Madfish House
Mon, where can I git me some groovy rhythm in da name of Jah? The Madhouse, mon. Strangely enough, in a town with as many Caribbean folks and influences as Miami has, not to mention pirate radio that plays reggae regularly and multiple Caribbean festivals, there isn't a club dedicated to the tropical bass lines and the reefer rhythms of Rastafari melodies. The Madhouse, every Friday night, makes up for an absentee week, pumping up the reggae, dancehall, and calypso tunes. The night is authentically Rasta, blunts are out and burning, dreads brush against your arm as you make your way to the bar, and the dancehall is booming.

You could go to some pumped-up strip mall and find one of those generic, neon-lit game meccas where they have twenty dart boards -- all in perfect condition. Bah! As any good dart player knows, you need a crowded, smoky pub for proper darts. You need lots of dark wood and ready access to foaming pints of beer. But you also need a place where the board is not just another wall decoration. That's Norman's. The place respects the tossing of the feathers. They set aside an alcove away from the passing crowd so no one will jostle you. A ledge runs to the right of where you stand so you don't have to move between throws in order to take a sip from your beer. Anybody who has ever been in the zone knows how important that is. The bristle board is replaced on average every three months. The bar darts, quite serviceable, are replaced every two weeks. But as you should know by now, you're better off bringing your own darts.

If you don't have an invitation to one of the many exclusive parties thrown by Mynt, chances are you won't gain admittance to this latest South Beach hot spot. But if you make it past the doorman/power broker and the long, slender velvet rope protecting this nightclub from the great unwashed, you'll find a front room draped in egg white and mint green colors; a Grand Lounge with a walkway nestled between an encirclement of plush couches and the bar; and an Ultra Lounge marked by hanging mirrors and marble floors. Mynt is usually frequented by the finest in Beach glitterati, so dress to impress if you want to get in.

Tough times in Haiti seem to have spilled into Miami. After the closing of Planet Kreyol in Miami Shores, there are no more exclusively Haitian clubs. What's more, at least one of the places that used to regularly host Haitian music (last year's winner: Spirit Lounge) is now turning to salsa. Luckily the Haitian music scene is still alive and playing at other venues throughout Miami-Dade. Gusto's Bar & Grill on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach features Haitian musicians on Friday. And Gusto's on NW 79th Court in Miami Lakes presents Haitian music on Saturday. If you still have some energy on Sunday, head for Gemini Night Club in Hollywood.

Corbett's Sports Bar & Grill
Just because a bar is a "sports bar" doesn't mean it shouldn't adhere to the same aesthetic rules and regulations governing bars everywhere, namely: 1) Said establishment should always be dark, or at least dim, even during the day (no one slinks into a watering hole at noon for a faceful of sunshine). 2) There should be at least one pool table. 3) Waitstaff, particularly waitresses and bartenders, must be capable of Dostoyevskian mood shifts, from frantic happiness and congeniality to drink-spilling surliness (this keeps things interesting; should conversation falter, you can always nudge a friend and ask just what the hell is wrong with Debbie tonight?). 4) The food should be good, reasonably priced, and include at least a couple varieties of burger. Corbett's meets all these criteria, and has built a healthy neighborhood following because of it. The burgers are excellent, food prices are reasonable, if not great ($5 gets you a seven-ounce burger, $7 a twelve-ounce, and $8 buys a fried shrimp platter). The place is always dim, the waitstaff aren't afraid to speak their minds (particularly in the wee hours when the sports fans have been in their cups commiserating the woeful fate of the Dolphins/Heat/Panthers), and patrons can play pinball, pool, or darts to see who buys the next round.

Readers Choice: Flanigans Seafood Bar & Grill

This is a weirdly cool place. The dim lighting, black paint peeling off the walls, and wobbly stage decorated by guitars, horns, and drum sets sit in stark contrast to the bright and busy milieu just outside on Collins Avenue. The portraits on the wall pay homage to recording stars of yesteryear, Elvis, Dean, and Frank among others, but the spotlight glares mostly for young hipsters prodded into belting out popular tunes as recent as 50 Cent's "In Da Club." The best time to visit is in the wee hours of the morning. You'll hear the strained crooning even before you enter; that's when hopped-up club hoppers usually drop in to see if they can be an American Idol, even if it's just in front of friends and barflies. Speaking of American Idols, last year's runner-up, Justin Guarini, is a regular there. He likes to show off and without Kelly or Simon around, he's always the best in the room. The true draw, though, are the drunken buffoons who muddle the spelled-out words to "Red, Red Wine." Don't be afraid to get up onstage. You might sound as good as you do in the shower. Ronnie, the Regis look-alike at the helm of the PA system, takes requests -- but don't be pushy, he can be a little impatient with rabble-rousers.

