WRGP, the Florida International University student radio station, broadcasts out of South Miami-Dade and has a fairly weak signal. But it's worth the extra effort to tune in (or visit it online). Along with great reggae programming, the station has the same element that makes many college stations great: music geeks. Full-time straight-up retro-Adidas-wearing, shag-haircut-sporting college kids who want nothing more than to dig through every singles bin in every secondhand store and wade through every free music Website so you don't have to.
Zeke's Roadhouse
Even as Lincoln Road began to descend into ultrahipness in the late Nineties, Zeke's was one of the places to escape the madness. The comfortable crowd, extensive beer selection, and low prices made it the place to be for those who didn't care about being in the Place To Be. Then -- suddenly -- it closed. Victor Deutsch, who owned and ran the bar along with his mother Thelma, simply shut it down. "My son closed it, and I had the intention to reopen right away, but I had to tend to a sick family member," says Thelma. Rather than sell the valuable property, Thelma held on and reopened this past November. "Now it's open again, and everybody is enjoying it," she says. "The community needed a place like this -- laid-back, low price, no pressure."
Churchill's Pub
Alexander Oliva
It's been said there is an inverse correlation between the quality of a rock club and the condition of its bathrooms. The less toilet paper present, the more bands onstage. If this theory proves correct, Churchill's has definitely earned this award. It's one of the few (if not only) venues in town where one can rock out almost every night of the week and, now that Sweat Records set up shop in the back room, one of the only places to purchase indie tunes. Every act on the bill may not sound like Led Zeppelin or the Killers, but this Miami institution has always made a conscious effort to support local musicians, whether they're playing their first gig or they've been around as long as the bar's potpies.
93 Rock, the radio station that saved the day for South Florida's rock fans when Zeta (WZTA-FM, 94.9) bit the dust, has been around for only a bit more than a year. But one of the station's most popular DJs, "Naughty" Natalia Delacruz, has been announcing the station's call letters for longer than most. She made a name for herself with the glowstick set when 93 Rock was Party 93. "I was with Party for three and a half years. I worked with every major DJ you can think of. Name one, and I've worked with them. And I also worked with the guys from Ultra; I helped put together the first two Ultras," the forever rocker chick says. Natalia loved her job, and she loved dance music. When she was among the first to learn the station had flipped formats, it turned her world upside down. "It was devastating for dance but a victory for rock. I lost my livelihood in one hour. I felt that everything I knew stopped. My main thing was, What do I need to do?, and secondly, Do I have a fucking job?" she remembers. Now instead of Paul Oakenfold and remixes of Britney Spears songs, Natalia plays Audioslave and Korn, Staind and Metallica, and always leaves the fans wanting more. Her enthusiasm for the music is infectious and convincing. "I've had dance music in my blood, but I also used to listen to death metal! I listened to Bauhaus and Skinny Puppy, and then I got into New Wave.... I've been through so many phases," she explains. Through hard work and dedication, Naughty Natalia has earned the competitive midday spot, and she's gained popularity as one of the ladies leading the hot rocker chick pack. "Rock doesn't have to be dirty. I hate that stereotype. Girls don't have to look like shit -- you can look hot and love rock. Wear little hot outfits, look good! And same thing for guys -- they don't just have to be these tattooed-up, smelly-armpit motherfuckers. Florida is so diverse!" she exclaims. When Natalia goes out on promo events, she dresses the part, typically showing off her rack in a tank top and sporting a short skirt. Her look harks back to Eighties wet dreams like Lita Ford and Vixen. The Harley-riding hottie unabashedly embraces her T&A, rock and roll image, and hosts various adult-theme events around Broward County. "I host the stripper-pole contest. We have all the girls from Cheetah, Bare Elegance, Vegas Cabaret, Scarlett's, Tootsies ... they all come out and do their thing. When you come to one of my events, I guarantee you're gonna have a good time, and we're gonna fuckin' rock it," she laughs. Natalia takes any and every opportunity to show love to her fans, but she also has a message for the few remaining haters out there. "I've had people who wanna judge me and say, ÔOh, she doesn't know this fucking music.' To the people who accept me and respect how hard it's been for me to try to gain the respect from a brand-new culture of music, I say thank you. And those who want to be hard-core and not accept me, that's their opinion. I'm just gonna be myself," she says with defiance. Natalia is rebellious, strong, confident, and admirable, everything rock and roll should be.
