Welcome to Hollywood.
Hollywood, Florida, that is. Any South Florida native knows the East Coast version bears little resemblance to the West Coast enclave with the same name. Still, this Broward County beachside city has its charm and, in the past few years, a lot more to offer, culinarily speaking.
These days, Hollywood Boulevard east of I-95 can still feel like the Old Florida the area once was — a small town where locals can get their coffee and pastry after dinner, enjoy a night out on the town, or stroll the shops after a day at the beach. In the past few decades, not much has changed in downtown Hollywood, aside from the dining options.
The main street is quaint and charming, replete with a number of ethnic eateries and retail stores. Near Young Circle, a park makes way for weekly food truck round-ups. And Harrison Street, just south of the main drag, offers up still more dining options, many that have been around for years.
For this reason, the city offers plenty of opportunity for casual eating and dedicated shops that deliver solid takes on Italian, Japanese, Thai, and French, from the mussels at Le Comptoir to the ramen at Go! Bistro — even a place to get an excellent
9. A La Turca
1848 Harrison St., Hollywood. Call 954-925-5900, or visit myalaturca.com.
With its roots in Ottoman culture, Turkish fare has developed into a unique fusion of Asian, Mediterranean, and Balkan flavors, with dishes varying from one region of the country to the next. At A La Turca in Hollywood, the food is emblematic of the country's southeast region — cities like Urfa and Adana — where the kebab reigns supreme. Meat, spices, and olive oil are often an integral part of each recipe, and Istanbul native Ugur Unal is steadfast in ensuring each is prepared to exacting standards. Although the restaurant originally opened in 2005, today it has relocated from its original location off Hollywood Boulevard's main drag to a new space nearly twice the size, allowing for seating of larger parties and plenty of new menu items. The upscale touch allows for alfresco dining, and whether inside or out, the white-tablecloth service is flawless. Unal travels his native Turkey extensively, sourcing ingredients and recipes to ensure the most authentic experience and freshest flavors. As a result, many things — from the sweet Turkish olive oil to the spices, and even some fish and meat — are delivered directly from the homeland, while bread and desserts are made in-house from scratch.
8. Laura's Cuban Cuisine
2723 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Call 954-921-9990, or visit laurascubanrestaurant.com.
What's better than really solid Cuban eats in a relaxed, no-frills environment? How about really solid Cuban eats paired with your favorite craft beer by the bottle? That's what you'll find at 8-year-old Laura's Cuban Cuisine in Hollywood, where a glass-front beverage refrigerator displays hundreds of selections. Speaking of bottles, there's an equally large assortment of hot sauces to flavor your favorite food, everything from chef-owner Laura Alfonso's
7. Billy's Stone Crab
400 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood. Call 954-923-2300, or visit crabs.com.
When Billy's Stone Crab first opened in 1997, they closed in May — when stone crab season ended. In 2013, owner Billy Hershey made the move to stay open year-round, and it was a good one. Today, the beautiful glass-walled fish house offers everything from classic seafood-centric fare and water views, to a retail market and boat dockage. The first-floor fish market sells (and allows its restaurant to serve) some of the freshest fish around. Of cousre, the in-house dining is the best experience you can have. You'll get to the dining room by way of a glass elevator that opens onto a 100-seat, two-level dining room with windows overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and drawbridge beyond. Service is attentive and formal: the maître d'hôtel wears a tux, waiters are in formal attire, and the white tablecloth covered tables are cleaned and cleared after every course. If it's not stone crab season, don't worry. The menu highlights include a number of excellent pasta and fresh-catch entrees (one even features frogs' legs).
6. Sugar Reef Grill
600 N. Surf Rd., Hollywood. Call 954-922-1119, or visit sugarreefgrill.com.
Best described as refined Caribbean cuisine with a French flair, this charming bistro is one of the better (and more sophisticated) restaurants to be found off the beach's boardwalk strip. That's thanks to husband-and-wife team Patrick Farnault and Robin Seger, who — after working in the French Caribbean for many years — decided to relocate to South Florida to open a restaurant. Today, anybody who has dropped by Sugar Reef years in years past for breakfast, lunch, or dinner won't suffer from any shock. Why? Not much has changed since they first opened in the early 1990's. The tables are still covered in paper, and the French-Caribbean menu still offers dishes like Jamaican pork with authentic French-style gratinéed potatoes, or a tropical fish stew redolent of coconut milk and green curry. There's even a roasted duck topped with mango salsa. An eclectic wine list offers lots of
2035 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Call 754-263-2826, or visit eatgobistro.com.
