Chic, Upscale Tsukuro Is a Sign That Rowdy Fort Lauderdale Beach Is Ready to Grow Up

Categories: Review

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All photos CandaceWest.com
It's come a long way over the past couple of decades, but Fort Lauderdale Beach is still most widely known for its absurd spring-break antics from its heyday. Perms, short shorts, copious amounts of cheap booze: The beach was once a veritable frat house on steroids.

In the late '80s, that all started to change as the powers that be sought to discourage the rowdy riffraff and encourage better-behaved (and more lucrative) tourists. The strip is now interspersed with high-end resorts and eateries.

Even so, a fragment of the "glory days" still hangs on in the historic intersection of Las Olas Boulevard and A1A, with the ever-present Elbo Room and other bars clinging to cheap drinks and catering to tourists and local beach bums looking to get rowdy.

Tsukuro owner A.J. Yaari, who is the proprietor of many of the strip's bars and restaurants -- Spazio, Sangrias, Rock Bar, St. Barts Coffee Co., and the infamous watering hole Dirty Blondes -- has experienced the transitions firsthand; he started working on the beach making six bucks an hour at the tail end of the spring-break days.

"When the college students stopped coming, the business owners looked at it like a failure," says Yaari. "I saw an opportunity to start a business."

See also: Tsukuro on Fort Lauderdale Beach (Photos)

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Jimmie's Cafe 47 Descended From a Chocolate Shop to Serve Caribbean-Inspired Tapas

Categories: Review

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CandaceWest.com
Rob Granado, the General Manager and Chef at Jimmie's Cafe.
Only in South Florida could an iconic chocolate shop give birth to a Caribbean-inspired tapas restaurant.

In 1946, Jimmie Vonglis and his family escaped war-torn Europe for a new life in the States. A year later, he opened the doors to Jimmie's Chocolates in Dania Beach.

Vonglis is long gone, and the shop has changed hands several times since then, but his legacy lives on at his original storefront, which is hailed as the longest-running chocolate shop in the state.

Owners Rodney Harrison and Ken Smith took over the property in the late '90s. While the pair were originally interested only in the real estate, when they approached the former owner, he implored them to carry on the legacy of the historic business.

Call it faith, stupidity, or just a spark of intuition; the two businessmen decided to take a chance and revive the chocolate shop.

See also: Jimmie's Cafe 47 in Dania Beach (Slideshow)

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Noodle Nirvana: Hollywood's GoBistro Is a Ramen Lover's Dream

Categories: Review

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All photos by CandaceWest.com
We've all had ramen. For most Americans, it comes from styrofoam cups in flavors like "oriental" and "seafood." We eat it when we are short on time, hungover, broke, or living in a dorm.

The Japanese would shake their heads at this; for them, ramen is something of a national dish. More than just broth and noodles, it's an art form in itself, with museums and restaurants dedicated to its craft, some so narrowly focused as to concentrate on just one style, flavor, and noodle.

See also: GoBistro in Hollywood (Photos)

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DCOTA Cay Serves Gourmet Lunch Priced for 99 Percenters, in a 1 Percenter Setting

Categories: Review

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Karli Evans
It certainly isn't the most likely spot to grab a burger. From the outside, it looks like any normal, boring office park, an imposing boxlike structure with guarded gates and a parking lot.

But the Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA) is far from ordinary once you walk in the door. The museum-like center was once limited to designers and their patrons (aside from special days designated for the public).

However, a couple of years back, DCOTA expanded with the addition of DCOTA Cay, a swanky new lunch spot catering to the showroom staff, its customers, and the 99 percenters who want to peek into the lifestyles -- and decor -- of the rich and famous.

See also: Closer Look: DCOTA Cay in Dania Beach (Slideshow)

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Candela in Wilton Manors Mixes Mediterranean and More

Categories: Review

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CandaceWest.com
In Spain, food has a different meaning. It's both fuel and fun, consumed and enjoyed in a series of small, snack-like bites throughout the day. This all begins with a family meal, meat from a whole pig's leg sliced onto bread for a portable breakfast.

As the workday rolls to a halt, you quiet a growling belly with a quick stop at the local tasca, the working man's tavern, where tiny pintxos, tapas, and montaditos are washed down with wine and beer.

Later, you'll stroll home to enjoy the final meal of the day, a late-night feast and a few bottles of wine shared with friends and family that can stretch long past midnight.

In South Florida, where the recent small-plate obsession has tainted our palates (and pockets) with pricey, upmarket concept foods, we have no understanding of the Spanish art of celebrating food and drink.

See also: Closer Look: Candela in Wilton Manors (Slideshow)

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Beauty & the Feast Hopes to Lure Locals Back to the Beach

Categories: Review

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CandaceWest.com
Can a trendy concept lure locals to tourist-filled Fort Lauderdale Beach?
Reclaimed wood and brick, Edison bulbs, tufted leather booths, small plates, and an emphasis on "craft" seem to be the main ingredients for a trendy restaurant these days.
Beauty & the Feast Bar | Kitchen on Fort Lauderdale Beach has all of the above.

