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“We always appreciate the food and service at Mario's.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mario's Catalina Restaurant

Mario's Catalina Restaurant
1611 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305
954 563 4141
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Ranked #252 of 1,126 Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale
Price range: $14 - $40
Cuisines: Cuban, Spanish
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Special occasions
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Delivery, Late Night, Dessert
Dining style: Casual Dining
Indianapolis, Indiana
2 reviews
“We always appreciate the food and service at Mario's.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 14, 2013

Recently went there for one of our regular visits when we are in town, and as usual we were very pleased with the quality of the food, the personal attention of the wait staff, and Mario who is both friendly but aware of what is occurring in his restaurant, making sure his customers are well taken care of. You go there for the above reasons. It is a fun experience and the cost for this experience is well worth it.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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649 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    519
    39
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    20
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Pompano Beach, FL
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“All we could say at the end of the evening was.... WOW!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2013

It started at a charity fundraiser, popping a balloon and finding a gift certificate for Catalina inside. Three months later, on a weeknight where we are all running late, and a close friend showed up unexpectedly at 7:30PM and we're all hungry, wondering what's for dinner, and we decide to go to Catalina.

We had NO idea what to expect. I felt a bit under-dressed for the place when we walked in, but when we were greeted by Mario at the door, any and all apprehensions were forgotten. I had the feeling I/we were in over our heads, this place is fine dining, Spanish and Cuban with the emphasis on cuisine, as in an art form. I'm looking at the $50 gift certificate we won and remember thinking that'll buy us a bottle of water. Was I ever wrong.

From the time you sit down to the time you know you have to leave but don't want to, Catalina just kinda takes you over. Fresh plantain chips with homemade salsa/chimichurri is brought to the table, the wait staff offer you a wide variety of beverages from a full bar, great wine list, or simply water if you wish. The beautiful wife broke down and chose the highly recommended Mojito, and I ended up in the wine list with a nice cabernet. The meals came with a fresh greens salad, choice of entrée with sides. The wife had Jack Daniels Bourbon Pork, with perfect rice and black beans and sweet plantains. I ended up with the grilled grouper with shrimp in garlic sauce. Both servings were enough for two people, incredibly prepared, perfectly cooked, and the pork center had what seemed to be a literal shot of Jack Daniels in the center, that woke you up as you got to it. The grouper was one of the best I've ever had ever. Our friend had the chicken in garlic sauce and really enjoyed it as well.

Service was excellent, water's always refilled, Mario swings by to make sure everything's as perfect as it should be, and drops off a free Mojito for the wife half way through the meal. Had to be one of the best Mojitos I've ever had too, not sure how they did it, but months/years of experimenting obviously paid off, you can't compare it to anything else in town.

As we're drifting off into a food induced coma, and the ladies are getting to-go containers to take the remainder of their large portions home for lunch tomorrow, our waiter comes by with the 27 dessert choices (really about like 12? but it went on forever and all were AMAZING!), and we shared the Almond crusted Amaretto cheesecake. OMG. I need a nap, I'm done, the wife is done, our friend is well done.

The check arrives. And even if they didn't deserve it in the least bit, we had to kinda look to see if all the things brought out were really on the bill. It seemed like we stole the place for what we experienced and what we paid. Carefully examining the bill, the second Mojito and a couple other things never hit the bill, and we were completely just overwhelmed with the quality, service, attention, atmosphere, we had NO issues paying the bill and leaving a very generous tip. This place is amazing, ranks up there with Le Dome, The Chart House, Morton's, Rusty Pelican with ambience, food, and service. I/we highly recommend this gem, and we're sorry we didn't try it sooner.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Still wonderful for and service”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2013

I took my wife and son's inlaws to Mario's for dinner on Sunday night. I love watching people who have never tasted His Lechon when they first taste it. The look on their faces is funny. They were silent through the meal. When finished they both said that they have never had Lechon that was so delicious.
Keep up the good work Mario!

  • Visited December 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pembroke Pines, Florida
1 review
“Wonderful and inviting staff, atmosphere and food.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2013 via mobile

Mario's is one of our favorite restaurants in south Florida. My fiancé and I had out first date here, he proposed here and now we are having out engagement party here. It is a beautiful restaurant, with amazing personal and friendly service as well as delicious food. Mario is wonderful and welcoming and always makes your visit feel special. From our first visit we knew this was a special place and we are so glad we found this restaurant. Very unique atmosphere, you won't find another place quite like it. We love it!

  • Visited December 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Great Cuban and Spanish Cuisine”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2013

Mario's restaurant is a perfect reflection of his personality - warm, welcoming, and top notch. The food, sangria, and mojitos are excellent and the atmosphere is delightful. Skip the tourist traps on Ft. Lauderdale beach and join the locals enjoying a meal at Catalina Restaurant. You won't be disappointed.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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