Best Locals Venue 2015 | Steam | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Miami's party veterans are well familiar with the hallowed space at NE 14th Street and Miami Court. For years, it reigned as nightlife favorite Vagabond, and lately, Steam has been packin' 'em in. Every Monday through Saturday, Steam turns up the heat and the volume for the best and brightest of the underground dance and hip-hop world. Regular parties like We Lit Wednesdays and PUSH Fridays make it a safe bet that some rowdy trouble is going down inside, often featuring international names passing through South Florida. But the real beauty of Steam is its support for local DJs, MCs, and all-around talent. Local musicians are always opening and closing the party or headlining the whole affair. Out back, Steam upped its game earlier this year with Lot 14 — a shipping container turned outdoor concert venue often married with delicious homemade barbecue for sale.

Rarely do we see a live performance that leaves us in awe. And rarely do we expect that performance to be at a smaller, midsized venue. But New York duo Phantogram managed to do all that with so little. While they ripped through hits like "Mouthful of Diamonds," "Howling at the Moon," and "Bill Murray" at Grand Central last June, they kept the crowd screaming and singing along the entire time. The music was sublime, and the band combined the 15-song set with a light show that was so simple and yet so effective in setting the tone for the performance, which climaxed during "Bill Murray" while singer Sarah Barthel wrapped herself in gold sequins to become a human disco ball. Phantogram's show proved you don't have be Lady Gaga or Beyoncé to put on a spectacle fans will never forget.

Doral may be a city of warehouses, golf courses, and mind-destroying road construction, but this commercial hot spot is also home to el club Latino mas caliente in the 305. Attracting rumberos of all sorts, from reggaetoneros Alexis y Fido, Sensato, and J Alvarez to salseros Oscar D'León, Tito el Bambino, and Hansel y Raul to reggae superestrellas Gondwana and Jahfe, this place has been bringing la pachanga to the Magic City for more than two decades. And with parties Thursday through Sunday where damas get in free most nights, as well as Saturday drink specials including $10 open bar para las mujeres ($25 por los hombres), La Covacha has become el mejor spot to swing your hips to Latin beats, not just in Doral but in all of Dade County.

Readers' choice: Ball & Chain

South Beach needs rock 'n' roll. It wasn't that long ago when famous punk bands such as the Circle Jerks, Slayer, and Social Distortion caused mass mosh chaos alongside locals like Rat Bastard's Scraping Teeth at seedy clubs on Washington Avenue. But those clubs, like the rest of SoBe, all became VIP bottle-service havens. So these days, a noisy, boozy beach joint with actual bands like Kill Your Idol (owned by the same nightlife and restaurant group, Sub-Culture, that's behind West Palm's Respectable Street and a dozen other ventures) is a rare thing. Lately, KYI has been adopted as the official oceanside clubhouse of Patrick Garcia's cassette label and concert promotions company Cheap Miami. And that has meant weekly shots of punk rock, psychedelic rock, freak-folk rock, and all kinds of other guitar-based tuneage. As Mr. Cheap Miami himself would say: "Kill Your Idol is the only place to catch rock 'n' roll on South Beach."

Readers' choice: Churchill's Pub

Going underground seems to be the only option for a nightlife establishment in Miami's Design District these days. Nearly no party spots or live-music joints are left in a neighborhood where storefronts appear destined to exclusive occupation by luxury retailers, wealthy cultural institutions, and high-end condos. So it was entirely improbable for Miami Music Club — an experimental electronic music, art, and literature venue — to take up residence on the same street as a Lanvin boutique and the Miami Center for Plastic Surgery. But thanks to Dacra, the artist-friendly real-estate company that donated a space for the venue, it did. And it's since become the favorite (figuratively) subterranean place for people who just wanna dance to throbbing digital noise, meditate in a horizontal state on a mound of textile art, or buy a poetry zine from the consignment store. Opened earlier this year by former Slashpine band members Rob Goyanes (now performing as Bobby Flan) and Brad Lovett (AKA Dim Past), along with artist-archivist Dave Rodriguez and videographer Ricky Vazquez, MMC actually started last year as an intermittent nomadic project. So there's no telling how long it will last in the Design District. But even if this "space that's independent, inclusive, and artistically excellent" eventually finds a new home, the Miami Music Club will go only where MMC can always be found: underground.

