You don’t have to be an ar­chi­tec­ture buff to en­joy eat­ing in a beau­ti­ful or in­trigu­ing space. De­ter­mined to dou­ble the din­ing plea­sure of our read­ers, we sought out Florida’s most ar­chi­tec­turally in­ter­est­ing places in which to have a meal.

You don’t have to be an ar­chi­tec­ture buff to en­joy eat­ing in a beau­ti­ful or in­trigu­ing space. De­ter­mined to dou­ble the din­ing plea­sure of our read­ers, we sought out Florida’s most ar­chi­tec­turally in­ter­est­ing places in which to have a meal. There’s no bet­ter re­source for such rec­om­men­da­tions than the Florida chap­ter of the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects. With a ro­bust 13 lo­cal com­po­nents across the Sun­shine State, mem­bers fo­cus on shap­ing Florida’s fu­ture through great de­sign, en­gag­ing with their var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties as of­ten as pos­si­ble. So with­out fur­ther ado, here’s a great list for your glove­box; come hun­gry for eye candy!


The Back Porch Seafood and Oys­ter House was once a two-story A-frame stilted fish­ing shack on the beach. Along the way, it’s been con­verted into a pop­u­lar seafood restau­rant where oys­ters come with a beau­ti­ful view of the beach. 1740 Scenic High­way 98; 850-837-2022; the­back-porch.com

Fort Laud­erdale

The first home ever built on Fort Laud­erdale’s beach—Jova House, circa 1927—re­mains its old­est struc­ture. This lovely stucco dwelling by ar­chi­tect Fran­cis L. Abreu holds to­day’s Casablanca Café. Re­flect­ing Mediter­ranean Re­vival style, the café of­fers pa­trons a charm­ing en­vi­ron­ment of spi­ral stair­cases, dec­o­ra­tive tiles, lovely arches and wrought-iron de­tails. 3049 Al­ham­bra St.; 954-764-3500; casablan­ca­cafeon­line.com

Orig­i­nally a road­house sa­loon, the won­der­fully ca­sual Rus­tic Inn Crab­house has en­joyed its cur­rent pur­pose for more than 50 years. Out­door seat­ing prac­ti­cally floats above an in­land wa­ter­way, and the Rus­tic Inn’s seafood mo­ti­vates a steady stream of loyal pa­trons. 4331 An­glers Ave; 954-584-1637; arkrestau­rants.com Laud­erdale’s AIA com­po­nent also gives props to the new chef-driven tapas bar Sun Surf Sand (S3), where ev­ery seat has a wa­ter view. Its ex­ter­nal struc­ture and pa­tio match the style of the Hil­ton Fort

“As an ar­chi­tect, I be­lieve a great restau­rant of­fers in­trigue: The place in which we eat is as es­sen­tial as the fla­vors and how we are served. Whether large or small, charm­ing, grand, in­doors or out, a cel­e­bra­tion of the ar­chi­tec­tural space en­hances the fla­vor of the food and in­ten­si­fies the per­cep­tion of the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.” — Joyce Owens, AIA; prin­ci­ple ar­chi­tect, Stu­dio AJO of Fort My­ers; 2017 pres­i­dent-elect AIA Florida chap­ter

Laud­erdale Beach Re­sort, but S3’s sleek, dark in­te­rior color scheme visu­ally con­trasts the land­mark ho­tel’s bright white beach vibe. 505 N. Fort Laud­erdale Beach Blvd.; 954-523-7873; s3restau­rant.com


Mar­jorie Kin­nan Rawl­ings’ fa­mous Cross Creek ham­let is the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind The Year­ling Restau­rant. This rambling “cracker-style” eatery oozes rus­tic South­ern charm. Ad­ding to the old-fash­ioned vibe are clas­sic dishes such as cat­fish, clams, cooter (tur­tle), ga­tor and frog legs. Florida Trend mag­a­zine named it a Top Restau­rant 10 years in a row. 14531 E. County Road 325, Hawthorne; 352-466-3999; year­lin­grestau­rant.net Also making Gainesville AIA’s list are open-air Bal­ly­hoo Grill (3700 W. University Ave.; 352-373-0059; bal­ly­hoogrill.com), with its thatched roof; Satchel’s Pizza (1800 NE 23rd Ave.; 352-3357272; satchel­spizza.com), where one ta­ble is ac­tu­ally in­side an old van; and Mojo Hog­town BBQ (12 SE 2nd Ave.; 352-727-7871; mo­jobbq.com), with ex­posed brick and ceil­ing beams that make an invit­ing at­mos­phere.


