Who can turn the world on with a smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Better still, who can sponsor a punk-rock food fight, inviting fans to attend a show and pelt band members with fruits and vegetables? It's the Mary Tyler Whores, of course, Broward's messy purveyors of stripped down, below-the-belt punk. For authenticity the band includes Joey Image, original drummer for protohardcore pioneers the Misfits. For fun the band sports an irreverent, clever handle. And for the hell of it, the musicians will let you throw your rotten citrus at them for no extra charge. Fort Lauderdale's Culture Room is a prime spot to pick up these Whores.

What sort of music do you like to hear when you just wanna party? In South Florida some folks gravitate toward whumpity-whump thumpatronics. That's fine, but when you want a rippin' guitar solo and high-octane rockabilly, there's no better choice than the Hep Cat Boo Daddies. Comprising rip-snortin' guitar slinger/singer Joel DaSilva, bassist Sean "Evil" Gerovitz, and drummer Randy Blitz, the Boo Dads perform instrumental surf, slow-simmered blues, and even the occasional Smithereens cover in their action-packed live shows. There's nothing fancy about what the trio does. In fact every town oughta have lean, no-frills fare like the HCBDs, who you can always be found thrilling weekend crowds at the Poor House.
Enter the tent of white sailcloth and gauze. Supreme Beings of Leisure play on the stereo, which is apropos, as leisure reigns supreme here. Proceed to the marble-top bar and order a drink, which will be ready in approximately the amount of time it takes to cast your lazy gaze across the Intracoastal. It's all trendy white upholstery in here, like a J.Lo video, but somehow you're too chilled out to care. Perhaps you could be bothered to amble into the dark-wood lounge, where the music's louder, the light is darker, and candles flicker in the fireplace. You are feeling... supremely languorous. Nevis. Rhymes with bliss.

When considering such a lofty title as this, there are a great many factors to consider. The easiest thing to do is first rule out any place that is overpriced, which excludes the beach bars, the Las Olas Riverfront, Himmarshee Village, and, well, just about every other place in Fort Lauderdale. Next lose any place where you can't get a nice European beer. Now all the dives are gone as well. You'd think there would be nothing left, but luckily a few communities surrounding Fort Lauderdale still have bars where the owners believe in serving quality drinks in a price range that allows even those bargoers on a strict budget to get tanked. Wilton Manors is one of those communities, and Shakespeare's Pub is about the best thing going. On a righteous night at Shakespeare's, you can drink a high-quality yet reasonably priced beer or five while listening to some good local bands and laughing at some piss-poor ones. And that's what going to a bar is all about, isn't it?
The oldest gas station in Delray Beach is still the best place in town to get gassed. All right, so that's a bad pun. But there's something about the funky, open-air bar in Delray's now-trendy downtown that inspires goofiness. And it's not just the giant picture of Elvis, the mounted fish, the moldy-looking moose head, the stained longhorns, or the giant Orange Crush bottle cap. It's the atmosphere, the blending of the past with the present, of down-home folk with glitterati, of wannabes with I-don't-cares. The bar at Elwood's is the former station's car lift; once used to hoist cars above the heads of greasy mechanics, it now serves as a place for patrons to rest their elbows while hoisting brewskis. Just as Elwood's is proud of its past, it makes no apology for its location. When trains scream by on the adjacent tracks Thursday nights, Scott Ringersen, Delray Beach cop by day and Elvis impersonator by night, simply raises his voice. Ditto 301 East, the versatile band that calls the bar home. While renowned for its ribs, the best thing about Elwood's is free -- grab a barstool, sit back, and watch the well dressed, pretentious types stroll down the avenue or gawk at the impressive array of Harleys lined up in the parking spots owner Mike Elwood reserves for his biker friends. If you're looking for quiet conversation, go elsewhere. At Elwood's there's always something to shout about.
When the well drinks have gone dry at other Broward bars, parched partyers' divining rods point to Casey's. Seven days a week from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., ice cubes are clinking, the DJ is spinning, and nobody (thank God!) knows your name. Best of all, after-hours gal Susan Hayslett provides service with a sympathetic smile. She doesn't smirk when you roll in, eyeliner smudged, and order a shot of Jäger. In fact you kinda get the feeling she's been there, too. And in that case, make it a double.

Holiday Bowl might be small, but it has a '50s ambiance that you can't find at gargantuan game rooms and theme parks. This joint's sincerity so impressed Carnival Cruise Lines last year that it shot a commercial here depicting tourists on vacation -- in the Bahamas. Its 16 lanes, café, and lounge have catered to bowling aficionados, Québecois tourists, and hackers for more than 40 years. Manager Bernie Harrold rolled his first gutter ball here when he was seven years old. At two bucks a game, it's easy to see why other youngsters have followed his lead. Murals on both sides of the alley picture kids taking aim. The "Beer Frame" lettering on the east side of the alley refers to a time when the trailing party in the fifth frame had to buy the next round. Nowadays the alley hosts leagues, tournaments, and also those looking for a drink or dinner. The pro shop polishes your ball for eight bits, and if you arrive in sandals, don't fret. You can pick up a pair of socks there as well. We recommend it. After all, some of those shoes have probably been around for decades.
So you and your mate are tired of evenings spent vegging out to Friends or Ed? Dinner on Las Olas or Clematis too pricey for your slender wallet? Try Dania Jai-Alai, where the entry fee starts at $1.50 and the game is faster than the NHL and NBA combined. The competitors, who are mostly from Spain and France, play a kind of Basque handball that will keep you quite literally glued to your seat for hours. (Yeah, neither the crowd nor the facility is especially highbrow.) And when you're not ogling the fronton, people-watching is primo. Old guys stand outside the seating area and holler the last names of their favorite players, while younger fellows scream obscenities in raspy Spanish and families munch on a variety of perfectly delightful and unhealthy fare. Then there are the bets, which start at two bucks. You don't have to wager, but you get more involved when you do, and the pots can be sweet. The fronton opened in 1953, back when sports in South Florida meant anything that included gambling, and it still has the feel of that era. Everyone, but everyone bets at Dania Jai-Alai -- security guards, concession-stand workers, even pets. The biggest pot on a recent Sunday afternoon was $578.40. And just think, you skinflint, you won't even have to pay for the air conditioning.

It's a rickety old place with only six screens. But how can you go wrong at $2 admission on weekdays and $2.50 on weekends, especially when the person who books the films always manages to include one or more features from the art-house circuit? Maybe the choices reflect the fact that most of the clientele consists of retirees from the Northeast who, whatever their shortcomings, have a taste for movies with more to them than bang-bang, snicker, and leer. You may hate to find yourself behind them on the highway, but you could do worse than find they're ahead of you in the ticket line.

Here it is a rainy Saturday afternoon, and there's not much to do. Going to the movies doesn't seem like such a good idea, unless you're dying to see Crocodile Dundee Got Fingered or whatever. So how about this? Ride the Tri-Rail. If you live down south, hop on at the Hollywood station and locomote through Fort Lauderdale, Pompano and Deerfield beaches, then Boca and Delray, to the end of the line in Mangonia Park. If you live up north, take it the other way. Or try both. Flat-fare, all-day adult tickets are available on weekends for $4, and they're good for one-way, round-trip, or multiple rides in each direction. So pick up your portable CD player, grab your favorite book, and enjoy. Or look out the window and be glad you're not stuck in the traffic jam that's bound to spring up on I-95.

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