Miami Beach's Columbus Cafe "Worst in America": $45 Happy-Hour Mojito, Gray Meat
The Daily Meal, in compiling its annual list of 101 best restaurants, also named the worst eateries in the nation. The introduction states that the bottom dwellers were chosen for their consistently terrible internet reviews that seemed to show a lack of good service, sanitation, and/or decent grub.
The countdown begins at a little place called Bistro Med in Washington, D.C., where one customer had her credit card number stolen and the restaurant amassed 56 health code violations. The rest of the establishments include Kissena Dominican Diner in Queens, New York; Ho Mei Chinese Restaurant in Denver; and Sun Taco in Los Angeles. Then there's number one. That distinction goes to the Colony Café at the Colony Hotel in Miami Beach. Of course, it has several aliases: Mauro's, Chef Vincent at Colony Hotel, Colony Bistro, and most recently, Columbus Café.
The Daily Meal states that not only is this restaurant possibly the single worst-reviewed on Yelp, but it also wins for "shadiest restaurant in America," with diners not getting their promised discounts (one reviewer said his rum and Coke was $18 after a so-called discount), adding tips in without notifying the customer, and telling guests the credit card machine was down, thus forcing them to use the overpriced ATM. And that's not even considering the food, which was called "gross" and "cold mush."
I decided to have a bite at Columbus Café early last night to see for myself.
At this usual Ocean Drive tourist spot on Columbus Day (coincidence?), there were about five tables filled with groups of people having what appeared to be freon-colored, oversized cocktails with Coronas stuck in them. A man in a red shirt told me this was happy hour and all food was 20 percent off and drinks were BOGO.
The server immediately pushed the paella. "It's a traditional Miami dish. It has seafood in it. Everything. Clams, mussels, shrimp, and crab legs. Ours has yellow rice." Declining the paella, I perused the menu and thought, What would a tourist eat? Here's the ensuing dialogue: