Midtown Sports Bar
Real sports bars, just like true-blue fans, are usually a little rough around the edges. Think about it. When you watch the Dolphins pound the Pats at Sun Life, are the suits in the skyboxes the ones pumping the Aqua and Orange with energy? So why in hell would you expect to find real 305 passion in some slick corporate joint full of flat-screens and $9 appletinis? If there's sushi on the menu, you're not at a real sports bar. So leave immediately and head for somewhere grittier, somewhere full of the working stiffs who bleed black, silver, and teal, and the guys who save their paychecks to see D-Wade and LeBron in person. Somewhere like the Midtown Sports Bar. The bar's ethos is painted right on its adobe walls, where proudly homemade murals for the Heat, Fins, and Canes mark the spot. Just in case you're not catching the vibe, the "No Guns" sign on the front door and buzzer controlled by the bartender should clear it up. And once you're inside, you'll find a comfortable, dimly lit watering hole with plenty of TV sets and beer, including $1.75 domestic drafts every day. There are pool tables and darts for halftime. And as for the rough-looking characters crowding around the tiny tables at game time, they might not be headed for the corporate box seats anytime soon, but you can bet you're ass they'll be cheering on the MIA.
Raleigh Hotel
"Please allow your barkeep a minute or two to craft your cocktail with the finest spirits and freshest ingredients," reads the cocktail menu at the Martini Bar at the Raleigh. It's a notice that your patience will be rewarded with a carefully created libation. In fact, you shouldn't mind if the bartender takes 20 minutes to pour such tasty concoctions. Our favorite, the Lola, combines Dos Maderas rum, passion fruit purée, basil leaves, jalapeño, lime juice, and homemade syrup into a sweet-and-spicy beverage that allows the smoky flavor of the rum to come through. This is just one of the well-priced $14 speciality cocktails. Drinks aside, when you enter the retro-refined space from the lobby, it's easy to see why Details magazine in 2010 called it one of the "10 Best Hotel Bars in the World" and a "monument to forties Florida cool." And don't let the location fool you. You won't find Jersey Shore knockoffs here. Locals love it because it's still a slice of authentic South Beach glamour.
Studies show the best way to unwind after a long day of work is drinking cheap beer and playing some equally cheap pool. This is especially true when this constructive behavior is carried out at a place where you can smoke to your heart's content, dress to unimpress, and not pay for parking. Peg's Pocket is a relatively undiscovered and nondescript bar. In fact, most patrons became acquainted with Peg's through a friend who was already a regular. And Peg's isn't a pick-up joint — unless you're free beer. On Tuesday and Thursday, the suds flow gratis — as long as you're playing — and you won't get eighty-sixed, no matter how many times you weave to the bar for a refill. People have been known to drink 20 to 30 pints, and Peg's just keeps 'em coming. The other five days of the week, beers cost about $4 each and a pitcher is less than $10. Peg's is in no way hip, cool, or trendy — the décor ain't new, and the bar is in a mini-mall. But you can count on the felts and the drafts being just right night after night. Sometimes you wanna go where nobody knows your name.
Billy's Pub Too
The neighborhood bar's contributions to the community are various, and indispensable, as well documented in the '80s sitcom Cheers. It can be a watering hole and public house, a sanctuary and second home. It serves local boozehounds, working professionals, and inebriated philosophers alike. At a place like Billy's Pub Too, it can also serve some damn fine pub grub. But most important, it offers a place to kick back, unwind, imbibe, and forget your troubles for a while. And besides, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. But we digress. It's hard not to feel at home in a place that offers events and entertainment such as Xbox 360 Kinect on the patio, Texas Hold 'Em on Tuesday, hot honeys flaunting their stuff in bikini contests, $1 Jell-O shots anytime, and a full menu including apps such as mozz sticks ($5) and sliders ($1.50 each), burgers, wraps, and sandwiches ranging from $3 to $7.50.
The Taurus
Photo courtesy of Blue Shell Media
Give it up, Coconut Grove. Your attempt at being a nightlife hot spot that can compete with South Beach or downtown is long dead (and we get the feeling some of you like it that way). Time to go back to what you do best: charming, no-frills watering holes that don't come with exorbitant prices or velvet-rope attitude. That tradition was established back in the '60s by the Taurus, the Grove's oldest bar, and still its best. The Main Highway mainstay reopened in 2009 after a seven-year hiatus and found itself surrounded by a couple of Italian restaurants and fancy new condos. But it stayed true to its roots as a casual place to grab sanely priced suds and cocktails. Patrons can select from nearly 50 beers to down either in the spirited but cozy main room or out back on the quiet patio.
Gridiron Bar & Grill
You're driving deep into the underbelly of West Kendall and everything seems perfectly normal. A gigantic Walmart, duh. Rows of identical townhouses with manicured lawns, yep. A strip mall across the street, of course. A parking lot sectioned off with police tape and packing 20 motorcycles... Wait, what? Behind the super-dark-tinted windows of the sports bar in this shopping complex: leather-clad bikers, bros in polo shirts, indie-music-heads who are friends with the rotating bands that play on a tiny stage, secret gamblers glued to the videogame machines, cheapskates who love $2 drink specials, and football addicts transfixed by individual TV screens in booths. Go ahead — order a drink, kick back, and soak up the wilds of suburbia.
Rumors Restaurant and Bar
True story. The parking lot in front of Rumors Neighborhood Bistro and Bar in the Old Cutler Towne Center is like an experiment in societal and cultural interaction. Some nights you'll see patrons parking pickup trucks decorated with Confederate flags. Other nights, hoopties will roll up with spinning rims (they're a bit behind the times in South Dade). Still, other nights the parking lot will teem with young emo chicks who, let's face it, don't drive as much as they get rides. There's a lot going on here on a weekly basis. But exactly what is highly dependent on the night. Rumors hosts country and western, hip-hop, hard rock, comedy, and other uniquely themed nights. And you know what? It works. Different tastes can share the same venue. After all, down south isn't South Beach, where every storefront caters to a unique niche of debauchery. No, in Cutler Bay, it's one-stop clubbing for all.
Mansion
Seven years. That's how long the title of "Best Dance Club" has eluded one of Miami-Dade's most iconic nightclubs. Seven years. That's a lifetime in club years. Mansion was basically the Susan Lucci of this category, so this is long overdue. Seven years ago, it filled the void left by Level, another legendary nightclub. Since then, superstar DJs such as Deadmau5, Bob Sinclar, David Guetta, Paul van Dyk, Laidback Luke, Benny Benassi, Justice, Calvin Harris, and others have given its sound system a proper workout. Let's not forget the live performances too. Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, Crystal Castles, Peaches, La Roux, Mickey Avalon, and hell, even the Chongalicious Girls (remember them?) have performed at this beautiful joint. Even through all the usual criticism — door policy, drink prices, tourist clientele — leveled at this place, how can you argue with a seven-year history of this magnitude?
Skybar at the Shore Club
With so many new and refurbished hotels popping up in Miami Beach, it's easy to forget those that pioneered the A-list lounge concept. SkyBar did it before the current crop of D-list reality stars were being paid to plop their butts at a table for a couple grand. And while some prefer the intimacy and VIP status of the RedRoom lounge, our favorite area is next to the pool and close to the Rumbar — which gets it name thanks to an extensive rum selection. We also like RedRoom Gardens, pairing lush landscaping with Asian furnishings. This is where you come to understand why the expansive indoor-outdoor area at the Shore Club is called SkyBar. Many presume it's a misnomer, but when you are outside gazing up, there is nothing to see but beautiful Miami sky. And while there is no gorgeous skyline to marvel at and the pool is pretty standard, SkyBar still attracts throngs of European tourists, gorgeous locals, and perhaps a sugar daddy or two ready to spend big bucks on a perfect view of the clouds. A standard drink starts around $15, which makes this a pricey but well-worth-it pool vista.
Bar 721
In South Beach's hetero-dominated nightlife scene, the choices are almost endless and hot spots change more often than a straight guy switches his plaid boxers. But gay nightlife on the island has become rather staid over the past decade. Score and Twist are still the rage, but sometimes you have to go 721. Thankfully, after more than a year in business, this place seems to have some staying power. Filling the former Laundry Bar space, it's chic without trying too hard. Unless it's supercrowded, it usually feels intimate but not claustrophobic. It also boasts a pool table, an anomaly among gay bars in Miami. Sometimes the Gaga-dancing hordes come out in full force, while other times it feels more like a bar that just happens to attract a gay clientele. It's a nice change of pace and another recent addition to Miami Beach that reasserts the town as a gay-friendly place to live, play, and visit.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®