Last Update
Feb 21st, 2020

Gilbert's 17th Street Grill

1821 Cordova Rd
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33316
(954) 768-8990
Overall Rating
2.7
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
05/12/2011

Details

Hours: 11am-9pm, Closed Sunday
Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Private Lot
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Beer and Wine Only
Entree Prices: \
Outdoor: Yes
Reservations: No
Delivery: No

Pros

Big Burgers
Costs Less than a Real Restaurant

Cons

Not Full Service
Nosey Service
Sewage Smell Outside

Critic's Review

If there was ever a reason to completely ignore Yelp, Gilbert's is the reason. Rated #1 in Fort Lauderdale with over 220 "reviews", Gilbert's is proof that Yelpers are either low-class, clueless, liars or some combination of the above.

Gilbert's is somewhere between a cafeteria and a restaurant; sort of like a Pei Wei with more personalized service. Each guest is greeted by a Gilbert; in my case Rich, who will answer questions and point out the specials. You order at the register, they give you a number, and you fetch your drinks and silverware. The last time I was here they didn't have servers in the dining room; but now they do. So it's kind of a shared thing; I got the iced tea and a server brought over a napkin and silverware. It's a bit of an awkward format; since they have 2 servers in the dining room I'm not sure why they just don't serve you like in a regular restaurant. I feel like I can't leave a full 20% tip here; because I have to do some of the work. How can you tip the same in this format as in a full service restaurant?

The decor is modern cafeteria; with laminated wood tables and chairs; again a cross between a diner and a restaurant. It sort of reminds me of California Pizza Kitchen.

Now this review is going to be a bit different than usual, mainly because Rich figured out who I was and at that point I can't be sure if the doting is contrived; they seemed to dote beforehand, or maybe they just give good service to everyone, but I can't be sure. It's another reason I prefer to pay at the end of the meal, so that by the time they get my name I've already come to my conclusions. I have to admit that I don't particularly like the "extra" service; as a New Yorker I'd rather walk around with sunglasses and a big floppy hat and be left alone. But some people do like it, so just expect people to be nice to you here whether you want the attention or not.

Gilbert's has been getting a lot of press about their burgers, mainly because they won a user poll in the Sun Sentinel, which is about as meaningful as your Mother telling you how handsome you are. One of my peeves about these contests is that vendors see it as an opportunity to use it in their advertising, and Gilbert's is no different. I spotted this sign last week:

Now I do give them credit; it's a pretty nice sign, unlike the cheesy eyesore that Noodles Panini put up on Las Olas after winning the meatball contest last year. I do have a bit of an issue with the "best in South Florida"; I beat up Noodles for it so I can't pull any punches here; Noodles won a contest with 8 Fort Lauderdale restaurants, not including Martoranos, and the Sun Sentinel doesn't service a little town named Miami, so the "South Florida" is stretching it a bit in both cases.

The sign not withstanding, Rich didn't seem happy that the focus of attention was on Hamburgers, which they don't consider to be more than just another line item on their menu. But you just have to go with the flow sometimes; the burger was the reason I was here. I ordered it medium rare with sweet potato fries. I selected a table and put my number in the little holder and I waited.

The burger came out pretty quickly; it comes with a massive portion of fries, a good dill pickle, lettuce and 2 very ripe tomato slices.

The big sell here is that the burger is CAB: Certified Angus Beef. In fact all of the meat they serve here is CAB, unlike other restaurants like J Marks and Big City Tavern who only have 1 CAB item so that they can advertise that they have it, but most of what they serve is lower quality. CAB is the mother of all of the crazy beef programs; it's a plus program that is the very highest grade of choice just below prime, according to their advertising.

Now one of the things I'm currently trying to figure out is whether or not such things matter with hamburgers; since the meat is ground and mixed with fat does it really matter how well marbled the ribs of the animal are (which is how grading is done)? I make some pretty good burgers at home with 85/15 Ground Chuck.

What was good about this burger wasn't necessarily the beef, but the char-broiled taste from the grill. The burger was underdone; rare and not medium rare, but in my case its better to undercook than overcook. I thought that the burger was good, but not anything I'd remember for long; the best part of the meal was the "other stuff"; the sweet potato fries and the dill pickle. Frankly, I'd had my eye on their Flank Steak entree before the Burger attention started, and I left thinking that I should have had that instead. I make flank steak for myself quite often and just about nobody serves it in restaurants. Everyone either serves skirt steaks or garbage cuts like flat iron or blade steaks; flank steak is much better.

Something worthy of mention really has nothing to do with the restaurant, but because this shopping center is right next to a sewage treatment plant, it smells god-awful outside, so you may not want to plan on dining outside here.

There are a lot of not so nice restaurant owners in this town who don't seem to care about their customers' experience; that's not the case here. Wear a celtics hat or Jersey for a little extra service.

Review March 2, 2010

Gilbert's is a handsome space with modern decor that reminds me of a modern cafeteria. Unlike cafeterias, Gilberts is not inexpensive. Aside from a $5.50 hot dog, there's nothing other than a salad under $8, which makes it pretty expensive for lunch. They have nice chairs with newspapers and magazines in the corners and some tables outside where you can sit while you wait for take out. There are 2 TVs that you can't really see from most seats in the restaurant. The owner will greet you and tell you a little about this family owned place; his Mom does the cooking.

It was a nice day and I had planned to eat outside, but Harbor Shops is right next to a sewage treatment plant and it just stinks outside, so I decided to go for the easier breathing inside.

Gilbert's is what I would call semi-selfserve, in that you to to the register, order your food and pay in advance. They give you a cup and a card with a number, and you get your drink and silverware and find yourself a table. You put your number in a little holder, and when your food is ready someone brings it over. Personally I'd rather be served. Its not clear if they expect you to leave a tip, but I don't usually leave a tip when I have to fetch my own drink and silverware, so I didn't.

The food I had wasn't anything I'd rush back to have again. I had the "crunchy" grouper sandwich, which I didn't expect to be so heavily breaded and deep fried. It was a small fillet served on a soft hoagie-style roll. The fish was cooked properly, but there were no spices in the breading. It needed salt and the tarter sauce which accompanied it. I opted for cole slaw instead of the sweet potato fries (as cole slaw usually goes nicely with fish), and it wasn't bad. It was a little sweet for my taste. They give you a decent portion and I'd say I ate half of the slaw. The tomatoes that were on the sandwich were not ripe and had to be removed.

I was going to give Gilbert's 3 stars, but after thinking about it I realized I wouldn't be back. So I just can't go that high.

Comment Policy Add Comment
Ronny
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I don't get it. Why does everyone on Yelp say this is the "best" burger. It's a burger. It's not a bad burger, but it's not any better than any other you can get, except maybe McDonald's. Maybe that's it? Maybe they're comparing it to Burger King?
Administrator
Reply
People are sheep. They want to agree with other people. The best burger thing is so ridiculous; You can get a good burger for $7 at a diner or for $18 at Morton's. It's ground beef with salt.

The only places with bad burgers are places like Timpano, where they put bad stuff on it and try to make it into something different.
Rob
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There are like 200 5 star reviews on Yelp for this place. It makes me sick.
Carol
Reply
Finally a review that describes the actual experience! I wish I'd found this before I went.
Todd
Reply
I don't get the buzz about this place. Very mediocre.
Administrator
Reply
I've eaten there 3 times without being impressed.

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