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Photo by Lona Cocina Tequileria

For those in search of awe-inspiring Mexican fare, chef/owner Pablo Salas’s two-year-old establishment inside the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort offers a definitive step above what passes for “Mexican” in South Florida. Lona ticks all the boxes, serving upscale cuisine in a festive cantina setting. The restaurant’s combination of high-end fare, laid-back atmosphere, and approachable price points — not to mention a picturesque waterfront setting — is a winning one. If you judge a Mexican restaurant by its tacos and tequila, you’ll love Lona’s taco flights and tequila-themed tasting room. Guests can choose from starters such as crabmeat-studded guacamole, queso fundido, Mexican ribs coated with a guajillo-caramel dry rub and roasted with adobo, or tuna tostadas with chipotle aioli, soy, ginger, serrano pepper, crispy leeks, and sesame seeds. A variety of traditional Mexican items such as tacos and enchiladas make up a large part of the menu alongside options such as lobster quesadillas — but the chef’s specials are the show-stealers here. Try the Arroz Cremoso con Langosta — butter-poached Maine lobster, chili oil, and truffle over risotto — or the salmon mole, an unusual pairing of the rich sauce with piloncillo squash, roasted peanuts, and crema fresca.