Last Chance Saloon

Miami might be one of the southernmost locales in the eastern United States, but it hardly meets the requisites of Dixieland. Country drawls and cowboy boots are as rare as Hispanic accents and chancletas are prolific. But down where the turnpike merges into South Dixie Highway, numerous angler shops and Ford F-350s signify the return to Florida's rustic roots. Here, at the end of the mainland, corn-fed outdoorsmen and leather-clad bikers gather at the Last Chance Saloon (35800 S. Dixie Hwy., Florida City; 305-248-4935), the final pit stop before the 24-mile trek down a two-lane highway to the Keys.

Resting on the edge of a dark, open road that sucks up cars like an ominous black hole, Last Chance can look a bit intimidating from the outside. On a recent Thursday night, shiny, sleek motorcycles parked out front offset the old bar's wooden and weathered exterior. But despite its rough-and-tumble shell, the inside was surprisingly cozy. A few regular Joes sat around the large rectangular bar, drinking beer with composure. Last Chance was otherwise empty, but it's better that way. A Haitian National Guardsman put it best when he said, "I come here 'cause it's quiet."

An ancient cashier and dusty longhorns contribute to the watering hole's arcadian charm. A Confederate flag hangs above a shuffleboard, next to a bevy of signs, one which depicts two mating elephants and the punch line "The makings of a Republican." On busier nights, patrons make use of the dance floor, pool table, and jukebox (when it's not playing sad country songs). Attached to the northern end of the building is a liquor store, where tattooed whiskey drinkers displayed their gold grills as they made purchases.

The enthusiastic bartender shared her Doritos with patrons while gushing over pictures of the owner, Skeeter. In most of the photos, displayed proudly on the walls, he is holding large fish almost as tall as he is. At a far end of the bar, someone asked how to get to Islamorada. "Just go straight. Don't worry, you won't get lost. You can't get lost," an old road warrior shouted.

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