The daz­zling hub cre­at­ing a buzz in Jack­sonville is Moxie Kitchen + Cock­tails, which en­cour­ages pa­trons to “eat with their eyes.” At­lanta-based AI3’s bold de­sign mixes or­ganic el­e­ments (log beams from the 1800s; walls and bar top from cen­tury-old logs) with clean mod­ern com­po­nents (metal, leather). Mouth-wa­ter­ing food comes as no sur­prise, with a James Beard Award-nom­i­nated chef at the helm. 4972 Big Is­land Drive; 904-998-9744; mox­iefl.com


M.I.A. Beer Com­pany’s own­ers ditched their ar­chi­tec­ture ca­reers in 2008 for an­other shared in­ter­est—brew­ing. The in­dus­trial-style space they cre­ated for fel­low beer and food en­thu­si­asts sports roll-up doors and a view of the brew­ing process. “They pro­duce dif­fer­ent beers in the fa­cil­ity, and of­fer tours,” says Jaime E. So­brino, AIA. “It’s fun and in­ter­est­ing, plus a nice place to catch a game!” 10400 NW 33rd St., Do­ral; 786-801-1721; mia. beer Stu­dio Col­lec­tive de­signed two en­tries at EAST Ho­tel ( 788 Brick­ell Plaza; 305-712-7000; east-miami.com): Quinto la Huella, a bold mix of mod­ern shapes and or­ganic el­e­ments, as back­drop for its Uruguayan menu; and Sugar, the ho­tel’s 40th-floor rooftop bar and gar­den, a lush oa­sis in the ur­ban sky, re­plete with Asian tapas. Nearby, Four Sea­sons Ho­tel Miami’s Edge Steak & Bar ( 1435 Brick­ell Ave.; 305-381-3190; edger­estau­rant­mi­ami.com), also gets a nod from Miami AIA mem­bers, its mix of clean de­sign and retro fur­nish­ings a hit for Han­del Ar­chi­tects. At Sea­spice ( 422 NW North River Drive; 305440-4200; sea­spicemi­ami.com), ar­chi­tect Santiago Jose Pe­laez con­verted a Miami River-front post-in­dus­trial ware­house into a so­phis­ti­cated glob­ally-in­spired din­ing des­ti­na­tion.

Miami Beach

Iconic ocean­front re­sort ho­tel Fon­tainebleau Miami Beach’s mid-cen­tury de­sign in­spires many an ar­chi­tec­tural pil­grim­age. Within the re­sort is the riv­et­ing Hakkasan, win­ner of awards from Miche­lin Guides, Wine Spec­ta­tor mag­a­zine and Za­gat. Hakkasan’s Can­tonese and dim sum de­lights are served amid beau­ti­fully carved teak walls and turquoise hues. De­sign­ers Gilles & Boissier knocked it out of the park on this one. Miami’s AIA also gives kudos to the re­sort’s ocean-view Scar­petta, de­signed by David Collins Stu­dio. 4441 Collins Ave.; 877-326-7412; fon­tainebleau.com Two ren­o­va­tions make the Miami Beach list: ar­chi­tect John Paw­son’s Mata­dor Room, in what was the Seville Beach Ho­tel, circa 1955, and now is The Miami Beach EDITION ( 2901 Collins Ave.; 786-257-4600; mata­dor­room.com); and 27, on-site restau­rant at Free­hand Miami ( 2727 In­dian Creek Drive; 305531-2727; the­free­hand.com), an his­toric art deco ho­tel near the beach that’s a restora­tion of the 1930s In­dian Creek Ho­tel.

