Best Bar in Broward County 2013 | Tap 42 Bar & Kitchen | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida

Industrial Andrews Avenue isn't the most scenic place for a bar, but this location had a few things going for it: proximity to downtown, lots of parking, and no meters. And it was the site of the legendary Brownie's, a Fort Lauderdale saloon that was open for about 75 years before making way for Tap 42. The good people on the barstools up in heaven must have blessed this place, because it's been slammed since opening day in late 2011. Though it's true that the simple but welcoming décor, the 50 craft beers on tap, the 42 bourbons, and the specialty cocktails might have had something to do with its runaway success (oh yes, and the food: mac and cheese with lobster tail, and chicken wings the size of your head), we like to imagine a big party planner in the sky wanted to nudge together all of us disparate "types" in this concrete swampland — hipsters, yuppies, and power lunchers, all of whom commune here in happy swarms. But maybe we all just came for the happy hour (4 to 7 weekdays).

What makes this German-themed downtown Boca Raton eatery and bar such a standout is its perfect amalgamation of kitschy, cushy, and classy. Stylish on the inside with its ivy-laden walls, dark wood accents, and taxidermy lighting, Biergarten brings the hint of sophistication and ambiance that is de rigueur for a successful Boca Raton establishment. Yet this watering hole doesn't take itself too seriously, never feeling stuffy and overly posh. On the outside, this locale is set up like a cozy German biergarten, with its large slab tables and barstools. The servers, dressed in traditional German outfits — beer wench dresses for the ladies and suspenders over lederhosen for the guys — add the kitsch factor, but they are so comfortable and amiable in their garb that the outfits do not come off as tacky. We have not even mentioned Biergarten's main draw, its stellar beer selection. With an assortment of 24 rotating drafts and more than 20 other bottled brews to choose from, Biergarten has Boca Raton's heartiest assortment of beers. The icing on the cake: This extensive variety of barley pops does not come with a Boca Raton price tag. During happy hour, a pint of its German delights, like Paulaner Salvator or Franziskaner Dunkel, is only $4.

You would be hard-pressed to find a bar with such deep drink specials as the ones offered at American Rock Bar and Grill. It's true, no watering hole in the northern parts of Broward County is as generous in its liquor apportions as this Deerfield Beach establishment. With three-for-ones on well drinks and domestic drafts from 4 to 8 p.m. and two-for-ones from 8 p.m. until closing, happy hour knows no bounds within these confines. The locale's intoxicating charitableness leads to patrons of the highest spirits. A name like American Rock Bar gives the impression that these regulars would consist of the long-haired, metalhead sort, with devil-horn tats and leather pants in check. In actuality, this joint is a neighborhood bar in its quintessential form, a mixed bag of blue-collar locals, FAU kids, and Palm Beach County executives enjoying cheap drinks and appealing grub. The countless posters of rock icons like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison on the walls and the menu items, which reference artists from rock's lexicon, set the rock 'n' roll mood. Nirvana, a heap of tricolored nachos loaded with salsa, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeños, shredded lettuce, and chopped tomatoes; and Black Flag, a half-pound Black Angus burger, are the two most popular rock-idol-acknowledging food items. Of late, this taproom has been living up to its name by showcasing local musical acts regularly.

It's not often these days that a city dweller east of I-95 has any reason to go west of... I-95, unless said dweller is commuting to work or school or needs to evacuate for a storm. Not that there's anything wrong with life on the west side, but once settled in along the 1 and A1A, you don't have to go very far to find what you need. But back in February, something happened that could really have a whole lot of eastern Broward residents wondering what other secrets the west side has been hiding. What happened is that the Tampa Bay Brewing Co. opened a satellite Tap House in Coral Springs. At the Tap House, Tampa Bay reserves three taps for its beers while proudly featuring more than 25 taps of local Florida brews and a few other hand-selected options. It offer simple burgers and sandwiches to keep you from falling off your barstool after getting into some Florida beer love but also about 20 ways to order chicken wings. This is the moment South Florida has been waiting for: local, handcrafted, quality beer we can be proud of — well worth heading inland for a night.

