Dining — 03 May 2014
Dining Around the World, in Hollywood, Fla.

By Rebecca Cahilly

Hollywood, Florida began as a dream — that of Joseph Young in the early 1920s. For his “Dream City in Florida,” Young envisioned a place “for everyone, from the opulent at the top of the industrial social ladder to the most humble of working people.” From 1926 through the 1950s Hollywood developed at a booming pace, along the three large circles of land punctuating Hollywood Boulevard from Hollywood Beach and the Broadwalk beachfront promenade west almost to 44th Avenue. The 1950s also saw the opening of the world famous Diplomat Hotel, which drew a who’s who from everywhere. Along with the myriad visitors and transplants over the years came a matching number of restaurants catering to all tastes and social statuses. Today, Hollywood is an entertainment and arts center, offering dining options to suit all tastes. Never one to subscribe to a “type,” I packed up the family one Sunday morning and set out to discover this one-of-a-kind cultural bouillabaisse.

Harrison Street and Hollywood Boulevard

Just west of the 10-acre ArtsPark at Young Circle, Harrison Street and Hollywood Boulevard are buzzing from sunrise until well after sunset. These bustling, pedestrian-friendly streets offer something for everyone — and I mean everyone. We began our tour at ArtsPark at Young Circle, near Italian restaurant Mama Mia, our go-to spot when our Italian/American uncle comes to town. It was still early, and the faint smell of baking bread and freshly roasted coffee wafted through the air as we navigated through waiters sweeping the sidewalks and setting up tables for another day of al fresco dining. Suddenly, lute and tambourine sounds filled the air.

“Join us later for belly dancing!” smiled the proprietor of Falafel Fans, known for its falafels, yes, but also for its live entertainment and hookah bar. By the time we reached A La Turca next door, I was ready to dive into some decadent Turkish coffee and sweet gooey baklava. Before I could suggest the idea my focus suddenly shifted. “We need another date night!” I exclaimed, stopping in front of Fascino’s – formerly Fulvio’s – consumed with visions of Veal Oscar and the roasted peppers and bread starters.

“There’s also Lola’s on Harrison,” offered a passerby within earshot. “That’s just down the street and the food is phenomenal!” He was decked head to toe in festive garb in honor of one of the many celebratory events that take place in downtown Hollywood.

Feeling a bit underdressed we pressed on, our gastronomic tour interrupted only by the occasional art gallery, mural, workshop, dance studio or cigar lounge. “Oooh, I could do some steak-frîtes right about now,” I mused, passing Le Comptoir French Bistro. But again the thought dissipated as I contemplated a plate of bacon-wrapped dates and a craft brew at The Tipsy Boar, a glass (or bottle) of wine at Vino, pad Thai at Nakorn Thai & Sushi, a piece of buttery, fluffy golden rum cake at Caribbean fusion R.E.D. Stripe Cafe and Lounge or a delightfully authentic taste of Transylvania at Europa Restaurant & Social Club.

As we turned the corner on to Hollywood Boulevard, confronted by the option of a plate of paradilla for two at Argentinian restaurant Kussifay, or paella, tapas and flamenco dancing at Spanish restaurant Buleria, the lively event crowd had grown. By this point we were thoroughly enjoying the breadth of our choices: Chinese, Mexican, Peruvian, Colombian, Irish, Jamaican… a bowl of Vietnamese pho at Pho Vi, cassoulet provençal at FACE Restaurant and Bar, a soda and slice of deep-dish pizza at Pizza Rustica. Feeling adventurous, I suggested a pit stop for some jazz and yoga at Mystic Water Kava Bar.

Unamused, my children had another idea: something sweet and ice cream-like, preferably with chocolate. Despite my urging that some belly dancing at Greek restaurant Taverna Yiamas was the order of the day, I was tugged rather assertively into Chocolada Bakery & Café, where an array of cakes and pastries (yes, they have a profiterole cake!) mix and mingle with American breakfast and lunch favorites alongside signature Romanian entrées. With bulging eyes and chocolate chins, the little people who call me “Mama” re-emerged onto Hollywood Boulevard only to spot Kilwins and then Menchie’s and Starbucks. “Fudge!” “Yogurt!” “Cake Pops!”

Sensing an impending meltdown we packed them into the car and headed east, to the Broadwalk.

Hollywood Beach and the Broadwalk

Bordering the ocean and offering over two miles of restaurants, boutiques, cafes and ice cream shops, the Broadwalk has the classic beach-town feel. It’s the perfect place to run over-sugared children, get a little sun and sand – and enjoy some fabulously entertaining people-watching.

It was Sunday, so our first stop was Josh’s Organic Garden farmers’ market for some local mushrooms, oranges and greens – and a sample or two, or three. The juice bar next door is a fun spot to enjoy a smoothie and the ocean view.

Next, we headed north to Charnow Park and spread out a picnic blanket on the steps overlooking the splash pad so the little ones could frolic while we munched on carrots and planned our next stop. The Broadwalk offers everything from pizza to sushi, Italian, Mexican and Mediterranean. Ocean Alley Restaurant is usually packed, renowned not only for its ambience but for its consistent placement in the Best of Hollywood Beach contests – Best Seafood Gumbo, Best Bratwurst, Best Clam Chowder…

A bit more upscale is Sugar Reef Grill, boasting a flavorful fusion of Caribbean, Asian, American and Mediterranean cuisine. Istanbul Restaurant shares its own acclaim, as one of the most authentic Turkish restaurants in South Florida, but the locals seem most excited about the Organic Brewery, serving, yes, organic beer and “made-from-scratch food.”

