Fresh First – Gluten Free and Vegan Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale

Fresh First Fort Lauderdale

While I’m traveling, I always do my research. As someone who consumes a vegan diet, I always try my best to look up where I can find vegetarian dishes in advance. I came across Fresh First in my searches and thankfully, it was just down the street from our hotel. After a quick walk from the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina (less than 10 minutes by foot), we found Fresh First. Now, we probably should have reached it in under ten minutes, except we walked right past the plaza. Thankfully, we were able to locate the restaurant tucked away behind a parking garage in a strip mall. After tasting the food and drinks, we knew that it was well worth the extra effort to find the place!

Fresh First is not strictly a vegan or vegetarian restaurant, though they do specialize in these dietary options. Fresh First is Florida’s first 100% gluten-free restaurant and juice bar. You’ll find wholesome, organic meals here and of course, it’s fantastic for those who can’t consume wheat. While we missed out on the breakfast menu (served from 8am-11am), it does feature two vegan meals: a tofu scramble, and an oatmeal prepared with almond milk. Lunch is served from 11am-3pm – yes, the restaurant closes at 3 o’clock, so make sure you get there in time!

Fresh First Fort Lauderdale
Robyn, awaiting her meal at Fresh First

I should also mention that while my sister, Robyn doesn’t exclusively eat vegan, she does consume a vegetarian diet. So, I know that she had to appreciate her older sister’s efforts in finding all of the vegetarian food – right? Anyway, walking into the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by our server who let us choose where we wanted to sit. It was a fairly casual environment with a natural, earthy vibe, and each table had a flower on it. There was a long bar where you could order juice or a smoothie, and I’m sure you could take your meals on the go.

Fresh First Fort Lauderdale
Lauren at Fresh First

We each ordered a smoothie from their menu: I got the “Outrageous Orange” (mango, banana, orange, almond) and Robyn got the “Awesome Amber” (kale, avocado, banana, strawberry, flax). The smoothies reached the table quickly and they were refreshing and fruity. After a long morning of waking up super early, catching a flight, and settling into our hotel, it felt great to consume some nutritious fruits!

Fresh First Fort Lauderdale

For the meal, we both decided to order the same thing (although there were several vegetarian and vegan options on the menu): the Quinoa Veggie Burger. The burger was made from seasoned quinoa with beets, carrots, mushrooms, and scallions, served on a savory burger bun with sauteed mushrooms and onions. We were able to choose a side dish and again, both chose the red & sweet potato salad. I guess great minds think alike! Or perhaps we just have similar tastes.

Fresh First Fort Lauderdale

I loved how the burger toppings spilled out of the burger bun and onto the plate! The burger patty itself was bright red from the beets. When I took that magical first bite, I knew that this was going to be a very enjoyable meal. The burger was very flavorful and I thought the sauteed toppings were delicious. We were also offered some condiments and to my delight, they offered Vegenaise (a vegan and gluten-free mayonnaise). The potato salad was really yummy – it would be the perfect salad to bring along on a picnic! The burger was definitely more filling than it looked, and the plate ended up being the perfect amount of food. I happily ate every bite, though I likely wouldn’t have had room for more.

Fresh First Fort Lauderdale

I highly recommend Fresh First as a breakfast or lunch spot while you’re visiting Florida, especially if you’re going on a cruise. Even if you don’t eat a vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free diet, you’ll find really healthy and wholesome food here. It might be a great idea to eat a light, yet satisfying meal here before gorging on endless cruise buffets! And if you have a dietary restriction, this would be an ideal place for you!

Fresh First has two locations as listed on their website, though we dined at their South Fort Lauderdale restaurant.

South Fort Lauderdale

1637 SE 17th Street, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

In the Quay Plaza diagonally across from Bimini Boatyard

Free parking in the garage


Monday-Saturday 8am-3pm

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Fresh First

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Fresh First 26.101620, -80.125221 Fresh First Gluten-Free Restaurant1637 Southeast 17th Street, Ft Lauderdale, Florida, United States (Directions)

11 Responses

  1. Brenda
    | Reply

    That quinoa burger does look good, the toppings of mushroom and onions looks so delicious. In a warm climate like Fort Lauderdale, I can easily eat vegan and Fresh First will definitely be a place I visit when in Fort Lauderdale.
    Brenda recently posted…Stories of DarknessMy Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      The quinoa burger was delicious. And yes, I think that eating lighter, fresher foods is more appropriate to the warm climate!

  2. Lydia C. Lee
    | Reply

    That burger looks great – I’ve travelled with a vegetarian and some of the options were so miserable. It’s great to do a little research to find the ‘best’
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…Formula One Fans – Singapore Grand Prix on the cheapMy Profile

    • Lauren
      | Reply

      Oh yes, sometimes it’s really hit or miss depending on where you go. And I think it all depends on which restaurants you visit. I looked these ones up ahead of time and I was able to see the menu, so I knew there were lots of things to eat! It was just our luck that there happened to be two vegan-friendly restaurants right near our hotel!
      Lauren recently posted…Green Bar and Kitchen – Wholesome Vegan Dining in Fort LauderdaleMy Profile

  3. Gemma
    | Reply

    I always love your restaurant posts….even when I’m hungry! Quinoa burgers are awesome though I hadn’t thought of making one with beetroot. Which was your favourite of the smoothies?
    Gemma recently posted…A perfect Alaskan experience in ValdezMy Profile

  4. The smoothies look delicious! Will have to try them next time I’m in Ft Lauderdale 🙂
    Valeria @ Rome, New York, London, World recently posted…A visual tour of mystic and peaceful AssisiMy Profile

  5. Olivia
    | Reply

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Fort Lauderdale… Salivating over the burger so will check out Fresh First the next time I’m there 🙂
    Olivia recently posted…10 Fun Things to Do in Cochem, GermanyMy Profile

  6. […] of our hotel (the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina), I was able to locate a great lunch spot called Fresh First. On my last trip to Fort Lauderdale with Justin, we dined at a charming upscale eatery called […]

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