Best Sports Bar Disguised As A Pretty Darn Good Italian Restaurant

Sport Café

Sport Cafe
It's late in the second period. The Heat is staving off the Knicks 48-46. Not far from the TV, a man and a woman sit cozily. The woman, holding a glass of wine in one hand and waving the other, tries to draw her man's gaze away from the game. She has things besides hoops on her mind. "Put more of that stuff on this thing," she commands, pointing first to a bottle of olive oil and then to a little plate. She has been dipping fresh bread on the plate, which until that last dunk held an elixir of extra-virgin olive oil infused with red pepper flakes. By the time her beau snaps out of it, the alert, gregarious waiter has replenished her little pool. She no longer minds her guy's inattentiveness, though. She is too engrossed in nibbling a delicious grilled calamari appetizer. But the real excitement erupts at halftime. The zupa di giorno (tonight it's carrot) has just arrived. Shortly thereafter, swoosh, a porcini mushroom risotto (one of the special entrées tonight, under ten dollars) lands softly before her. For boyfriend it's the ravioli di giorno (crab-lobster in pink sauce, also under ten dollars). And they still have half a bottle of decent wine left! Over at another table, a Heat fan whoops. The game hasn't resumed: His spaghetti and meatballs have arrived. Bravo!
Start by scoping out the looong L-shape wood bar planted in the middle of the room. Next sidle up to one of the cushiony metal stools upholstered in green velour. Now lean up against the bar and accommodate the shoes on the foot rests below. Once in perfect drinking position, order the liver killer. Northwest Miami-Dade suburbanites have visited this watering hole, located in a strip shopping center, for more than twenty years. Most patrons call bartender Bill by name. Resident band Powerhouse plays rock and pop favorites, which also dominate the jukebox. The requisite dart board hangs on the wall near the hall of fame, which features photos of famous guests. Remember Don Shula? The low lights, tinted windows, and dark wood paneling on the wall set the laid-back atmosphere. Show up any time except Sunday. The body deserves at least one day of rest.
Every so often the grind of city life pauses long enough to reveal why it's worth grinding on in our particular city. Nikki is just such an epiphany. It's a club/lounge/restaurant that exists solely under palm trees and on top of sand. Nestled in the dunes between the ocean and the rear of Penrod's, Nikki is the brainchild of long-time Beach nightlife promoter Tommy Pooch and Bash impresario Eric Omores. "We were looking to get out of the nightclub business and get into the daytime business," Pooch reveals. "Although now it's a nighttime business as well." The two promoters hired French designer Stephane Dupoux to create the scene. Dupoux didn't disappoint. He sculpted sand into berms and planted palm trees in them. Then he strung up hammocks between the trees. He continued that theme with the rest of the décor, laying down bamboo mats, erecting tepees, and strewing about carved wood chairs and tables from Asia. The place hums with excitement Sundays, as beachgoers, many of them Europeans, loll about in gently swaying hammocks, staving off thoughts of the Monday to come with a cold Corona.

Best Place To Catch The Blues On Monday Nights

Tobacco Road

Tobacco Road
On most Monday nights after nine, you can slip into Tobacco Road's beery downstairs barroom and enjoy the public rehearsal of Iko-Iko, this town's most seasoned and reliable blues ensemble. The band, led by local heavyweight Graham Drout, is a five-man Cajun-inflected Miami sound machine with a busy national tour schedule and official fan clubs in a dozen states, including New Jersey, California, and Kentucky. But on Mondays the boys are usually at home, comfortable in the bosom of the Road, chewing on good burgers, talking about working on their cars, and chatting with their hard-core fans. These nights are a tradition established more than eighteen years ago, when Drout began celebrating Monday at the Road with his pre-Iko group, the Fat Chance Blues Band. It's great to be there when the fellows grab an accordion, or whatever instrument is handy, catch a downbeat, and ease their tunes into the musical pocket as easy as a good riverboat captain navigates the waters of the nearby Miami River. They'll move you through several hours of home-brew music, mostly blues based, but all mooshed up with the sounds of Louisiana and spiced with the whine of old-time country harmonies. No cover, and the rack of lamb is cheap and good. They don't call it Blue Monday for nothing.
At Champagne's the finest jazz in Miami is served with a Kreyol flavor. "Remember, this is not just a music club; this is a restaurant," reminds owner Frantz Olivier, who recommends the griot pork seasoned with sour oranges. He might add that this joint, which opened in November 1999, is a bit of an art gallery, too. An enormous mural depicting a trumpet-blowing Dizzy Gillespie (among other legends) decorates the walls. Bathroom doors feature paintings by local Haitian artist Joseph Wilfrid Daleus. When musicians break, two televisions screen archival-type footage of jazz masters, courtesy of musician Jesse Jones, Jr.'s personal collection. Jones himself, regularly featured at this venue, is a pleasure to watch and hear, blowing his enormous black bass clarinet (and assorted woodwinds) or scatting in his signature falsetto style. You can join him onstage as you dine at a half-dozen tables on the bandstand. Or, if you prefer, listen from a table off-stage. Either way, there is no escape from Jones's playfully impassioned rendering of Ellington-Tizol-Mills's "Caravan." Hearing it, you will want to follow. Champagne's is open Friday through Sunday nights. Dinner begins at 6:00 p.m. Music begins at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8:00 p.m. Sunday.