One of the best spots to slurp ramen in Broward County makes Go!Bistro one of our go-to spots for this list. Open for lunch and dinner, the eatery is a collaboration by partners Andrew Gong, Joao Da Silva, and Niti
4. Sardelli's Italian Steakhouse
331 Van Buren St., Hollywood. Call 954-921-8331, or visit Sardellis.com.
The Sardelli family has come a long way since opening Franco's Pizzeria in Davie in the mid-1980s. Especially the son, Fulvio Sardelli Jr., who stepped into the spotlight when he opened Hollywood's The Tipsy Boar in 2013 (which he no longer operates), a beer-and-pork-centric gastropub that opened a few doors from the family's popular Fulvio's 1900 in the city's downtown area. Today, he and father Fulvio Sr. run the kitchen at their three-year-old Sardelli's Italian Steakhouse, which they opened in 2012 after putting their life savings on the line to build the opulent, four-story Mediterranean-style villa off Hollywood Beach. Some call the place an expensive, special-occaision Italian steakhouse; others call it a cozy authentic Italian ristorante that's perfect for dinner with friends and family. And it's both. Behind a heavy wood door lies a 35-seat dining room and an open kitchen with well-worn pots and pans hanging from above. Here, the kitchen is turning out homemade pastas and well-marbled, high-priced steaks. The ravioli — rife with ricotta cheese, spinach, and an egg yolk that explodes and creates a rich savory sauce — is amazing. Sardelli's also offers a variety of expertly small plates that bank on fresh ingredients and simple execution.
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3. Le Comptoir
1902 Harrison St., Hollywood. Call 786-718-9441, or visit locu.com.
With its demure exterior and dimly lit, living-room-like cozy interior, Le Comptoir is the very definition of a small, family-run operation. The husband does the shopping by day while wife Celine Maury cooks. As a result, the restaurant holds relatively short hours. And aside from the two booths and half a dozen tables, there's just one of everything: one hostess, one server, one stove, one cook, and a single sous chef. There's no bartender, no liquor, and no cocktail menu, either — just a short list of well-chosen and reasonably priced French wine, available by the glass or bottle. But the menu is enough to make up for all of it. Some things just go together: peanut butter and jelly, peaches and cream, rice and beans, and, it seems, mussels and fries. Of course, you'd understand this pairing better if you hailed from Belgium or France, where
2. Le Tub Saloon
1100 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood. Call 954-921-9425, or visit theletub.com.
Everyone loves a dive. Even better: everyone loves a dive on the Intracoastal Waterway with one of the best burgers in the county. That's what you get when you head to Le Tub Saloon in Hollywood. Founding owner Russell Kohuth purchased the property in 1974, what was once a Sunoco gas station situated on the Intracoastal Waterway, converting it into a waterside restaurant decorated with driftwood, toilets, tubs, sinks, and random nautical treasures. For many years after, it survived as a quaint and quirky locals' hangout where the ambiance was always relaxed and eccentric, perfect for the Hollywood crowd. Today, the place is legendary, made nationally famous in 2006 by GQ food critic Allan Richman, who put the eatery on his list of "20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die" Of course, much of the menu is simple. The drinks are simple. Even the routine for dining here is pretty simple: get here as early as possible and snag a waterfront spot before the long wait for a table begins. After that, it's order one of those famous gigantic burgers and try to ignore the tourists.
219 N. 21st Ave., Hollywood. Call 954-534-9146, or visit
Located in the Old City Hall building of 21st Avenue, Runas won rave reviews in its first year of business. The concept is thanks to a trio of young owners who first met at Acqualina in Sunny Isles, who have since banded together to bring the modern Peruvian fusion concept to life. The menu offers both traditional and new age dishes, best seen with a selection of several different ceviches (a sample platter lets you try them all at once) as well as the cuisine's usual dishes of causa, tiradito, sushi, and chaufa. Fresh new takes include a 20-hour sous vide octopus parrillero, meat that's grilled and charred, served with crispy golden sliced Peruvian potatoes, and garnished with aji amarillo cream sauce and fresh chimichurri sauce. Unlike many Peruvian places, this one serves plenty of pasta for an Italian flare, including the fetuccini neri di mare, a dish of sauteed scallops, calamari, octopus, and mahi-mahi dressed with an anticuchera sauce and served over squid ink pasta. And, although it's not the typical way to eat it, try the lobster ceviche. You won't be disappointed.
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.