Or­lando and Win­ter Park

Or­lando’s East End Mar­ket is home to sev­eral din­ing op­tions in a shared space with a shared kitchen. The two-story build­ing that holds this in­spir­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tive mix of eater­ies is both mod­ern and folksy. In this case, de­sign ac­tu­ally drives the busi­ness model. 3201 Cor­rine Drive, Or­lando; 321-236-3316; eas­t­endmkt.com Hill­stone sits on the banks of Lake Kil­larny in up­scale Win­ter Park. The fea­tured din­ing area is a pavil­ion at the end of a dock, re­lax­ing din­ers with strings of lights and a beau­ti­ful view of the sun­set over the lake. 215 S. Or­lando Ave., Win­ter Park; 407-7404005; hill­stoner­estau­rant.com

Palm Beach and Del­ray Beach

Henry Fla­gler’s The Break­ers re­sort, circa 1926, holds 10 daz­zling restau­rants within its grand con­fines, and all are open to the pub­lic (1 S. County Road, Palm Beach; 877-724-3188; the break­ers.com).

A sec­ond Na­tional His­toric Regis­ter lo­ca­tion— Sundy House (106 S. Swin­ton Ave., Del­ray Beach; 561-272-5678; sundy­house.com)— is the old­est house in Del­ray. It’s also served as a church and a school­house, be­fore set­tling in as a trop­i­cal restau­rant. Re­nato’s (87 Via Mizner, Palm Beach; 561-655-9752; re­natospalm­beach.com) lies within Ad­di­son Mizner’s ar­chi­tec­tural won­der­land. Cre­ated in 1923, Via Mizner was in­spired by me­dieval Span­ish cas­tles; wind­ing hid­den walk­ways lead to dinner.


Gulf­shore AIA mem­bers con­cur with lo­cals that Shore Diner, on St. Ar­mands Cir­cle, is a must. This uber-cool des­ti­na­tion has an invit­ing in­door-out­door tran­si­tion and a mid-cen­tury South­ern Cal­i­for­nian beach vibe. That’s why you’ll find so many lo­cals here. 465 John Rin­gling Blvd.; 941-296-0301; di­neshore.com Ap­peal­ing Louie’s Mod­ern, de­signed by Sol­stice Plan­ning and Ar­chi­tec­ture, is an­other vis­ual stun­ner, this time with a cos­mopoli­tan at­mos­phere. Note the in­ter­est­ing light­ing de­sign, while en­joy­ing large win­dows, great use of wood and a view into the kitchen. Pa­trons love the in­door-out­door bar. 1289 N. Palm Ave; 941-552-9688; louies­mod­ern.com

Southwest Florida

Ar­chi­tect David Poor­man’s plans turned a for­mer gas sta­tion in Naples into D’Amico’s The Con­ti­nen­tal Amer­i­can Pro­vi­sions and Craft Bar. This steakhouse is where pa­trons re­lax and dine amid great in­te­gra­tion of in­door and out­door spa­ces, in­clud­ing a won­der­ful court­yard. 1203 Third St. S, Naples; 239-659-0007; dam­i­coscon­ti­nen­tal.com The Veranda Restau­rant oc­cu­pies two homes built in down­town Fort My­ers in the early 1900s; 70 years later, Peter Put­l­izer, son of the il­lus­tri­ous pub­lisher, joined the houses to­gether. In 1978, they were trans­formed into The Veranda, a long­time hub for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. 2122 Sec­ond St., Ft My­ers; 239-332-2065; ve­ran­darestau­rant.com

DaRuMa Ja­panese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge also makes the AIA’s list of in­trigu­ing spots in Southwest Florida. The Fort My­ers-based restau­rant’s tep­pa­nyaki ta­bles an­chor a mod­ern Ja­panese steakhouse. 13499 S. Cleve­land Ave., Ft My­ers; 239-344-0037; daru­marestau­rant.com

Space Coast

His­toric down­town Mel­bourne got a lift with the ad­di­tion of eye-pop­ping Matt’s Cas­bah. Its open pa­tios, bright col­ors and un­ex­pected use of sun shades, tex­tiles and light­ing make it a draw day and night. A glob­ally in­spired menu in­cludes sushi. (801 E. New Haven Ave., Mel­bourne; 321-574-1099; mattscas­bah. com). Up the street, a 1905 Queen Anne-style house holds The Man­sion (1218 E. New Haven Ave. Mel­bourne; 321-345-5800; the­big­man­sion.com), a ren­o­vated space by Claude Beau­jean. It fea­tures clas­sic Florid­ian de­sign el­e­ments such as Ba­hama shut­ters and carved wood de­tails. The build­ing’s Cel­lars shop sells wine, beer and es­presso.