It seems gay women in Miami have always lamented the fact that a nightclub for lesbians is as hard to find as a hot woman who doesn't mind nesting with them for the rest of the foreseeable future. We say it takes a little work, Betty, but it pays off when you find it. The Concorde, a spicy late-night dive on the edge of Coral Gables, has a knack for attracting single, fun-loving gay women with its mix of salsa, cumbia, merengue, rock en español, and American pop. The club has a large dance floor where you can twirl a fabulous lipstick girl or rumba with a Latin butch mama. While women frequent the Concorde, the club allows anyone over eighteen (straight, gay, man, or woman) in.

Purdy Lounge
Few places on South Beach have $4 Heinekens (that's change on the Beach) and $5000 tits sitting side-by-side. Purdy Lounge is the alternative for nightlifers worn out by South Beach glam slam and boulevard clubbing. This off-the-beaten-path (as in off Washington Avenue) bar on Purdy Avenue has the beer-hall vibe of a street-corner hook-up joint. It's the place on the Beach to hang out away from the spirit of the club strip without missing out on beautiful people. Not that there aren't ugly people too. Purdy's no-hassle affair attracts all kinds. South Beach smoothies, beer-binging frat boys, girls gone wild, and a 60-year-old Russian who plays like he owns the place rub past each other for a spot at the bar. It's homey, spotted with cushy velvet sofas. Short-attention-span patrons can play one of the board games stacked up on the back wall. The DJs play everything from 50 Cent to Lynyrd Skynyrd. No cover, just show up before the line does -- around midnight. Come as you are, leather shoes or worn-out sneaks. The only impression you need to leave on the doorman is that you're over 21. Tags on drinks are just as appeasing as the attitude, from $6 for cocktails.

Readers Choice: Purdy Lounge

Is it over? Fuácata is definitely not over. The weekly Thursday-night party at Hoy Como Ayer, in the heart of Little Havana, had Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair crooning for it, calling it the bastion of Miami's new scene, a cocktail of the old and new Latin experience. The freshness is still in the air, though it is hard to pick up through the musky humidity of so many sweaty bods jam-packed inside. Getting there after midnight might mean no entry thanks to fire codes. The spirit of the night stems from the historical, authentically New World Latin neighborhood, and the nostalgic venue, scattered with autographed pictures of Latin music greats -- Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, and Celia Cruz to name a few. The soul, though, belongs to the band everyone comes to see, the Spam Allstars. The improvisational modern jazz ensemble mixes a unique Latin funk infusion with an urban bass backdrop courtesy of the group's face and maestro, DJ Le Spam, a.k.a. Andrew Yeomanson. The low roof and seamless sea of people conjure up images of other music sardine cans like Manhattan's old CBGB's. The differences are obviously musical: punk rock for New Age salsa'd funk, and young mohawked moshers for prepped-up Latin lovers of all ages. The big shots in music still come around too. Mick Jagger swung by and danced up a storm, and Ricky Martin partied with his entourage of five great-looking guys. Fuácata is the one circuit party in the city that's always sure to be alive and kicking.

Churchill's Pub
Alexander Oliva
Long-time patrons use the phrase "dive bar" with only the utmost of affection when describing Churchill's. Its low-rent environs (please, use the bathroom before you arrive -- trust us), cheap drinks, and anything-goes spirit all personify what rock and roll is supposed to be about. And while the wall outside may read "A Sort of English Pub," and British soccer may indeed be playing on the television set inside, rock and roll is exactly what Churchill's is about. Countless Miami bands have formed and broken up, new musicians have hit town and then left just as promptly, and endless other nightclubs have opened and shuttered their doors. But like a musical cockroach, Churchill's endures, playing host to touring groups from NRBQ to Rilo Kiley, and practically every local who's ever owned a fuzz pedal. For more than twenty years now, owner Dave Daniels has kept his spot relatively unchanged, offering the talented and talentless alike a friendly stage. Long may he -- and Churchill's -- run.

Readers Choice: Churchills Pub

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®