BEST BAR TO HAVE A DRINK ALONE 2002 | Piccadilly Garden Restaurant and Lounge | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Mary Klein, wife of Mac Klein, owner of the famed Mac's Club Deuce in South Beach, creates a social atmosphere like an English pub (Piccadilly's dark-wood, ornate interior even looks like a pub). That means you're quickly taken into the group: beauteous, hip Debra Douglas, the legendary former 1800 Club bartender; Karen Oltan, whose wicked humor and leather pants break hearts nightly; Rosie Hayes, the brilliant Kenyan hostess; and Linda Kaehler, the late-night bartender who will serve you beer and cosmopolitans and tell you about Hans Mancuse, the German former owner/cook, whose ghost still haunts the place. "No wind outside, chandelier starts swinging; pan of wrapped lasagna in the kitchen -- one neat square cut out! You switch off the lights, leave, and from outside you see a light go back on. Laugh if you will!" Soon you're part of all of this: smart women, great food, stiff drinks, and theater in a side room starting July 4.

Churchill's has been our winner over and over and over again, and we don't care if the sound system sucks or people get jacked in the parking lot or that the worst imaginable musicians play here as often as they want to. Some of the very best musicians play here too, from psychobilly fiends Southern Culture on the Skids to the rockabilly filly Rosie Flores. They come here for the same reason we do. It's dirty. It's dicey. It's democratic (if that's the word for it). It's owner Dave Daniels. It's chicks wrestling in Jell-O. It's rock and roll.
If it's Friday, it's Cotton Club night at this dive. The joint starts jumping around midnight. A little while later, depending on the number of shouts and stomps, the cozy club is leaping and rolling with the sounds of some of Miami's most accomplished jazz players. Jesse Jones, Jr. -- Liberty City's maestro of bop -- and his combo are the usual anchors, with occasional sets from featured singers. On the barstools old men dance funk to the heated jam sessions. At the tables local musicians and artists swing to the rhythms. If you are aching to taste what jazz might have been like during the Harlem Renaissance, this funky little speakeasy will cook it up. The club is testament to aficionados that bebop and blues are not confined to chrome interiors where the well-heeled listen motionless to the sermon of jazz. The Cotton Club serves its music with homey grit, friendly faces, and a free buffet.

Far removed from the rest of the nation, South Florida has always had difficulty attracting major musical acts in every genre, but these days the folks who play folk seem to flock here. At Homestead's Main Street Café, each Thursday is folk night. For the past year the eatery's Up-Close and Personal Concert Series has presented a relaxed evening of new or traditional music featuring folkies from in and around the area, as well as national artists traveling on the circuit. For a reasonable cover charge ranging from $10 to $15 (really big acts command $25), you can take in the congenial setting and enjoy the likes of Melanie, Jack Williams, Janis Ian, Annie Wenz, Roger Sprung, and Hal Wylie. Who would have guessed a short journey south could pack such ear-pleasing benefits.

Tom's is a low-key, friendly place to watch the game. Just about any game is usually playing on one of the bar's several well-placed televisions, although they favor the all-American triumvirate: football, basketball, and baseball. But if you are a golf or soccer nut and a good tipper, the bartender can usually be talked into switching to whatever obscure match you're interested in. Plus there are three pool tables, space for darts, bar tables, and several cushy booths for those who want to partake of the food. The clientele is a mix of regulars and travelers passing through to the airport, visible across the street. Tom's is open 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. every day.
Although Spirit doesn't host Haitian parties every evening, this little nightclub on the west side of the airport sizzles and sweats most Friday and Saturday nights to the sounds of compas. The club is so well-known among Haitian promoters that it regularly books traveling acts like T-Vice, Sweet Micky, and Kreyol Kompas. Sometimes, around 5:00 a.m., as young Miami Haitians dance and sing and animatedly pump their arms, it seems as if the party will never end.
Saturday nights, when his cozy parrillada is just about full, Jorge "Papa Gallo" Sanchez, the Uruguayan owner of Zuperpollo, wedges his burly frame from behind the cash register and onto the restaurant's tiny stage. A big man with a giant personality, Sanchez easily dominates the room when he takes the mike and treats his guests to dramatic interpretations of tangos and folk songs from the pampas and the Rio de la Plata basin. His hearty vibrato easily overtakes the busy flow of waiters and loud conversations beneath the chintzy trellis. The songs are complex enough, with Sanchez hitting all the emotional nuances of the melancholy tunes, that one is glad to let go of dinner conversation to listen. But if you must talk, get there early -- otherwise you will be seated at a table in the middle of the room, and you'll have no choice but to participate in the best place to hear tango.

¡Coño! Two weeks before press time the damn club closes. Maybe we should have given it this award last year. Here's what we were going to say about Nostalgia: We've been holding out, waiting for the floor to get a little scruffy, the walls to get smoky, the barkeeps worn down, but Little Havana this will never be. Pepe Horta's club packs as much glamorama as it did when it first opened more than two years ago in its swanky, next-to-the-Forge digs. But we can't deny it any longer: This is the best place to find the best in Latin music and, best of all, to find it live. Once upon a time the house band Grupo Nostalgia alone was enough to justify a visit. Lately though the place has taken to hosting such a wide variety of acts that the only thing the artists crossing Nostalgia's stage have in common is quality and swing. Brand-new talent like the band Yenyere has found a home here, as have weary wanderers like Manolín. Peruvian crooner Gian Marco kicked off his U.S. career here and Cuban troubadour Amaury Gutierrez is a frequent visitor. Latin rock has its place, whether it's skanking hard like Argentina's La Mosca or waxing lyrical like Miami's own Bacilos. And we have to admit, the setting could not be more fitting for breathtaking performances by such monsters of jazz as Paquito D'Rivera or for the elegant retro turn of Federico Britos's recently formed Danzon by Six. To say nothing of giving shelter to the Songwriters-in-the-Round monthly showcase. We might just have to get used to all the glitz.
For years Edgar V. has played the gracious host and properly set the turntables for many guest DJs claiming to be superstars. He's done it so well, in fact, that certifiable star Paul Van Dyk doesn't want anyone else opening for him. But now Edgar is proving he's ready to deliver the main course. He's patented a wax recipe for melting together the soaring anthems of Europe with the break beats of the States to form an edgy but smooth high-energy vibe that always shakes Miami's club floors. His two Trancemissions compilations effectively condense his stylishly acclaimed sets into bite-size dance gems. But to truly appreciate this rising DJ's dish, you have to experience him live. After great gigs at Space and Billboardlive, Edgar now spins at Liquid as the prestigious Saturday-night resident.
If you're a certain age it does your heart good to snarl, "Nine ball off the five in the side pocket!" and then crack the stick while young loons like the Laundry Room Squelchers or Dolly Rocket are ululating in the background, and the Youth Attitude crowd is teetering around the room in their six-inch, winkle-picker-heeled boots. Even when these kids shoot straight pool they drape themselves over the table languorously, style über alles, and invariably scratch, or make slacker shots, giggling like Rhesus monkeys. Being good at something -- singing, playing guitar, tending bar, shooting pool -- is retro and out. It registers as rehash from the wrong side of the hill. So it's fun to run the table and then ask the bartendress if you can have some quarters to play "Under My Thumb." Makes you feel like Brian Jones again.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®