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Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

"It's got to be the most boring, mundane street in South Florida," says Dr. Paul George, an oft-quoted Miami Dade College professor and historian, told us for this week's look at the restaurants along Hallandale Beach Boulevard. "It's more a racetrack to the beach than anything else."

The strip of road is about as unforgiving on the eyes as it is to pedestrians. Cars speed down three-lane strips of asphalt. The buildings, mostly strip malls, are set behind sprawling parking lots, making it almost impossible to see the stores inside.

The crummy layout, however, offers a small benefit to hopeful restaurateurs.

The rent is affordable, up to $2,000 a month less than space in nearby Aventura. Broward County's southernmost town also sits on a crossroads between South Florida's numerous immigrant communities. To the south is Miami: Cubans, Colombians, and Venezuelans, all of whom are slowly pushing farther into suburbia. Toward the ocean lies Sunny Isles -- home to a growing Russian and Eastern European population. Just south of that is Aventura, with large Jewish and Israeli communities.

You can find a Frita Cubana just as easily as bagels and smoked salmon, and that's a good thing.

So, Hallandale is not a stellar tourist destination. It will never be posh like Boca or hip like Fort Lauderdale. It is the proverbial rough, but if proverbs are to be believed, that's where you often find diamonds.

So we scoured the town and found some gems for you. Here are our picks for the ten best restaurants in Hallandale Beach:

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

10. Vostok

Farhod Karimov opened Vostok on Hallandale Beach Boulevard in February serving shaslik -- a central Asian variety of kebab in which chunks of meat and fat rotate with slices of bell peppers separating each. There were "not enough restaurants serving cuisine like this in Hallandale," he says. Karimov hails from Uzbekistan, a country famous for what he calls "noodle-rich cuisine." At Vostok, try plov, a signature Uzbeki dish that mixes seasoned ground beef with onion and rice. There's also borscht, a classic cold soup made with beets. Try manti, a dumpling variation filled with either beef or lamb before being steamed or fried.

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

9. The Knife Steak House

Meat freaks, rejoice! The Knife of Hallandale Beach Boulevard is a small glimpse into the meat-loving world that is Argentina, complete with chorizo, blood sausage, sweetbreads, and veal tripe. If you're not into an authentic parrilla, don't worry -- there is plenty of veal, skirt steak, short ribs, and rump roast to go around. For about $25, you get all of this, plus an endless garden of salads and vegetables. You don't have to put something green and leafy on your plate, but if you don't, it's only a matter of time until a friend warns you about the dangers of your lifestyle choices.

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Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Broward-Palm Beach® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com. 

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

8. Nick's Restaurant

Every strip needs its greasy spoon, and on Hallandale Beach Boulevard, Nick's is it. Greasy patty melts with gooey cheese and sweet sautéed onions? Check. Open-faced turkey sandwiches? Got 'em. Best of all, perhaps, is that the place looks like it hasn't been redecorated since it opened in 1962. To take a seat in one of the laminate wood banquettes surrounded by beige wallpaper stamped with palm trees is to take a step back in time to when South Florida's high-rises first began jutting up out of the sand.

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

7. Padrino's Cuban Cuisine

Padrino's in Hallandale is one of four locations where the Padrino family serves its classic Cuban cuisine. It all began in 1972, when Diosdado Padrino joined his wife and two children, whom he sent to South Florida in 1968 as Fidel Castro began to consolidate his power across the island. That first restaurant opened in Hialeah, which today remains an important albeit weird center of the Cuban community. The Padrinos, meanwhile, now run restaurants in Plantation, Boca Raton, and Orlando, so there's a crispy, creamy croqueta de jamón always within reach.

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Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Broward-Palm Beach® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com. 

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

6. Yudy Bakery

There are few Latin American cuisines that so unabashedly embrace deep-fat frying as Colombian. At Yudy Bakery, there are churros (fried dough), cornmeal empanadas filled with seasoned beef (fried, of course), and strips of pork belly with crisp skin thanks to hot oil baths. You could just go all in with the $35 Yudy Picada. The mountainous plate comes with all of the aforementioned fried goodies, plus chorizo, blood sausage, boiled potatoes, yuca, fried sweet plantains, steak, and chicken. Just be sure to bring some friends to help save your arteries.

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

5. El Tamarindo Coal Fired Pizza

Many pizza joints brag about their wood-fired ovens. At El Tamarindo, in a deceivingly sketchy neighborhood north of Hallandale Beach Boulevard, massive pies come from a 750-degree coal-fired oven topped with mozzarella, Romano, and tangy alta cocina plum tomatoes. Try the broccoli rabe pie, topped with the bitter green and chunks of spicy sausage. Yet pizza isn't the end of the story, and there's a bit of Latin flare. Those fried zucchini sticks you order as an appetizer totally go with a griddled quesadilla filled with chicken, refried beans, and sour cream.

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Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Broward-Palm Beach® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com. 

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

4. Chapultepec Mexican Bar and Restaurant

One of Chapultepec's best-kept secrets is the ad hoc taco stand that pops up outside the restaurant on Fridaynights. Cooks grill juicy carnitas and carne asada in the South Florida breeze, hitting each fragrant stack of meat with chopped onion, cilantro, and lime before wrapping it in a corn tortilla. It's a South Florida scene like none other, and it's not uncommon to find whole families stuffing spicy tacos in their faces alongside construction workers, covered in sweat and grit after a day at a job site.

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

3. Falafel Benny

"Howz dee faylafell?," Ben Regev yells from behind a glass and granite countertop. Most people can only nod as they chew on soft pitas filled with well-seasoned green falafel topped with tahini and a rainbow of fresh and pickled vegetables. As a kid growing up in Israel, Regev used to skip school to work odd jobs to buy falafel. As an adult, they've become his life. He says even Muslims come into his small shop for falafel saying "kif imeh," which in English, he says, means "like home."

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Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Broward-Palm Beach® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com. 

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

2. Sage Bagel & Appetizer Shop

Sage has everything a wayward, homesick Jewish New Yorker wants: chewy bagels; the extra-salty version of smoked, thin-sliced salmon called belly lox; and a cozy place to sit in a family-owned place. Sage is old-school Hallandale, rising from the sand in 1973, when nearby Aventura was only a dream. But through it all, the Fuerst family has overseen multiple expansions and opened a restaurant where you can sit down and enjoy a bowl of hot matzo ball soup alongside a platter of shiny, smoked sable with red onion and capers.

Ten Best Restaurants in Hallandale Beach

1. Il Mercato Cafe & Wine Shop

When Il Mercato's chef and owner, Emily Finne, moved to South Florida so her kids could be closer to their grandparents, "it was right in the middle of the recession, and [she] was trying to get a job doing something, anything." Il Mercato opened in 2010, hidden from view in a Hallandale Beach Boulevard strip mall, with the idea of it being a place for a good glass of wine and light bites. "The rent wasn't too bad," she says, "so we took a chance." Soon, people flocked from Sunny Isles, Hollywood, and Aventura, and now Il Mercato is a full-service restaurant offering everything from pasta carbonara to short-rib tacos.

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Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Broward-Palm Beach® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.




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