Known to we old-timers as ""Dirty Ernie's"", but it has nothing to do with the cleanliness of the place. Rumor has it that Ernie was run out of the Bahamas way back when, and according to the story told on the menu-back, he disappeared some time later.
I was turned onto this place by a crusty old Texan named Buster. The walls back then were covered in anti-IRS and pro-liberty slogans and a hand-drawn bird character named ""Dodo"", who lamented the corporate-ization of America.
Well, the walls have been painted over since then, but the BBQ sandwiches, Bimini Bread, Conch Chowder and Fritters are still the best in Florida, bar NONE.
The Sandwiches are overstuffed with your choice of beef or pork, and come with a small tub of chunky barbeque sauce they make on premises. It has just the right spiciness to make a great sandwich that much better.
The conch chowder is thick with big chunks of conch, carrots, peas and potatoes, and a few drops of sherry (available on request) makes it perfect!
They Bimini bread (which is what they use for the sandwiches) is always super-fresh, cut thick and tastes amazing. You also get a slice of it with the chowder to sop up every delicious drop.
The Conch Fritters are big, and not at all greasy like some places serve. With the cocktail/horseradish sauce on the side, they're not to be missed.
I'd recommend the cup of chowder & half BBQ sandwich combo with fritters as an appetizer - but you'd better have an appetite!!!
The rooftop dining area allows a breezy spot to enjoy all this food, and is almost always my choice, even with the traffic from US1 blasting by.
Is it the Ritz? No. And it isn't intended to be - Ernie's is a tradition in Ft. Lauderdale, and it's fine just the way it is. I'm headed there tomorrow night.