note to visitors: This place is ALWAYS crowded and unfortunately, they do not accept reservations. Don’t be surprised if you wait 30+ minutes for a table, especially if you are looking to dine on the outside patio. We drove by Casablanca three nights in a row, midweek, and it was packed every time. Our last day in Ft. Lauderdale, we ventured to the restaurant for appetizers hoping to beat the crowds and snag a seat outside. We arrived just after they opened for lunch and before our appetizers made their way to the table, the outside seating was already full.
Barbara and I tend to live by the rule of “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” With it being our last meal on the east coast, it was only fitting to have a lunchtime libation. We each ordered one of the signature Casa cocktails as a farewell to Ft. Lauderdale. She sipped on a Moscow Mule while I enjoyed a hard Strawberry Lemonade, an addicting blend of freshly muddled strawberries, lemon juice and vodka.
We’re also both suckers for soup, regardless of the season or outside temperature. Lucky for us, Casablanca features a French Onion soup with gruyere, parmesan gratin, and herbed crostini – for us it was a must, even if it was pushing 85 degrees outside. We both have high standards for French Onion soup. We like small, thinly sliced onions (as opposed to chunks or long, sloppy strips) and they must have the perfect balance of sweet caramelization and salty broth. The stock itself should be reduced and silky with a French baguette (or pieces of baguette) soaking in it, absorbing the broth like a sponge. But the best part of French Onion soup, hands down, is the thick layer of melted cheeses enveloping the crock. Casablanca has artfully mastered this bistro classic. In fact, neither of us spoke a word while savored each slurp. And as much as I hate to admit it in public and in writing, I ordered a second bowl! This soup was that amazing.
For the best view, head upstairs and sit on the veranda. Up there you’ll have a panorama of the ocean without the traffic constantly interrupting your view. And regardless of the occasion you’re celebrating or the meal you’re eating, you must order the French onion soup!
Casablanca Cafe – 3049 Alhambra St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304