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

Driving along Biscayne Boulevard, you could easily zip past this watering hole, tucked into the end of a modest strip mall that appears all the humbler for its location across from a brash new center with a Jumbo Buffet and a Starbucks. As befits a local hang, Billy's has dartboards, a pool table, a genuinely friendly bartender chatting amiably with newcomers and regulars alike, and an eclectic jukebox with selections ranging from the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun" to Gordon Lightfoot's mournful "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." The evening vibe is so low-key you'd be drinking backward if it were any chiller, but Billy's comes into its own in the wee hours. The bar stays open until 6:00 a.m. and runs specials between midnight and 2:00 a.m., with most well drinks half price (they're only about three dollars to start) and draft beers a mere 75 cents. Female patrons should be aware that the mirror over the ladies' room creates a fun-house image and is no reflection on your level of consumption.

Readers Choice: Normans Tavern

Across the street from the Diamond Club, a seemingly endless line of nightcrawlers wraps around the corner, waiting to get into Level. Cars cruise along Washington Avenue, drivers honk their horns, and passengers try to pick up women traipsing around in tight-fitting clothes that show off lots of cleavage. It's a typical night in South Beach. But inside this pool joint, patrons are focused on only one thing: sinking a shot, preferably the eight ball. Diamond's cool atmosphere, spacious layout, and plentiful tables make for a primo pool-playing place. And the wide, wonderful view of Washington Avenue will tantalize those who must people-watch as they rack 'em up. Plus it is open way late -- till 5:00 a.m. seven days a week.

Oscar G, the G standing for Gaetan, blends a unique combination of pounding, hardfloor beats and smooth melody, without compromising soulful rhythm, something lost on much of house music. His residency at Club Space has made him bigger in the club scene than trance king George Acosta, which makes sense considering he taught Acosta the ropes. His fame came by way of his Murk Boys productions with partner Ralph Falcon. Their early tracks laid the foundation for house music in Miami, bringing it out of the gay clubs and into the mainstream. He has steadily become Miami's most promising export. According to local label heads like SFP Records' Marc Sacheli, "Oscar is bigger in France than Paul Oakenfold."

Readers Choice: DJ Snow White

A good neighborhood bar is just as appealing to folks from afar as it is to round-the-way regulars. Hooligan's is that kind of neighborhood bar. College kids from all over town converge on the sports bar on hump day, where the gals really do get wild, up onstage or up on chairs and sometimes just up on anything. Watching sporting events at this joint is second only to being at the game in person. Two theater-size screens broadcast main events, and more than fifteen smaller televisions line the walls of the entire bar/grill. There's a pool hall in the back and an arcade. Of course there are happy-hour specials, a beer stock full of imports, and the best conch fritters this side of Key West.

Readers Choice: Hooligans Pub & Oyster Bar

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®