Best Rock Club Miami 2000 - Tobacco Road
Readers' Choice: Churchill's Hideaway
There's a saying that given enough time, even the town whore becomes respectable. That adage certainly applies to Tobacco Road, rapidly closing in on a century as one of Miami's most cherished watering holes. Once a notorious den of iniquity, the Road now has a family friendly vibe, or at least the atmosphere of an all-American frat party. Sure you'll still find plenty of cops swarming the premises, but unlike the Prohibition Era, these days they're there as (hopefully off-duty) customers. In fact wander out back to the open-air patio to catch a breeze off the river, and you're likely to come across several city prosecutors settling into a beer and a burger. Of course what draws the consistently packed crowds isn't just the locale, the brew, or the pub chow (solid as it may be); it's the music, which remains both very live and thankfully little more than spit-polished. Gaze upon the walls here and you'll spy framed posters immortalizing past Road gigs by protorocker legends such as John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, and Junior Wells, even outer-space soul-jazz visionary Sun Ra, all asserting that the "disco sucks" debate is far from over, at least in this joint. Veteran barflies may grouse that the booking policy is a bit less impressive on the talent front these days, but as last November's George Clinton date here proved, heavy hitters still occasionally grace the stage. Moreover Tobacco Road ensures a steady diet of roots-oriented outfits -- local and national, up-and-coming and unknown -- and continues to be a welcome home within which to wail away, providing a solid bet for an unpretentious, relaxed night out. In a city whose nightlife milieu increasingly is given over to tense stargazing, that says something.