Spice Resto-Lounge

Spice Resto-Lounge


1934 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

The blue, red, yellow, and pink lights bounce off the walls. Patrons sweat as their appendages move to a conga beat. A silky canopy hangs above them, adding to the impression that Spice Resto-Lounge is actually somewhere other than here. Somewhere more exotic. Hollywood? Nah. It's gotta be more like Havana. Or San Juan. Step outside, though, and you'll confirm that you are, in fact, in downtown Hollywood. Back inside, lights in geometric shapes circle the dance floor, exaggerating the motions of the masses. The house band plays a mixture of merengue, salsa, bachata, and even the boogaloo. The dancers too are a menagerie. Chic out-of-towners mingle and boogie with locals. Away from the dance floor, women sit, waiting to be asked to dance while dudes huddle around the bar trying to work up the nerve to do the asking. Couples are unfamiliar with this ritual. On any given note, seasoned partners spontaneously burst into dance near their chairs or in the middle of the walking area. The staff is more thoughtful and gets more creative when choosing a spot. Eugenio, the sleeveless manager, and Yvana, the tight-bellied bartender, jump on the bar to shake their bonbons. Spice always features live Latin music, but Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays get extra hot with Xango (a fire show), samba, and belly dancing. If you need to refuel and recharge, order the Gran Picada (a combination of shrimp ceviche, beef and chicken skewers, yuca, and empanadas) and munch away while you relax by watching Cirque du Soleil on one of five plasma screens around the bar. Oh, and smoking is still allowed. Appropriate, maybe, after a steamy night at Spice.

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