Boatyard Restaurant - How to be in the moment and enjoy the little things

Don't take pictures. That's what Regina often stresses to me when we're on vacation. She wants me to be in the moment and more importantly to be present with her, rather than wrapped up in creating pictures.

But when you walk me in to a place like this, what do you expect? You can't just take me somewhere beautiful and ask me to ignore it.

Can't. Be. Done.

So let's talk about this place I can't resist. Boatyard is what I like to call 'upscale nautical.' Let me paint the picture:

  • Super yachts parked in the canal out back
  • Thick wooden beams
  • White beadboard walls
  • Navy blue accents
  • A chandelier made of oars
  • A canoe-turned-light-fixture 
  • A furled sail hanging from the ceiling
  • Ropes. Ropes everywhere!

There's even a bar cabana among the palms on the back patio along the canal.

Excellent space by Miami's Big Time Design.

The food, by the way, is excellent. Not to be missed.


Boatyard Restaurant
1555 SE 17th Street
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
February 23rd, 2017


We flew into Ft. Launderdale because the tickets were way cheaper than flying into Tampa, which was much closer to where Regina's parents live. We'd need to cross the state by car, but that was a problem we'd be dealing with the next day.

We came in a day early and stayed at a hotel. We enjoyed a morning in the town while we awaited Regina's father to come pick us up. It was really nice having some alone vacation time together before visiting the family. I learned later this year a massive difference exists between "a trip to see the family" and "a real vacation". And while the later days of this trip fall more on the former side, I'm going to keep calling it a vacation none the less.

I digress.

Not being one to go hunting for food willy-nilly, I looked up places to go on the Eater's "10 Hottest Resturants in Fort Lauderdale". There I discovered Boatyard, which we loved so much we made a second stop here before we flew out.

I don't know if I've always had such a love for the nautical, but it certainly feels like it's always been there. I'm a calm person and I like to relax, some might even refer to me as "chill." I get the feeling most folks who like to drift on the waves feel the same way. That's the life in Florida, right? 

Possible Florida Life Priorities:

  • Take it easy.
  • Lounge in the sun.
  • Put your feet in the sand. 
  • Enjoy life.

Sounds about right.

When we stepped into Boatyard and saw these ropes dividing the rooms, a canoe light fixture, and a chandelier made out of painted oars, I immediately knew I loved this place. The entrance is dark and the other rooms have bright skylights and open up onto the canal beyond. It's a fantastic use of framing and hide-and-reveal design.


We asked for a table and were lead out to the patio along the canal, which is exactly where we wanted the to be. We only sat down for a moment before I sprung out of my seat to roam around the restaurant taking pictures.

Fortunately it wasn't busy on this particular day and I was able to get some nice shots of the space itself without a crowd.

The beams, the ropes, the tile, the beautiful wooden floor, the sail, the white beadboard... what more could you ask for?

The beams, the ropes, the tile, the beautiful wooden floor, the sail, the white beadboard... what more could you ask for?

I don't often do a lot of extensive editing / photoshopping on images like this where I'm just roaming around taking photos. But this one below compelled me to work on it.

Can you spot all 7 of the changes?

In spite of all the work I did on this, including the nightmare of photoshopping out the vent duct, I still prefer the previous image from the other side of the bar.

There's a lesson in there about not trying to force it. Just seek out the best compositions that already sing on their own.

Still, it was a fun exercise and I learned a lot of good techniques doing it.


This was our first day in Florida, our first day of escape from the harsh and crippling northern winter, and it couldn't get any better. Is there any better departure from cold weather driving you indoors than to lounge in the sun and have a meal outside in a t-shirt? I think not.

While I absolutely loved the design and detail of the place inside, I was most happy to be sitting out here and soaking up the atmosphere. Contrast gives us clarity, and I'd never felt anything so nice as escaping winter and coming to this.


Let's talk about the food! 

I didn't take many food photos here, in fact the only one I have to show you is this singular image below. In the spirit of truly enjoying the vacation, I was not going to risk letting my food get cold. So when this dish came out I moved quickly and made this image with the bubbly Regina had ordered.

I've mentioned before how much I love grilled octopus, and they do it exceptionally well here. The sautéed greens, chili oil, and crispy fried chickpeas made for a flavor and texture explosion I was in no way ready for. Would I say it was among the best octopus dishes I've had in my entire life?

I would.

'Oh hey, I heard you like pictures so I'm going to take a picture of you taking a picture.'

'Oh hey, I heard you like pictures so I'm going to take a picture of you taking a picture.'

After this amazing lunch an excellent introduction to Florida, Regina's father came to pick us up and drive us back to his side of the state. In a convertible, naturally! Could you live in Florida and not have an open air car? That would just be silly.

Once we arrived on the gulf side, we settled in to relaxing slow days in the sun, and planned out our upcoming beach excursions. Check in next time to see our first stop.

By the way, if you'd like to know more about this trip, you can get the introduction here, or take a look at the February Retrospective for an overview of the whole trip!