It is nearly a rhetorical question: Have you been to J Mark’s yet? After all, on any typical evening, it seems that you run into several of your friends and acquaintances when you walk in.
And that, of course, is a testament to the appeal of this popular dining spot. It is a place that makes every guest feel comfortable and important—from the minute they enter. There are always smiles at the hostess stand, and Rebecca, with her infectious smile and graceful charm, is sure to stop by your table for a chat at some point. The bar is always humming with conversation and peals of laughter, and very soon, one of the best dining patios in Fort Lauderdale will be crowded once again.
Liking the hubbub and friendliness of the bar, my partner and I often opt for a seat there. J Mark’s is one of those places where the appetizers can easily constitute a meal, so after ordering a drink, we peruse our options. Though sliders have become a bit ubiquitous, I am a huge fan of the A-hi Tuna Sliders. At $13.99, they are a great deal and superbly delicious. Perfectly seared tuna with a zingy Cajun crust arrives on freshly made mini-buns. Avocado, red onion, crispy wontons and a remoulade all combine with the tuna to make a wonderful explosion of flavor in the mouth. Turn up the heat by adding a bit of wasabi and soy ginger. These sliders never fail to please. My partner prefers the Prime Rib Sliders ($12.99), though claiming not to be a prime rib fan. He loves the texture and perfectly cooked temperature of the prime rib and how it is layered on the mini-bun. They arrive with basil pesto and creamy horseradish, which kicks up the heat a bit. Dip them in warm au jus, and don’t worry if it dribbles down your chin. Sliders are plated with a small batch of fries, so it is easy to make them an entrée.
When my appetite is a bit more on the hearty side, I tend to opt for J Mark’s Rib-eye ($24.99). It is an ample portion of steak, and it consistently arrives at my requested temperature. The menu serves it with Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, which are terrific and enough to feed four, but I often ask for a baked potato instead, highlighting another fact that makes J Mark’s so popular: They gladly and willingly make substitutions. There is never a quibble.
The boyfriend leans toward the pasta portion of the menu. He is particularly fond of the Veggie Lovers Pasta ($11.99). It offers an array of vegetables: broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted eggplant, peppers, and kalamata olives. Tossed in an olive oil and walnut basil pesto with penne, it has become a “go to” dish for him. Half of the overly generous serving almost always goes home for the next day’s lunch.
One of the newer offerings at J Mark’s is Saturday and Sunday brunch, featured from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Spicy bloody Marys or mimosas at $3.00 each get your late morning started in just the right way. Brunch offerings are listed on a separate menu and tempt with some unusual preparations. On a recent slightly less humid and cooler Sunday, our gracious and exceedingly competent waiter, Ralph, kept us well liquefied in brunch cocktails and coffee. I have fallen in love with the Filet and Eggs ($12.99). Certified Angus Beef Tips are grilled to your desired temperature, and the dish arrives with beautifully poached eggs, homemade Hollandaise sauce, and breakfast potatoes, which are crispy, but not too much so. It is a hearty way to get my day going after a late Saturday. (Dining hint: I love to dip my breakfast potatoes in the Hollandaise. Yummy!)
For something completely unusual, try one of my partner’s favorites: the Cheese-burger Bennie ($13.99). Two superbly grilled patties, again done to your desired temperature, with cheddar cheese placed atop toasted English muffins. They are then finished with poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. It sounds messy, and it is, but it is oh so good! I would never have believed it if I had not tried it. Other brunch choices include an egg white omelette ($9.99), an egg croissant sandwich ($9.99), breakfast egg rolls ($9.99), and several more variations on the traditional eggs benedict ($11.99-$15.99).
A comfortable bar and dining area, many menu options and price points, attentive and well-trained servers, great cocktails – it is all a part of the winning formula that keeps customers coming back to J Mark’s. Whether you want to enjoy a drink and an appetizer or a full-on meal, you will be graciously cared for.
J Mark’s does it and does it well.