Whether you’re hankering for a simple, blue-collar burger or a patty with a bit more flair, you’ll find something to suit your taste in “Flipping for Florida Burgers,” VISIT FLORIDA’s occasional series exploring the state’s burger joints. Check out previous series installments on Johnny’s Fillin’ Station, Biff Burger, Danny’s All American Diner and Le Tub Saloon. Hungry for some meat? Let’s eat!
You can almost imagine Meyer Lansky and Al Capone plotting risky business at one of the cabaret tables upstairs at Tobacco Road, which opened in 1912 downtown Miami.
If only the often-painted-over walls at the 102-year-old dive bar and eatery could talk. The joint’s vibe says what the walls can’t.
The dark, narrow bar and restaurant lead to open-air seating on a patio with an outdoor sports bar. On a balmy night in late winter, a 30-something, casually dressed crowd is tuned into a Miami Heat basketball game.
“The rest of Miami nightlife is very chi-chi,” said one 28-year-old patron. “It’s a little more laid-back than other bars.”
Dave Cutts, 35, drinking a New Belgium Fat Tire beer, said for him the biggest plus of Tobacco Road is its 5 a.m. closing time.
The food, he said, is pretty darn good too.
Tobacco Road is known for its certified Angus-beef burgers grilled on an open flame with the restaurant’s signature blend of spices.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have lots of heat-quenching fluids nearby, go for the Death Burger, which features jack cheese and grilled jalapeños and onions. If you’re really hungry, order the Cowboy Burger, topped with cheddar cheese, grilled onions and barbecue sauce. If you’re looking for a surprise and don’t mind getting a little messy, the Mega Burger is your meaty treat, with cheddar, bacon, mushrooms and homemade chili, all topped with a fried egg (a vegetarian version features a black bean patty with vegetarian chili). A turkey burger is offered as well as the Classic Road Burger. All burger offerings are in the $8 to $10 range.
The menu also features wings, appetizers such as smoked fish dip and empanadas, grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, hot dogs and other specialty sandwiches, barbecue, chili and quesadillas, and tater tots and fries.
Live music is offered four nights a week in the upstairs lounge, where a small bar serves cocktails and beer.
“We’re the oldest bar in Miami,” said Jonathan Fisher, a Tobacco Road manager. “We are a great way to see old Miami.”
Besides existing as an illegal speakeasy during Prohibition, Tobacco Road has been a cabaret, a strip club and a gay bar.
“The cabaret upstairs is pretty unique,” Fisher said. “You needed a password to get in there in the old days.”
Starting at 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, there’s a $5 cover charge.
The lunch crowd – construction workers, business people and city officials – is quite different from the younger dinner-and-drinks crowd, said Fisher.
“We’re just an old dive bar,” Fisher said, “with good fun and good food.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Tobacco Road
WHERE: 626 S. Miami Ave., Miami
HOW MUCH: $5 after 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
CONTACT: Visit www.tobacco-road.com or call 305-374-1198