Swampgrass Willy’s

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Swampgrass Willy’s in Palm Beach Gardens is a larger back-alley bar located in the Publix shopping center north of Northlake on Alt. A1A.

It can be easily overlooked, passed by. But if you’re fortunate enough to locate it, this bar offers more than just booze and tunes. In addition, Swampass (as locals fondly refer to it) functions as a recording studio.

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This bar offers a wide range of beer, from mainstream domestic to irregular craft selections. Food and smoking is recommended.

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There is a $5 cover charge on Friday and Saturday where the large stage becomes the focus to live cover bands, such as, Searat. And Thursday Swampass transforms into some type of Asian rave I’m told. That seems stranger than most things I usually encounter. I’ll skip that…

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Two regulation sized pool tables, an electronic dartboard and a surplus of flat screens showing whatever current game that’s on. The bar is long enough to minimize waiting for your bartender’s attention.

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If conventional bar entertainment (pool, darts, drunken banter) doesn’t suit you, Swampass offers alternative methods of amusement. Most notable, Super Shot (the free-throw game) and Golden Tee. As far as I’m aware of, these arcade games are only found at just that, arcades. Well, I know Super Shot at least is never in a dive bar. I’ve seen Golden Tee before. Super Shot replaced air hockey here which I’m sure some patrons were upset about.

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And as always, the “shitter” must be examined. The men’s bathroom consists of two stalls and one urinal. Everytime I was in there, there were always two dudes in one stall. Only a few creepy things could be happening in there. I’ll let you choose which one it could have been.  Use your imagination…

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I was able to convince a pretty lady to snap a picture of the lady toilet, but other than the picture, I’m unfortunately unable to describe it to you. I usually test it out, so I apologize. Won’t happen again.

Being an enormous Hurricanes fan, it angers me to give this Gator bar a good rating. Though it did receive a slight downgrade as a result. 4 out of 5 dirty mugs please…

I drank $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon over here and had a $15 bar tab. I’m quite sure I had more than five beers. The simple fact that I can’t recall exactly how many, reveals that I must have had more.

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The Downtown Pub

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As I crept into the Downtown Pub, wild-eyed gazes were fixated on a bubbly bartender flipping coins with her massive breasts. Clearly a talent best utilized here. The party seemed to have commenced without me. By this time it was nearly 10pm and the six or seven customers appeared to have been enjoying themselves for the last few hours. Ordering a pitcher of Yuengling, I scanned the bar for any recognizable faces. None. So, I meandered my way to the other side of the barrier that separates the bar stools from the two pool tables with my $9.50 pitcher in tow.

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Making myself comfortable at the modest black squared tables, the short heavy breasted barkeep approached with her way too revealing outfit for someone of her age. She boldly dropped a sandwich sized Ziploc bag of ice into the beer and with a gentle wink she seductively said, “Here you go honey.” Standard practice at these establishments when they notice a miserable hapless drunk drinking a pitcher by his lonesome.

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Over by the computerized, touchscreen casino games, I detected a peculiar figure lurking in the corner. Something seemed amiss. The man was pushing maybe four feet with his elevated black boots. Dressed in leather and denim, he had on a bandana to control his long, filthy unkempt hair. By the looks of the impressive handlebar mustache he wields, a motorcycle must be parked out front. Stumbling toward the bathroom, you could hear the clunk of the deadbolt locking behind him.

Now, there are only two reasons someone would lock themselves in. The first is the most obvious… Taking a dump. The second is to indulge in some variety of narcotic. If you have ever been in a dive bar bathroom, then you would know that most would avoid the toilet short of dumping out in their pants. After about five minutes, the tiny biker staggered out with eyes have shut. No doubt at all what he was up to. This is ordinary and happens often in most places. As long as you’re not blinded by ignorance of course.

The most amusing event of the night came when the tiny man undertook the apparently arduous task of putting on his jet black trench coat. He was halfway there and awkwardly searching for the left sleeve when the rest of the bar finally noticed his struggle. Swaying side to side, uncoordinated stumbles, he managed to slip into the elongated coat. This dressing endeavor took him longer to complete than his time spent locked up in the bathroom.

There is no one under the age of forty here. Most college students will usually flock to a lame ass bar that’s promoting a ladies night in hopes that they can coax a misfortune innocent woman into their “Too Fast Too Furious” Mitsubishi. Maybe a stop at the local Abercrombie and Fitch for a latte would be in order.

But those places won’t have that recurring character with some variety of randomized rant selected seconds before entering the bar.

“I’m the most hated man in Boca!” Sonny exclaims in his ruffled Bronx accent.

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This spherical gentleman runs the Downtown Pub with an iron fist. If you’re lucky, you might catch him yelling about his hatred of cheap scoundrels and tales of tossing unsavory inebriates to the street by neck collar and waistline, as well as, baseball bat beatings on cellular phones.

“They don’t call me bat-man for nothing” he informs with a wide grin.

The 53 year old Bronx native moved to south Florida in 1986. Sonny acquired the Downtown Pub in 2000 from one of his customers while he was operating and distributing vending machines down here.

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By the time I finished a few rounds of Ms. Pac Man, I noticed my beer appeared to be watered down. Upon further inspection, I discovered a minute puncture in the Ziploc bag. One must proceed with caution and be vigilant to maintain the integrity of their alcoholic beverage.

This place is never too crowded or over packed. Its a simple bar that allows smoking and is located next to a pizza place and a 7-11. Anyone that ever hangs out at a bar that doesn’t serve food and is there for more than a few hours, knows that those two places can be quite useful on the late-night.

