Keg South in Pinecrest is the epitome of a hole-in-the-wall, dive bar. It's been open for more than 50 years, which is a lifetime by Miami standards. While it may only have a handful of seats, have an entrance only accessible through a back alleyway and no signage, it has built a reputation for itself for serving one of the best burgers in town.
Eater Miami sat down with one of the Keg's owners, Laurel Labuzan, to find out the secret behind the "world famous burger," and why she think it's so popular.
How long have you been involved with Keg South?
My husband Butch has owned the Keg since 1988.
How long has the Keg been around?
Since the 1960s. No one can really pinpoint a date since it has a rather colorful history. In the early 60s, there were different owners to the Keg because they'd pass it around in poker games.
How'd you all get involved with Keg?
My husband started working at the Keg in 1986. He's actually a graduate from FIU's School of Hospitality. He was working there and the guy he was working for, Dan Baker, was moving out of town and so Butch bought it from him and he's been there every since.
What do you think makes the Keg Burger stand out?
Our catch phrase is, "it's the world famous Keg Burger." There is something magical about the grill there. I don't know what it is. Many a person has tried to buy the same meat, do the same thing on their own grill and it just never tastes the same as the Keg South burger. It's not like we load it with toppings. It's not a fancy burger, it's just a burger. You have your choice of cheese, you can add bacon, but that's about it.
So the secret is in the grill?
There's something about the grill. I don't know what it is. They clean it off every night so I don't know what it is. (Laughs) It's very strange. It's a magic grill. The guys there are good chefs and that's half the battle. Plus, it's all cooked to order. We don't make things ahead of time.
How are the Keg burgers prepared?
We don't hockey puck them. So many restaurants nowadays just cook things so well done. Our burgers are cooked to order. If you want it rare, you'll get it rare if that's how you order it. We mainly make them medium. I always test the new cook. I try a burger and I squeeze it -- and if I can squeeze it and get some juice out, and it drips onto the chips, then it's the perfect Keg burger.
Besides the "world famous Keg Burger," but what else are popular dishes?
The special grilled wings are also really popular. They are thrown on the grill to get some of the sauce off. The smoked fish dip is good. The dolphin sandwich or the chicken sandwich with grilled onions, grilled jalapeños, Swiss cheese and bacon, it's so good.
If you're not having a burger from Keg South, where are you having one?
Nowhere. Seriously. It's funny. I don't eat burgers anywhere else. I don't think anything can match that burger -- and it's just a plain burger! It's not stuffed. It's just fresh meat, not frozen. We buy it every week. I don't know what makes it so good but it's good.