The Fort Lauderdale oceanfront is a tale of two beaches.
But somewhere in between there is a third story, still being written, set among the low-slung mid-century inns, terraces and cafes of North Beach Village, where a distinctively laidback, Old Florida beach vibe has managed, quietly, to hold on.
Located a block from the ocean and the luxe hotels on A1A, North Beach Village is a forgotten Fort Lauderdale, a strolling, biking and relaxing neighborhood, dotted by a unique repository of the city’s signature, “Mad Men”-era mid-century modern architecture. Its centerpiece is architect Charles McKirahan’s iconic, neon-splashed Birch Tower.
As a portal back to another time — let’s just say it: a better time — North Beach Village feels enchanted. Understandably, locals and in-the-know visitors would rather its existence not be revealed.
Here are some ways to get immersed in the invigorating unpretentiousness of North Beach Village over the course of 24 hours — call it a quick staycation or a long date night. We picked Friday, Sept. 24, for our excursion, in part because the Goodland Hotel will be packed this weekend for FemAle Brew Fest on Saturday, Sept. 18. But any time is a good time to visit.
Check in: The Goodland
Among a variety of small hotels, inns and B&Bs in North Beach Village (some actively remodeling), the newest is the 96-room Kimpton Goodland Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach (formerly the Escape Hotel), opened in April, a stylish, palm-draped refuge behind a crisp MiMo façade.
It is located two blocks from the ocean and two blocks from the Water Taxi stop on the Intracoastal (2901 Seville St.). The rate for a room with a king bed on Sept. 24 starts at $189.05.
The pet-friendly hotel tries to keep things quiet — the poolside Good Bar closes at 6:30 p.m. and the pool closes at 9 p.m.
“We get a lot of locals and a lot of return guests, because it’s off the beaten path. People that come here want to escape. They want to relax,” says Diane Millar, the Goodland restaurant and bar manager.
The Kimpton Goodland Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach is at 2900 Riomar St.
The restaurant Botanic at the Kimpton Goodland Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach faces windows onto the pool.
Assuming we check in around 3 p.m., after a quick change, we’re catching pre-dinner drinks at Botanic, the restaurant overlooking the pool at the Goodland. If the mood strikes, the bar-bites menu includes several salads, ceviche's ($12-$16), three pizza options ($14-$17) and other items. Botanic also has a full dinner menu, including an impressive looking Botanic Burger, with duck-fat fries ($22).
Botanic is inside the Goodland, 2900 Riomar St.
Dinner: Casa Del Mare Ristorante
But we’re doing early dinner at 6 p.m. at Casa Del Mare, both for its location in the Sea Club Resort Hotel, a kitschy waterfront spot that resembles a ski chalet on the ocean, and for new chef and partner Fabrizio Polizzi.
While the name of the restaurant is the same, its ambitions have changed since the June 1 arrival of Polizzi, who spent more than five years as sous chef at Miami’s revered Casa Tua. Born in Belgium to Sicilian parents, the personable chef bills the menu he is developing as “fresh seafood with an Italian twist.”
“All the pastas on the menu are homemade, fresh, all of them. Which makes a difference,” Polizzi says. And you can’t beat the view.
Casa Del Mare Ristorante is on the second floor of the Sea Club Resort Hotel, 619 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd
Movie: ‘La La Land’ at Las Olas Oceanside Park
Of course dinner and a movie. It’s a date night. The Movies by Moonlight Summer Series continues on Sept. 24 with a free screening of the Oscar-winning musical rom-com “La La Land” at Las Olas Oceanside Park, a mile down A1A from North Beach Village. The film begins at sunset (around 7:30 p.m.). Bring a blanket.
Las Olas Oceanside Park is at 3000 E. Las Olas Blvd.
More drinks: Wine Garden
There is nothing in Greger Nilzen’s circuitous resume that could have predicted his destiny in North Beach Village, where he runs Wine Garden, an unassuming, down-a-random-alley revelation distinguished by soothing design, a thoughtful wine list and an attentive staff.
Once you find it — there are no signs on either of the two alley entries — Wine Garden will be one of your new favorite spots.
Wine Garden is at 608 Breakers Ave.
About a block from Wine Garden, at the corner of Breakers Avenue and Belmar Street, two food trucks are permanently moored next to each other in a landscaped spot with lights, umbrellas, tables and chairs. Plaza Bistro is open for breakfast and lunch 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily, while Vegan Brüder serves 11 a.m.-2 a.m. While the name (and the flag) might suggest a German take on vegan food (brüder means “brothers”), the vegan menu is deliciously straightforward. The Mushroom & Jalapeno Burger ($13.99) with vegan cheese ($1) on a pretzel bun is one of the best burgers I’ve had in a while, vegan or no.
Vegan Brüder is at 619 Breakers Ave.
Breakfast: Archibald’s Village Bakery
Opened Memorial Day weekend by Chef Justin Mathys-Archibald and husband Christopher Mathys-Archibald, the bakery offers a variety of savory items (killer breakfast sandwiches on house-made bread) and sweets to enjoy in its sunny indoor space or umbrella-dotted patio from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday-Monday.
Some of the recipes come from a wooden box of hand-written note cards handed down to Justin (an Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale graduate from rural Ohio) from his great-grandmother in Kentucky. Christopher (a one-time cruise line choreographer from Leeds, England) is not shy about pointing out that English specialties such as raspberry jam scones are “quite popular.”
Christopher says the bakery has already developed a loyal following that seems evenly split between locals and tourists at nearby hotels.
Archibald’s Village Bakery is at 608 Breakers Ave.
Bike, Beer, Beach: Park & Ocean
You can’t spend 24 hours on Fort Lauderdale beach without dipping your toes in the sand, can you? Locals will tell you: Yes. Yes, you can.
A mile north on A1A is Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, where you’ll find Park & Ocean, a café created out of an old boathouse in a shady thicket of sea grape trees. They have local crafts beers and elevated beach food, plus most recent Saturdays, from noon-4 p.m., have featured local singer-songwriter Mark Zaden, a quality dude. You’ll also find kayaks, canoes, SUP boards and jet skis — and tunnel access to the beach. Totally optional.
By this point, presumably, you’ve either checked out of the Goodland — or decided to rinse and repeat for the weekend.
Park & Ocean is at 3109 E. Sunrise Blvd.
For the full article written by South Florida Sun-Sentinel Feature Writer, Ben Crandell, view https://www.sun-sentinel.com