BETWEEN I-95 AND OCEAN: A RICH CULINARY JOURNEY DOWN HALLANDALE BEACH BLVD. PART 1

BETWEEN I-95 AND OCEAN: A RICH CULINARY JOURNEY DOWN HALLANDALE BEACH BLVD. PART 1

By Eli Khazzam, Economic Development Manager, City of Hallandale Beach

Part I:           From I-95 to Route 1

Not all great experiences in life are obvious. For example, an international culinary journey can be found right in Hallandale Beach when you exit I-95 and head east on Hallandale Beach Blvd. As you make way toward the skyscrapers that light up the horizon, there are dozens of dining gems to explore between the Interstate and the Ocean. These include restaurants, bakeries, and eateries of all types – all humble yet well-known for their time-tested quality!

Geographically speaking, Hallandale Beach Blvd., which runs east to the oceanfront and back west towards the I-95 expressway is a straight shot across a bustling urban city, over the intracoastal, and ending at the famous landmark water tower where the Atlantic Ocean casually begins. Culturally speaking, the Blvd. is more like a complex, many-sided shape where many ethnicities have established some of the most unique and unforgettable dining venues in South Florida.

What will a journey across the Blvd. reveal?  It depends upon your appetite.

Kick it off with the best in Jamaican fare with Dunns River Island Café. Once you walk in, you will feel like you are in the Caribbean with the relaxing ambiance of Jamaica and Reggae backbeat. Warm up with the peppered shrimp, pan-seared scallops, or classic Jamaican patties. Move on to the Reggae Jerk Chicken, Rosemary Lamb Rack, or traditional ox tail and curry goat combo. Enjoy a variety of juices and mixed drinks from the bar and listen to live music. Dunns River will make you feel like you are on vacation.

If Cuban food is your weakness, stop in at Don Lolo’s Restaurant, which offers a pleasant indoor/outdoor setting for relaxed dining. Don Lolo’s offers a wide variety of both Cuban and Mexican dishes. This includes steaks, chicken and pork, all cut fresh every day and marinaded in a mix of authentic seasonings. Kick off with the tostones and guacamole. Then try the pork chops, half roasted chicken, or Rabu (ox tail soup). There is also some excellent seafood, including sauteed shrimp, grouper filet, and fajitas.

Make your way up the Blvd., opting to stop at La Granja Parrilla & Seafood, a family-style Peruvian gem of a restaurant, and you will stumble upon an oasis containing the Kosher Bagel Cove, which features New York style bagels and spreads; Humus Achla, for first-rate Mediterranean cuisine; and Urban Thai and Sushi. The latter offers delicious Padt Thai, homemade Thai spring rolls, and a variety of traditional Thai dishes spiced to perfection.

As you near the intersection of 2nd Avenue, you will come across Moises Bakery, which offers some of the finest Venezuelan bakery treats in all of Florida. Moises Bakery is an European Bakery with Hispano American specialties. Sample the delicious Empanadas from Venezuela, Chile and Argentina. These include Tequeños, Ham Cachito, Turkey or cheese as well as delicious Arepas, Cachapas. Sit indoors or outdoors and relax with the finest coffee, chocolate, tea, or fresh juices. Moises pastry chefs can make the cake of your dreams for special events.

Did someone say bakery?  There is also Judy’s Bakery and Pastry shop, which is also a terrific family-style eatery where you can sit down and casually dine on treats of your choice. Judy’s Bakery offers an excellent selection of Columbian-style fare.  Consider the grilled steak, eggs and mixed rice with beans and corn cake; the tender sirloin steak cooked a la criolla and topped with a fried egg, or the shredded beef with rice and sweet plantains. There is no shortage of desserts with a full selection of homemade pastries, fritters, and breads.

As you proceed along the Blvd., you don’t have to look hard to find A Touch of Cuba restaurant, which has an island-like indoor/outdoor ambiance. Enjoy a variety of sandwiches Cuban style as well as tortilla omelets. Some of their main courses include fajitas, pork steak, tilapia, shrimp with garlic, and much more. Don’t forget to sample the fried cheeses.

Nestled just off the Blvd. on NW 2nd Avenue is Chapultepec Mexican Bar & Restaurant, which has an amazing selection of homemade, fresh tacos.  This is not fast food, but rather perfection! The same can be said about their large selection of soups, which are ample portions the size of a meal in their own right. Dabble in their numerous quesadillas or go ahead with tortas (traditional Mexican sandwiches), burritos or a variety of enchiladas. You can also relax with a first-rate Margarita as you take in the Mexican hospitality.

Finally, when you get to the intersection of Route 1 and Hallandale Beach Blvd., you can take Route 1 south for a 1 minute drive and stop for an American Classic: The Flashback Diner. The Flashback features a full, New York Style menu of sandwiches, entrees, salads, and desserts.  Anyone who loves the contemporary diner experience will fully appreciate this cozy gem. The Flashback offers something for everyone in the whole family – any time of day or night.

In Part II of this series, we will explore some of the restaurants on Hallandale Beach Blvd. east of the Route 1 as we head closer to the beach.