Miami's Ten Best Dive Bars: Where to Spend New Year's After the Party Ends
After the party winds down and clubs close, you still need a place to finish off the night before passing out with a half-eaten gas-station egg-salad sandwich in your hand. Thank God for dive bars.
It's hard to pin down exactly what a dive bar is -- you just know it when
you step into one. It's all about the ambiance. It's dark, dirty, low-key, and smells like
cigarettes. The term might have originated during Prohibition to
describe basement-level speakeasies.
They open early and close late. They might have a kitchen, and if you're really lucky, you might get laid with a drunk tourist in a bathroom stall.
In 2010, Playboy described a dive bar as "a church for down-and-outers and those who romanticize them, a rare place where high and low rub elbows -- bums and poets, thieves and slumming celebrities."
What else can you expect from a dive bar? How about some pool, darts, and karaoke? Aside from the low expectations and high ATM fees, dives are complete with activities that should keep you from dumping $500 to bail yourself out of jail.
This place is almost not a dive bar because it is too fancy on the inside and has a website, but because it has a dancing pole where bar flies can attract their next mate, we'll throw it in the mix. There are 50-cent beers on Mondays, live DJs, a beer bong, and a pool table, plus it's open till 5 a.m. And no cover for New Year's Eve either.
9. Purdy Lounge
This place has a fancy-looking website, but a dive needs an edge to hook you. Located on Purdy Avenue in South Beach, it opens at 3 p.m. weekdays and 6 p.m. weekends. Two-for-one happy-hour drinks end at 7 p.m. After that, beer and mixed drinks are moderately priced. The place morphs into a dark, dungeon-like space, but there are cool lava lamps on the walls. Expect the unexpected, with an eclectic crowd of hipsters, headbangers, rastas, and the occasional DJ lounging on couches and dancing. No cover and open till 5 a.m.
8. Seven Seas Bar
A small, out-of-the-way, nautical-themed juke joint just off Coral Way on the edge of Coral Gables, this place has a karaoke bar too, which makes it the perfect spot for coming down from your mushroom trip. Why? Because all you have to do is sit back in a corner and watch other people sing out of tune to "Billie Jean" while you wait for the room to stop spinning. With all of the random nautical stuff on the walls, you'll start to think you stepped into a warped Jimmy Buffett music video. But they have a pool table, the drinks are cheap, and the bottled beer is ice-cold. Karaoke is Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
7. Happy's Stork Lounge
New Times named Happy's the "Divingest Dive Bar in North Bay Village" in 2009. Step one foot in this place and you'll see what we're talking about. This place attempts to corner the retail booze market by doubling as package liquor store too. It's open from 11 a.m. till 5 a.m., and happy hour begins when the doors open and ends at 8 p.m. Also enjoy $3 domestics and three-for-one well drinks for $6.
6. Tavern in the Grove
The heart of Coconut Grove seems an unlikely place for a dive bar, but because it's a tourist destination and close to the University of Miami, we have to count Tavern in the Grove as more than just a locals bar. What's more, it has $7 pitchers of Presidente, darts, and beer pong! Seriously, what more do you need? How about some drunk coeds? A true hole-in-the-wall with a loyal following.
5. Ukulele Bar
Miami doesn't have a strong dive bar scene, but the Uke is our showpiece. It's a cash-only wine and beer place that has an ATM. There are five TV sets and a kitchen that serves burgers, subs, and hot dogs if you get the munchies. This place might even be haunted by the ghost of Tiny Tim. It's located on Biscayne Boulevard in Miami Shores, so unless you're already partying up there, don't go driving.
4. Churchill's Pub
This is technically a music venue that hosts local artists, but when the bands aren't playing, Churchill's has a feel that's unpretentious enough to qualify it as a dive bar -- there's a smoky British pub feel. The parking is crappy enough to qualify as a dive too. For a small fee, you can pay a neighborhood thug to watch your car too. (Just kidding. There's a parking lot across the street.) Come here during the day to watch soccer and grab a bite from the kitchen. There is a pool table and a jukebox too, woo-hoo!
3. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3559
Nearly all VFW posts are dives, but this place epitomizes the concept. There's pool, darts, cold Budweiser bottles, and a fantastic view of the bay. Open every day from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., it's perfect for soothing your PTSD. With drink prices at a "permanent happy hour," it can't any more American than
2. Dewey's Tavern
This place won Best Neighborhood Bar in Miami Beach in 2006, but its proximity to Lincoln Road makes it a dive. Also a great place to catch some football (lots of TV sets), meet friends on the patio, or just kill some time playing pool or video poker. They have a kitchen that serves chicken wings, and there's Saturday karaoke.
1. Mac's Club Deuce
The oldest bar in South Beach, this place on 14th Street between Collins and Washington avenues is a true dive. The interior features fading neon from the Miami Vice days. You might even get to down shots with Anthony Bourdain here if you're lucky. We received some unconfirmed sightings of Keith Richards, but upon further investigation, it turned out to be a regular who just looks like the Stones' guitarist. The place opens at 8 a.m and closes at 5 a.m., so you have three hours to sober up before returning.
It's an all-cash bar, and happy hour ends at 7 p.m. -- don't you forget it or else Kenny the bartender will throw you some attitude. "If you don't like cigarettes, don't come here," says Kenny, who also claims to be a true dive bar connoisseur. He's right -- you'll smell like an ashtray by the time you're done with the place.
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