Best Bingo Break - 2001
Martini Bar at the Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Center
Up the escalator from the flashing lights and ringing soundtrack of the gaming center, just outside the all-you-can-eat buffet, is a watering hole filled with low tables, comfy purple chairs, and a sleek fake black-marble bar. The studiedly swank, friendly bartenders and promptly replenished bowls of peanuts are not the attraction, though. What lends the spot charm is the easy intimacy shared by strangers thrown together unexpectedly. The Martini Bar is not a destination, not the reason people visit this monolith on the edge of the Everglades. It's a means of escape. Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, relatives, and folks from the more than 100 conventions that book this location annually drop in here. Some are waiting for a pal or partner to finish a heavy bingo run. Others are taking a break from a lecture and looking to unwind. Maybe knowing that the person on the next barstool knows nothing about them, or maybe looking to kill time, strangers strike up conversations. On a long-distance bus trip, people spill their life stories. Here there isn't time, so the conversation and emotion are kept to a minimum. Also missing: exhaust fumes and grimy rest stops. You can disembark anytime you're ready.