Keg South — a 50-year-old Pinecrest original

Dixie Highway is one of the oldest roads in the United States. Built in the early 20th Century, it originally stretched 5,700 miles and connected Ontario, Canada with Florida City. Major interstate highways now run along the original roadway, but in Miami there is a stretch of US1 that continues to be known as Dixie Highway.

Running from the end of I-95 in Coconut Grove, to the beginning of the Overseas Highway just south of Homestead, South Dixie Highway is lined with several great bistros and eateries that are sure to leave you “floored by food.” Among them is a little beer-and-burger place known as Keg South.

Keg South has been at the same South Dixie Highway location just a gas station south of Southwest 104th Street for 50 years. This resilient little locals’ hideaway has survived Hurricanes Cleo, Betsy and Andrew, and outlived such icons as The Playboy Club, Eastern Airlines, Pan Am, Burdines, the 1800 Club and Parrot Jungle. For 50 years, Keg South has endured development, urban sprawl and change simply by not changing. It has been a mainstay to East Kendall and Pinecrest residents, serving the same great food and cold beer year after year.

Keg South has a real speakeasy feel with its main entrance hidden away in a back alley. The hidden access has been a treasure to locals in the know and a damn shame to the timid passersby. As you walk to the door and pull open the grey porthole door, you are swallowed by the cave-like darkness of the place. Once the door closes behind you and your eyes adjust, you sense the warmth of the cedar-lined walls, feel the grain of the time-worn oak planks under your feet, and the closeness of the low tongueand- groove plank ceiling overhead.

Continue past the old arcade games and come up on the lone pool table. Grab a stool along the old L-shaped bar, settle into one of the aging wood bench tables or sit up on one of the little high-tops against the wall and pick up the Keg South menu. Keg South is as a simple, fun, fast, casual little bar. Patrons walk in, seat themselves, place their orders, pick up their own food at the bar and bus their own tables by returning empty serving baskets, mugs and pitchers to the bar counter.

Restaurant consultants tell beginning restaurateurs to keep the menu simple and just make a few items really well. Keg South is a classic example of that philosophy. The Keg’s one page menu is limited to a handful of appetizers, a little burger, a big burger, a hot dog unlike any other, chicken and fish sandwiches, and one-way wings.

Start off with an appetizer such as the smoked fish dip. These little starter bites go great with cold beer and Keg South serves the coldest beer anywhere. You are very likely to encounter that moment of beer drinking nirvana when your bottom lip feels the chill of the glass and your top lip comes across a floating sliver of ice just as you take your first sip.

When was the last time you had a really good burger? Keg South makes two — a one-third pounder and a half-pound Jumbo. The burgers are grilled over an open fire and may be served with a slice of cheese. Add ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, a slice of tomato, raw onion and a couple of pickle slices to dress it up. That’s the extent of topping options, but that’s all you need. Keg Burgers are just simple, delicious and consistent.

How about wings? They only make them one way — awesome! The Keg’s special process takes big meaty wings through a flash fry, a swim in the secret hot sauce and a finish on the grill to add a little char-grilled flavor. Served with a side of Ken’s Steakhouse blue cheese dressing for dipping and you are all set. Keg South offers a great dolphin sandwich, too. Try it with a slice of American or Swiss cheese. The Keg chicken sandwich makes the cut, too. Try this one with sautéed onions and melted Swiss cheese. Then there is the Death Dog, one of the best hot dogs you’ll ever taste. It’s grilled to perfection, sliced down the middle and topped with ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, jalapenos, slices of American and Swiss cheese, and finished off with a touch of hot sauce. Outstanding!

All Keg South burgers and sandwiches are served in a basket over a bed of Ruffles potato chips. If you are a French fry lover, ask for an order of fresh-cut fries. They’re never frozen at the Keg and each order gets no less than three Idaho spuds that find their way from a wallmounted fry cutting press into a bath of hot oil.

Keg South is located at 10417 So. Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest, FL, 305-284-9296. Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to Midnight and on Sunday from Noon to Midnight.

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