Gem number two comes in the form of a blues singer named Pat De Leon. I saw him perform on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, at Tobacco Road in Downtown Miami. Tobacco Road is Miami’s oldest bar, restaurant and performance venue. It opened in 1912 and, according to their website, became known for many things throughout the years: “a speakeasy, gambling den, gay bar, strip joint and blues bar”. The website also adds that “while ownership has changed, the primary purpose of the establishment – a neighborhood watering hole – has always been the same”.
Tobacco Road became known for booking national blues and jazz acts in the 1980s. Since then, the bar has expanded to book everything from rap to metal to reggae. The bar’s reputation has changed along with this, says their website: “Tobacco Road [has] gained a new reputation as a popular hangout with downtown professionals, celebrities and tourists. Today Tobacco Road continues to champion Miami’s local music scene with live music seven nights a week”. Below is a video of one of these artists, DeLeon, performing.
There is a very laid back feel to Tobacco Road that’s exemplified by just walking in and sitting at the bar. There are the standard issue TV screens playing sports. What sets Tobacco Road apart from every other pub and sports bar in the area, however, is the assortment of classic rock and today’s rock that plays at the perfect volume in the background. The bartenders are friendly and so are the other patrons at the bar.
If you go on a weekday, there’s usually no cover, a free parking lot down the street, and one featured artist. Weekends are where it gets a little different. The parking lot charges around $10, especially if it’s a holiday weekend.
There’s also usually a small cover charge ranging anywhere from $5-10. If you get there before 9 p.m., however, they don’t charge the cover. Make sure you bring your ID as well, since there is a bouncer who will check your ID at the door (21 and up only). The music can be anything ranging from a full-on festival to just one or two featured artists. The stages are located either upstairs or on the patio. There are bars by both stages as well.
DeLeon, for example, performs every Wednesday at 8 p.m in the midst of Ladies Night. He performs a mix of blues covers and his original songs until midnight. Blues songs of any sort in Miami are a rarity and a real treat to see performed.
Tobacco Road is also known for having excellent food. They have homemade empanadas, nachos, chicken quesadillas, salads, ribs, brisket, award-winning burgers, “the Best F’in Chili” and chili fries. I had the chicken quesadillas when I was there, and I’d definitely recommend them. If your sweet tooth gets the better of you, the desserts are great too.