Tootsie's is a towering theme park among Miami strip clubs. There is a sports bar, called Knockers, inside the club. There is a restaurant dishing out three square meals a day. There is a VIP area flooded with pro athletes, real-estate tycoons, and famous rappers. There are private skyboxes for full-nudity shenanigans. There's even a replica New York City subway car where the only destination is Lap Dance Station. A 74,000-square-foot adults-only arena that's geared toward satisfying the most prurient desires of the high-T set (otherwise known as those bros suffering from excessive testosterone levels), this Miami Gardens strip club is a pulsing, throbbing pleasure palace where the only forms of entertainment are boobs, booze, and endless sports highlights. The TV screens are the size of Jumbotrons. The beers are cheap. The joint's four bars are always fully stocked. The stripper stage is enormous. The brass pole is a daunting 30-foot drop. And the club's 300 ladies are out of your league. It's like you died and went to a drunk, naked afterparty for Super Bowl XXX.

Readers' choice: E11even Miami

Jessica Gibbs

Walk through the plain door at the end of the shopping center, up the two flights of stairs, and into the smoke-filled, dimly lit room. Pull out your cue. And put on your game face. Because you're in Sharp Shooters, and this isn't some college-crowd, beer-guzzling haven where loud novices mess their way through half-hearted games. This is where sharks come to sharpen their teeth, where street-weary men and women take a load off and banish the day by punishing a cue ball. The gorgeous, well-lined tables are kept dark until you rack up. There's a Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga unit in the back and a jukebox that gets played here and there, and the bar comes stocked with a full liquor bar, a nacho machine, and a surprisingly well-rounded menu of snacks if you get the munchies. In spite of the extras, the only real focus is getting that eight ball in the corner pocket before the other fella. Most players come with their own gear, but there's plenty of cues and chalk to go around. Give the bartender your ID and get a full set of balls. At $6.50 an hour, or 11 cents a minute, you can't beat the deal, and a nightly curfew of 2 a.m. means you've got practically all night. Stop by during happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m. and get a free hour of game play when you purchase two beers already marked down by 50 percent. You can even buy cues and personal billiards gear if you think you're ready to go pro. Just don't be a sore loser if that shark at the next table cleans you out.

Readers' choice: Lost Weekend

Ugg boots and elegance. Paris Hilton and scholarship. South Beach and free. Some words just don't belong in the same sentence together. Yet thanks to the magic of Purdy Lounge, they do. No, Paris Hilton isn't reading the collected works of Proust while regally clad in Uggs. We're talking about that last word pairing, because Purdy never has a cover, and every Thursday, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., ladies drink for stone-cold nothing. All that gratis booze is served with a side of the best dancehall, reggae, and old-school hip-hop jams. When you're booty-dancing to Q-Tip, slinging back free drinks, and marveling at the cover-free entrance to the club, anything seems possible. Well, maybe not that Paris-Hilton-reading-Proust thing.

Photo by Karli Evans

Miamians gliding into your 30s: We feel you. The kind of after-hours scene that got you through your 20s — you know, the spots trembling with loud music and jammed with throngs of people waiting to watch the sun rise — sounds more and more like a terrible idea. Age may have tamed that party-hard attitude, but that doesn't mean you have to be in bed by midnight. Enter the Corner, one of only two bars in the city that possesses a 24-hour liquor license. The bar doesn't take full advantage of the perk (hey, bartenders need sleep too!), but it does stay open past 5 a.m. on weekends. So you can watch the sun rise as you pull up a chair on the sidewalk to ogle the clubgoers stumbling out of downtown's clubs. While craft libations are available at all hours of the night and early morning, by 6 a.m. not many drinkers pretend they care about "fresh ingredients" or small-batch liquors. A Stella and something off the food menu will do, like a grilled cheese ($5.50) or the aptly named pressed turkey sandwich the Favorite ($9). By the time that 8 a.m. bedtime rolls around, that buzz is still going, and your belly is full. Best of all: You didn't have to fist-pump once to get here.

George Martinez

Now that Mad Men is over, we'd like to propose that Don Draper is, in fact, alive and well and has relocated to Miami. In fact, the retired bachelor has probably taken up residence at the Vagabond Hotel, where Draper would, no doubt admire the clean MiMo decor and mermaid inside the pool. If that's not enough to entice Draper to become the hotel's ad-man-in-residence, the Vagabond's hotel bar would surely do the trick. The alfresco poolside bar is a Shangri-la unto itself. Don could admire the pristine chrome bar and bright-green AstroTurf, a marriage of Miami and Palm Springs. Ever the whiskey man, Don would savor a bourbon punch made with Rittenhouse rye, while his lady friend du jour sips a Vagabond collins, the hotel's take on the classic tall cocktail. And since that SC&P cash buyout can't last forever, a frugal Don can take advantage of the bar's happy hour on weeknights from 4 to 7 p.m., when beers are $4, wine is $5, and cocktails are $6. Welcome home, Don.

Readers' choice: The Broken Shaker

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®