This two-story, suburban drinkery is one of North Miami's most happening joints. It's an off-the-beaten-path destination situated next to a supermarket, but it's mostly round-the-way peeps who ride out there anyway, so the surroundings ain't no thing. Hip-hop and R&B reign here, and WMIB-FM (103.5) the Beat's DJ JS1 keeps it bumping for the young neighborhood "jits" until 5:00 a.m., occasionally extending those hours if the crowd calls for extra party time. A definite break from South Beach and Coconut Grove, though the unwelcome apple martini drinker might find it too far from the glitz and glam for comfort. All the better for the locals.

Kendall Ale House
There's an old rule for judging restaurants when you're outside the hood. If the parking lot is full, eat there. If the food sucked, there wouldn't be a crowd (and vice versa, of course). This place packs 'em in without giving up its Cheers-like friendliness. The clients might lean toward the corporate side, but the staff at this watering hole possesses an uncanny talent for pushing just the right buttons. Is this place all about the number of TV sets and that "modern sports bar" feel? Hell, no. Just ask and, with a merry smile and cheery tongue-wipe to remove the foam from his or her upper lip, a regular will dial you in: "Five beers for five bucks." Ka-ching -- we got a winner.

There's an old rule for judging restaurants when you're outside the hood. If the parking lot is full, eat there. If the food sucked, there wouldn't be a crowd (and vice versa, of course). This place packs 'em in without giving up its Cheers-like friendliness. The clients might lean toward the corporate side, but the staff at this watering hole possesses an uncanny talent for pushing just the right buttons. Is this place all about the number of TV sets and that "modern sports bar" feel? Hell, no. Just ask and, with a merry smile and cheery tongue-wipe to remove the foam from his or her upper lip, a regular will dial you in: "Five beers for five bucks." Ka-ching -- we got a winner.

The Chamber Lounge provides an oasis to escape the Miami Beach nightclub scene. Though it's close to the clubs, it's not a club at all. Not even close. "Nightclub" implies loud music, flashing lights, obnoxious door guards, and clientele worried about making the scene in the oh-so-proper attire. At the Chamber, you're there to have a drink and perhaps engage in light conversation with friends and strangers. Mostly you're there to have a drink. The friendly bartenders act like real bartenders, doling out stiff drinks and sound advice to help you alleviate the day's tribulations. The atmosphere could be Anybar in Anywhere, U.S.A., but the décor looks like the remnants of the cocktail heyday during the Sixties and Seventies. The patrons themselves run the gamut: Middle-age barflies to hipsters, all are welcome and the informed come.

The Chamber Lounge provides an oasis to escape the Miami Beach nightclub scene. Though it's close to the clubs, it's not a club at all. Not even close. "Nightclub" implies loud music, flashing lights, obnoxious door guards, and clientele worried about making the scene in the oh-so-proper attire. At the Chamber, you're there to have a drink and perhaps engage in light conversation with friends and strangers. Mostly you're there to have a drink. The friendly bartenders act like real bartenders, doling out stiff drinks and sound advice to help you alleviate the day's tribulations. The atmosphere could be Anybar in Anywhere, U.S.A., but the décor looks like the remnants of the cocktail heyday during the Sixties and Seventies. The patrons themselves run the gamut: Middle-age barflies to hipsters, all are welcome and the informed come.

GreenStreet Cafe
Courtesy of GreenStreet Cafe
Though there's a spacious interior dining room and restaurant cuisine served on the Commodore Plaza side of the walkway, the real scene for veteran Grovites -- as well as others who come from all around to rubberneck and be seen -- is the Greenstreet bar. This is a real bar-bar, with stools lined up and facing a bank of sports-oriented TV screens, plus a few high tables and cozy settees at which to settle, enjoy one of Greenstreet's many wine selections or a generously poured cocktail. Folks with dogs, neighborhood pickup soccer teams, singles reading books and nibbling calamari as well as muscular bikers are all equally prevalent -- and welcome at this oasis on the corner of Main and Commodore. It doesn't take long to become a regular, and before you know it, Greenstreet, under canopy of banyans, blocks in geography but miles in psychology away from nearby CocoWalk, is your local.

