Best Recording Studio 2015 | Studio Center | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Experience, technology, and a legacy of amazing production: Those are the rock-solid foundations of the Studio Center in Miami Lakes. After all, the studio has been helping musicians on a local, national, and international scale get their dreams out of their heads and onto the master tape for more than 30 years. In that time, it has earned eight Grammy Awards for its work with artists including Shakira and Ricky Martin. It's got an award-winning video-production studio too whose work you may recall on hit shows like Flipper and Smokey and the Bandit. Whatever kind of groove you want to lay down, Studio Center's got state-of-the-art equipment tailored to your sound, from hip-hop to rock, pop, Latin, folk, jazz, and punk. These storied halls have graced the world with LPs from everyone from Kool & the Gang to Ginuwine to the Game. Even Scott Storch and Madonna laid down some vinyl magic in Miami Lakes. With four studio options packing multiple rooms and vocal booths, who knows what you'll cook up in here? You can't make that solid-gold hit unless you put in the work.

DIY will never die. Especially if outfits like Miami's Limited Fanfare Records continue to crank out kick-ass independent music on vinyl, cassette, CD, and digital formats. Launched in 2011, this local label, run by band manager and music-industry veteran Brian Kurtz, has released dozens of albums, EPs, compilations, and singles by both national and local acts, from Los Angeles garage rockers the Ettes and Nashville's Denney and the Jets to Miami rock bands Ex Norwegian and Lil Daggers. The imprint was initially funded by selling off Kurtz's beloved record collection. And though the operation has since achieved fiscal balance through the increasingly dicey business of music sales, the boss' decision to cash in his most treasured worldly possessions in pursuit of a dream job is an obvious sign of how deeply and personally invested he, the bands, and the rest of the crew have been since the beginning of this collective endeavor. "Limited Fanfare is all about putting out quality music," Kurtz says. "Not money. Not hype."

Sure, there aren't any louche, syphilitic bohemians slumped over the bar while sucking on absinthe-soaked sugar cubes. But still, Le Chat Noir in downtown Miami oozes a certain kind of 1910s Parisian chic, with its art nouveau design flourishes and dim, dark air of decadent sophistication. As for the musical entertainment, the denizens of this South Miami Avenue salon, just like the French hipsters of the early 20th Century, prefer jazz — whether era-appropriate Dixieland stuff or bebop, cool, Latin, acid, and trip-hop, among other styles. So twist your mustache, adjust your bustier, cross your legs like un artiste, order a sandwich Lorraine avec salade, and polish off that bottle of Clot d'Ivern Valencia Brut while brooding over your petty bourgeois problems, cursing la stupidité de l'homme, or contemplating eternal existential conundrums to the bruit magnifique of the Magic City's most skilled players, from Felipe Lamoglia, Silvano Monasterios, and Tony Madruga to Rose Max & Ramatis, as they jam downstairs in the cellar.

Under the Miami night sky, the Biscayne breeze is blowing. The decibels are booming. Whether it's Ultra Music Festival, Nicki Minaj, or Marilyn Manson, there is almost no concert experience that isn't made better by being staged at Bayfront Park Amphitheatre. Among the Magic City's only permanent outdoor performance grounds, this 2,600-seat, 8,000-person music venue lends a heightened intensity and inimitable sense of place to any show, especially after sunset, when the heat eases, the moonlight flickers across Biscayne's dark waters, and the downtown Miami skyline looms, shiny yet shadowy, like a jagged black mirror reflecting pyrotechnics, flashing lights, and fireworks. It's a shame the waterside setting has been underused for so many years, with only a few major spectacles per 12 months. But now that Live Nation has recently rebooted Bayfront Park Amphitheatre, we don't have to wait six months between open-air concerts. And, yes, the music will flow even during hurricane season. The amphitheater's official year-round policy: "Rain or shine."

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 photo

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

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®