We recently went to Lito’s Turf & Surf restaurant in Lighthouse Point to satisfy a seafood craving and because it was a Friday during Lent. They’re located at 2460 N Federal Hwy Lighthouse Point, FL on US1 just north of Copans Road in the Publix shopping center. Walking up it’s a rather unassuming location with no outside dining. Inside, it’s a rather narrow restaurant with a small area in the front that is a bit more ‘square’ then a long narrow row of booths to the back of the restaurant. The décor here is nautical/beach in pastel colors with some colorful fish and art work on the walls.
We were sat immediately and got lucky since there were only a few booths left. We were a bit early, about 5:50 PM and the crowd was on the older side and appeared to be lots of seasonal tourists/residents. Once seated we were greeted by a friendly woman that explained that she was not our server and that our actual server was a bit behind and she was helping out to get drinks. They had some craft beer selections and we asked for a few minutes to look those over.
Well, those few minutes turned into ‘many’ few minutes. We didn’t see anyone else for about 15 more minutes when our ‘real’ server greeted us. She apologized for the wait and took our drink order and our food order (we had plenty of time to look over the menu). We decided to split the conch fritters and Jeff ordered a cup of the lobster bisque. When he ordered the fish & chips as his entrée, the server explained to him that ‘their’ version of fish was fried Haddock and their ‘version’ of chips were waffle fries. All that sounded good to him so he said it was fine. I ordered the half rack of baby back ribs (with dry rub…you get a few choices) and added four fried shrimp. My choice of a side item? Tater Tots.
While we waited for our appetizer, it gave us a chance to look around at the booths, tables and overall décor. While it all looked new, the colors were a bit ‘outdated’. Mauve and pastel with oak reminded me of the 80’s and almost made the new booths appear older than they are.
First out were the conch fritters. At first glance, they appeared way overcooked and on our first bite, they kind of did have a slight burned taste. The inside was a bit gummy and we didn’t find there to be much conch. One of the fritters was more like a half ad it almost looked like it was given to us by accident. The taste was ok, but for a cost of $8.99 we didn’t feel it was worth it.
Next, out came Jeff’s lobster bisque. Served in a dark blue cup, the presentation was a bit ‘off’. The bisque was dripped all over one side and with the tiny pieces of lobster, didn’t look appetizing at all. Kinda like someone scooped the mug into the soup pot without wiping the sides. The bisque was bland, watery and tasted more like cream than conch or seafood. We didn’t even get the ‘richness’ feel as you should get with bisque. Strike two.
The wait for our entrees was actually quite long. Our drinks did get refilled and we were not neglected, but it was obvious they had issues keeping up with things when the place got busy. Our server remained very friendly through the meal, although she did lay it on a bit thick. Finally…the entrees! First up was Jeff’s fish & chips. It was a rather large piece of haddock that was fresh out of the fryer. It was crisp, but the batter was really bland. Maybe that’s why they asked several times if we wanted malt vinegar. The waffle fries were good…but,your normal frozen variety.
My entrée, the half baby back rack – dry rub with four fried shrimps and tater tots was set down and almost knew what I was going to taste. The four shrimp were all oddly uniform in size and shape. There is no guessing that these are bought frozen, pre-breaded and not done in-house. The breading was so thick. When you took it all off, there inside was a teeny-tiny little shrimp. These were so bland I didn’t eat more than one. The ribs were fall off the bone but were very fatty and the dry rub had an odd ‘sweet’ flavor that I didn’t really care for. And the most disappointing for me was the tater-tots. I was really expecting something “restauranty” (if that’s a word) and got something that was very elementary school lunchroom quality.
We went in hoping for a new place to hit for seafood and left with another on our ‘do not return’ list. We were rooting for Lito’s Turf & Surf since they are a local owned restaurant and we like to see those thrive, but the food quality and wait time we encountered just isn’t worth a repeat visit.