Though there's a spacious interior dining room and restaurant cuisine served on the Commodore Plaza side of the walkway, the real scene for veteran Grovites -- as well as others who come from all around to rubberneck and be seen -- is the Greenstreet bar. This is a real bar-bar, with stools lined up and facing a bank of sports-oriented TV screens, plus a few high tables and cozy settees at which to settle, enjoy one of Greenstreet's many wine selections or a generously poured cocktail. Folks with dogs, neighborhood pickup soccer teams, singles reading books and nibbling calamari as well as muscular bikers are all equally prevalent -- and welcome at this oasis on the corner of Main and Commodore. It doesn't take long to become a regular, and before you know it, Greenstreet, under canopy of banyans, blocks in geography but miles in psychology away from nearby CocoWalk, is your local.

BEST PLACE TO BUMP INTO A DRUNKEN SAILOR

Scotty's Landing

Scotty's Landing
There's something surreal about the light reflected off Biscayne Bay and into the thatch-roof shade of Scotty's. Maybe it's a combination of the sea air and the proximity to another vortex of surreality, Miami's city hall. It can be accessed only from the water, or by threading one's way through the edge of a boat yard. Hiding behind the marina, this place has managed to largely escape the gentrification of Coconut Grove, and thus remains a haven of fringe characters (and that's not only the commissioners who come over from next door). Each afternoon and evening, denizens of the floating world at Miami's eastern edge trickle in to slump on barstools and share increasingly unlikely stories about their adventures. Shrimpers and boat mechanics, ship captains and hired hands, refugees from the anchorage, weekend sailors, and the occasional Coastie tired of the South Beach scene convene for the casual atmosphere, primo food, and booze galore. As long as the breeze blows, the drinks flow, and the light shimmers in the heat, this is the place salts go to let the wind out of their sails.

BEST PLACE TO BUMP INTO A DRUNKEN SAILOR

Scotty's Landing

There's something surreal about the light reflected off Biscayne Bay and into the thatch-roof shade of Scotty's. Maybe it's a combination of the sea air and the proximity to another vortex of surreality, Miami's city hall. It can be accessed only from the water, or by threading one's way through the edge of a boat yard. Hiding behind the marina, this place has managed to largely escape the gentrification of Coconut Grove, and thus remains a haven of fringe characters (and that's not only the commissioners who come over from next door). Each afternoon and evening, denizens of the floating world at Miami's eastern edge trickle in to slump on barstools and share increasingly unlikely stories about their adventures. Shrimpers and boat mechanics, ship captains and hired hands, refugees from the anchorage, weekend sailors, and the occasional Coastie tired of the South Beach scene convene for the casual atmosphere, primo food, and booze galore. As long as the breeze blows, the drinks flow, and the light shimmers in the heat, this is the place salts go to let the wind out of their sails.

There is something about the spirit in this little club on Calle Ocho that will not die. Change owners, change the name, change the musical attraction: no matter. Two years of the wild success of the now-defunct weekly Fuácata party allowed the club to expand, with more spacious seating in the front and an intimate lounge in the back. The club has played host to many a marooned talent, from Albita to Carlos Averhoff to Malena Burke, insufficiently appreciated in other quarters. Regular parties come and go with a pleasant ebb and flow: Conjunto Progreso stirred up Sunday evenings for a time; Palo currently sizzles on Thursdays. Every other Wednesday celebrates the talents of local songwriters. Intriguing visitors are always welcome, from adventurous belly dancers to itinerant groove meisters like this year's favorite, Siete Rayo. There's no way to know exactly what awaits when you push past Hoy Como Ayer's heavy wooden door. Patrons can be sure only that they will be happy they came.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®