Back in 2009, Michael M wrote:
Imagine that for some inexplicable reason, Bennigans became the new "it" spot. All the area movers and shakers lined up six deep at the door to get a chance to sample southwest egg rolls and mozzarella cheese sticks. Seriously. Yolo was packed wall to wall with faux glittery cretins and we actually had to be let through a velvet rope to see the hostess. There were literally three identical red Ferraris out front fighting for parking spaces. I'm not exaggerating. It was the funniest thing I've seen in a year. I almost felt bad for one of the guys. He fired up the convertible Ferrari, sped down to Yolo to impress and bammo, he's fighting with two other identical red Ferraris for prime fan-my-peacock-feathers real estate
All in all , it was a lot of fun but the food was mediocre at best....sort of like going to the circus...a lot of glitter and desperation with food that caters to the lowest common denominator. Our cool older friends (inside joke) said it reminded them of the bar scene in Star Wars.
After reading this, I knew I had to hire him to write for Inside Fort Lauderdale. He captured the essence of the place in a couple of paragraphs. He turned out to be a knowledgable foodie who grew up in restaurants and who wrote copy for an ad agency; the perfect meld of credibility and writing prowess; You can read his reviews of Marumi Sushi and Kitchenetta; but he ended up leaving town and things never materialized the way I'd envisioned it.
The first time you come to YOLO, you'll probably think it's pretty cool. A Karen Hanlon design; the decor is funky abstract and they have a fire pit on the patio which is nice on a cool evening. The scene is what matters here; you don't come here to watch a game. When you're seated they stamp your table with 3 of the specials; it seems cool the first time you see it, but there are often more then 3 specials and there are no prices or descriptions, so it's really just a gimmick and not particularly useful. After 5 years with practically zero changes; the decor has lost it's appeal to me.
Sunday through Tuesday YOLO is a a sleepy restaurant with very light crowds; Wed through Sat it's more of a club.
Over time, YOLO has changed quite a bit. Three years ago it was the only place to go in downtown Fort Lauderdale. It started out as a new-concept restaurant with a big outdoor patio that served as the newest spot for people in the neighborhood to hang out. But over time, it's fallen out of favor with the true locals. The Ferrari guys turned YOLO into such a meat market that the nice girls stopped coming. When VIBE opened; the "plaza" became more like a club than a restaurant. Unsuspecting tourists would arrive at 9:30 to find Vibe dead empty, and they'd end up at YOLO eating Calamari and Potato Chips. Without question, the opening of VIBE lowered the perceived classiness of YOLO.
I've eaten at YOLO many times, and I can't say that I've ever had 1 thing that I really liked. The much ballyhooed Calimari is mostly batter; they shave it thin and puff it up and serve it with a sticky asian sauce, and the underdeveloped palates that dine here go nutty for it, just as they do for stuff like the Bang Bang shrimp at Bonefish Grill. You can get a decent meal here, but the MO is small portions of protein and a big heap of fries or green mashed potatoes. Their vegetable selection is often beets, Rapini or corn; not exactly enticing. Also, avoid the $9 wines. They have a $9 floor, so the stuff they sell for $9 is worth about $7.
The soups are to be avoided, as is anything else that requires culinary skill. Stick with the salads, burgers, ribs or grilled meats for entrees. I don't care for any of the Apps except the Tuna, but the small Tuna is microscopic, and at $18 the large has become a questionable value. The pork hash looks good but fails to deliver much flavor; the prime rib varies in size from smallish to Flintstonian. At brunch you'll pay $9 for a Bellini; make sure you ask how they make it before you order as you might be surprised.
Wednesday through Saturday the restaurant is filled with a disco beat; so be advised that it's like eating in a club, particularly later in the evening.
The training of the staff here irks me as well; they regularly have Rapini, and they've trained their servers to tell customers "It's like Broccoli Rabe". Considering that Rapini is just another name for Broccoli Rabe, I find such a description condescending; as if they assume their customers are stupid and know nothing about food.
On Wednesdays they have their Ladies Night, but it's only in the O Lounge; it's another one of their policies that just makes the city look bad. At the regular bar, if you don't know it's ladies night, you pay full price and no-one will tell you it's ladies night. It's a way for them to cater to those who come to drink free while not having to give unsuspecting tourists a deal. A lot of women don't even bother with the specials because they don't want to have to fight with the 22yos for the drinks and the complimentary beef-a-roni. Their advertising gives me a chuckle; It's "Ladies Night" from 7-Close, with complimentary drinks from 7-10. So if you get there at 9:30 you might get 1 drink; if you get there after 10 there's it's Ladies Night with no gender-related benefits.
The owners of YOLO are so cool that they won't serve me; criticism isn't tolerated here. When you write a bad review, they'll hunt you down and try to get you to change it. I've heard this from more than one person who has written negative reviews on Yelp (See Danielle R's review). Unfortunately, unlike Danielle, I couldn't be bought off. Everything at YOLO is fake; even the reviews.
YOLO does win my award for "Best Place on Las Olas to Pick Up Hispanic or Russian Chicks". And there's nothing wrong with that.
Best Yelp Filtered ReviewWhat's This
From: Bill T
Yolo should be Yodo, you only Dine once, Sunday night and my brother was in town from Chi-Town with his future wife , he chose the restaurant so my hopes were high since he and his To Be are little socialites who love to dine out. Prospects were high when the server announced to us that there will be two of them taking care of us, he listed the specials of the evening as if in preparation of his finals but the message was delivered so I shouldn't complain. We ordered a round of drinks along with a fried calamari appetizer that looked pretty enough but was soaked in an Asian sauce that made the fried batter all soggy. 5 minutes after ordering main courses we were informed that the 12oz new York strip special that the third couple joining us had ordered was sold out but they did have an alternate New York strip dinner to offer him. Not good when you just finished pitching the plate. When the server came to remove the appetizer plate we ordered a second round of drinks which of course our Mensa waiter had no need to write down. When our main courses arrived twenty minutes later we reminded our server of the drinks who without apologies responded "You had a vodka and what?", needless to say we repeated the entire order once again. I ordered Linguini with clams and pancetta, (no pancetta in the plate) and it would have been nice to have been offered some grated cheese. Then the second round of drinks finally made it and one of our glasses was chipped, having lost all hope in this place by now we didn't bother to call the poor garcon since we never plan on returning anyway. We made no fuss, gladly paid our $345 check (which included 18% gratuity, naturally) being 3 couples all of whom are in the restaurant business we split the bill at $120 each resulting in an additional $15 tip to a service team that didn't deserve 10%. We definitely didn't stay for coffee or desserts, Which would have easily been another $50 to the check, and If It wasn't such amateur hour with the service we may have been back some day because the food was good. I suggested to my brother to go visit J Alexander on Broward blvd, its not Los Olas downtown ft-Lauderdale but they treat you like your downtown NYC. YOLO needs to do some hard soul searching, self reality check, because it wont be an interior decorator that keeps people coming back.