Few things on this Earth make us happier than walking into a darkened bar, glancing past mobs of humanity midrevelry, and settling our gaze upon dozens of craft and micro and local brews. Which is exactly what happens at Ye Olde Falcon Pub in Davie. Which one should we try first? There's the Stone IPA or the Pumpkin Ale or the Young's Double Chocolate Stout — yes, yes, and yes. Launched as a small wine and beer bar in 1989, the Falcon has tripled its size but still retains that United Kingdom pub charm that afforded the eatery such popularity. And if the beer selection isn't enough to transport you to the locks of England, try the fish and chips. So turn on the Manchester United game, order a Guinness, and enjoy being as close as one can get to England in South Florida.

The sign hoisted aloft in the parking lot says it all simply enough: "Bowl." And Diamond Strike in Pompano Beach manages to box the whole spectrum of ten-pin pleasantries into one location. That's quite a feat these days, considering most alleys are going for specialization — either polishing up for the chic crowd or dumpster-diving for decrepitude. Diamond Strike has the balancing act down. In one corner, you have Rip's Sports Bar and Grill, a no-frills beer joint with framed football jerseys on the walls and cover bands blaring from the stage on the weekends. For the younger set, there's Rock & Bowl, when the place goes Day-Glo: The lanes are candy-striped with colored lighting; screens above the pins flash with music videos and bright murals. In between, Diamond Strike hosts league play interwoven between nightly specials, from Karaoke Night to Ladies Bowl Free.

Sometimes you just want to go where everybody knows your name. And sometimes you'd just prefer those people are barely clothed. That's why you go to Greenbrier Bar & Restaurant. Located in the business park district off of Cypress Creek Road, the dimly lit, smoke-filled bar is host to friendly, scantily clad bartenders of all ages, serving classic pub grub and liquor from a full bar. You can even head over for lunch. The girls are nice. The drinks are cheap. And you can still smoke inside while playing darts.

We know what you're thinking — the Tropic Cay Resort bar doesn't have the flash and bang of some of the other, high-trafficked spots elbowing up against the shoreline. We feel you. It's not an all-in, spring-break, shitface factory like Blondies. It's not an Ocean Drive-wannabe like the patio at the W. But zero notoriety is exactly what the Tropic Cay has going for it. The bar is out back by the pool at a nondescript, sea-foam-green beachside motel on A1A, a midcentury holdout against the glass condo towers and chain hotels quickly filling up the shore. The open sides catch the sea breeze. The patio floor is well-soaked from the decades of drinks spilled by crusty beach types and rowdy spring breakers. But the Tropic Cay is the Platonic Ideal of old-school Florida. When all points north are shivering through the winter, fighting off the depression incumbent in an ice-bound February, you know that happy mental place they hide out in? The simple bar by the ocean, with cheap beer and an ocean wind, no worries, no problems? That's the Tropic Cay.

There are pool halls for day trippers just looking for the one-off evening of billiards, and then there are joints for real hustlers. Everything about the Professionals screams no bullshit. First off, location: stuck in the corner of a shopping center off Stirling Road filled up with shady gun shops and camera stores. Next up, décor: nine pool tables laid out in a room that could easily be an expanded version of your Grandma Rose's rec room — that is, if in addition to liking simple furniture and wood paneling, your grandma constantly played South American music videos on a flat screen. Service: Mostly Spanish is spoken here, but you don't need to scale a language barrier to get ahold of billiard balls. Beer: $3, ice cold from a cooler. Burned down to the bare essentials, the Professionals is just that — a place where serious shooters can get down to business without the extra trimmings or distractions.

Cristian Costea

Walking through the doors of the Seminole Hard Rock is like stepping inside a little piece of Las Vegas that's been shipped over to South Florida. The big-roller vibe is ever-present. Classic rock blasts from the speakers, undercut by the constant electronic chirping of slot machines and video poker. The Hard Rock's numbers alone are hard to beat: The 140,000-square-foot casino space holds nearly 100 table games and 2,500 slot machines. But serious players — people making weekly stops to casinos to try their luck — know that the key element to any gaming experience is the rewards program. Because let's be honest: Every time you drop that money into a slot machine, you're basically dousing it with gas and sparking a match. Pros say the Hard Rock's Wild Card rewards program wins top honors among the local options. You earn points each time you play, win or lose. Play enough and you can be looking at free tickets to shows, reduced hotel rates, free valet, and other juicy perks.

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