Best Classical Music Experience
Courtesy of Wragg & Casas

It's not easy to satisfy a major city's appetite for orchestral music, but that's exactly what Nu Deco Ensemble set out to do two years ago with its genre-bending concerts. Two seasons later, it consistently sells out shows at the Light Box in Wynwood. It also recently made its official Arsht Center debut. A typical Nu Deco concert consists of original music composed by the ensemble's Sam Hyken and conducted by Jacomo Rafael Bairos, an orchestral reworking of music by well-known nonclassical artists, and collaborations with artists from diverse parts of the music world. Nu Deco has reimagined music by contemporary artists including Prince, Kraftwerk, and Daft Punk. Collaborators for the ensemble's second season included Kishi Bashi, Danay Suarez, and Monsieur Periné. For its third season, Nu Deco has already announced a collaboration with Ben Folds and a return of Bashi.

Best Artist Showcase
Courtesy of Cristina Jerome

Miami has no shortage of hype electronic music parties, Latin dance nights, and the kind of high-energy events expected in one of the world's party capitals. Sometimes, though, people are in the mood to sip a drink, sway to downbeat music, and catch a vibe. That's where RnBae, which takes place every third Thursday of the month at Gramps, comes in. The showcase shines a light on R&B artists in Miami and beyond. The signature purple flower crowns and cotton candy are perks that set the mood for a night out with your bae. RnBae Collective believes Miami is full of untapped R&B talent, and with a showcase that's quickly becoming a breakout event, it is proving that's true. Miami-based rising stars such as Native Youth and Twelve'Len have already made their RnBae debut, and if its popularity continues to rise, the showcase could become the go-to event for young geniuses.

Best Music Festival
Photo by Alex Markow

Hip-hop festivals in Miami haven't been the same since Dope Entertainment created Rolling Loud. Since its inaugural show at SoHo Studios in Wynwood in 2015, the millennial rap festival has brought fans for a weekend of stellar performances by big acts like Future and Young Thug. Over the years, Rolling Loud has hosted a wide range of revered rappers, such as Curren$y, Queens, NY lyricist Action Bronson, and Top Dawg Ent's ScHoolboy Q on signature stages appropriately titled "Dab" and "Sauce." They've also included underground talent from across the nation, especially Miami internet sensations such as Pouya, Fat Nick, Denzel Curry, and Yung Simmie. The festival is known as a mecca for South Florida rap fans, and has become a coveted ticket for hip-hop heads outside of the state. Like many new festivals, Rolling Loud suffered growing pains and scathing feedback in its first year. In 2016, the festival moved to Mana Wynwood and made major improvements. While there was a lot more space to rage and the acts were impeccable, Dope Ent couldn't escape backlash from attendees and artists alike. This year, organizers did everything in their power to ensure Rolling Loud 2017 would go down well. From May 5 to 7, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Lil Wayne, Travis Scott, Run the Jewels and many others performed at the festival's new location at Bayfront Park in downtown. It was unofficially dubbed the "Ultra of hip-hop" by the Miami-Dade Police Department. The festival even had to beat back the Bayfront Park Management Trust board, which threatened to shut down the event due to internal misunderstandings. But the board relented and the fest went down without a hitch.

Best Radio Station
Courtesy of Andrew Sandoval

The beat emanates from Wynwood and pumps through your car stereo. It rides airwaves across the city and siphons through speakers and headphones plugged into radio computers and mobile devices. It's the fastest-growing FM station among listeners aged 25 to 54 in South Florida despite its lack of Clear Channel marketing campaigns. It's Revolution Radio, the real dance alternative to the usual pop fare. Owned and operated by Italian radio host Marco Mazzoli, Revolution Radio is a labor of love powered by lifelong music fanatics who understand you because they are you. The Revolution team has worked hard to expand its reach and give listeners the best content possible with live coverage of everything from Ultra Music Festival in Miami to the BPM Festival in Mexico. Daily programming includes programs hosted by industry leaders, from Armada Music to Claptone, Bob Sinclar, Markus Schulz, and others. Tune in for the latest contests, conversations, and a bootylicious blend of classic house anthems and cutting-edge dance tracks. Rest easy knowing your support goes to a dedicated team of locals. Fight the Man, and rave on.

