Oakland Park Culinary Arts District Bets on the Funky Buddha

Monica McGivern
Opening night inside the Funky Buddha Brewery's tap room.
In a serious case of if-you-build-it-they-will-come, more than 4,000 people turned out Saturday for the grand opening of the Funky Buddha Brewery -- the first commercial craft brewery in Broward County. Not only did they come; they drank almost all the beer.

As 6 p.m. neared, hundreds inched closer to the bar, fidgeting and checking the time until the moment bartenders tapped the special releases: Blueberry Cobbler Ale and Nib Smuggler Chocolate Porter. By closing time, owners were saying they'd almost run out of all the beers from two dozen taps -- from a smooth yet pungent Hop Gun India Pale Ale to a citrusy, easy-drinking Florida Hefeweizen.

See also:
- SLIDESHOW: Grand Opening at Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park

The Funky Buddha brand started out six years ago with a cozy lounge in Boca Raton with dim lighting, comfy couches, hookah pipes, and live music and comedy -- and a small microbrewery operation. After runaway success with the beer-making -- flavors became a hit at national beer festivals and among beer bloggers -- the Funky Buddha decided to aim higher. The intention now is to mass-produce and distribute kegs, first to restaurants around the state, then the Southeast.

Bottles and six-packs may follow one day, but for now, drinkers can sample the Buddha's beers in the brewery's tap room, which is the size of a high school gym and looks almost the same. Simple black industrial lights hang from a high ceiling, and five flat-screen TVs list the beers on offer. Rows of growlers are etched with the silhouette of a meditating Buddha, and dozens of glass goblets bear the names of those who pay $50 annually to be part of the brewery's Snifter Club. In a side room, people can play bocce ball and cornhole. Viewable through eight-foot-by-four-foot windows from the tap room are the stars of the operation: four stainless-steel fermenting vats.

If this seems like a perfect ending to a beautiful dream, wait.

Now imagine this culinary fantasy: After you've downed a few beers, you step out of the brewery and stroll to neighboring, locally owned restaurants to grab a bite. You take only a few steps to a 30,000-square-foot green market where South Florida farmers sell bright, sweet tomatoes in the winter and succulent mangoes and lychees in the summer. Attached is a bakery that every morning puts out hot, crusty loaves for the average joe and sends nearby restaurants their daily supplies.

It sounds incredible because it might be. This isn't Seattle or Austin. It's Oakland Park, Fort Lauderdale's homely neighbor.

Location Info

Funky Buddha Brewery

1201 NE 38th St., Oakland Park, FL

Category: Music

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icculus17 topcommenter

Love the Funky Buddha, they'll be fine, as for the rest of this "district" JUST DO IT ALREADY!  stop boasting about it and let's see some progress, otherwise it'll be one brewery trying to carry the weight of the whole "district"

Just giving the area a Title does absolutely nothing


I was at one of the City's "branding sessions" for this culinary area. The Funky Buddha will provide a lot of carryover for restaurants and others selling prepared food. Glad to see them open there. Miami has 2 micro breweries set to open soon too and there are 2 others operating in Palm Beach. 

But that's not really enough and the City knows it. What will really anchor it will be a large,  truly local farmers' market (with required proper labeling of each item--what farm it came from and what the growing methods were).  In addition, someone should consider starting a raw milk dairy perhaps along with pastured chickens on the land just above what Oakland Park calls its "downtown".  Cows were on that land throughout most of my life. 

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