Worn down from cries for ice cream we meandered through the crowds of visitors, locals, roller bladers, bikes and Segway scooters to Surf ‘N’ Spray Café, for a can’t-be-beat $1.75 soft serve. He: vanilla; she: Spumoni; we: fresh-from-the-oven empanadas, a pitcher of Sangria and a corner table at Las Brisas Argentinian restaurant for a full view of the playground to watch the sugar-induced madness unfold.

Our table was in full shade and the kids were surprisingly relaxed by the time we freshened up and began contemplating where we should go for dinner.

Hollywood Intracoastal Waterway

Sunset in Hollywood is best viewed along the Intracoastal, preferably over a heaping plate of stone crabs at Billy’s Stone Crab, toasting with a glass of chardonnay at GG’s Waterfront Bar & Grill, or indulging in a world-class burger and a bottle of beer at Le Tub Saloon.

Did someone say karaoke? Joe’s Tiki Bar Grill & Sushi serves up sushi, sandwiches, platters and surf and turf along with live entertainment, including karaoke. Claiming to be the home of “redneck cuisine” Jimbo’s Sandbar is famous for its fish tacos and “flatliner” burger. Live music and a festive atmosphere keep this waterfront location packed nightly.

We decided to head to Hollywood’s southernmost border, beyond our favorite Caribbean American Lava Tiki Bar & Grille at the Crown Plaza Hollywood Beach Resort, to the beautiful Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa. Tonight was not a night that we could enjoy Kobe beef skewers and the expertise of the wonderful sommelier at Hollywood Prime, so we opted for the alternate dining experience at the hotel – across the skywalk over A1A to Rivals Waterfront Sports Grille, for some wings, pasta and boat-watching.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

On land of its own, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino shares the Hollywood zip code and brings yet another element to this colorful town. Boasting shops, restaurants, entertainment and games galore, the Hard Rock village is a world unto itself. From the world-famous Hard Rock Café, brimming with rock and roll memorabilia, to local celebrity chef hot spot Martorano’s, to the exquisite fine dining experience offered at Council Oak, every taste is satisfied.

On our way to Hollywood that morning, our fresh-from-Disney offspring had been certain that when we said “Hollywood” we meant Hollywood Studios and the enthusiasm and subsequent confused realization had been difficult to contain. As we drove home, sated and sun-kissed, in a day well spent, from the back seat a 5-year-old voice piped up and said, “I like Hollywood, the city.” Her little brother thought a minute and then answered, “Yeah, it’s not Disney Junior, but it has good food.”


Contact Info

Mama Mia

1818 S. Young Circle



Falafel Fans 

106 S. 20th Ave.

A La Turca

1848 Harrison St.




1900 Harrison St.



Lola’s on Harrison

2032 Harrison St.



Le Comptoir French Bistro

1902 Harrison St.



The Tipsy Boar

1906 Harrison St.




1910 Harrison St.





Nakorn Thai & Sushi

1935 Harrison St.



R.E.D. Stripe Café and Lounge

2001 Harrison St.


Europa Restaurant
and Social Club

2009 Harrison St.



Kussifay Argentinian Restaurant

2050 Hollywood Blvd.




2051 Hollywood Blvd.



Pho Vi

1933 Hollywood Blvd.



FACE Restaurant & Bar

2022 Hollywood Blvd.



Pizza Rustica

1928 Hollywood Blvd.



Mystic Water Kava Bar

2037 Hollywood Blvd.


Taverna Yiamas

1948 Hollywood Blvd.



Chocolada Bakery & Café

1923 Hollywood Blvd.




1907 Hollywood Blvd.



Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

1866 N. Young Circle, Suite 7




1801 N. Young Circle



Josh’s Organic Garden

101 N. Ocean Drive

Ocean Alley Restaurant

900 N. Broadwalk



Sugar Reef Grill

600 N. Surf Road



Istanbul Restaurant

707 N. Boardwalk



Organic Brewery

290 N. Broadwalk



Surf N Spray Café

1404 N. Broadwalk


Las Brisas

600 N. Surf Road


Billy’s Stone Crab Restaurant & Market

400 N. Ocean Drive



GG’s Waterfront Bar & Grill

606 N. Ocean Drive



Le Tub Saloon

1100 N. Ocean Drive



Joe’s Tiki Bar Grill & Sushi

1318 N. Ocean Drive



Jimbo’s Sandbar

6200 N. Ocean Drive



Lava Tiki Bar & Grille

400 S Ocean Drive



Hollywood Prime: At The Diplomat Resort & Spa

3555 S. Ocean Drive



Rivals Waterfront
Sports Grille

3460 S. Ocean Drive



Hard Rock Café
(located within the Casino)

1 Seminole Way




5751 Seminole Way



Council Oak Steaks & Seafood (located
within the Casino)

1 Seminole Way




Related Articles


About Author


(0) Readers Comments

Comments are closed.