Ocean Drive: raging dumpster fire or slice of tropical paradise?

Tourists love Ocean Drive. What’s not to love? There are giant pink flamingoes outside Mango’s Tropical Cafe.
Tourists love Ocean Drive. What’s not to love? There are giant pink flamingoes outside Mango’s Tropical Cafe.

Ocean Drive is many things to many people. A sunny tropical getaway from the frozen kingdoms of the north. A slagheap jammed with garbage restaurants and hostesses pushier than the DirecTV representative desperate to keep you from canceling your service. An open-air weed emporium where you can purchase drinks the size of your kitchen sink for the price of your car payment.

We think the truth about this stretch of road, where sustaining a laminated menu injury is not only likely but probable, lies somewhere in between.

Ha ha, just kidding. We hate Ocean Drive, too. Are we not human? But in the interest of scientific exploration, we launched an exhaustive investigation to see if South Beach’s most famous street was as horrible as we remember it. Surely there must be something thriving there to warm the soul of a Miami local. Surely it’s not all Wet Willie’s and Fat Tuesday?

(Narrator: It is all Wet Willie’s and Fat Tuesday.)

But we jest. Here are the important truths we learned about Ocean Drive.

Wet Willie’s and Fat Tuesday won’t be silenced


You can still order an Attitude Improvement at Wet Willie’s. Note: it does not improve your attitude in the right direction.

There’s a TGIF, and people actually eat there


Nothing says exotic tropical paradise like loaded potato skins.

Some old friends linger


Lario’s is still there, and Gloria and Emilio still own it. (If you have to ask for their last name, you really ARE a long way from home.) The News Cafe remains, too, though its sister The Van Dyke Cafe died a tragic death to make room for a Lululemon on Lincoln Road. Because everyone needs $128 yoga pants.

At Mango’s Tropical Cafe, the music never stops


You’re not on South Beach. You’re at the Tropicana. And your friends and family from out of town will never tire of watching the show.

Tourists continue to order overpriced drinks with Coronas inexplicably poured into them


Help us. We don’t understand this anthropological anomaly, and we never will.

The former Versace mansion is always ready for its closeup


Like the ever-present aroma of weed on Ocean Drive, someone will always be taking a picture of the Versace mansion, even if the photographer has no intention of going inside. (You can, though.)

There is actually a plaque commemorating the chainsaw scene from “Scarface”


We hope this monument to cinematic greatness will live in perpetuity at what is now a CVS.

Anyone working out in Lummus Park makes you look like Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”

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You’re not worthy, my precious.

The Palace is eternal


The Palace keeps the drag dream alive with its legendary brunch. Note: The performers here will also make you look like Gollum from “Lord of the Rings.”

Surf Style is king


There are three stores between Ninth and 15th streets, so if you need an emergency tank top, you’re in luck.

This place is no Surf Style


Dope chandelier, though.

Those Art Deco buildings do actually look pretty nice


We’re still going to roll our eyes at Ocean Drive. But we can’t deny it’s a hell of a backdrop. Even when it’s literally hell.