The Best Restaurants In Hollywood
Ceviche, burgers, and adorable penguin-shaped cakes.
Hollywood is a city that not only seems to fly under the radar but also employs some sort of cloaking device. Sandwiched between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, most people pass it in the blink of an eye—and locals (who are generally opposed to overdevelopment) kind of like it that way. You’re almost guaranteed a lack of pretentiousness or needless hype when eating in Hollywood. From a weekend market that will give any fancy food hall a run for its money to the best sate we’ve ever tried, here are our favorite places to eat in Hollywood.
J28 sandwich bar
This fast-casual spot right on Young Circle makes the best Peruvian sandwiches in South Florida. Each one comes on a housemade crusty roll that tastes just like what you’d get at a sanguchería in Lima. Their pan con chicharrón, a traditional breakfast sandwich available all day, is a must-order. It features crispy slices of deep-fried pork, fried sweet potatoes, and a tangy sarsa criolla. If you’re about that spicy life, definitely order it slathered with their fiery homemade rocoto sauce. The lomo saltado sandwich is also delicious, and they even pack everything separately if you’re doing takeout so nothing gets soggy, not even the fries. Each order comes with a tiny cup of creamy, mildly spicy papitas a la huancaína. They also make some of South Florida’s best empanadas from scratch (yes, even the dough). If J28 were in Miami, they’d definitely make it on our guide to the best Peruvian restaurants.
You shouldn’t have to choose between taking out a loan or gambling with your intestinal tract when it comes to having raw fish. Ceviche Dozo is just the place for a very affordable (most dishes hover around $10) Japanese/Nikkei meal that doesn’t skimp on quality. The whole operation is pretty much a one-woman show, which kind of reminds us of being in a real-life Midnight Diner—except in a strip mall on Hollywood Boulevard. Dozo offers dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado donburi, and great maki with some of the most perfectly cooked sushi rice we’ve tried (especially at this price point). But we keep going back for the hot entrees, like a from-scratch Japanese curry that feels like a velvet blanket in our mouths and comes with super crunchy chicken katsu. The okonomiyaki here is probably the best in South Florida, and is packed with tender seafood and drenched in Kewpie mayo and sweet soy sauce.
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Hollywood is one of the best destinations in South Florida for old-school red sauce Italian-American eats, and the epicenter of all that garlicky goodness is at Mimi’s Ravioli on Johnson Street. This is a small Italian-American grocery with its own pasta factory next door. The walls are lined with freezers filled to the brim with Mimi’s own homemade pastas, sauces, and prepared meals. They also have a bakery and pizza oven where you can get fresh ciabatta, calzones, cannoli, and more. The real draw here, though, is Mimi’s homemade mozzarella, which is made fresh every day. It’s creamy and moist and perfect in a salad. If you’re not planning on making your own caprese anytime soon, you can sample Mimi’s outstanding mozzarella on a slice of pizza or even a whole pie. There are a few tables on a narrow terrace outside, but most folks grab food to-go here. Just remember they close at 5pm.
Don Rodone specializes in the best affordable ceviche in South Florida. The Peruvian chef behind this small cevichery got his start with a stall at the Yellow Green Farmers Market just down the street before opening up his own permanent location walking distance from TY Park. The menu is tight, and includes a mean lomo saltado and a couple other dishes. But the ceviche is the star. The regular fish ceviche is about $15 and features certain details you’d find in much pricier versions, like a little tangle of yuyo (seaweed) and choclo kernels scented with anise. The leche de tigre is perfectly balanced, too. You’ll seriously think you’re getting away with paying far too little for such a great ceviche.
JP's Bagel Place
This bagel spot on Hollywood Boulevard has been around for a few decades and has become a favorite among locals. Every morning you’ll find a variety of Hollywood residents here from professionals and snowbird retirees to veteran hippies and construction workers. The interior feels like a cozy old-school diner with counter seating and a handful of tables, while the light blue and white mosaic tiles give the space a cool, refreshing feel that fits South Florida. You can get solid American breakfasts, but we recommend sticking with the bagels and bialys, which strike the perfect balance between soft and chewy.
Located in Downtown Hollywood, Villa Romana’s space is what you’d expect at a special occasion Italian restaurant: white table cloths, waiters in button-downs, and elegant wood accents. And while the Italian food is very good, the menu’s Romanian options are where it’s at—a delicious mashup of Mediterranean and Eastern European flavors. For starters, try the zacusca, a zesty eggplant spread with peppers, garlic, and other seasonings. Our favorite entree is the tochitura dobrogeana, an orgy of pork in garlicky tomato-based sauce containing everything from braised pork chunks to several kinds of sausage. It’s served with mamaliga, a thick polenta topped with shredded feta cheese and a fried egg.
Chocolada Bakery & Cafe
Chocolada is an Eastern European bakery and cafe that leans heavily towards Romanian pastries and baked goods. It’s located right on the main drag of Downtown and is open until 11pm on weekends, making it a great place to grab a post-dinner dessert. On those weekend nights, you can expect to be serenaded on Chocolada’s patio by a middle-aged crooner dressed in bedazzled shirts and bootcut jeans who loves to ham it up like a Vegas Elvis impersonator. He's great, but we also recommend the dobos cake here, which features nearly a dozen slices of impossibly thin sponge cake cemented together with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. The penguin cake is also as adorable as it is delicious–a penguin-shaped chocolate complete with a little tuxedo concealing rich chocolate mousse.
