Jimbo's — the venerable Virginia Key hobo den, petting zoo, and bocce pit — was recently named one of Esquire's best bars in America. It looks like a Mad Max gang hangout.
In a figurative sense, the smoked fish sold there is like an enema. Some people swear by it. The more squeamish, however, refuse to even think about putting it inside their bodies.
While Riptide understands the hesitancy, we love the stuff. Indeed, New Times awarded Jimbo's Best Smoked Fish in 2003. Turns out it's so good it's illegal.
This past May, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer conducted a "routine" inspection of Jimbo's, according to an agency report. He quizzed 57-year-old James Luznar — son of still-kicking 84-year-old founder Jimbo Luznar — about a license to sell the smoked fish.
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When young Jimbo admitted the establishment didn't have a license, he was arrested.
It's not the first time the father and son behind Jimbo's, which was originally booted from mainland Miami to make room for the Miami Herald building, have had their style cramped by authorities. The old man was cuffed for the unlawful buying and selling of bluefish in 2000. (The charge was not prosecuted.) And since 1975, Junior has been accused of careless operation of a boat (sentenced to community service), unlawful operation of a motorboat (convicted), taking a vessel into a restricted area (community service), game and fish violations (convicted), manning an unregistered vessel (fined), assault and battery (not prosecuted), and marijuana possession (suspended sentence). The man is pretty much a pirate.
He's also laid up in the hospital with an undisclosed illness. But his sister-in-law Jennie DeLano Luznar — the new public face of Jimbo's — told us that the smoked-fish arrest "wasn't like it sounds." The cop, she says, had a problem with Jimbo's old-time smoker. "But that smoker," she adds, "is what makes the fish so popular."
Addicts of the stuff need not worry. The charge against young Jimbo — running a seafood operation without a license — was recently dropped. And, says Jennie: "We're still selling the smoked fish. Now we just make it at a different location."