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Wednesday and Saturday is free pool all day. There is a happy hour from 4pm to 7pm which is only $1 off. And it has the “In The Business” (ITB) discount from 11pm to close.

Compared to other adjacent pubs and bars, the Downtown Pub is slightly more expensive. An unfortunate consequence of not possessing a real extensive client base. To my soon-to-be millions of followers… Just go there and play a game of Ms. Pac Man and have a cold beer. Don’t be a jerkface.

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Pitchers

Yuengling- $9.50

Bud Heavy- $8.50

Bud Light- $8.50

Miller Light- $8.50

Bottled brew– $4/domestic $5-5.50/ import

Domestic Bucket– $15

Purely a wine and beer establishment, the Downtown Pub in Boca Raton should be considered the epitome of dive bars in the tri-county area. It is equipped with all the essential components of the typical backdoor bar: Two non-regulation size pool tables with split cues. Smoking inside. A dartboard. Touch-Tunes jukebox. Nine televisions in every conceivable position throughout the bar. And, of course, a Ms. Pac Man machine for $.25 per game.

I used to frequent this bar on a regular basis in my glorious younger years. The patronage and staff may have changed, but the entertainment remains the same. Its comforting to enter a barroom and be accosted with constant mockery and half-congenial greetings from regulars you would only see at that bar. Just the normal banter one would encounter when drunkards assemble in a dark simplified atmosphere.

It might cost a little more, but the Downtown Pub is definitely worth going to for a night.

The state of the toilets are as reasonable as it’ll get here. Not completely filthy, but no where near suitably clean.

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-Men’s toilet

3.5/5 Dirty Mugs with a $19 tab.

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I’m Too Deep into the Dive Bar Scene

I’m not sure what it is, but for some peculiar reason I feel drawn to dive bars.  There is something endearing and homely about them.  When I go out drinking, I want to be able to sit down at the bar and not have to fight my way through the masses of drunkards for a $4 beer.  The barkeep is easily accessible and the booze flows more readily.  The music is ten times more bearable than some hair-gelled, fake tan, douchey, over-compensating techno club.

I seek comfort in overused dartboards, uneven pool tables and split cue sticks.  The occasional stale beer in a dirty mug apparently has a profoundly reassuring effect on me.  And of course, the unfortunate young ladies that are commonly lured in by their miscreant boyfriends.  The faces on those poor girls as they enter these type of establishments is amusingly priceless.  Its as if they crossed over into a separate dimension where sexual deviants, drunken degenerates and switchblade-wielding drug addicts reign supreme.  The sudden shock of this scene can send an unsuspecting innocent lady dashing toward the exit while clutching her purse in menacing horror.

Well, its probably not that bad.  But I can tell you for a fact, that most are completely repulsed.  The trauma inflicted is not easily reversed nor healed.

But I always seem to have an enjoyable time…

The Mack House

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Young ladies, short tight jeans, cowboy boots and hats flooded the Pine Ridge plaza at Pine Island and I-595.  Excitement roared through the large parking lot.  As I approached the bar, I suddenly realized that the Mack House was not the premier destination of the night.  Halfway down the plaza, a country nightclub was attracting the youthful crowd.  The combination of country music and a club is something that I will avoid at all costs.  No matter how gorgeous the women are.

Entering the bar, the first thing I noticed was a fresh coat of paint smell.  Renovation was well underway and from what I understood, it needed it.  The previous bar, Music Cafe, closed its doors and the Mack House seems to have revitalized it.  The barkeep and general manager, Kyle Hatfield, informed me that the bar was undergoing much needed improvements.  Which is why the “Music Cafe” sign was still up.  Once more funds become readily available the neon sign will be replaced.

The crowd seemed strangely diverse.  Not typical for a dive bar.  Although “crowd” would be a generous estimate.  During the four hours I was there, about ten people experienced the Mack House in all its glory.  Hipsters, sweater vests and neck-tie fellows filtered in and out.

“Most of the people that come here are laid back beer lovers,” said Hatfield.  And if you enjoy local Floridian beers, this nano-brew pub is for you.  Prices here are steeper than a $2 Rolling Rock, but that is because the beer is brewed in house and the rest of the selection is bottled.  Holy Mackerel beer is showcased here.  Being a Yuengling man, I am no beer connoisseur by any means.  Having said that, I did enjoy the “Panic Attack” from the tap.  Certainly my go-to brew here.

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Filled with small wooden tables, a comfortable couch for lounging and a fish tank, the Mack House has a sort of hookah bar vibe.  Minus the hookahs.  But if you crave tobacco while drinking, this may not be the best location.  Out front is a small roped off area with a couple of tables and chairs for the smoker.

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Most small bars have a grotesque bathroom situation.  The Mack House is NOT one of those bars.  Quite impressive actually.  Pristine condition. Although you may not be able to tell from the photographs, trust me… These are not nearly as bad as what my readers are usually accustomed to.

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Other than an oversized ball park pretzel, it doesn’t have much to offer food wise. But if you do find yourself getting too drunk (which will happen more often than not/ most beers here are no less than 10% abv) one can order from the Vienna Cafe and Wine Bar next door.

“If they don’t want our food, they can have whatever,” informed Hatfield.

Or just order a pizza.  Everything seems completely relaxed and mellow.  And the barkeep is quite knowledgeable when it comes to his brew selection.  Which makes sense because he is the one brewing after all.  Despite the lack of cheap degenerates, pool tables and non-smoking, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.  Or maybe it was because of all that beer…

“Why can’t you have a nice dive bar?”- GM Hatfield

Go to this bar.  And like them on facebook… I mean, if you want to.

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Judge Blazer (left) Kyle Hatfield (right)