Best Pool Hall 2015 | Sharp Shooters | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
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

As its masked wrestler mascot often growlingly explains: "Tuff Gnarl is a community of writers uncovering pop culture's hidden gems, bub!" Founded in 2013 by former Livid Records label boss Chuck Livid and artist-writer Tony Kapel (who has since amicably vacated his office at Tuff headquarters), this blog, edited by South Florida freelancer Jesse Scheckner, covers music, art, videogames, comics, and, yes, professional wrestling, as well as tons of other Gnarly topics. But the hidden gems among its hidden gems are the Tuff team's album lists, band interviews, and concert reviews, which take on not only the occasional body-slamming of famous folks like Kiss and Danzig but also the critiquing and cataloguing of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach bands. And though Livid and crew have an obvious affinity for punk rock, they tackle rap, Top 40, chiptune, indie folk, and other stuff too. These journalistic luchadores even occasionally grapple with the truth and beauty of opera. That's called sophistication, bub.

Alexander Oliva

Through 12 years of the International Noise Conference, we've seen stuffed animals decapitated onstage, people sloshing around in puddles of their own body fluids, cross-dressers wearing strap-ons... oh, and maybe one or two instances of people playing something you could potentially call a "song." Organized by local-music-scene legend Rat Bastard, INC has stretched into a five-day fest held every February at Churchill's Pub that brings noise performers from all over the world. With a few rules in place (no laptops, no mixing board, and no incessant droning), literally hundreds of performers throughout the week take to the stage for ten- to 15-minute sets to make noise in just about any way they can. Sometimes that involves things like drums and guitars; other times, it involves people just screaming into a mic. It's a cavalcade of challenging aural textures, primal energy, and true freaks.

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Yambo is the most famous Nicaraguan fritanga in Miami, rightly as renowned for its knickknack-jumbled decor as the carne asada, gallo pinto, and maduros. Oddly, this SW First Street landmark is also one of the few remaining Dade County spots with a jukebox that doesn't look like a giant, dumb iPod. Amid the burro masks, "Chancho con Yuca" signs, and chicken statues, there is a vintage coin-operated CD machine loaded with mariachi music, Juan Gabriel, reggaeton records, Yo Quiero Bachata compilations, and Nica folk tunes. Pop four quarters into the slot. Punch the buttons. And sing along. This is what they call una fiesta in Managua. Especially when you've got a mouthful of queso and a cold Toña in your hand.

Wanna make your heavy-metal fantasies come true? Every week, Miami's premier purveyor of karaoke nights, Kara-O-King, headbangs into Kendall sports bar Little Hoolie's with "members of South Florida's most brutal rock bands" for an evening of amateur AC/DC, Metallica, and Ozzy covers. Go be the 400-pound behemoth of a man who belts out a growlingly perfect note-for-note take of "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" after guzzling a dozen Foster's Lager fat cans and slamming four shots of Jameson. Or maybe you're more the sort of metalhead who wears spike heels, leather pants, and a Satan skull choker, sips Jäger like soda, smokes clove cigarettes, and likes to show off a scorching version of "Master of Puppets" that once made James Hetfield himself shed tears of fear. We've even seen a funny guy with long hair and purple-lensed round sunglasses mumble his way through the opening verse of "Crazy Train" before ripping into the chorus like a clone of the Prince of Darkness. But hey, even if you can't sing, you can scream.

Readers' choice: Sing Sing Karaoke

Alexander Oliva

For the past 13 years, Theatre de Underground has been a weekly creative free-for-all where Miami's aspiring singer-songwriters, punk rockers, and noise freaks have gathered to strum, scream, and literally crap their pants in hopes of booking a paying gig at the legendary Churchill's Pub. Of course, the talent has never been exclusively musical. As the self-described "most open-minded (and longest-running) open-mike night in town," Theatre de Underground has steadfastly preserved its backyard patio stage's reputation as a lawless, judgment-free zone upon which any humanoid with a performative talent can endeavor to earn fame, fortune, or unshakable shame. Over the past decade and counting, there have been, the evening's overseers say, thousands and thousands of "poets, storytellers, musicians, bands, comedians, magicians, jugglers, and a few things that cannot be categorized." This is the quintessential Miami open-mike night. And it isn't always good. But it's always what the average Churchill's drunk would describe as "fucking entertaining."

Photo by Jessica Gibbs

Tucked away amid an array of warehouses in southwest Miami is your latest wax addiction. Museo del Disco has hooked up music junkies with a wide selection of CDs, DVDs, cassettes, and more since 2001, but the institution's foray into vinyl began just a couple of years ago. As interest in the once-obsolete format continues to surge, so too does Museo's burgeoning collection, with new rows of classic wax appearing every month. All artists are lumped together alphabetically, although there's a classic blues and jazz section that stands alone for music fans with a classic edge. Sift through the LPs to find vintage concert recordings like Miami Pop Festival or new hit makers from Fun to Ariel Pink. The price is right considering all the records they carry are brand new. And if you need any guidance in how to stuff your vinyl crate, musically obsessed owner Hinsul Lazo is sure to come by and show you around before you even have to ask.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®