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“Highly recommended” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Mario's Catalina Restaurant

Mario's Catalina Restaurant
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Ranked #110 of 1,322 Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $14 - $40
Cuisines: Caribbean, Latin, Spanish, Cuban
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Families with children, Romantic, Large groups, Local cuisine, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Lunch, Full Bar, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Television, Valet Parking, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Dining style: Casual Dining
Lynnwood, Washington
Level Contributor
40 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Highly recommended”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 25, 2013

We found out about this place by reading trip advisor. We were not disappointed. My friends and I were in Fort Lauderdale for a cruise and called to see if they had a dress code after seeing the pictures online. We came in early for dinner as were wearing jeans, shorts, shirt and flip flops, seem under dressed based on what people were wearing when they came in. But we never felt uneasy as Mario and the staff made us feel at home. Nice upscale decor but not stiff. Staff was incredible and Mario is the best.
We had mojito and sangria to drink. This was super sized complements of Mario. Didn't know what to order(we wanted to try it all). We knew we wanted paella so we ordered that ahead of time knowing it takes at least 20mins to prepare. Our waiter recommended the Catalina Platter for appetizer. It had fried plantains, roast pork, empanadas, croquets, marinated chicken and pork. While that was being prepared we had to decide on a protein entree to accompany our paella. We wanted to try the red snapper with lobster sauce but didn't know how much to order. At this point our appetizer arrived. It was a massive platter! And the food was good! Everything in that platter. Mario came by again to ask about our food. We still haven't decided what to order and seeing this massive platter we weren't sure if we were about to order too much food. Mario said no worry... he will take care of us. And he did. He gave us another platter with a little bit of everything... paella, red snapper with lobster sauce and roast pork. Just as we wanted... we were able to try almost everything we wanted on our first visit. The paella was on the salty side but otherwise good. The snapper and roast pork were really good. Really full now with all the food we've eaten so far but we have to try the dessert.
Our waiter came back with a tray full of cakes and sweets for a visual experience. We chose something they made in the restaurant - flan and cuatro leches with cuban coffee which we've never had before. The desserts we ordered had just the right amount of sweetness to it. Very good. Being from Seattle, we like our coffee strong. Yup... cuban coffee was indeed strong like espresso(came in demitasse cups) but the sugar that came with it was unexpected. Let's just say it was a sugar high experience. Good thing the dessert wasn't that sweet.
Over all it was a great experience and we would love to go back there next time we are in Fort Lauderdale. We had a rental car so it was easy to get to this place. I'm not sure if it is as easy without a rental. It's definitely not walking distance from the beach area. Mario and his staff were excellent. I think the food prices are just right for the food quality and service.

  • Visited February 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
4 Thank melmaya27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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906 reviews from our community

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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
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“My favorite”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 24, 2013

I travel a lot for work and experience some of the best restaurants in the world. Simply put - this is one of my favorites!

    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank MattH_Arlington
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“An Amazing Place”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 24, 2013

From the moment you walk in it feels like arriving to a Christmas party with loved ones you have not seen in years , beautifully decorated classy and cozy it feels like home , and then comes the best part the real reason you came here for the exquisite food Mario's special was delicious along with the platter appetizer , you wish you could have the stomach of an elephant so you could flavor every single dish ,the Mojitos are divine and make you feel In the clouds but the best part is the feeling of genuine attention care and love that is felt by everyone that makes this happens , Thank you very much Mario and family for this great experience.

    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
3 Thank Chamron
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Amazing evening!!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 24, 2013

This is a hidden gem & a must visit while in the Ft. Lauderdale area. Mario is absolutely charming & introduces himself to every diner. On our evening there he brought us not only free mojitos, but dessert as well. The entire staff is accommodating & delightful. The food is exceptional!!! Made the last night of our trip an amazing evening!!!

    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
2 Thank KimR1801
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
22 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Total chaos”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 23, 2013 via mobile

Dinner and a show. Even Mario himself described it as a "cookoo" night and that's a perfect description. Beautiful interior. Long wait at the door even with reservation Our waiter was lovely but spread too thin. Food was ok but standard Cuban fare. Jack Daniels pork tasted like bourbon BBQ sauce added to roast pork at the last minute. Best part of the evening was being seated in a small room with 3 other tables. Due to the slow service and disarray of the staff, we had time to converse and even bond over the shortcomings. Very entertaining. Mario was all over the restaurant and is more than cordial. My husband was not impressed with the kiss Mario planted on his bald head after delivering our check. And we were delivered a complimentary flan I'm pretty sure in an attempt to turn our table more quickly. Bad news for the lactose intolerant. To be fair, there was a huge party taking much attention on the patio in back. But I don't think I'd go back for another try, sorry Mario.

    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank HappygirlTX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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