Night Watch: Mellow Mushroom

Mellow Mushroom
25 SE Sixth Ave., Delray Beach.
Call 561-330-3040, or visit here.

Sometimes being "mellow" isn't exactly on my high-strung agenda, but nothing slows me down into a heavy-lidded euphoria like a good strong brew.

What's your most popular beer?" I asked our pretty, pierced waitress. "That depends on what you like," she replied. "I like as much alcohol as possible," I said. "Then you'll probably want the Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot," she said. "It's a copper ale with 11 percent alcohol." Nice.

I was seated with a group of friends at a round table in the middle of

Delray's psychedelic Mellow Mushroom. To my right was a full-wall mural

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of the Beatles' Abbey Road album cover -- except, in this doctored

painting of the classic cover, the quartet was depicted striding through

a Delray Beach crosswalk.

Various Technicolor tie-dye-styled paintings of album covers -- Pink

Floyd, the Police, Rolling Stones, Green Day -- lined the remaining red

walls. Ubiquitous caricatures of anthropomorphic mushrooms added to the

bar's hallucinogenic 1960s appeal. The hot spot exuded a deliciously

college vibe, but the patrons ranged from elderly couples to gangs of

teens with shaved heads and emo eyeglasses. I witnessed some examples of

very impressive facial hair, and one tattooed chick was sporting a

round glow-in-the-dark necklace as a fashion accessory. Outside, a young

guy in the patio corner crooned and strummed an acoustic guitar,

producing both beautiful melodies and occasional blasphemy (have you

ever heard an ultramellow version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"? You

don't want to.)

The beverage menu is basically never-ending, and the drinks come cheap.

Ultimately, though, the high-quality assortment of beer is the Mellow

Mushroom's money shot. It's got everything: standard beers,

international brews, bottles, drafts, and exotic flavors. It serves pale

ales, like Dogfish Head (9 percent alcohol); dark ales, like the "Mack

in Black" (8 percent); and even super-special-sounding brews, like "Monk

in the Trunk," an organic amber ale (5.5 percent). I settled on the

Holy Mackerel, a tasty 8-percenter.

The bar area had tiled walls, a shitload of beer spigots, and

flat-screen TVs. The bartenders buzzed around, and patrons came and

went, but Dave seemed to be in an alcohol-induced, slow-motion euphoria.

He wore a ball cap, dark T-shirt, and yellow Livestrong bracelet.

"This is the best place in Delray," he said. "Pizza and beer: the staples of life."

"That's true," chimed in Maria, who was beautiful, with olive skin and long, black hair.

"Plus the bartenders are great; they all know our names," said Dave, pointing at one of the busy bartenders. "Especially David."

"Well, once we got past the fact that he's a Red Sox fan," said Maria, only half-joking.

"The beer is great, though," said Dave. "They've got 100 different

kinds, and when you have each kind, you get your name on the wall.

"I did it in two months," he continued. "But Mr. Tim did it in two weeks."

"Oh my God, that's seven beers a day," I said.

"Tim did it on a bet and ended up getting his tab paid for," Dave said.

"Well, liver destruction is OK if it's on someone else's dime, I guess," I said. "What about you, Maria?"

"Never," she said. "I never will be on that wall."

I walked a few feet over to the wall and stared at the engravings. Sure

enough, Mr. Tim was on there, with this cryptic subtitle: "2 weeks."

Other beer-sampling champs included Z, Kaitlin, and Blanco.

"It's not the Vietnam Memorial," said a nearby wiseass. "Quit staring."

Our drinks had arrived, so I skedaddled back over to my friends' table.

"To successful endeavors," my friend Beard toasted once we'd all

received our booze. We clinked glasses. Next to me, a foxy girlfriend

was downing a milky pink fluid. I could smell the alcohol emanating from

the glass.

I jacked a swig -- it was delicious, fruity, and tequila-laden.

"That's like my second or third," Foxy said.

"What's the drink called?" I asked our waitress.

She looked embarrassed. "I can't say it out loud; it has a swear word."

"We're all adults here," I said.

"It's a PFM -- Pink Fuck Me," she said. "Named because it leads to people hooking up."

I knew I liked this place.

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