Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Going Hollywood in a Bath Tub

Le Tub
1100 N. Ocean Dr.
Hollywood, FL
Visited September 17, 2010

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 back roads of America have developed my keen sense of finding cool places to eat and drink.

Darwin would consider this some sort of survival instinct, I suppose.

I wasn’t holding out much hope here in Hollywood, Florida, as I crept along in Friday afternoon rush hour A1A traffic within the hell of BMWs, traffic lights and 30 story condos that is modern day South Florida.

I was on my way north toward the airport with the rare opportunity of time for a decent non-airport-hot-dog-roller-meal.

Unfortunately everything I passed consisted of fancy looking, Italian-named bistros patrolled by that most annoying of all human species – the valet parking dork.

Suit757 does NOT do valet parking. I’d rather starve.

Or even subject myself to a McDonald’s drive-through.

Just as I was about to give up all hope and start looking for golden arches, I spotted a bright yellow hand-painted sign out of the corner of my eye.

“Great Burgers”.

Narrowly escaping death from both the BMWs barreling down on me from behind and the lanes of on-coming German-engineered traffic, I slammed on the brakes and veered sharp to the left across two lanes of A1A into the parking lot of “Le Tub”.

I pulled right into a vacant spot. I sat there for a second bracing myself for the inevitable over-zealous pleated pants valet boy to come running over screaming at me, pounding on the driver’s-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 & jetsam assembled over the years by the place’s proud owner right over the Intercoastal.

Hidden from A1A by mangrove 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 that has become all too scarce in the mad rush to pave over every square inch of Florida waterfront with condos for New York refugees.

The fact that a funky, divey little joint right on the water like Le Tub hasn’t already been bull dozed has got to be some sort of minor miracle.

Needless to say, I am probably the first person in the 32 year history of the place to have dined there in a suit.

It’s a locals' kind of place. Unless you count the antique bathtub painted “Le Tub” in bright yellow out front, the place doesn’t even advertise itself.

But somehow, word has gotten out.

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.

But still, I would have run up a much bigger check if they had brought the place up to 20th Century standards.

Oh well, I shouldn’t criticize. 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 shelled out $16 in tolls to the state of Florida. (The government doesn’t take credit either.) That left exactly $24 for food, beer, tax and tip.

But I got my $24 worth.

First of all, the view was worth that alone. I had an unobstructed view of the water and setting sun. A Jamaican Red Stripe was definitely in order.

But it is the famous burger that elevated Le Tub to legendary shirt worthy status.

It is 13 oz of perfectly-charred-outside/pink-inside 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, ordering 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.

Oh well.

That’s what this is all about – Suits in Strange Places.

I’d say me, sitting there in my Hart Schaffner & Marx, soaking up the sun and salt air at an oasis of a weathered waterfront working-class bath tub-themed burger and beer joint, within a desert of relocated Yankee pretention, fits the bill just perfectly.

Rating: Bought the Shirt!
Le Tub Saloon on Urbanspoon>

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