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.

Club Space
Karli Evans
This is the award they don't want to admit they deserve. But no other club in Miami is as synonymous with rolling as this legendary place, formerly known as Club Space (it recently moved down the street to even better digs). The reasons to come candy-flip here are as easy as its vast setting, where trance pounds nonstop from Friday night to Sunday morning. So if you are up on a weekend e-train you can't get off, Space 34 is full of bouncing, buxom, based-up chicks. It is at precisely early in the morning that pill-popping takes you to the cusp of logic and reason, and pushes you off. And when falling down Ecstasy's synthetic whirlpool, it is cooler to be around hundreds of other spun-out twist heads.

Wish Restaurant
Located on the top floor of this Art Deco gem (for decades known as the Tiffany before the New York jewelry retailer objected, but only after designer Todd Oldham transformed it into a hot spot), the bar offers a sleek and civilized respite far above the maddening crowds and the cars crawling along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. Daylight hours offer an uninterrupted, bird's-eye view of Lummus Park, the sands, and the Atlantic Ocean that will be recognizable as the backdrop for a number of fashion shoots. With the days getting longer, it's highly recommended for a sunset cocktail, whether you're entertaining an important client, gearing up for a big night on the town, or just showing the folks the sights.

Doraku Izakaya and Sushi
Courtesy of Doraku
"It's not just for breakfast anymore" chimed the old Florida orange juice slogan. "It's not just for brunch anymore" could be said about the Bloody Mary. Long considered the perfect morning-after cure for night-before-induced ills, the tomato juice-vodka concoction -- often embellished with horseradish, celery salt, Worcestershire sauce, and stomach-turning substances such as Clamato -- is now commonly imbibed at all hours of the day. Doraku's extensive drink menu (including more than twenty types of sake) features a tasteful twist on the classic cocktail: Stoli Limon vodka, a splash of sake, and a good deal of potent Bloody Mary mix. The wasabi-stuffed olives offer that inimitable eye- and sinus-opening experience. You're up now!

Flanigan's Seafood Bar & Grill
Some would argue that Flanigan's is more restaurant than bar, disqualifying it from the "Best Bar Food" category. Nonsense. Flanigan's is all bar, albeit a sort of pubby, collegial, take-the-family-for-a-meal bar (as opposed to a sloppy-drunk bar or a pickup bar). From the lacquered wood to the sports and fishing junk on the walls, Flanigan's has all the appropriate bar accoutrements. Most important, Flanigan's has great burgers -- undoubtedly the most important bar food. The chain, with six Miami-Dade locations, even excels at second-tier bar food, like ribs (wash down a plate of Flanigan's ribs with a pitcher of beer and try to claim you're not in a bar) and fish sandwiches.

Eagle-eyed traffic scouts will notice a reverse hipster exodus on Miami Beach -- folks are heading west, far away from Washington Avenue's mega-sized venues and velvet-roped lounges, and into Miami proper. Once-quiet neighborhoods are now crawling with activity, thanks to a fresh crop of promoters in search of cheap rents and the resulting freedom to host the musical styles they love -- not the ones that are the most profitable. The irony? The Friday-night crowds at Revolver in the Soho Lounge and Saturday's Poplife at the Piccadilly Restaurant (both were in the Design District, though Poplife has now moved downtown) have rivaled those Beach affairs these electronically artsy-oriented parties were originally launched as a relief from. Which means even newer outposts are surely on the way, such as the Slak Lounge, which has just begun giving the surrounding blocks of Wynwood a taste of the much-heralded garage-rock revival. And of course, the Spam Allstars continue to make Little Havana's cozy Hoy Como Ayer the premiere Thursday-night spot for jumpin' jive and space-age salsa. Just as refreshing as the music you'll hear inside all these nightspots is the accompanying attitude -- or lack thereof. For those whose idea of nightlife is clipboard-wielding door divas, canned beats, and twelve-dollar cocktails, there'll always be the Beach. For the rest of us, Miami has never looked more inviting.

Hotel Astor
Chic. Cool. Intoxicated. And that's the way you feel even before your cocktail! As you walk through the hotel doors, the sleek white chairs and tables to the left announce Miami's best place to sip from a long-stemmed glass and sink into one smooth recline (or decline, depending on how many rounds). What used to be supercool-looking Astor Place and its bar is now even better looking, with clean lines in white, mahogany, and steel gray. From your chair is a full view -- through a glass wall -- of the patio, with its waterfall and colorful plants. Turn your head slowly and the deep-brown wooden shutters that cover the windows make a picture-perfect backdrop to the all-white chairs. But to really do the cocktail experience right, you need to perch yourself on one of the white stools at the glass-covered bar, where Todd will mix you up anything your thirsty soul desires, and will flick a gold Zippo before you realized you even needed a light. What does that whiskey taste like? Here, try it, he'll say. There's no better seat in town.

Readers Choice: Delano Hotel

A good bartender takes care of her regulars, knows what they drink, keeps them company, and isn't afraid to tell them to shut up. Margot Love has all of these qualities and then some. The tall blonde with something to say about everything makes sure your glass is always full before putting a thumb on what's making your life half empty. Bartenders are great therapists, aren't they? At least this gal is. She tells it like it is and her tips come cheaper than a psychiatrist's bill. Spilling your guts is fine, just be prepared to be called a whiner. The older gentlemen who lunch every weekday in designated stools around the L-shaped bar at Fox's dimly lit, leather-boothed lounge are aptly named "Margot's babies," though they're all older than her by an undisclosed number of years (she says it is a lot). They say out loud that the food and drink has them sold on the 57-year-old lounge, but a couple admit with a twinkled eye that it's Margot who keeps them coming. They can't get enough of her laugh; it fills the otherwise drowsy room. But spunk, personality, and straight-shooting insight don't make a great bartender. It starts with how the drinks go down, and no one serves up a better Manhattan than Margot.

Automatic Slim's
The real models, the girls and guys down here during the season working German catalogues and Mexican commercials, aren't all that different from you and me. They enjoy a tony soiree every now and then, but the snootiness gets to them too. For regular relaxing they head to Automatic Slim's on Tuesday nights for the "Double Wide" party. It's become the locals' hangout -- at least for locals who don't have to work Wednesday morning. DJ Mark Leventhal spins rock and roll and old-school hip-hop. That's a big draw. Plus the raucous atmosphere, in which you're actually encouraged to dance on tables, is unselfconsciously fun. After a day of being paid to be incredibly self-conscious, that's liberating. "There are a lot of locals, models, photographers," says one booking agent. "It's a friendly, regular atmosphere. Plus the girls that work there are pretty hot." No cover. Domestic beers are four bucks. The most expensive drink they have is eight dollars. Don't show up before 11:00 p.m.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®