Ball & Chain likes to tout its history — for good reason. The joint opened in 1935, after all, near the tail end of the Great Depression. For two decades, it reigned as one of Miami's most celebrated nightclubs, where greats like Billie Holiday and Chet Baker belted it out nightly. However, it closed in 1957 just as the Cuban immigrants who gave Little Havana its name began arriving in big numbers. It wasn't until last fall that partners Bill Fuller, Zack Bush, and Ben Bush decided to the revive the lounge. Except for the exposed ceiling and rafters, almost everything that was original to Ball & Chain was long gone. From that starting point, the owners painstakingly re-created the 1935 bar. The result isn't just a stunning reconnection to the city's past — it's a happening nightlife spot that's reintroducing the city at large to a neighborhood most people frequent only for the ethnic eats and cigars. Do yourself a favor and grab a spot at the bar to enjoy a mojito ($12) — one of the most authentic versions you'll find in Dade — or a Calle Ocho old-fashioned ($12) that uses tobacco bitters and actual tobacco leaves. Hungry? The Cuban spring roll ($8) takes the Cuban sandwich and wraps it inside a paper-thin dough. And though it's too late to see Holiday perform in person, Ball & Chain keeps the musical spirit alive with DJs, live bands, and singers all week.
Readers' choice: Ball & Chain