Sunshine State of Mind: Spotlight on Pompano Beach

By Drew Limsky

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more passionate booster for Pompano Beach than Nguyen Tran.

Nguyen Tran

As director of the City of Pompano Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), a not-for- profit organization created in 1989, Tran has made it his professional purpose to advance redevelopment activities that help beautify neighborhoods, encourage public and private investments, and improve the economic health of this historic Gold Coast city midway between Palm Beach and Miami. (Pompano Beach was once the southernmost stop on the famous Florida East Coast Railway.)

“I’ve been in Pompano Beach since 2012,” Tran says. “You have everything that South Florida has to offer all in one amenity-rich city. Whether you live here or work here, Pompano Beach is no longer a sleepy coastal town but is blossoming into a world-class destination.” His latest achievement is a stunning feat: overseeing the rescue of the historic, century-old McNab House and Botanical Gardens, which was physically relocated from its original location to McNab Park.

Dandee Donut Factory (1900 Atlantic Blvd., 954.785.1461) is a diet-destroying breakfast heaven. “I’m a big foodie, and you’ve got to love homemade old-fashioned donuts.” Though donuts aren’t generally synonymous with gastronomy, few locals would argue with him. The lovingly curated—and often unexpected—offerings (more than 50 in all) include the walnut crunch (glazed chocolate cake donut with the taste and texture of a brownie, infused with walnuts) and the Mounds (a chocolate-glazed donut dipped in white coconut and drizzled with chocolate). The selection of bagels and muffins is nearly as rich and every bit as scrumptious.

Gianni’s Italian Restaurant.

Gianni’s Italian Restaurant (1601 East Atlantic Blvd., 954.942.1733) is a beloved red-sauce joint with appetizers that beg for sharing—baked clams oreganato, stuffed artichoke, clams marinara, and mussels marinara. For entrees, the Italian specialties (try the chicken scarpariello or the eggplant rollatini) are as toothsome and varied as the seafood dishes (don’t miss the Salmon Mancini and the shrimp scampi). A bottle of Brunello di Montalcino, imported from Col d’Orcia, Tuscany, complement.

The anchor of the city’s Creative Arts District, Bailey Contemporary Arts Center (BaCA) (41 NE 1st St., 954.786.7879) is a thriving artistic center with a dozen art studios and galleries. Teeming with painters, ceramicists, photographers, and interdisciplinary artists, BaCA is a hub for exhibitions, education, and a robust calendar of events.

The Great Lawn’s splash pad playground.

With a pier on the Atlantic Ocean and a promenade leading right to the Intracoastal, Pompano Beach Fishing Village is both uncommonly scenic and full of things to do. The walkable beachfront area bills itself as “South Florida’s newest dining and recreation destination.” Tran was especially impressed by the project’s full-scale, two-year restoration (completed in 2019), which involved dune restoration, landscaping, new beach pavilions, an interactive fountain, streetlights, new parking facilities, a new library, a new fire station, and a new pier. Oceanic at Pompano Beach Pier (250 N. Pompano Beach Blvd., 954.366.3768), the site’s upscale restaurant, delivers modern architecture as tasty as its mahi mahi ceviche.

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