Standard suburban extras unwittingly nailed their roles one recent Friday night at a West Kendall strip mall. Teens sporting thick chains and black tank tops loitered around an IHOP. The clerk of a patronless liquor store smoked a cigarette outside and watched burger mongers line up at the McDonald's across the parking lot. The only things out of place in the scene were the BMWs parked in front of the inconspicuous Oasis Lounge (12765 N. Kendall Dr., Kendall; 305-388-8890) and the dapper men dishing out ten bucks to get inside the place.
It's reasonable to assume that the newly renovated Oasis is nothing more than a dive bar with Latin and reggae music booming from behind black tinted windows. But no, Oasis has class. So much class that anyone wearing shorts will be rejected at the door -- unless the promoter is there to usher in any potential patrons in Old Navy gear for the sake of business. It might be dressed up as a hot club, but Oasis isn't fooling anyone. It's a small bar in West Kendall -- the absolute last place people expect to put on fancy clothes and pay a cover charge.
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Inside, people were glued to the bar, uninspired or not drunk enough to dance to songs like My Humps and Gasolina. A tinge of Hialeah was noticeable in the dress code: Most women sported some variation of spandex pants, clear heels, and knit shirts with plastic zippers down the middle. Mostly middle-age and seemingly single patrons -- such as a man with a diamond-encrusted Rolex, and an older woman with bulldog jowls and heavy eye makeup -- sat sullenly at the bar.
12765 N. Kendall Dr., Kendall; 305-388-8890
Yet for all of its faults, Oasis still has potential. The cozy red space offers the kind of intimacy that makes places like this one work. Electronic gambling games are located at one end of the bar, and the bathrooms are clean. The shining star of the whole operation is the head bartender, a professional yet jovial man who literally dances his way from one imbiber to the next. And at the end of the night, when you've smoked all the cigarettes you can handle and drunk yourself to the brink of unconsciousness, IHOP, literally a few steps away, is there to remedy such excess with pancakes and coffee. -- Alexandra Quiones