Miami Beach's Columbus Cafe "Worst in America": $45 Happy-Hour Mojito, Gray Meat

columbuscafe_cafe.jpg
Photos by Laine Doss
Hawking happy hour.
A lot of dubious honors have been bestowed upon Miami, but yesterday we received a new designation: having the worst restaurant in America.

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:

Location Info

Venue

Map

Mauro's (Colony Hotel)

736 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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63 comments
Fran LambdaTau Augu
Fran LambdaTau Augu

Yes my dear. They charged us $113 for two drinks. ...I will never ever go back again.

Jen Die
Jen Die

Hey wasn't that the restaurant that charged you all that money..Fran LambdaTau Augu

Norman Finkelstein
Norman Finkelstein

except the places that all my friends work at. Those places are nice.(good save?)

internetinternet
internetinternet

Many questionable operations donate money to city political campaigns.  This place is no exception.  Are police the enforcers for this establishment?  If you are unsuccessful in negotiating the final price are the police called? 

Ozzie Benitez Jr.
Ozzie Benitez Jr.

South Beach as a WHOLE should be burnt to the ground and started over, with decent hard working people!

r.tomarchio
r.tomarchio

While I agree the current restaurant in the Colony is a sad state of affairs, there needs to be some clarification in the column. Just because a restaurant closes and another opens in the same space, that doesn't mean the restaurant has an "alias." Both the hotel and restaurant has changed names and owners over the last 10 years. Associating the prior restaurants with the current one is a false statement. When the Colony Bistro was in operation (I believe it was replaced by Tequila Blue in the late 1990's/early 2000's) it was ranked one of the top restaurants in Miami under the direction of chef Robin Haas. If you didn't know, Chef Haas was the original chef of Gibraltar at Grove Isle (when it got the rave reviews) and is now the executive chef at Canyon Ranch. It's a disservice to the prior hoteliers and restauranteurs, the ones who helped make the Colony the SoBe landmark it is today, to be clumped together with this current tourist trap. 

nevah
nevah

The Miami Beach government and cops protect places like this. Miami beach is a mob town. the mayor and commissioners are all corrupt. The police department is full of overpaid brutal homophobic racist criminals as well. All these terrible businesses only exist because they are in bed with the city and the cops. Feds need to raid all of the city departments. It's so obvious that Miami Beach is a cesspool of corruption... but nothing is ever done.

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter

Las Olas Cafe

644 6th St
Miami Beach, FL 33139

one of the best cuban sandwiches in miami beach

brabhamdean
brabhamdean

It is the worst in America because it is helped to stay open by the worst Commissioner in Miami Beach, Michael Gongora. Gongora has accepted thousands of dollars, just this year, from the owner of that hotel at 736 Ocean Dr, and owner of the Colony Cafe. The millionaire's name is James Cavanaugh. Remember that you are eating gray meat at other restaurants in town which support Mr. Gongora. The corruption has to stop. Vote for anyone, but don't vote for Gongora.

Ronnie_M
Ronnie_M

I hate Yelp and Yelpers, but $45 is pretty damn ridiculous for a mojito

vicequeenmaria
vicequeenmaria

No true Miamian would consider Ocean Drive "relaxing." What a crock!  Over-priced, full of traffic and one block away from pestilent, rat-infested alley ways.

internetinternet
internetinternet

Tourists are equipped with cell phones with portable browsers can easily search Yelp to find these bad reviews.  Many Miami Beach clubs pull the same tricks. Delusional world class city.   

Susan Wold Grajewski
Susan Wold Grajewski

This is the place I went to for a light lunch. After two marqueritas - one each and a medium pizza - the bill? $125.00, yes that is $ONE TWO FIVE.00. Every server bitched about another, the hostess bitched about everyone.

Maurice Lim
Maurice Lim

how big is the mojito and the Cuban sandwich has grey meat from the spices every time a eat one has that gray look too it and if you can stick a Coronas bottle in the middle of a mojito drink i think it worth 55.00 plus it is south beach do u know how much is rent

cobaltblu
cobaltblu

Anyone who eats on Ocean Drive once pretty much knows that they are schmos all the low lifes prey on, including restaurants.. Was surprise they didn't steal the author's cc#s..

Erik Vairo
Erik Vairo

That place is packed every weekend. No matter how expensive or shit their food and service is, they're banking and they couldn't care less about how you feel.

Alfonso Lozada
Alfonso Lozada

been there, hate those people. worst food/service ever.

cobaltblu
cobaltblu

Prettty much like downtown Manhattan.. No respect for the tourist, horrible overpriced food and rude waiters.

AJ Bernal
AJ Bernal

Oh god yes Miami new times, keep doing reviews on places like this!

Sherry Wold
Sherry Wold

I see another name change in it's future. Like today.

César Ortiz
César Ortiz

Weren't paellas traditionally from Iceland??

Sean BlueMango
Sean BlueMango

moree proof of the over-rated allure of dining on the Drive.

Kevin Kohler
Kevin Kohler

haha! This is why I don't even TRY the ocean drive restaurants...too many bad apples that ruined my perception years ago. News Cafe and front porch are the only approved by me =p

John Perez
John Perez

Miami- "Always lowering the bar"

thtatguyusa
thtatguyusa

it is sad that a majority of the places on Ocean are THE WORST on the beach...go a block in to Puerto Sagua or so many other tasty and deserving places....for the love of pete....

Jonathan Parker
Jonathan Parker

I was there.. It seriously needs to be closed. Especially after I got the bill for $200 for their "happy hour specials". Burgers were even disgusting. Its a miami beach embarrassment. Shut it down!

Carolyn Fagan Adams
Carolyn Fagan Adams

I had a bad experience here also. They were advertising lunch specials for $8 each, I had an iced tea, hubby had diet coke and they charged us $12 a piece for our beverages. They really should be shut down.

Oscar Racso
Oscar Racso

The worse part is that you will always have those tourist that are going to spend that outrageous amount on a mojito and not care. Until they (colony/Columbus) stop getting paid and actual mgmt gets in there it's not going to get any better.

Victor Runciman
Victor Runciman

There is also Van Dyke's Café HORRIBLE UNRECOGNIZABLE Pisco Sour and that Pathetic so-called establishment known as DeJa Vu!

Vita Vitalis
Vita Vitalis

all of the places on Ocean are terrible!

Mark Casino-Brown
Mark Casino-Brown

with the closing of Clarke's there is now officially no decent place on South Beach to eat a sit down meal with a waiter.

Tim Powell
Tim Powell

@thomas I was going to say the same thing - what a shame in such a beautiful, iconic space...

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.................what LAine DOss DOESN'T GET is those "plants" posing as customers "from NY" are part of the scam as of course is the server

afrenk
afrenk

@Ronnie_M A blind man hates his guide dog. Technology is king.

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