Best Neighborhood Bar, Central Broward 2013 | Tampa Bay Brewing Co. Tap House | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida

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.

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.

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