BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR/WEST (2003)
This neighborhood place, tucked in an unlikely spot just east of the 826, is at once down-home and charmingly tacky in a delightful Miami kind of way. The theme is unfinished wood plank tables bordered by thick nautical rope and a deck that overlooks the retention pond/lake beside the restaurant. The sheer profusion of decoration suggests that here, at least, what goes up never comes down -- oversized Christmas bulbs dangling from green fishing nets, tinsel tossed over trees growing up through wooden tables on the deck, Mardi Gras beads, a witch hat and wig perched on a pole. These visual elements compete with an impressive array of beer signs, all to an effect that recalls a Key West bar set in Havana. Naturally there's a small stage for live performances. Bottles of beer are typically served in buckets of ice. The menu is generous, offering everything from a $4 steak sandwich to a nice $9 conch salad to the ambitious seafood combo for two, a hearty plate of lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, calamari, oysters, crabs, and fish in Creole sauce, all for $45. The Sonia of the name is Sonia Salomon, who opened the place in 2000 with husband Luis. The family also operates a fish market and a fishing accessories store next to the restaurant.
Readers Choice: Doral Ale House
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