St. Au­gus­tine

The AIA upped its cool fac­tor by in­clud­ing restau­rant and dis­tillery combo The Ice Plant, a vo­lu­mi­nous in­dus­trial build­ing ren­o­vated with Pro­hi­bi­tion-era style in­spi­ra­tion. Ice for drinks is cut from 300-pound slabs, an homage to the plant’s ori­gins. You’ll en­joy coastal fare in­side this Florida Trust for His­toric Preser­va­tion award win­ner for Out­stand­ing Achieve­ment in Restora­tion/Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. 110 Riberia St; 904-998-9744; ice­plant­bar.com

Tampa Bay

Smith-Dalia Ar­chi­tects turned heads when it cre­ated The Restau­rant at Ox­ford Ex­change. The Tampa build­ing’s fab­u­lous English brick­work her­alds back to 1890, when this Na­tional Regis­ter ed­i­fice served as the orig­i­nal sta­ble for the Tampa Bay Ho­tel. The Restau­rant’s fine art, cof­fered ceil­ings

and the ad­di­tion of a luxe, English-style book­store set the scene for a most mem­o­rable meal. 420 W. Kennedy Blvd; 813-253-0222; ox­fordex­change.com

Beck Group has wowed with its con­ver­sion of the orig­i­nal Tampa Bay Wa­ter Works build­ing into Ulele, a Na­tive Amer­i­can-style restau­rant and brewery on the edge of down­town Tampa. High ceil­ings, an abun­dance of win­dows and ex­posed brick walls cre­ate a rich in­te­rior am­bi­ence while out­door seat­ing is also avail­able. “Ulele is a thought­fully re­stored 1903 pump sta­tion on the Hills­bor­ough River,” says Kim Head­land, AIA; ad­ding that the food is “amaz­ing.” 1810 N. High­land Ave., Tampa Heights; 813-999-4952; ulele.com

Vero Beach

Re­silient through three hur­ri­canes, The Ocean Grill sits di­rectly on the At­lantic. Built of re­claimed barn sid­ing and fit­ted with fix­tures and fur­nish­ings that come from around the world, this restau­rant takes full ad­van­tage of its views with over­sized win­dows. Ex­pect clas­sic seafood and steak. 1050 Sex­ton Plaza; 772-231-5409; ocean-grill.com

The Ice Plant in St. Au­gus­tine (top and be­low) is a vo­lu­mi­nous in­dus­trial build­ing ren­o­vated with Pro­hi­bi­tion-era style in­spi­ra­tion.

Casablanca Café in Fort Laud­erdale (left and right) re­flects Mediter­ranean Re­vival style.

Sun Surf Sand (S3) in Fort Laud­erdale (left and right) was de­signed so that ev­ery seat has a wa­ter view.

Miami Beach's Hakkasan has won mul­ti­ple awards. Can­tonese and dim sum de­lights are served amid beau­ti­fully carved teak walls and turquoise hues.

Hill­stone in Win­ter Park sits on the banks of Lake Kil­larny.

The Veranda Restau­rant in down­town Fort My­ers (left) oc­cu­pies two homes that were joined to­gether. At right, DaRuMa in Fort My­ers is a mod­ern Ja­panese steakhouse.

The Ice Plant in St. Au­gus­tine (top) is a win­ner of the Florida Trust for His­toric Preser­va­tion's award for Out­stand­ing Achieve­ment in Restora­tion/Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. Louie’s Mod­ern in Sara­sota (be­low) is a vis­ual stun­ner, with a cos­mopoli­tan at­mos­phere.

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