Best Of :: Bars & Clubs
"You walk in here, it's like Barbie fucked Beetlejuice," quips drag-show hostess Diva about the cabaret establishment Lips, where the disco balls outnumber the queens and performers boast such sophisticated monikers as Twat LaRue. It's Friday, and it's time for the late-night revue. Diva informs those easily offended by bawdy humor, "You've just been fucked out of a cover charge." She circles the room, endlessly singling out targets for questioning. But watching your friends squirm to avoid Diva's merciless interrogations of their sexual history and anatomy is only half the fun and accounts for only a fraction of the show's raunch factor. Bring lots of bills, and not just of the $1 variety. These ladies may call one another whore, but they're not cheap whores.
Not much in South Florida makes a Philly fan feel at home. It's nearly impossible to find a genuine Philly cheese steak, sports fans are more apathetic than psychopathic, and there is a haunting lack of William Penn statues. The Parrot Lounge is as close as it gets to walking down Broad Street. It's game days when the Parrot really shines. Hours before kickoff during football season, hundreds of people flock to the bar. Once the Eagles take the field, 90 percent of the televisions are tuned to the Eagles and 100 percent of the folks in the bar are screaming (mostly obscenities) at the top of their lungs. Every play is scrutinized, every call is wrong, and every point scored is accompanied by an earth-shattering E-A-G-L-E-S chant. As a bonus, wear a Giants, Cowboys, or Redskins jersey during football season and you're likely to get free drinks... "accidentally" spilled on you and your loved ones. Just don't try it during the playoffs or you'll be asked to leave for your own safety — literally. It's enough to make a grown Philly boy cry.
Nonsmokers don't get it. They believe, in their lung of lungs, that with enough advertising campaigns and public education seminars, smokers will see the light, become converted, and quit. What they don't understand is that you smoke because it's awesome — that a cigarette with coffee or a frosty pint of beer is the Greatest Thing in the World. Sure, your shelf life is limited. Your lungs are lined with more soot than a coal mine. You smell bad. And you know what else? You don't give a shit. You will not convert. So in an age when smokers are pushed onto patios and exiled from their native habitats (bars), you need a bar that shares your passion — a place where the beer selection is lengthy and British, where the jukebox is packed with funk and soul, where strangers buy you drinks and become friends. And that, my friends, is why you go to the Fox and Hound. Robbie and his dedicated crew are always quick to light your ciggie and empty your ashtray, often with such grace that you hardly know it's happened. They take pride in being the finest pub around, and they welcome all types: even you scoundrels reeking of Marlboros.
When relatives come to town, they want to see skin. They're sick of sweaters. And they should tell you this as soon as you grab them from the airport curb. If they don't demand this — because they should be demanding this — do them the favor. Don't take them to some fancy, indoor martini bar even if they request it. It's January, they've forgotten what the sun feels like, and they know no reason. Just drive them to Dirty Blondes. For their sake, ignore any request that doesn't involve the swarms of bathing-suit-clad 20- and 30-somethings who drink at this beachside bar. Remember the tiny bikinis and full liquor bar. Remember all the pool tables and games in the back and the beauty of the beach and ocean that can be seen from the front. And let them see the reason Florida's been crowned the Sunshine State, after all.
Finding the right bartender is like meeting a soulmate: Once it's happened, you'll never stray. If you've been fortunate enough to stumble into (or out of) Maguire's Hill 16 during Trixie's (birth name: Tricia Cline) shifts, you already know this. More charming than a Shirley Temple and wiser than a desert shaman, this red-haired libation mixer adds a dash of positive energy to every drink she serves. When prodded, she'll explain that her cheerful demeanor stems, in part, from her other careers as a spiritual healer and ordained minister. So what is this nondrinking angel doing shoveling shots to you and your obnoxious friends? "I believe that you have to understand the dark to appreciate the light," she'll say, most likely with a wink. Belly up, become a regular, and have this sage pour you a Boddingtons. Just don't forget to tip your life coach.
Alligator Alley's booze selection is nonexistent. But you won't need shots, because the Alley's beer selection is kickin'.
There are two brews from Unibroue, those incomparable Canadian brewers. There are Caribbean ales. Key West ales. Triple-fermented craft beers. And the bar food is prepared with an attention to detail and inventive flair that's hard to find at other watering holes. Fried oyster poboys are better than much of the competition in New Orleans, and mind-bending spicy gumbo is cooked to secret specifications in ten-gallon batches.
Yet it's not the beer nor the food nor even the Alley's reliably great jazz and rock music that make it so spectacular. It's the place itself. Go in, drink, and eat and you'll meet some of the coolest heads around. Old session musicians who'll riff on their glory days with Buddy Guy, science fiction writers, painters, psychedelic visionaries — all just sitting around, shooting the shit, treating the place like a second home. For lots of us, it is.UPDATE: This location is now closed.