Duffy's Tavern
Beer, Buffalo wings, sports on TV, students watching sports on TV. In most American cities, the college sports bar is a common occurrence. Not here in Miami. In fact the chief representative of this genre is a little bar near the University of Miami. The exterior of Duffy's signals safe haven -- a green shamrock, a sign that reads "Sports Grill," and a UM flag. Inside it's even better. Comfy booths, overflowing pitchers of beer, and, most important, fifteen TV sets tuned to -- yes -- sports. The place, which has been serving Miami since 1955, has the two essentials -- pitchers of Rolling Rock for $5.50, and platters of Buffalo wings for less than seven bucks. Most Thursday nights feature a rib special ($11.50 for a full slab). But beware, Gators and Seminoles: This is not any ordinary sports bar; this is a Canes sports bar.
Not too long ago Tootsie operated her business in a strip mall off State Road 441 (NE Second Avenue) and 199th Street, reeling in party-rocking dudes and chicks into her raunchy cabaret with two-for-one specials and a gorgeous crew of exotic dancers. A naturally pretty and adventuresome girl, Tootsie was famous for pushing the envelope of human sexuality by putting on incredible girl-on-girl shows starring some of her loosest friends. Today Tootsie is a still a slut, but she has undergone some cosmetic changes. She went out and got herself a new set of 36-DDD implants and copious Botox injections. Tootsie also moved down the street and bought her own 40,000-square-foot warehouse and turned it into a multimillion-dollar multimedia playground with an upstairs VIP lounge and five $500-an-hour skyboxes to entertain high-rolling corporate customers. The conceited bitch has even emblazoned her name on an enormous marquee on the first floor. "She used to be the Finnegan's of titty bars," laments an old regular. "Today she is a Vegas-style pussy Wal-Mart." At least Tootsie is still offering two-for-one specials, $10 table dances, and $20 lap dances. And, let's not forget, she still loves spinning the Wheel of Friction. And for that, we'll always love you Tootsie, you whore!
Kingdom
Open from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., this open-air sports bar serves up typical bar fare -- burgers, fries, onion rings -- made with uncommonly high-quality ingredients and cooked with surprising delicacy. The king-size cheese-steak sandwich costs $9, but it is an enormous portion, and it's made from Texas rib eye sliced on the premises by cook and co-owner Justin Hughes (a smaller portion is available for $6). The bar doesn't serve hard liquor, but one of the twenty imported beers available is the perfect accompaniment for Kingdom's excellent burger, a half-pound monster that would cost a lot more than six bucks at a different joint. The food selection includes a grilled chicken breast sandwich, wings, and a knockwurst hero, among other things. Sides include perfectly beer-battered onion rings, or spinach sautéed in olive oil with garlic and a splash of lemon. The kitchen is open until the bar closes, making this place a perfect spot to grab some food after a night out.
A raw bar is the best kind of bar, and Rodbenders is the best kind of raw bar: a friendly joint with verve, a happy vibe, and ambiance swimming with things nautical. "This is a home," says owner Kathy McMillan. "It's comfortable. It's a real neighborhood bar, especially for guys who like to fish. We have a fishing atmosphere." The walls are covered with rods, photos of customers with their catches, and mounted fish, including the ladies' world record mutton snapper, a 23.3 pound specimen caught by McMillan six years ago. Rodbenders even sponsors its own dolphin tournament (taking place June 24) and supports other local competitions. The servers' stand that greets customers is a representation of the center console of a boat. When Budweiser brought in a new blond ale, McMillan allowed her customers to name it: Reel Crazy, reads the label. Drink prices range from $3 to $7, and the seafood is delish, especially shrimp, dolphin, and the shrimp egg rolls. Oddly, though, the prime item happens to be the chicken wings ($4.95 for ten) served with a hot sauce or a honey blackened sauce. "They're good, aren't they? Our wings are reason enough to come down," chirps one waitress. When you do, give McMillan a photo of yourself with one of your catches. "We'll be glad to hang it on the wall," she says. Happy hours are 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. weekdays, but this is a place to get happy any time.
Alabama Jack's
Whether you're concluding a trip to the Keys or attempting a serene re-entry into the weekday grind, Alabama Jack's is the perfect place to toast your weekend goodbye. A big outdoor bar-restaurant set in the middle of mangroves just north of the Card Sound Bridge, the 58-year-old Jack's is a South Florida institution and a great place to watch wading birds (and sometimes a snook or two) and let the sunset wash over you. The grub is straight bar food -- in a good way (fried seafood abounds), and on occasion a local country band takes the stage to boot your ass into the work week. Try the crabcakes ($7) or conch fritters ($6) for true Florida cracker fare. Open daily 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
On the Rocks Bar
Photo by Keara O'Neil
Do you like to drink cheap beer in the company of serious drinkers who don't give two shits about ambiance, South Beach glitz, cleanliness, or really anything except drinking? On the Rocks is your bar. Three beers, five bucks, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. daily. Enough said.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®