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1611 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Mario’s Catalina Restaurant

Mario’s Catalina Restaurant is named for its flamboyant chef/owner Mario Flores, who puts equally strong emphasis on creating an elegant ambiance and providing outstanding service and cuisine. White linen tablecloths contrast with an assortment of colorful paintings with ornate frames and Mario’s collection of tchotchkes. The food is a combination of Cuban and Spanish favorites, like roasted pork with caramelized plantains, white rice and black beans, vaca frita, and garlic shrimp. Score a toasted Cuban sandwich for lunch, then bring your buddies back for dinner to share some paella (you may as well order some wine if you do because it takes 45 minutes to prepare). The dessert tray includes 29 distinct plates – if you don’t acquiesce to your sweet desires here, you’ve earned our undying respect.