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Le Tub/Hollywood

Even in South Florida, where summer begins sometime around the end of March, the Fourth of July holiday marks a turning point of sorts. The seasonal visitors have left, the thermally challenged locals stay indoors and the beaches belong to the residents.

So here's a dining spot that, devoid of all pretense of fine dining, still offers the locals a tourist's feel for hitting the beach.

Tucked away in a mini-hammock along a busy stretch of A1A, Le Tub is right on the Intracoastal. Mostly open to the elements, the unfinished wood deck and booths fit right into a jungle setting. Le Tub started life as a gas station but the gas crunch of the 1970s forced its closing, after which it was purchased by Russell Kohuth, who took the barren property and constructed his beach shack totally from "flotsam, jetsam and ocean-borne treasures."

It may not be large, but Le Tub is a commodious establishment, with much of the decor furnished by bathroom fixtures. Toilet bowls have been turned into planters, outdoor lighting is supplied by bulbs enclosed in rusted tin cans and the atmosphere is pure castaway despite the sounds of traffic sailing by on both the road and the waterway.

There's nothing fancy about the menu, but it's good for what it is -- a bar with a kitchen and a grill. The smoked fish dip ($7) is good but made off-premises, but nearly everything else is made on the spot. The chili ($3) is moderately spiced, thick, very beefy in flavor and quite satisfying even on a hot day. Seafood salad ($8.50 or $14 depending on size) is cool and refreshing, with a sizable quantity of plump, well-cooked shrimp along with salmon chunks and pseudo-crabmeat.

The burger ($7.50, $8.50 with cheese) is one of the best in town. Made from ground sirloin, it's large and lean and redolent with chargrilled aroma and flavor. Burgers get short shrift from many foodies, but this one, complete with a poppy seed bun that has real flavor and texture, is worth a trip. The barbecued port sandwich ($7.50) is also very good, but the french fries are the sort bought frozen in bulk and predictably dull ($3.50).

Two other items deserve special mention -- Le Tub features fresh fish (market price) either as a grilled fillet platter ($16) or in a sandwich on that delectable bun ($8.50). It's usually worth trying, as is the homemade Key lime pie ($4) that is tangy and creamy without being overly sweet. Add in a good if not stellar selection of beer and decent service and this is an island getaway that doesn't require you to be flush with cash.

Le Tub
Cuisine: American, eclectic, seafood
Where: 1100 N. Ocean Drive, Hollywood, 954-921-9425

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