South Florida Restaurants that Buzz

Groups meeting in South Florida almost invariably take some time to step out and enjoy the local scene, which includes outstanding beaches, exciting nightlife and creative culinary offerings.

Many of the top restaurants can be found in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and The Palm Beaches. Here are some fabulous spots for groups.


Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant has been a Miami icon since Joe Weiss opened it in 1913. It’s open only during stone-crab season, from Oct. 15 to May 15. Attendees will be given bibs to wear…and they’ll want to wear them if they try the crab. These stone crabs, in addition to pretty much every seafood dish served at Joe Stone’s Crab, are widely considered among the best on Earth. There’s a good chance your group will see celebrities there, too.

Most restaurants lose their buzz after they’ve been open for a decade, but not Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. It’s still a comfortable neighborhood eatery (although the Design District is always on the cutting edge of “cool”) with a casual vibe and innovative, award-winning cuisine. Don’t even think about walking the district without stopping at Michael’s Genuine. It will be worth every step.

Greater Fort Lauderdale

Well, Funky Buddha Brewery isn’t a restaurant, of course, and the food selection is still expanding. But it’s where Fort Lauderdale goes to hear good music, see happy people, enjoy some of the most distinctive craft beers in the United States, and play fun games such as Giant Jenga. And the “fun food” is pretty darn good, too. It’s beginning to gain national attention.

Tucked into a nondescript strip mall in the western Broward County city of Plantation, and open until 1:30 a.m. every day, Marumi Sushi restaurant nonetheless is gaining a “downtown” reputation. The cuisine, featuring Wagyu beef and creative sushi dishes, is enhanced by nightly surprises that even the chefs have no idea about until they feel a sudden burst of inspiration.

The Palm Beaches

Queen of Sheeba Ethiopian Restaurant is a casual restaurant in a West Palm residential neighborhood that is redolent with aromas of the sauces, powders and spices of the owner’s Ethiopian homeland. Dining is communal, so groups share each dish; it’s a fun way to try an adventurous type of cuisine.

Tucked into the trendy shops at Delray Marketplace in West Delray Beach, Burt & Max’s is one of the area’s most popular restaurants. Surrounded by upscale bars, restaurants, clothiers and specialty food shops, Burt & Max’s is always crowded and humming with a happy vibe…because the American food there is always great.

Read more in Steve Winston’s story, “In South Florida, Cultural Places are Meeting Spaces: Stunning New Developments are Transforming the Region, in the March issue of Smart Meetings.