Snaking down the dirt roads to get to this ranch off the Florida Turnpike at Okeechobee is half the fun, especially after dark. Tires hug the earth as cars squeeze between oncoming traffic and the crops crowding the fields. Weekend party animals give way to four-footed friends during the week. Horses drink water out of troughs in the parking lot. For recent immigrants Rancho Gaspar brings memories of La Tropical, the huge open-air emporium on the outskirts of Havana that holds the world's record for the longest-lasting salsa party. The crowd looks much the same as you'd find at La Tropical, with a high spandex count and more than a few glints of gold teeth. Families abound, from babes in arms to abuelitas with walkers. Out in the barn, the four-to-eight-year-old crowd has a monopoly on the pool table. Teenagers smooch in the pasture. The fun begins at two on Sunday afternoons, with music and pony rides. One or two Sundays per month musical acts such as Cuba's Manolín and the Dominican Republic's Oro Solido play live. Saturday nights a DJ spins salsa hits from Victor Manuelle to Issac Delgado, with the latest in merengue and bachata thrown in. Who cares if owner Gaspar Olazabal is a bit gruff at the door? The bartenders and waitresses are friendly, the beer is cheap, and the food is plentiful.
So, your baby left you the same day you lost your job, and when you got home the landlord was waiting. Well, pull up a stool. Although the King Stable, a Miami mainstay for 31 years, isn't just for the blues, it's a fine place to start. Crammed into its jukebox is an assemblage of 99 songs sure to ease a worried mind. From Big Joe Turner to Sam Cooke, Ruth Brown to Patti LaBelle, the collection is a testament to men and women's cheatin' ways. The box is unsullied by Ricky Martin or Eminem. "I go for the Seventies and Sixties soul and blues," says Adolph King, the establishment's 48-year-old inheritor. "I speak to what I am. My culture. I don't go for no Spanish music. No hip-hop. No rock." Five speakers dispersed throughout the house carry the music with enough bass to fill you with joy, but not make your beer skitter across the bar.
This local honky-tonk has long been a drinking well for Ridge Rats and other South Miami-Dade folks. It used to be called Norm's Hideaway back in the Eighties, and many an illegal substance could be found there. Now renamed and expanded, it continues to quench the needs of locals, though not with quite the same wild abandon. Still, no matter the day of the week, chances are there is something to do at BB's. Tuesday is Ping-Pong night. Wednesday is in-line dancing with a country DJ. Thursday is reserved for tournaments on at least seventeen dart boards and two pool tables. Friday and Saturday nights feature rock or blues bands on a small stage in the corner (no cover), with room to dance underneath two disco balls. And sometimes on Sundays, regulars play volleyball out by the parking lot. BB's has come a long way in the past twenty years, but one look at the guy aggressively playing air guitar at the bar and you have to wonder.
Debuting this year amid more new nightspots than South Beach has ever seen, Level has the personnel, parties, and square footage to rise above all else in clubland. Led by nightlife impresario and fashion designer Gerry Kelly, this huge yet versatile space hosts everything: the grandest of bashes and the smallest soirees. From the intimate upstairs room dubbed Level 6 to the Boiler Room to the lobbies of the up- and downstairs to the expansive main room, all areas can be used on their own or combined with others. Kelly and crew put the adaptable interior to good use, hosting a variety of parties, such as the megaurban hit Little Leroy's Lyric Lounge on Monday; fashion showcases on Thursday, the Federation/1235 gay party on Friday, the usual packed dance night on Saturday, and a recently reintroduced reggae night, which occasionally features live performances, on Sunday. A busy schedule for sure, keeping this South Beach club always engaged and always engaging.
This darkly hued downtown oasis is ideal for checking your investments while you quaff some refreshments. Sure it's a national chain with a gimmick: a news ticker. But at least it's an informative gimmick. Sit in air-conditioned elegance while the headlines and stock market updates whiz by on the wall. Somehow it's more exciting than watching television over the massive wooden bar. Steeped in sophistication the Capital Grille bar is cigar-friendly and aurally agreeable: A piano player jams nearby from Tuesday through Saturday. There is no happy hour to attract the boisterous riffraff, though you may get to observe how your neighbor at the bar reacts when he loses his shorts on those technology stocks.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®