Tropical Acres Steakhouse
Tropical Acres: 2500 Griffin Road, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312
Tropical Acres is pretty much a staple in South Florida’s food culture. Opening its doors in 1949, the restaurant is considered Broward County’s oldest steakhouse. Located off of Griffin Rd in Hollywood, FL, there is plenty of parking on their large property. A few of my friends decided to go there on a Friday night, and I was curious to see how they would do with social distancing guidelines. Plus, it has been years since I last was here for dinner. One thing to note is that the interior decor is very dated, so it is like taking a trip back in time.
Tropical Acres is a very large restaurant. They can host small groups all the way up to 250 people. If you wanted to hold a wedding or reception at the restaurant, there are several private rooms. There is a small outdoor area that fills up quickly, so make sure you get a reservation if you want to be sure you can enjoy the amazing Florida weather while eating. The inside of the restaurant is a mix of booths and tables. When you walk in, you will find a large waiting area with comfortable seating. Off to the right-hand side are the bar area and a few tables.
When we arrived, everyone was wearing masks, and they were doing a good job of keeping tables and parties spaced apart with social distancing. The staff was very attentive and took good care of us. You can still use paper menus at Tropical Acres, which is nice for those who might not be a fan of using our phones to read the menu or order food. I was very impressed that there was not much of a wait time. We found the menu to have an interesting mix of appetizers, steaks and chops, seafood, and pasta. I always find it fun when steakhouses serve pasta. Leave that for the Italian restaurants like Angelo Elia. (which is one of my favorite places, by the way)
Tropical Acres has a decent wine list with several options by the bottle or by the glass. Their selection is mostly from California, Italy, Argentina, and France. You might catch the stray bottle from Australia or New Zealand, though.
While most of the entrees at Tropical Acres are supposed to come with a salad, they forgot to serve me mine even though I had ordered it. Most of our table just had the salad, but my friend Eric decided to have the French onion soup. Served in a nice crock, the cheese topping overflowed with a bit of char on top. I thought it was a little pricey for what you get; after all, it’s basically beef broth with sliced onions and topped with cheese. But he said that he enjoyed it very much.
I decided to try their crab cakes as it is one of the few seafood-related things that I will eat. I have to say that while there was a lot of filler, it was still good. The dipping sauce they provided was a thousand island dressing, which gave it a bit more flavor. They probably could have done away with the greens it is served on top of, but that was mostly because it did not add to the presentation and actually looked just odd to me.
The Main Courses:
Eric went with the chicken parmesan that is served with a side of linguini. The piece of chicken was a decent size and covered with melted cheese. The sauce lacked flavor and probably could have benefited from some seasonings as well as the breading they used on the chicken. Other than the blandness of it, Eric was happy with his meal. The chicken came breaded and cooked perfectly. The pasta cooked to perfection, and he enjoyed it as well.
Gary decided to go with the Italian seafood special made with a red or white sauce; Gary chose the white sauce. You then get a mixture of sauteed clams, shrimp, scallops, mushrooms and Cobia served over angel hair pasta. Like Eric’s dish, Gary thought it was a little bland and lacked garlic. What Italian dish doesn’t include garlic? He did like the selection of seafood that was included and the pasta cooked perfectly. While the dish could have used a bit more flavor, Gary still enjoyed it and ate every bite of it.
A few of our other friends seemed disappointed that the two lobster special sold out by the time our reservation happened. So they decided to go with the three 4oz Maine lobster tails for $36. It’s a good deal, but not as good as the full lobster special. They enjoyed every morsel of their seafood dish.
I opted to go with the 6oz. filet mignon with french fries. When it arrived, I was a bit disappointed in the steak’s quality and the lack of temperature control in cooking it. It started when I ordered my steak medium-well, fearing it was a busy night and they would not be able to get it well-done like I normally prefer. I regret not ordering it well done, as it probably would have actually been the right temperature then. It came out between rare and medium-rare. The inside was still very red, which tells me their chef was either lazy or very bad at knowing how to cook to temperature. I ate it anyway as I did not want to wait another 30 minutes for a new one to come out. There was also no real flavor, and it seemed like they do not season the meat. While Filet in itself tastes good, I am someone who enjoys very robust flavors.
The french fries were pretty standard and nothing special. But they were cooked nicely, and I did not leave any on my plate.
Pricing $$$-$$$$: Adding liquor to your bill will increase the price, but on average most of their dinners are around $25pp-$35pp.
I would recommend that you try it for yourself just for the novelty and history of a restaurant that has been around for so many years.