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Top Hat Delicatessen

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by Gail Clifford MD (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and photographer traveling the world, often following my daughter. Visit our site at and follow us on Instagram @ABLETravelPhoto
Published September 22nd 2022
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Restaurants, Eats, Food, Top Hat Cafe, Jewish deli, BLT, latkes, potato
Top Hat Cafe Urban Art Fort Lauderdale

While visiting the supremely indulgent Sistrunk Marketplace and Brewery I asked the question most of us really want to know: "Where do you like to eat?" of Juan Cobain, chef of delicious, sweet or savory empanadas who responded, "I'll go to Top Hat Café just down the road a couple times a week." He went on to explain it's a Jewish deli and I was sold! One branch of my ancestors was Jewish, and I have great memories of going to my Great Aunt Eileen's house for savory food and great conversation and couldn't wait to see if Top Hat could compare.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Restaurants, Eats, Food, Sistrunk Marketplace, tasting menu
Top Hat Cafe Fort Lauderdale

The next morning, walking from the hotel along Federal Highway to the Third Street turn into Top Café was bright and airy, a perfectly sunny Fort Lauderdale day. It's a little over a half-mile walk from the hotel but it's nice to see the urban art on the way.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Restaurants, Eats, Food, Sistrunk Marketplace, tasting menu
Definitely NOT Chopped Liver in Fort Lauderdale

On arrival, you'll laugh at the signs on the door whether it's "drink wine, we shouldn't keep things bottled up," or "Be Nice," or walk in and see the gentleman's "What am I chopped liver?" T-shirt with a great smile on his face. It's just like coming home.

After perusing the menu my choices were a BLT, potato latkes, and a bottle of water. Before getting a home in Florida, I'd recognized I don't care for the taste of the water out of the tap, which continues in restaurant water (and tea), so I must consider the fruit juices or soda or bottled water. The latter seemed the best choice for my meal. The locals don't usually note a difference, so be sure to taste the water before you automatically reach for the bottled water.

Other options at this wonderful deli include traditional. Delicatessen meals, including granola, oatmeal, fruit bowls, and an egg and cheese sandwich. With tomato and bacon, or a Nova lox sandwich, which is perhaps one of the most iconic, bagel and cream cheese with onion and tomato.

I usually enjoy the great names that these delis come up with like their egg dishes are called "let's crack this" from the Leo to a salami scramble, a corned beef hash, or the "Grand Schlam," the humor is evident and pervasive.

They offer Blintzes, Noshes, Kugels, and Knishes and Rubens, Rachels, BLTs, brisket sandwich, liver & onion, and even a fried bologna and egg. The smells wafting from the kitchen provided a walk down memory lane.

Jordan, the hostess, assisted Andrew, my server, because I was in a bit of a rush to get started on my traveler's day across Fort Lauderdale. I needed to meet the Water Taxi at stop #2 by 10 am and get to sightseeing in earnest, with a designated stop for lunch before a museum and more restaurant stops. She's a gem.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Restaurants, Eats, Food, Top Hat Deli, BLT
Top Hat Deli BLT

The meal arrived and it was as if I could exhale for the first time in a long time. The potato latkes are familiar in a deeply seated manner only explainable by years of family training. If the staff noticed, they were kind enough to leave me in my moment of revelry. I'll want to bring my daughter to experience this restaurant.

The bacon is perfectly crisp with the thickest tomato slices you may have ever seen in addition to butter lettuce and a dill pickle. The bacon has the salty tang so perfect for this dish.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Restaurants, Eats, Food, Potato Latkes, Top Hat Deli
Potato Latkes or Small Pancakes from Top Hat Deli

The potato latkes are like silver dollars pancakes, except larger. They are a crispy, golden brown and so perfect I needed to take more home with me.

Top Hat Deli, Potato Latkes
Potato latkes

The industrialized front room interior contains two large clear glass panes garage doors that allow great natural light into the deli. Three Sunburst chandeliers light the room as a neon gentleman whose top hat moves from two positions over his head hovers overhead.

If you want a great brunch or miss the Jewish delicatessens from other parts of the world, this is the restaurant for you!

Zay Gezunt! Enjoy!
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Where: 415 NE 3rd Street Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
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