Set in the base of the boutique Atlantic Resort & Spa, the restaurant boasts that rustic/industrial vibe that has been sprouting up all around South Florida. It's perfectly "on trend" and, as such, fits neatly inside the box of au courant dining establishments saturating the culinary landscape. Here, however, it's a welcome addition to the beach's evolving dining scene.

The eateries on Fort Lauderdale Beach have long been recognized for catering to tourists, not locals. Recently, however, a new crop of restaurants -- Steak 954, G&B Oyster Bar, S3, Tsukuro, the reinvented 3030 Ocean -- has been attempting to bring Broward residents back to the coast.

See also: Beauty & the Feast in Fort Lauderdale (Slideshow)


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A Chihuahuan Touch in Hallandale at Chapultepec Mexican Bar & Restaurant

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AF
The #2 combo option, enchilada de mole, taco de carne asada and sope.
Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico might get a dubious reputation for its many years of crimes concerning the safety of working class women and the ongoing war on drugs. That's unfortunate because the state boasts some of the best Mexican cuisine and it is a real treat to find some of it in our neighborhood without too much of a Tex-Mex influence ruining the attention to grains and proteins Chihuahuan chefs bring to the table. Chapultepec Mexican Restaurant, a stone-throw north of Hallandale Beach Boulevard has maintained a quiet, almost sleepy existence for the last decade.

Unfortunately, the only ones who were really asleep were us.

Owned by Silvia Ayala and her children, Karla Nuñez and Juan Carlos Marín, with Silvia's voice being the defining authority in the kitchen, the restaurant opened ten years ago as a means to provide for the family. It has now become a cornerstone of a thriving Mexican and Central American community in Hallandale.

The kitschy décor lends itself more to a dance bar, which is in essence what the restaurant transforms into on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., but the continuous buzz of patrons stopping in for a bite or picking up orders is proof positive of what's happening in the kitchen.

See also: Chapultepec Mexican Restaurant in Hallandale: Cheap Beer and Slow-Roasted Meats

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Manna Offers Home-Style Fare in Lauderhill's Korea Town

Categories: Review

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CandaceWest.com
Young Kho whirls around the dining room of her small Lauderhill restaurant.

One moment, she's laughing and chatting in Korean with a family of regulars. The next, she's patiently explaining the menu to a table of elderly New Yorkers.

A few minutes later, she's effortlessly gliding from the kitchen, in a pair of conservative wedge sandals, with a huge silver tray of banchan (side dishes) and barbecue.

Young and her husband, Tae, opened the doors four years ago to their modest eatery, Manna Restaurant, on State Road 441.

When the economy tanked, so did their clothing business. The couple, who have three children, were left looking for alternative options to make a living.

"We were looking for a business to support our family," Young says, her face lighting up in a cheeky smile. "We needed to make money."

See also: Vienna Cafe & Bistro Brings British High Tea to Western Broward

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Vienna Cafe & Bistro Brings British High Tea to Western Broward

Categories: Review

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CandaceWest.com
Saundra Guerra, co-owner of Vienna Cafe & Bistro.
With laced-covered tables, draped flower garlands, commemorative plates of the royal family, and a life-sized flaming-red English telephone booth, Vienna Cafe & Bistro feels like a throwback to another era. One could envision sitting in front of the mock fireplace with an English grandmama and a hot cup of tea listening to stories about the war. Certainly not your typical South Florida eatery.

The comfortable bistro serves an array of fare from all across the globe: traditional British roast beef with homemade Yorkshire pudding, French croque monsieur, Italian prosciutto caprese, and Maryland crab cakes.

The highlight of the Cooper City eatery, however, is the high tea service.

See also: Vienna Cafe & Bistro in Broward (Slideshow)

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Fork & Balls Looks to Be Another Victory for the Restaurant People

Categories: Review

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CandaceWest.com
Co-founder Tim Petrillo and Executive Chef and co-founder Peter Boulukos.
It's 7 o'clock on a Thursday night.

Outside, the damp pavement is steaming from an afternoon interspersed with showers and intense summer sun. Puddles line the curbs.

When the door opens, the cacophonous roar of multitudinous conversations rolls into the street.

"It'll be about two hours," says the hostess to an older, well-dressed couple inquiring about a table.

They walk toward the bar, quickly disappearing into the crowd.

The vintage-looking bar at Fork & Balls is stacked four deep with a wide array of people: 20-somethings in skyscraper platforms and short dresses, 40-something professionals in office-casual apparel, middle-aged couples in shorts and polos, and one dude straight out of a surf shop ad.

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