The Place: CJ's Crab Shack
600 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139,
The Hours: Every day from 4 to 7 p.m. with occasional late night happy hours.
The Deal: Food specials include Cajun Pool N' Eat Shrimp, a half a dozen oysters, and Buffalo wings, all ranging in price from $4 to $6. Specials include specialty drinks (some of which include top-shelf alcohol), wine, and beer for $4-$6.
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The Digs: Despite its location at the center of the tourist universe, CJ's feels like a hole in the wall that you might find on a beach in Clearwater. The ambiance is perfect for unwinding; the outside has shell-adorned mirrors hanging from the walls while flat screens peep out from second floor windows. After sunset, tea-light lanterns are brought out while Jack Johnson or Bob Marley plays over the speakers. If you are more of an indoor person, head to the second floor bar where funky murals and stained glass windows give the space a red-orange glow. The area in front of the stage has large, lounge-like couches and seating while simpler high-tops are scattered throughout the rest of the space. A juke box, dart boards, and pool table add to the lounge's hidden treasure vibe.
The Verdict: The two specialty drinks ordered were the Lemonade Vodka (made with Tree Olives Citrus and lemon slices) and the Long Island Iced Tea (made with Bacardi Rum, Cazadores Tequila, Bombay Sapphire Gin, etc.). They were superbly refreshing and well made. The alcohol was almost undetectable and the glass-size was respectable. The food menu features a white cheese dip that is ideal for sharing; it's creamy with a spicy kick and served with hot, fresh tortilla chips. By the end of the night there was maybe a drip or two of the dip left. The crab cake was freshly made and took about 20 minutes to come out, perhaps a bit too long. It was good, but smaller than expected. No complaints about the staff and tips are automatically included on your tab. The location is ideal for kicking back and allowing you to forget you are on South Beach. Due to the high traffic volume of Ocean Drive though, give yourself extra time to find street parking.
Overall Grade: A-