Best Bowling Alley 2013 | Diamond Strike Lanes | Arts & Entertainment | 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.

Sometimes, you just gotta shake off the shackles of your Range Rover-driving, Lacoste-wearing, martini-drinking bourgeois life and let your freak flag fly. It's times like these when you'll want to head behind the proverbial curtain at the Green Room's Black Fridays. There, you'll find everything from tutu'd dudes in platform dominatrix boots to ponytailed goths with horns and face tattoos. Hello Kitty bondage gear? Cosplay makeup? Furries? Whatever you're into, it's probably here. On the dance floor, the black-leather-clad crew will be grooving to EDM and postpunk tunes. Anything goes. Everyone's moving to the beat of his or her own drum, so whip out those interpretive dance moves and shed your self-consciousness. If there's any place to let loose, it's here. Whatever you do, better leave your judgments at the door. Here, everyone's free to be. So go in with one key rule in mind: Don't rule anything out. YOLO, baby.

What's the best thing about a strip club? (*Checks watch.* How much time do we have in these best-of blurbs?) Is it all the titties? Yes, it is. But by definition, all strip clubs have that. So what makes Booby Trap different from most strip clubs writhing in the urban sprawl of South Florida? The intimacy. If you like the giant amphitheater strip clubs, don't come here. But if you want to see girls get respect — and make a buck or two in the process — then Booby Trap is your place. The girls here come in all shapes and sizes. This isn't the domain of Barbie doll, South Beach gals — but of ladies who pack spunk and bedazzle. Sometimes, a strip-club patron isn't looking for the most beautiful girls but someone who can make him feel special for a night.

Nestled between the Calder Race track and a strip mall sits the coolest sports bar you've probably never heard of. Upper Deck is the place to get your sports, food, and booze groove on. The restaurant features more than 50 flat-screen televisions and three huge projection screens showing all manner of sports events, games, and matches. Upper Deck also has a pair of billiards tables you can hit up when your team's game hasn't started yet and a kid-friendly Mega Touch game to keep them occupied while you watch the Dolphins game. There are two full-liquor bars, but probably the best place to catch a game — particularly on NFL Sunday — is out on the 1,000-square-foot deck with overhead TVs, tables, and couches. The deck is covered with a screen, so you can still enjoy the sunshine without burning or getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. Upper Deck features daily lunch specials, starting at $5.99, Monday through Friday. Happy hour runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends. There's also Karaoke Night on Friday, and Wednesday is live-music night. While other sports bars are packed and keep you waiting, only to trot you into a dark dining area, Upper Deck gets you a seat quickly and your food and drink quicker and provides a place to watch the big game while chillin' in the South Florida afternoon beach breeze.

There's a time for lounging poolside, sipping a frozen beverage, and cozying up with the latest issue of Star magazine whilst taking in the wonderful combination of hot sun and cool breeze. There's also a time for raging poolside, which is what happens every weekend at Fort Lauderdale Beach's Exit 66. Misting cabanas with bottle service; young, bikini-clad hotties bouncing around giant beach balls; DJs blasting Benny Benassi while bros fist-pump; and bartenders serving two-for-one drinks — is this a pool party, or have we been transported to heaven? At Exit 66, it's spring break all year 'round, and each Saturday and Sunday, the crew throws a daytime rager complete with a rotating roster of resident DJs, champagne bottle specials, and a crowd of young'uns who just wanna strip off their clothes and relish in the beachside paradise that is the pool at Exit 66. It's not a swimming pool full of liquor, but it's damned close, and we're diving in.

Kristin Bjornsen

If anyone knows about community, it's bikers. Not hipster fixed-gear cyclists but hard-ass, wind-blown, wanderlusting motorcyclists. Many communities find their center in bars, these places where you become part of something larger when you're there. Flossie's Bar and Grill is just that center for Broward County bikers. Sure, it's kind of a dive located in an apartment complex, but it's also a watering hole for old dog motorcycle enthusiasts in the savannah that is Fort Lauderdale. On Sundays, the lot out front becomes a sea of wheels and seats with metallic waves. The tiki huts add a bit of style to an otherwise unremarkable exterior. For entertainment, there are pool tables inside and room for bands to play out front. And no, that's not ZZ Top you see; it's merely a regular at this laid-back joint. If you've worked up an appetite after a joy ride around town, Flossie's serves breakfast starting at 7 a.m. Friday through Sunday and other chow, like wings soaked in gator sauce, throughout the day. Definitely the coolest thing about the place is that it gives back and loves beasts! Animals, that is, and to the music of Southpaw Raw, it uses raffles, a buffet, and a kissing booth to bring people in and get abandoned dogs and cats homes. The place also raises money for Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital with Thug Tug, a tug-of-war game day with music and plenty of beer. All of that smells like community and also a little like barbecue and Budweiser.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of