Sistrunk Marketplace is a way to sample almost any ethnic food you can imagine while listening to music and dining inside or on the patio. Opened in 2020, it combines a food hall, brewery and distillery with shops, music and art. The 40,000 square foot mixed-use complex is from Fort Lauderdale first dining room.
Every third Thursday there is a farmer’s market in front. It’s an industrial style space with exposed duct ceilings and low lighting. The flavors of the varied food mix well.
I visited on a press trip, but all opinions are my own.
1. Food stalls
Sistrunk Market continually adds food vendors, but when I visited, these were the ones. We sampled something from most of them. Each has its own space, kitchen and chefs. The patio is pet friendly.
The Bodega Empanada
Empanadas are semi-circular fried pies, usually chicken, beef, or vegetarian, originating in Argentina. To The Bodega Empanada, you can order a guava and cream cheese empanada, or a Hawaiian ham, mozzarella and pineapple empanada – in addition to the traditional ones. We tasted several that were hot, well seasoned and very complete.
Churros are a Spanish version of fried dough. Mario Delgado at crisp make churro fantasies from the dough with added treats like guava, cream cheese, berries, chocolate and other goodies. He then mixes them with refreshing ice cream.
Henry Sandwich Station
at Henry’s is named after Henry Flagler. When we walked inside we found a deli where they make the sandwiches and a bakery. We sampled the French dip, a mixture of slow roasted beef, Swiss cheese and caramelized onions served on a grilled garlic roll with au jus dip.
There were tempting choices in their bakery like the Flagler Berry Pie with blackberry, blueberry, cherry, raspberry or strawberry filling; chocolate pie; coconut pie with a fluffy meringue filling; and for vegan friends, vegan chocolate cake.
Mari’s Kitchen & Rosticceria
To Mari’s Kitchen & Rosticceriawe have outdone ourselves. Mom Mia, it felt like we were in Italy. No surprise because the owner Mari Pellecchia is Italian and uses family recipes. She started cooking in her family’s restaurants in Venezuela. After moving to South Florida in 2002, she realized that an independent restaurant was expensive to maintain, but when she found Sistrunk Marketplace, it suited her perfectly. She brought her sons, Giancarlo and Luigi, and her husband, Tony, into the business.
A bite of Mari’s Salad – with arugula, prosciutto di parma, malbec and onion parmigiano, sun-dried tomatoes and black olives – made me a fan. Mari’s bruschetta (a combination of stracciatella di mozzarella cheese, roasted eggplant and prosciutto di parma) and meatballs with a tangy tomato-based sauce firmed up the love.
Poke Sushi and Poke OG
Poke Sushi and Poke OG are neighboring cabins. The sushi is beautiful. Poke OG specializes in poke bowls, a traditional Hawaiian dish of marinated fish over rice and topped with vegetables. You choose your own combinations.
Need pita creates authentic Mediterranean dishes including hummus, baba ganoush and dozens more. Chicken shawarma and lamb gyro are spit roasted on site.
Pizzas made in Italy
They serve authentic Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas. One of my favorite art projects is to Pizzas made in Italy – a mural of a shadowy godfather-like man with the caption “I’ll make you a pizza you’ll never forget.”
They start with a thin crust. You choose marinara or margherita and top it with meatballs, sausage, prosciutto, roasted peppers, charred cauliflower, sautéed mushrooms, fresh arugula with aged balsamic, spicy Calabrian peppers or onion charred red. We had a combination. The pizzas bake in a wood-fired oven at 900 degrees.
To Atmos Immersive Dining, each of your five senses is included as they play out sound and visual experiences about destinations paired with meals prepared by a five-star chef. From appetizers to drinks and desserts, each course is accompanied by a unique technological experience. This one is pricey, starting at $150 per person and up, and is disguised only by reservation.
Papi’s Co coffee.
Most people love coffee and this is the place. Besides the usual espresso or latte, you can get iced coffees, teas, ice creams or pancakes here.
Nellie’s Southern Table
Nellie’s Southern Table serves the foods Grandma used to make if you grew up in the South. There’s plenty of chicken ranging from Nashville-style Hot Chicken, Fried Chicken Pot Pies, and Motha Cluk’n Chicken Sandwich. If you’re not in the mood for chicken, remember those fried bologna sandwiches you loved as a kid? Well, they are here too.
hot lime combines the Mexican Day of the Dead theme with South Florida Latin culture. They have an eye-catching stand. It included a pair of realistic skeletons in the cab of a bright red Volkswagen truck. Its chef-owners Daniel Gonzalez and Carlos Padilla offer tacos, ceviche, and other choices like quinoa salads and Mexican-style street corn.
The Chop Shop
Chop Shoppea neighborhood butcher-restaurant, serves beer sausages, brisket mix burgers, the Butchers Philly Cheese Steak Sub with shaved rib eye and pleases vegan customers with an Impossible Burger.
2. Center bar
The well-stocked market bar, aptly named the Central Bar, is at the center of the market. Nick, the bartender when we visited, is a magician at mixing cocktails. He made a Shady Distillery 12 Mile white rum and pineapple juice which was perfect. The sweet, earthy flavor of the rum pairs well with the tart pineapple juice.
There is live music on weekends from 2-6pm and a DJ from 7-11pm. Thursday is karaoke and Tuesday is open mic. The musicians play on a stage enclosed by two copper stills.
For those who want to become a DJ, they have a sound studio where they teach the art of music mixing, transitions, beat matching and recording on various DJ equipment and controllers.
SistrunKollective is a shop with items made by local artists. Some of my favorites are plaques that say, “Chocolate Makes Your Clothes Shrink” and “Best Cat Mom Ever” with a cute cat wearing a bright red and white polka dot ribbon and glasses. There are also a lot of unique jewelry.
5. Khoffner Brewery
Khoffner Brewery, a German-style brewery named for owner-brewer Rauf Vagifoglu-Khoffner, is visible through a bay window on one side of the market. Khoffner learned the art of brewing from his grandfather, who opened the first of three Khoffner breweries in Istanbul, Turkey in 1933. He uses barley, malt, water and five types of hops to create its magic.
After COVID in 2022, he produced his Red-As-Blood Beer as a “sacrifice” to make the following years COVID-free. It was reminiscent of ancient civilizations offering blood sacrifices to ward off evil. His latest creation is a fruit craft beer.
6. Shady Distillery
Our host, Ernest Gonzales, showed us around the Shady Distillery. They make rums and vodkas in small batches. Shady Vodka and a limited edition Shady Recount 2020 Vodka are both made from corn, and 12 Mile White Rum and 12 Mile “Sinner” Rum are both made with Florida molasses.
Apart from producing tasty drinks, they also offer events. The Shady Dinner Experience offers four local dishes accompanied by four Shady cocktails. You can join the Distillery Tour and Tasting Experience, tour the distillery and learn how to distill craft vodka and rum. Then, move next to Sistrunk Marketplace and enjoy a tasting of two signature Shady cocktails and a charcuterie platter.
Pro Tip: Park at Sistrunk Market
Use the valet parking lot next to Shady Distillery. Your first hour is free and $3 for each subsequent hour. I parked in what looked like an empty spot with no meter. It was dark so I didn’t see the little sign half a block away saying they were paid places. When I called the parking service, the attendant said, “There are no free parking spaces in Fort Lauderdale.
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