Best Near-death Experience - 2008
Late Nights at the Entrada
Its name lined in globe lights, the Entrada stands as a final vestige of old Florida motels. From Federal Highway you might mistake it for another piece of crumbling Floridiana, but inside the cocktail lounge around 2 a.m. you'll find it's ever so much more. Grab a seat in one of the stackable metal chairs that fences in the sunken bar and order a dirt-cheap drink from a plastic cup. Don't worry; this bar is grandfathered in with a 6 a.m. liquor license — all you have to do is be patient and wait for the magic to happen. Phase One: Sex workers fresh off their shifts pile in to commiserate about their nightly ordeals over $3 gins; their pimps loiter menacingly in the room's smoky corners. Phase Two: friendly neighborhood businessmen (i.e., dealers) swing by to drop off and collect from the underbelly's graveyard shift. Phase Three: If you've waited this long, you've now officially entered "Crazy Hour." This is when the order of operations stops making sense. Here's what you recall the next morning: the police came, repeatedly; prostitutes were passed out on the bar, the floor, your friend's lap; pimps got angry; there were fights; more cops; distant gunfire was heard; your friends vanished; you left a twenty on the bar — it was enough to buy a round for everyone in the room; you had new friends; the cops came and took your new friends away; you went home amazed.