Given all of Level's recent guises -- live music venue, host to touring theater productions, boxing matches, as well as Bill Clinton and Janet Reno political rallies -- it's easy to forget this cavernous spot is also an old-fashioned nightclub. Thankfully the staff here hasn't neglected to tend to its thumping dance floor amid all this diversification, and for clubbers seeking a hands-in-the-air night out, Level remains a solid weekend bet. A top-notch sound system delivers the beats in stomach-rumbling (but still clear) audio, while the pumping air conditioning ensures you'll be just the right side of sweaty. The second-floor balconies provide for plenty of people watching down below, while the club's bounty of nooks and crannies serve up some semi-secluded spots for when you've gotten your mix 'n' mingling down to a more intimate, ahem, level. True, the six-dollar miniature bottles of water are a bit outrageous. And the egalitarian door policy has more than a few fashionistas turning up their carefully sculpted noses. But an evening of affordable drinks and snobbery-free socializing just wouldn't be very South Beach, now would it?

Readers Choice: crobar

After being bounced from venue to venue for a year and a half, Revolver promoter Josh Menendez scouted out the Design District's Soho Lounge, and since last August, its two stories have provided a happy home for all manner of fresh sonic options. Serving up dance music you won't hear anywhere else in town -- from off-kilter electronica to New Wave obscurities -- to a crowd who actually loves to dance to it all, Revolver has become an obvious Friday-night destination. Add in frequent live shows from bands who never previously toured through Miami, free street parking, and one of the few scenes where gay and straight clubbers mix, and you've got a crucial new addition to local nightlife. And even with the capacity crowds now packing out his party, Menendez has kept the prices reasonable, his patrons' posing at an entertaining minimum, and the overall vibe more inspiring than anything on the Beach -- or around the rest of the city, for that matter.

Van Dyke Cafe
You look across the table, and the person across from you smiles. Your date is going well, you think. Take it up a notch! Take it up a level! Take it ...Upstairs at the Van Dyke. Snuggle into a cozy table, grab a martini, and sit back and soak it up. Rub shoulders with your date and the musicians who are just inches away. It's jazz, not at its best, but at its livest. You've scored. Now it's time to take it up one more level ...

"Hey, what's up? Yeah, I know the place. It's cool. Shoot some pool, chill to some funky world lounge in one of the plushy chairs or couch. No, no, there are several tables inside and outside too, and of course the bar. What kind? Usually some Argentineans, Anglos, Cubans, Haitians, blacks -- well, I guess just about every kind. Hmmm, hard to say. Artists, musicians, writers, designers -- you know. The owners? They're always milling about, like it's their party. Maybe there'll be a live band or a DJ, pretty fine stuff. No way, save your appetite, the food is awesome, or you can have an incredible cheese plate. Actually, one of the jamming parties there is the Sunday brunch. One thing, make sure you check out the bathrooms, decorated by artist Charo Oquet, they're even cooler than the décor in the main room. It's like on a neighborhood street just north of the Design District, kinda feels like you're just going to a friend's house. Don't know. Probably when the last soul decides to call it a night." Open 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. (officially) Tuesday through Thursday; till midnight (officially) Friday and Saturday.

Readers Choice: Tobacco Road

First there were the glory years in that wonderful hole in the wall on Calle Ocho, when the beautiful boys in Grupo Nostalgia used to jam till dawn with whatever master musician was in town, and Matt Dillon took to running around in a guayabera, smoking tabaco. Then there were the glamorous if not so glorious couple of years annexed to Jimmy'z at the Forge in Miami Beach, with film premieres and full-on concerts by Latin jazz greats, and really, really expensive drinks. The likes of Marc Anthony and Celia Cruz and James Olmos still stopped in, but the boys in the band began to look a little haggard. Even the unflappable Pepe Horta, proprietor and brainchild of the first two incarnations, grew tired and threatened to retire to Paris. And then there were those brief few months on the Miami River, with a boatload of investment capital breathing new life into Pepe's smile. And Yenyere, a new bunch of beautiful kids on the bandstand, breathing new life into the multimillion-dollar dance space that had earlier opened and closed under the name Rio. But by then Miami's love affair with postrevolutionary, pre-special-period Havana was over. Or maybe Miami's love affair with post-special-period Miami was over. Whatever the reason for the empty dance floor and the empty bar, our nostalgia for Nostalgia lives on.

You're cruising south on U.S. 1, just past the new Home Depot in North Miami, when you see it: a pearl-white Harley-Davidson Road King Classic, glistening under the neon beer signs of a nondescript storefront. That would be The Uke. Inside, a group of aging easy riders are knocking back cold Buds and reminiscing about their track-and-field days at North Miami Senior High School. Their ladies play a game of eight-ball on a cherry-red pool table while Hank Williams, Jr., emanates from the jukebox. Out back, two guys wearing Latin Motorcycle Club jackets roar their hogs to life and disappear into the night.

Don Carter's Kendall Lanes
For all you Who fans still fixated on the Tommy rock opera, Don Carter's offers a chance for the pinball wizard in you to show off. The bowling alley's rotunda game room, located to the right of the main entrance, includes several pinball machines inspired by movies such as Terminator 2 and rock groups like the Who and Kiss. The snack bar also offers draft pale ale to quench any true gamer's thirst. Of course, if you get bored with pinball, you could always pick up a game of bowling at one of the 72 state-of-the-art lanes. The place is also an insomniac's living dream. It's open till 1:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and till 3:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Latin pop music is blowing up among young Hispanics with the tenacity of Shakira's wild blond locks. Play a Carlos Vives, Bacilos, or Maná track for this crowd, and the obligatory circles of young maidens will break out into song, all crooning toward the sky together as young men try to shuffle their rumps in between. Latin pop music drips with sexuality, and Friday nights at Señor Frog's are brimming with sexual energy. It's become the new mecca for Latin synergy among young Colombians, Dominicans, Boriquas, and Venezuelans. Warning: Don't load up on salsa before you shake, shake, shake.

Readers Choice: Bongos Cuban Café

Bird Bowl
It's not really the eighteen tables or the competitive pricing ($6 per hour per table from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays, $8.50 weeknights, and $9.50 weekends) that makes Bird Bowl the place to play pool. It's the people-watching. Weekend nights bring a massive throng to the pool hall section of Bird Bowl (also an arcade and popular bowling alley), but weekdays are the best time to check out the regulars. "They're here every day, seven days a week," says Bird Bowl general manager Wayne Graham. "They meet the guy who opens at the door every day at 11:00 a.m. They're neighborhood guys." The gentlemen in question (mostly older, mostly Cuban) are a marvel to watch, effortlessly intuiting the Euclidean geometry (and Newtonian physics) that guides the colored spheres while squinting through a puff of cigar smoke, grinning at opponents after a perfect bank shot drops into the pocket. Two warnings: 1) Despite the many tables, Bird Bowl's pool hall can get crowded on weekend nights; if you need perfect peace and quiet to make a shot, it's not the place for you. 2) The old guys shuffling around the tables may look harmless, but they're not. Play them at your own risk -- you may learn something.

The American Legion Harvey W. Seeds Post 29
The vegetables were speaking to me

You see, I used to understand the whispering broccoli and brussel sprouts

But I never heard a peep from the peas, and I love peas

After all, I was the dishrag, the sponge, the dishwashing Zen

Then I heard of the World Wrestling Jackass Duo

Where big bully Bush fights little bully Hussein

And sweating oily men get it on

And suddenly the earth became my booking agent

And I became a planetary citizen.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®