Best Neighborhood Bar/Miami Beach Miami 2010 - The Room
Readers' Choice: Abbey Brewing Co.
There's nothing about the Room that's reassuring. It's a damp, dark grotto on the southernmost tip of the beach. Conversation is inaudible and overlapping, like in a Robert Altman movie. Seats? Forget about it. The leather barstools, back bench, and misplaced ottomans in this gulag are invariably taken up by the regulars who get there at 7 p.m., when the bar opens. Yet this seven-year-old joint is comfortingly familiar. It's far removed from the usual mess of South Beach, so there's never much foot traffic outside the concealed hole-in-the-wall on First Street. You might run into a couple of lost, vacationing Australians from the hostels in the neighborhood. Inside, it is spa-dark, with a few candles sputtering behind the counter, as if the bartender wants to rub your shoulders while telling you a bedtime story. This is a place that would welcome the weariest drunk after a nightlong bender. And the sprawling beer menu — almost 80 brands from around the world — make it an inviting place to get shit-faced. The Room is the Epcot of booze. Owner Craig Weiss says he didn't open the place just for beer snobs; he did it to educate South Florida's palate. So bartenders don't scoff when someone asks for a Corona. Instead, they suggest Costa Rican lager Imperial ($9) or a Japanese Hitachino wheat ale ($9). The Room is open seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.