Best Neighborhood Bar/South (2006)

Rodbenders Rawbar and Grill

A raw bar is the best kind of bar, and Rodbenders is the best kind of raw bar: a friendly joint with verve, a happy vibe, and ambiance swimming with things nautical. "This is a home," says owner Kathy McMillan. "It's comfortable. It's a real neighborhood bar, especially for guys who like to fish. We have a fishing atmosphere." The walls are covered with rods, photos of customers with their catches, and mounted fish, including the ladies' world record mutton snapper, a 23.3 pound specimen caught by McMillan six years ago. Rodbenders even sponsors its own dolphin tournament (taking place June 24) and supports other local competitions. The servers' stand that greets customers is a representation of the center console of a boat. When Budweiser brought in a new blond ale, McMillan allowed her customers to name it: Reel Crazy, reads the label. Drink prices range from $3 to $7, and the seafood is delish, especially shrimp, dolphin, and the shrimp egg rolls. Oddly, though, the prime item happens to be the chicken wings ($4.95 for ten) served with a hot sauce or a honey blackened sauce. "They're good, aren't they? Our wings are reason enough to come down," chirps one waitress. When you do, give McMillan a photo of yourself with one of your catches. "We'll be glad to hang it on the wall," she says. Happy hours are 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. weekdays, but this is a place to get happy any time.