Readers' choice: Revolution 93.5 FM

Best Bar Food
Courtesy of Ricky's

Ever get a little crunk with your friends and tell them you wish you had a giant plate of mac 'n' cheese in front of you? Then one of your friends sees that and raises you one by adding pulled pork to the dream dish? The drunk-food gods understand your fantasy. They have given you Ricky's. At this South Beach bar, find mac 'n' cheese-stuffed waffles with smoked pulled pork ($11); fries loaded with jalapeño Cheez Whiz, bacon, and fried cherry peppers ($8); and sliders with bacon and tater tots ($4.50). There's also gourmet popcorn and corn dogs because why not? Save room for dessert, and you'll be rewarded with childhood favorites from the "Carnival Sweets" menu: bomb pops and Snickers bars. Add a crafted cocktail menu and videogames, and you're 15 again, but with a credit card and the ability to legally drink alcohol. Whooo! Ricky's is open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Readers' choice: Tap 42

Best Bartender
Courtesy of Bitter Truth

If you live in Miami, Teddy Collins has likely already served you a cocktail and a smile. The affable barman, originally from Rhode Island, moved to South Florida for college and, like many of us, fell for the beaches and nightlife. Collins has worked behind the stick at favorites like Radio Bar and Dolce Italian, but it's at his midtown Miami spot, Bitter Truth, that the barman really feels free. Her serves, in his own words, "fair and balanced" cocktails including a Sazerac made with cold-brew coffee and a Moscow mule in a fruit juice can ($13). The best deal in town, however, is his daily punch ($5), poured from a handmade Rube Goldberg contraption of pipes and lighting fixtures. The bar is open Wednesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Best Happy Hour
Courtesy of GK Bistronomie

Camouflaged amid Wynwood's bright, sprawling murals, this sleek industrial spot offers a happy hour that's the best-kept secret in this boozy hood. While the hipsters flock to Wood and Gramps in never-ending lines, the folks at GK Bistronomie usher their happy-hour patrons to either a stool at the counter or a table — the latter comes with a server, who shuttles orders and drinks back and forth from the bartender to guests. The drink selection isn't limited to brews on tap: GK serves elaborate $5 cocktails like frothy chicha pisco sours and all the Moscow mules and margaritas a thirsty soul can swig between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. And if your tummy starts grumbling, this place also dishes up savory, artistic small plates such as fish tacos and yuca fries for a reasonable chunk of change. Without the eardrum-shattering tunes or crowds of other establishments, it's the ideal spot to exchange workplace horror stories, talk shit with your besties, or meet a Tinder date IRL. If you snag a booth by the street-facing windows, you can sip with delight as you watch the skinny-jeans zombies stampede past.

Readers' choice: Sweet Liberty

Boatyard
Courtesy of TRP Restaurant Group

What's better than ladies' night at a waterfront bar? Ladies' night on a boat. And that's what you get at the all-new Boatyard in Fort Lauderdale, where an exceptionally awesome evening de la mujer goes down every Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m. Those of the female persuasion drink free at any one of the restaurant's three bars, including an outdoor fire-pit lounge area. Each bar offers a wide selection of complimentary bubbly, cocktails, house wine, and domestic beer. A ladies-only happy hour begins at 4 p.m., when all drinks, including wine by the glass and specialty cocktails, are half off. Get there early, and you and your girls can snag a spot on one of Boatyard's complimentary champagne cruises on the Intracoastal, which depart hourly at 7:15, 8:15, and 9:15 p.m. Onboard, you can sip free champagne, house liquor, house wine, and domestic beer. Reservations for the boat rides, which hold ten passengers, are first come, first served.

Ora Nightclub
Courtesy of World Red Eye

The era of the traditional VIP room is over. Everyone is VIP these days. Just stand next to any velvet rope in South Beach, and sure enough, you'll hear someone scream, "Don't you know who I am?" after being denied entry. So what do you do when everyone feels like a special snowflake? You make your entire club one big VIP section. That's exactly what Ora Nightclub did when it took over the former Adore space at the Boulan South Beach. The 10,000-square-foot space is decorated like a megaclub but feels intimate anyway. Upstairs you'll find the Anti-Social Room, a sort of club within a club that offers well-made cocktails and a decibel level that allows you to have a conversation with your fellow VIPs. Recently, nightlife heavyweights Emi Guerra and Louis Diaz joined the Ora team, so the programming, which veers toward house music, is expected to ramp up throughout the year. However, be warned: At the door, Ora is by no means egalitarian. If you don't look the part or your group's gender balance is out of whack, you'll probably encounter roadblocks. But isn't trying to get in half the fun?

Best Party
Courtesy of Klangbox.FM

Staying up until an ungodly hour to see your favorite DJ spin is something you can handle only once in a while. Sometimes you just want to get home at a decent hour and wake up without a hangover. Enter Vamos a la Playa: Laura (of Miami) and Patrick Walsh's late-afternoon-until-early-evening party at Gramps. The Klangbox.FM crew throws the party on select Sundays, because weekly parties are so passé these days. Acts that have appeared so far include In Flagranti, Palmbomen II, Jacques Renault, and King Britt. Plus, there's no cover, which means you can put that money toward your bar tab. And because the party wraps up around midnight, you can still make it to work Monday and spend your day dreaming about the next time Klangbox.FM lures you out for a fun night.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®