There are bars meant for being showy, with their cordoned-off VIP sections and $150 bottle service, and then there are the bars that are meant for straight-up boozing. In anticipation of New Times' Best Of Broward/Palm Beach 2012 issue in June, County Grind has assembled a list of five of the best hole-in-the-wall drinking establishments in South Florida. No frills, no fuss; just cold drinks and cool people. Got a nominee for the list? Leave your suggestions in the comments.
1. Hut Lounge and Package Store
One word: shuffleboard. A Fort Lauderdale fixture for more than 50 years, the Hut is well-hidden but worth the hunt. Though in the deep end of the tourist pool, it's a mecca for locals and regulars who can challenge one another to bar-game favorites like darts, pool, or the aforementioned indoor shuffleboard. Enjoy cold beer, sports on the TV, and a crew that's been slinging drinks in the same spot to many a familiar face year after year.
Cigarettes, porn, cheap booze: These are the pillars of this sleazy dive just north of the FLL airport. Known for the infamous game of Cooter Ball - which is, amazingly, not always as filthy as it sounds but still rather risqué - this bar attracts blue- and white-collar workers alike. Prepare for a night of good-natured raunch and to spend a day or two shampooing the smoke out of your hair.
It easily blends into the bland landscape of a Pompano Beach strip mall, but the cheap, stiff drinks and comforting atmosphere are features that ensure die-hard drinkers will make this a part of the happy-hour routine. Dark and filled with games (pool, darts), this is the kind of nondescript but reliable place to slip into for a bucket of beer and a night of fuzzy memories.
In Boca Raton's warehouse district (yes, the city actually has one), this narrow bar serves supercheap domestic beers to blue-collar types who live and work in the area. You'll have to put in a bit of effort to find the pub, and the exterior might give you pause, but venture on inside and you'll enjoy a low-key atmosphere and regulars who will be more than happy to welcome you to their favorite haunt. Bar food is available, and the bartenders are as friendly as can be.
Regulars return for the hot burgers and the cold beer served in frosted mugs. A place for serious drinking and relaxed chatter, it's typically an easy feat to strike up a conversation with a bartender or fellow patron. The façade is nothing to write home about, but the fans aren't coming for the décor but for things like pool tables, TVs blasting sports, and wallet-friendly orders of wings.
Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.