Hollywood Restaurants Prepare to Go Big Time

A coffee shop where you can peruse local art while sipping cappuccino. A fast-casual Peruvian sandwich spot that highlights the country's less-publicized fare. An Asian eatery where you'll find one of South Florida's best bowls of ramen. A hip new restaurant where a young chef makes Reuben egg rolls and mahi-mahi sausage. And an upmarket dining establishment where a Wolfgang Puck alumnus helms his own version of a small-town bistro.

You can find all of that and more in downtown Hollywood, one of South Florida's up-and-coming foodie communities. In the past several years, the city has grown into a veritable smorgasbord of ethnic eats.

Dozens of restaurants dot Hollywood Boulevard, including longstanding establishments such as Mickey Byrne's Irish Pub and French favorites Bistro 1902 and Le Comptoir. Then there's the Turkish and Mediterranean fare served at A La Turca. Ginger Bay offers Jamaican. Europa Restaurant Transylvania is perhaps the only Romanian restaurant in all of South Florida.

"It was the perfect spot outside the Miami congestion."

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A few newcomers specialize in all things modern American.

One of them is Ends Meat, where chef/owner Kevin Dreifuss began riffing gastropub style eight months ago.

"Hollywood has changed a lot since I signed my lease to open the restaurant," Dreifuss says. "But [my wife and I] knew it was the right place to invest both our time and money. We knew, eventually, it would become one of South Florida's next foodie destinations."

You could say this wave of newcomers began with GoBistro, an Asian-themed eatery that opened in late 2014 and offers everything from sushi and yakitori to several renditions of traditional Japanese ramen. The restaurant gained an almost instant cult following and three years later has become a staple in the downtown dining scene.

"You can head to GoBistro and get ramen for lunch, a hearty Irish corned-beef sandwich at Mickey Byrne's, or do breakfast at one of these new coffee shops," Dreifuss says. "People want the variety. They want to go somewhere that's a destination location, where you have more than one option, and Hollywood is slowly becoming one of those spots."

Another favorite is Peruvian eatery La Huaca. "We chose this area because this is where so many of our friends and family are," La Huaca cofounder Ynes Sona says. "It was the perfect spot outside the Miami congestion but just far enough to not be a long drive."

Try trendier fare, including potato beignets, at American English Kitchen + Bar, where chef/owner Russ Aaron says he chose Hollywood for its approachable — and affordable — allure. "It was hard to find something I could get my head around financially," Aaron says. "Everything seemed overpriced. I was lucky to find exactly what I was looking for, and for a good price."

Parrot Coffee opened in late 2014, bringing imported European meats, cheese, pasta, and a selection of coffee by the pound that ranges from Cuban espresso to Greek and Turkish varieties. Off Harrison Street, 6-month-old Atelier 3 is one-part hipster coffee shop and one-part art gallery, adding to the district's cultural growth.

Asked if Hollywood has potential to be the next "it" foodie neighborhood, GoBistro cofounder Andrew Gong says there's certainly potential.

"It might be a while before we see it become a destination in that sense, but we are definitely on the right track, and it's exciting to watch as more and more new businesses pop up," Gong says. "Right now, a lot of people — especially those without deep pockets — are getting priced out of more hip, up-and-coming areas like Wynwood, South Beach, and Brickell as rents continue to go up, so they're turning to places like Hollywood."

Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.