Yellow Green Farmers Market
This is perhaps Hollywood’s greatest culinary attraction, if not the biggest food-related draw in all of Broward County. Located in an old lumber yard, this weekend farmers market has grown exponentially since it first opened. Now, it's an incubator for all sorts of small businesses—from coffee shops and taquerias to wellness products and jewelry. Not all of them are good, and crowds gathering in front of a stall aren’t always an indication of quality (case in point: Llanera Carne en Vara, a Venezuelan barbecue spot whose grilled meats are a bit dry and bland). The vendors change almost constantly, but there are some great standards, like Teff Fields, which sells vegetarian Ethiopian food, or Exotic Juices, where you can get layered tropical fruit slushies. The parking situation here can be a hellacious traffic jam (and costs $10 for every three hours), so try to carpool or find alternative transportation.
Tastes of Europe Bakery
This Hungarian bakery is located right off US1, which goes by Federal Highway in these parts. They serve a variety of Central European pastries, breads, and desserts, including some lightly sweetened poppy seed rolls and rum balls the size of your fist. However, we like stopping by on Saturdays for langos, a favorite Hungarian street food. Imagine a savory elephant ear topped with garlic oil, cheese, and an avalanche of sour cream. It can take a while to get your langos, since Hungarian expats congregate here on Saturdays looking for a taste of home. The wait is a silver lining, though, because it allows you to pop into one of two Russian grocery stores that sandwich this small bakery. Grab a beer or tarragon-flavored soda, and walk back to Tastes of Europe after about ten minutes. You’ll be rewarded with one of the most decadent snacks in town.
Krakatoa Indonesian Cuisine
Like many favorites in Hollywood, this cozy Indonesian restaurant got its start at Yellow Green Farmers Market just a few minutes away. The restaurant makes its own tempeh and Indonesian sauces, which you can (and should) take home with you. The menu features an excellent Indonesian fried rice called nasi goreng, which is tinted yellow with turmeric. Our favorite thing to order here, though, is the sate. While many associate these skewers of grilled meat with Thailand, the dish actually originated in Indonesia, and Krakatoa has our favorite version in South Florida. The meat (we recommend the lamb) is super tender, assertively spiced, and lightly charred from grilling.
photo credit: Tasty Planet
Le Tub Saloon
Before La Revolución Hamburguesa reached the Sunshine State, Hollywood Beach’s Le Tub was one of the few places in South Florida serving specialty hamburgers, or rather a single specialty hamburger. This restaurant—which has the soul of a South Florida dive bar—is located right on the Intracoastal and cranks out a few stellar eats from its small kitchen. The burgers are famous (and very good if you're into a juicy patty the size of a softball ), but considering the kitchen makes a Miami Beach studio look spacious, the staff only has enough room to make one jumbo burger at a time. That can translate to over an hour wait for your burger. If you don’t feel like waiting, just order the peel-and-eat shrimp or chili, which comes to the table almost immediately (at least compared to the burger). Le Tub also has one of the best key lime pies in the area, which we feel goes pretty damn well with a Bud Light.
Siciliano's Frozen Custard
This frozen custard and ice cream shop is an iconic Hollywood spot, and there can be a line out the door on weekends, especially in the summer. There’s nothing fancy or experimental about this place, which is why we love it so much. The scoopable ice cream is all made in-house, and they even offer some refreshing dairy-free options, including a lightly tart passion fruit sorbet. The sundaes are gargantuan, and a small serving is enough to satisfy two people easily. For something smaller, get one of their cannoli shells filled with your choice of vanilla, chocolate, or swirled frozen custard. Siciliano’s is mostly a take-out situation, and it's totally appropriate to consume your ice cream or custard in your car. However, there are some picnic tables just to the right of the adjacent sub shop, which Siciliano’s also operates.
Sub Center Hollywood
It's hard to find South Florida sandwich alternatives that aren’t Publix, a fancy European thing, or a stuffed yoga mat from some chain. Thankfully, Hollywood has a solution if you’re looking for a hoagie, grinder, or any other sangwish that Adam Sandler may have sung about. Sub Center is located right next to Siciliano’s and is also operated by the same people. These are pretty straightforward subs. You can customize them with nearly a dozen veggies and just as many sauces. We like their zesty Italian sub, featuring ham, capicola, salami, and spicy pepperoni. They also make a classic meatball sub with a slightly sweet sauce, and we really love how you can make a personalized riff on a Reuben by customizing the hot pastrami sandwich. You really can’t go wrong with any version here. Wait times can get long during peak hours (lunch and after work, mostly), so definitely order ahead online if you’re pressed for time.
Jack's Hollywood Diner
Miami’s has its cafeterias, and Broward has its diners. The original part of Jack’s faces Federal Highway and looks just like those silver streetcar diners you see in old movies. Jack’s can fill up on weekend mornings when locals pack the joint for solid renditions of classic American breakfasts, including stacks of fluffy pancakes and Greek omelets packed with spinach and feta. Nights are a little calmer and can remind you of being in Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks painting. Almost everything on the menu is great, but we love their patty melts and manageably-sized Reuben sandwiches. They also make one of the best traditional meatloafs in South Florida.
Carmela’s is one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Hollywood, and a great place for people who think a bowl of pasta over $20 should make your eyes roll back (and not leave you starving afterward). The food here is great, and served in generous portions. The fresh, light-as-a-feather pastas include tagliatelle with a creamy truffle sauce, and pappardelle in a hearty duck ragù. The interior has polished concrete floors, a chandelier, and a huge melted candle display that makes the dining room feel like The Phantom of the Opera’s lair without the cheesy soundtrack. It’s still Hollywood, after all, so expect a refreshingly unpretentious atmosphere. Nobody’s going to stop you at the door because you’re not wearing the right outfit.