Mexican food lovers will soon have a new upscale eatery to get their nacho and taco fix in Fort Lauderdale. Stephen Starr, winner of a 2017 James Beard Award as the nation’s outstanding restaurateur, is bringing his El Vez restaurant to the W Fort Lauderdale hotel early next year.
El Vez, scheduled to open in January 2018, will be Starr’s second restaurant at the W, located on the ground floor next to Steak 954. The Philadelphia-based Starr brought his signature showman’s style to Steak 954 when it made its South Florida debut eight years ago, with a restaurant that featured lime-green banquettes, glowing jellyfish aquariums and a $100 cheesesteak on the menu (since reduced to $65).
Steak 954’s popularity with tourists and deep-pocketed locals has endured, as has South Florida’s popularity as an expansion site for Starr. El Vez, which has outposts in Philadelphia and New York, will be Starr’s sixth opening in the region.
El Vez, named for a Mexican Elvis Presley impersonator, is expected to feature vibrant touches and lofty prices for Mexican fare. The Philadelphia dinner menu features shrimp tacos al carbon for two that cost $42, carne asada for $25 and a nacho platter for $14.50.
On its Philadelphia website, El Vez touts itself as “Mexican-American meets East L.A. in a Tijuana taxi,” whatever that means. The restaurant features an extensive tequila, margarita and cocktail menu, so perhaps the local motto could be “Mexican-American meets Fort Liquordale in a Oaxaca Uber.” (Or maybe we can just hail a Caliente Cab Co.) El Vez also offers creative twists for brunch, lunch and dinner, including guacamole with spicy crab and cilantro, and sea bass tacos with sweet potato puree and fried jalapenos.
El Vez joins Starr’s other South Florida restaurants: Steak 954 in Fort Lauderdale, Upland in Miami Beach and Le Zoo and Makoto in Bal Harbour. Another Starr restaurant, the Continental in Miami Beach, closed earlier this year.