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“Exceptional Food!”

Mario's Catalina Restaurant
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Ranked #113 of 1,330 Restaurants in Fort Lauderdale
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $14 - $40
Cuisines: Cuban, Spanish
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Delivery, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Nashville, Tennessee
Level Contributor
22 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Exceptional Food!”
Reviewed August 25, 2014

This is my 3rd trip to Fort Lauderdale and each time I make time to visit this restaurant. The service and food are exceptional! The plantain and salsa "snack" is delicious. I always go for the roasted pork with black beans and rice and my dining companion tried the fried snapper…this is served table side and was absolutely fantastic. If you like authentic cuban and spanish cuisine, then this is a must! I look forward to coming back to Fort Lauderdale and dining again with Mario and his staff.

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Lucky77615
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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921 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    698
    79
    56
    35
    53
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
South Florida
Level Contributor
93 reviews
46 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Pricey food, dicey service”
Reviewed August 23, 2014

We ended up at Mario's Catalina restaurant by accident because I couldn't get over fast enough to turn into the driveway of the Mexican place just north of Mario's. I had no idea what I was about to get into. The dining room was crowded. You have to squeeze into your seats. The menu is fairly standard Cuban fare - found in numerous places in south Florida, but the prices are ASTRONOMICAL.
But we were hungry, and we were there, and decided to just enjoy the meal. I ordered the grouper, but requested something less starchy than their standard black beans, white rice and maduros (plantains). The waiter offered grilled vegetables, and I accepted.
My husband ordered the lechón asado (roasted pork). The food came fairly quickly and the fish was truly delicious, but the vegetables were not only NOT grilled, they were steamed, and had no seasonings whatsoever.
I called the waiter back and asked for salt and pepper and lemon. He rolled his eyes and said they don't have salt and pepper (and in fact, there is none on any of the tables, so I guess you are supposed to like it the way they fix it or you are out of luck?). I explained that the vegetables were very bland and off he went to the kitchen, returning shortly with salt, pepper and lemon.
OK, so I squeezed lemon on the veggies and added a sprinkle of salt and some pepper and they were palatable. I guess I should fess up that I'm a gourmet cook, so I can be a bit picky, but steamed vegetables? Really? The rest of the meal wasn't so bad, except that we never saw the waiter again. Finally I made huge waving motions with my arms and he came over. I asked for a to-go container since I couldn't eat all of the food, and he whisked our plates away and came back with a wrapped Styrofoam container. He placed it on the table, turned around and walked away. We sat there for about 15 minutes during which time nobody offered us coffee or dessert or the check.
Finally my husband spotted Mario and waved him over. We told him the food was really yummy, except the vegetables, but that we needed to get home and had been sitting there for 15 minutes during which time nobody had offered us dessert or to bring us the check. He got very huffy and said, "Then the meal is free. Just leave."
My husband and I were totally shocked and immediately tried to explain that we were certainly willing to pay for our food, but he just waived us away and walked to another area of the dining room.
So, we left a $25 tip for the waiter (who I suspect got reprimanded for not taking care of us), and we left. Unfortunately, Mario, (if you are reading these reviews), when you do that, it makes the customers very uncomfortable, and if you think you are creating good will by giving us a free meal, you aren't. I know for sure we will never go back to your restaurant!

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank SalsaPower
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Highland, California
Level Contributor
23 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“If you visit Ft. Lauderdale, you must eat here”
Reviewed August 19, 2014

Great ambiance. Mario is very personable and takes care of his customers. Staff is very friendly and accommodating. Best handmade mojitos around. They use pure sugar cane instead of syrup. Everything on the menu is great.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Mike A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aventura, Florida
Level Contributor
80 reviews
79 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“There are NO WORDS to Describe Mario's PERFECTION!”
Reviewed August 18, 2014

I have written several reviews for Mario's Catalina. How can you IMPROVE on PERFECTION??Mario's is BETTER and BETTER, and, each time is ASTOUNDING. I took my special friend for a celebration. He had never been to Mario's. He was so impressed with the décor, the service the art work and then,---ultimately, the Food, the Sangria and the Desserts. Mario was his usual cordial, gracious self. He greeted us and all his patrons with a warm spirit of welcome. He made us ALL feel SPECIAL. The food was mouth-watering. The Sangria was delicious. The desserts were spectacular. And, because it was such a spectacular evening-- we are dining at Mario's again this Saturday nite. The owner has made his restaurant into a cornucopia of delights. His restaurant is a place where his patrons DINE, in the true sense of the word. The staff is incredibly attentive and accomodating. By the time I leave Mario's,--- I feel PAMPERED and very SATISFIED!! Thank YOU Mario, for creating a MASTERPIECE, where DINING is an ART FORM!!

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Isabel T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Springfield, Virginia
Level Contributor
65 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“We were turned away at the door...”
Reviewed August 16, 2014 via mobile

So we were looking for a good Cuban restaurant in the Ft Lauderdale area. I called this place up, asked them if they had room for a table of 4. They said sure, come down right away and we'll seat you. Perfect! So we show up at the restaurant 15 minutes later and there are 12 people in front of us waiting for a table. The host, who was obviously flustered by the people waiting, quickly asked us how many were in our party and then disappeared for 5-7 minutes. He then swiftly walked by everyone as he seated a large party...again disappearing for 5-7 minutes. When he walked by again, I asked how long the wait was going to be since I had previously called and he ignores me and disappeared for another 5 minutes. When he came back we asked again as he asked us "Do you have a reservation?"...I explained I had called ahead, to which he said "We can only seat people with reservations" and walked off.

Overall, a total waste of time and 2 cab rides from our hotel, not to mention the negative points I earned with my wife. The host was a terrible service provider - I can only imagine what the rest of the staff were like. I would highly advise you spend your time and money elsewhere.

Helpful?
2 Thank TheTravellinDan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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