The Le Tub Saloon
1100 N. Ocean Dr.
Beer selection: Red, white, and blue cans for the locals; a few Caribbean imports for the tourists.
Food: Cheeseburger in paradise!
Sometimes I just get lucky. Well, maybe it’s not ALL luck.
After all, 15 years of driving the byways and backroads of America, I have developed a keen sense of finding cool places to eat and drink.
Darwin would consider this a sort of survival instinct, I suppose.
But I wasn’t holding out much hope here in Hollywood, Florida as I crept along in Friday rush hour traffic, surrounded by boat-sized Lincoln’s, traffic lights, and 30-story condominiums.
I was on my way north to the airport and had the rare opportunity of enough time for a decent non-airport meal.
Unfortunately, everything I passed consisted of fancy looking, Italian-named bistros patrolled by the most annoying of all human species – the valet parking dork.
I do NOT do valet parking. I’d rather starve.
Or even subject myself to a McDonald’s drive-thru.
But just as I was about to give up and start looking for those golden arches, I spotted a bright yellow hand-painted sign.
Narrowly escaping death from both the old people cars barreling down behind me, and the lanes of oncoming German-engineered traffic, I slammed on the brakes and veered sharp left across two lanes of A1A traffic and into the parking lot of “Le Tub”.
I pulled right into a vacant spot. I sat there for a second bracing myself for the over-zealous pleated pants valet boy to come running over screaming at me, pounding on the driver-side window and demanding the keys to my Chevy Cobalt rental.
But it never happened.
Nope. Le Tub isn’t the kind of place that does valet parking.
It’s my kind of place.
On the site of a former gas station, Le Tub is a cobbled together mishmash of weathered wood and flotsam and jetsam assembled over the years by the proud owner and sits right along the Intercoastal Waterway.
Hidden from A1A by mangroves and tropical shrubbery, the place is an outdoor maze of beaten up picnic tables—some cozy and hidden in the greenery, others open to the sun and the water.
But the entire place is open air. There is no “inside”.It’s the kind of hidden waterfront gem you dream about when you are visiting Florida, but has become all too rare in the mad rush to pave over every square inch with waterfront condos for all the New York refugees.
The fact that this funky, little dive joint right on the water hasn’t already been bulldozed has to be some sort of miracle.
It’s a locals kind of place. And unless you count the antique bathtub painted in bright yellow out front, the place doesn’t even advertise itself.
As I perused the salt-worn copies of reviews posted on the clap-board siding, I noticed GQ named Le Tub’s burger the best in all of America. Even Oprah ate here.
I almost got up and left when I read that one.
But I’m glad I didn’t.
My menu choices were somewhat limited by Le Tub’s “no credit cards” policy which is plastered on every sign, wall, and picnic table in the place.
You certainly can’t claim ignorance when the check comes.
I guess it’s all supposed to be part of Le Tub’s divey charm.
The problem is I never take more than $40 out of the ATM. And having driven the entire length of the Florida Turnpike earlier in the day, I had already shelled out $16 in tolls to the state of Florida. That left exactly $24 for food, beer, tax and tip.
But I got my $24 worth.
First of all, the view was worth it alone. I had a perfect view of the water and setting sun. A Jamaican Red Stripe was definitely in order.
But it was the famous burger that elevated Le Tub to legendary shirt worthy status.
13oz of perfectly charred on the outside, pink on the inside patty of fresh ground beef.
That is nearly an entire pound of dead cow!
Topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and raw onion slices, it was the biggest burger I have ever attempted to wrap my mouth around. Literally, my jaw just wouldn’t open wide enough.
Cheeseburger in paradise indeed! Juices dripping all over the paper plate, it was burger perfection.
Fearing the thought of coming up short on cash, I had to slum it on my second beer and ordered a Miller Lite in the can (which it turns out was only $1 less than the Red Stripe).
Most of the rough-neck-looking locals at the bar were drinking beer from the can. So I felt right at home. Until I remembered I was sitting there in a suit.
But this is what it’s all about!
Sitting there in my Hart Schaffner & Marx, soaking up the sun and salt air at a weathered bathtub-themed burger and beer joint tucked away in a city full of relocated Yankee pretention fits the bill just perfectly. Every single time.
Rating: Bought the Shirt!