Van Dyke Cafe
Under the able musical direction of bassist Don Wilner, Upstairs at the Van Dyke remains Miami's premier jazz club. No other venue comes close in terms of consistency -- 365 days per year. (Check the Website for calendars and newsletters.) And in terms of consistently high quality, nothing can match the club's rotating cast of regulars: Wilner, Mike Orta, Rose Max, Wendy Pedersen, Goetz Kujack, Sammy Figueroa, Turk Mauro, José Negroni. If they're not onstage, you'll likely find a well-known visiting artist. Among those Wilner has brought to the comfortable room above Mark Soyka's landmark café: John Abercrombie, Eric Alexander, Harry Allen, Mose Allison, Freddy Cole, George Coleman, Kenny Drew, Eddie Henderson, John Hicks, Tania Maria, James Moody, Mark Murphy, Houston Person, Norman Simmons, Grady Tate, Toots Thielemans, and Cedar Walton.

Yes, all the fabulous boys go to Twist and other South Beach haunts we've given this award to time and again. But for those looking for a real Miami experience, Azucar is fantastic. It's kind of a down-and-dirty muy Cubano salsa club/gay bar located on a quiet road just south of Coral Way. It reveals its origins as a former disco palace with a wide open dance floor on which everyone in the house jumps the moment the drag shows are finished. The club promotes its "Crazy Fridays" and "Arroz con Mango" Saturdays, as well as a ladies' night Wednesdays. The shows (mostly in Spanish) alone are worth the price of admission, generally five or ten dollars. The Sunday-night cabaret show is pure draggy camp mixed with a few occasional elements such as a couple of ballet dancers performing a pas de deux or a beyond risqué burlesque number performed by a woman in her seventies.

Readers´ Choice: Score

Yes, all the fabulous boys go to Twist and other South Beach haunts we've given this award to time and again. But for those looking for a real Miami experience, Azucar is fantastic. It's kind of a down-and-dirty muy Cubano salsa club/gay bar located on a quiet road just south of Coral Way. It reveals its origins as a former disco palace with a wide open dance floor on which everyone in the house jumps the moment the drag shows are finished. The club promotes its "Crazy Fridays" and "Arroz con Mango" Saturdays, as well as a ladies' night Wednesdays. The shows (mostly in Spanish) alone are worth the price of admission, generally five or ten dollars. The Sunday-night cabaret show is pure draggy camp mixed with a few occasional elements such as a couple of ballet dancers performing a pas de deux or a beyond risqué burlesque number performed by a woman in her seventies.

Readers´ Choice: Score

Maybe it's the giant photos of movie stars on the walls, the pretty women at the bar, or the Sinatra oozing out of the speakers, but the Biltmore Lounge seems like it would be more at home in Hollywood (California, that is) than Coral Gables. Tucked inside the Biltmore Hotel, it's a quiet, sophisticated place for rat-packish boozers to throw back a few classy cocktails. The service is worthy of the fattest cats, and there's always a room upstairs for those who get lucky or just need to crash after a few too many.

Maybe it's the giant photos of movie stars on the walls, the pretty women at the bar, or the Sinatra oozing out of the speakers, but the Biltmore Lounge seems like it would be more at home in Hollywood (California, that is) than Coral Gables. Tucked inside the Biltmore Hotel, it's a quiet, sophisticated place for rat-packish boozers to throw back a few classy cocktails. The service is worthy of the fattest cats, and there's always a room upstairs for those who get lucky or just need to crash after a few too many.

Wouldn't it be great if the next time a Dolphins quarterback threw an interception you could give him your two cents on the subject? What if you could challenge the Heat's Eddie Jones to a shooting contest and then go dance with him to the beats of a WMC DJ spinning live? Well, sports fans, there's a place you can actually do such things, which -- in addition to its serendipitous location down the street from Gold Rush (for those hard times after a loss) -- raises the question: Why go to any other sports bar just to watch the pros on TV? At this place they actually show up, in person. Aside from the fact that it's relatively easy to spot your favorite athlete chugging some brew and scratching his parts, Players is open 24 hours on weekends (in case you like 4:00 a.m. cricket), all the TV sets (and there are plenty of them) are high-definition, and pool and air hockey tables abound. The food isn't half bad either.

Readers´ Choice: Flanigan´s Seafood Bar and Grill

Wouldn't it be great if the next time a Dolphins quarterback threw an interception you could give him your two cents on the subject? What if you could challenge the Heat's Eddie Jones to a shooting contest and then go dance with him to the beats of a WMC DJ spinning live? Well, sports fans, there's a place you can actually do such things, which -- in addition to its serendipitous location down the street from Gold Rush (for those hard times after a loss) -- raises the question: Why go to any other sports bar just to watch the pros on TV? At this place they actually show up, in person. Aside from the fact that it's relatively easy to spot your favorite athlete chugging some brew and scratching his parts, Players is open 24 hours on weekends (in case you like 4:00 a.m. cricket), all the TV sets (and there are plenty of them) are high-definition, and pool and air hockey tables abound. The food isn't half bad either.

Readers´ Choice: Flanigan´s Seafood Bar and Grill

Pull up a stool and dig the story of a Miami girl, Isabel Aguero, who loved to travel the world. She ventured far and wide, through towns and cities, seeing new places and faces, always meeting interesting people along the way. And when she came to a new place, she would park herself at the local pub and make friends, her favorite thing of all. So when Aguero wound up back in Miami, she set out to re-create the kind of convivial watering holes she encountered on her travels. She fixed up a barely used warehouse just west of Brickell and a block south of Tobacco Road, built a long wooden bar in the center, and through her own warmth and charm proceeded to attract all types of people from all walks of life. Transit Lounge is the kind of clean, warmly lighted place that can make Miamians feel like members of a neighborhood, no small task indeed.

Transit Lounge
Pull up a stool and dig the story of a Miami girl, Isabel Aguero, who loved to travel the world. She ventured far and wide, through towns and cities, seeing new places and faces, always meeting interesting people along the way. And when she came to a new place, she would park herself at the local pub and make friends, her favorite thing of all. So when Aguero wound up back in Miami, she set out to re-create the kind of convivial watering holes she encountered on her travels. She fixed up a barely used warehouse just west of Brickell and a block south of Tobacco Road, built a long wooden bar in the center, and through her own warmth and charm proceeded to attract all types of people from all walks of life. Transit Lounge is the kind of clean, warmly lighted place that can make Miamians feel like members of a neighborhood, no small task indeed.

It's been around for only a few years, but the Magnum Lounge has a lived-in feel. It's dark and homey, and it comfortably pulls off a combination of gay-bar and restaurant atmospherics. If any one element does this trick, it's definitely the piano, which sits between the two halves of the lounge. This is a place where you're likely to see an Elvis Costello look-alike sipping his red wine and mooning over the bartender, despite the adorable object's questionable taste in tattoos. Across the bar a pretty woman picks idly through a dish of mixed nuts as a man, much too old for her, whispers eagerly into her ear. As the ice melts in your third drink, you will perhaps reflect on your own poor taste in men, which runs to early Brando -- gorgeous, tortured, distant. Never mind. Listen as piano man Walter Lena delivers a campy rendition of "New York, New York," drawing a smattering of applause. "Thank you, music lovers," he replies cattily. "Screw the rest." Good advice, dear friend, in so many situations. Each night offers a different player and sometimes an additional singer, but generally, if the spirit moves you to torment fellow patrons with a Broadway number, no one will stop you. Thursdays in particular are popular evenings for aspiring crooners and drunken sing-alongs.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®