Best Bartender 2019 | Hector Acevedo | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Cocktail Cartel

It's a curious thing that Hector Acevedo is just one person. The bartender and Cocktail Cartel co-owner is seemingly in multiple places at once: mixing drinks at special events such as Amparo and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, creating cocktail programs at some of Miami's best bars, and visiting Puerto Rico's top bars to promote the island's craft cocktail scene. You've probably sipped some of Acevedo's cocktails if you've been to La Placita in the MiMo District or Soff's at the JW Marriott Turnberry Resort. Now Acevedo is working on his own bars: Spanglish Cocktail Bar + Kitchen and Grails Sports Bar, both located in Wynwood. Spanglish will specialize in cocktails that nod to Miami's Latin culture, while Grails will pay tribute to the almighty sneaker. With all of those projects, Acevedo is a Miami talent to watch.

Mama Tried

Here's a fun fact: While Miami thinks it's all about the porn-star lifestyle, London has been lapping up Porn Stars for years. In fact, go into any bar and you'll likely encounter several people enjoying a Porn Star. Ask for a Porn Star, and your bartender will gladly bring one for you to admire and enjoy. Want your very own Porn Star? Doesn't everyone? Well, you could probably pick up a Porn Star at any bar in Miami, but you really want to seek out an expert. Mama Tried has the city's best Porn Star — available for only $13. This delightful creation is made with Absolut Vanilla, passionfruit, and Licor 43. It also comes with a sugar-dipped strawberry and some champagne to tickle your lips. Yes, this Porn Star is a flirty, fizzy martini. It's sweet, sexy, and one Porn Star you can proudly introduce to your mother. Hours are 3 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily.

Readers' choice:Beaker & Gray

Is there a better Miami experience than gazing at the ocean while lounging in a plush chair with your toes in the sand and a minty frozen mojito in your hand? Dune Burgers on the Beach is best known for its beefy namesake, but it's the Dune frozen mojito ($18) that keeps guests coming back for more. The drink looks like one of those green concoctions that health nuts pretend to love, but you won't need to fake it with this mojito, which tastes similar to frozen lemonade but with loads of fresh mint. Add a burger and a Sunday lounge party with a local DJ spinning, and you're in for a postcard-worthy experience in Key Biscayne. Hours are sunrise to sunset Friday through Sunday.

Readers' choice: Ball & Chain


It's early Sunday afternoon in Miami. The weather is gorgeous, and the entire city is spread out before you. There's something about a rooftop that's romantic, and Astra's is a stunner. Look beyond the lush greenery to see Miami's skyline in the near distance. The only problem is that your head is pounding. After two nights of Magic City decadence, you need something to perk you up — something with a kick. Astra's bloody mary ($16) is made with Absolut Elyx and Vida Mezcal — a smooth and smoky duo that gives your hangover a one-two punch. It's mixed with a house-made bloody mary mix (because you're too extra for bottled mixes) and a touch of guajillo chili for a subtle heat that tingles your lips. Finally, there's bacon, because bacon makes everything better. Take a sip of this salty, smoky, sultry beverage and feel your cheeks flush as the pounding in your head dissipates. You've made it to Sunday. Cheers, bitch. Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 2 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday.

Nicole Garcia

A margarita is the one cocktail that's delicious when it's made right but utterly heinous when it's crafted poorly. When it's expertly made, the drink is a perfect blend of sweetness, tartness, booze, and salt. Sadly, most places use corn-syrup-laden mixes that burn your throat and taste like sugar and floor polish. If you want a real, bespoke margarita, head to Taquiza. There, the bartenders mix fresh margaritas using only natural ingredients. They will also make you whatever flavor combination you desire with real fruit and herbs. Want a strawberry cilantro margarita? Your barkeeper will muddle the fresh strawberries — no purée here! Go wild and get creative with fresh coconut water, tamarind, and pineapples. A margarita starts at around $10, but take advantage of happy hour, 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, when margaritas cost only $5 each or $20 for a pitcher (regularly $40). Pair your margarita with some of Steve Santana's tacos, and you've got a flavor fiesta. Hours are noon to 11 p.m. daily.

Chris Carter

Tap 42 has been a Fort Lauderdale favorite since it opened in 2011. The concept has since expanded to Boca Raton, Coral Gables, and Midtown Miami. And now it has a sparkling new neighbor that's also the brainchild of Tap 42's founders: Bar Rita. The colorful, open-air beauty of a bar and restaurant boasts rooftop city views and a modern Mexican menu that rivals those of established favorites in South Florida. Its Sunday brunch has quickly become a city staple by offering bottomless mimosas, Corona Light, and breakfast margaritas made with tequila and champagne ($25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Once you get your buzz on, try Bar Rita's cauliflower tacos ($10.95) and carne asada fiesta fries ($12.95). But it's the truffle street corn guacamole, loaded with charred corn and truffle crema, that's the real winner here ($12.95). Hours are 4 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Photo by Laine Doss

Are you bored with burritos? Looking for a new take on tacos? Head to Bakan, located on the north end of NW Second Avenue in Wynwood, for a truly unique meal. When you spot the decorative cacti out front, you'll know you've arrived. If you're feeling adventuresome, look for the "Los Exoticos" section of the menu. Try the gusanos de maguey (MP), pan-fried agave worms served with blue corn tortillas and a side of guacamole; and the escamoles, a rare ant caviar sautéed with butter, serrano chilies, and epazote and then wrapped in a blue corn tortilla and topped with a spoonful of guacamole and pickled vegetables ($25). It's a rare dish that's a galaxy away from your 3 a.m. Taco Bell craving. Wash down your incomparable meal with one of 200-plus tequilas and mezcals, and call your mom to taunt her for telling you to stop eating worms when you were a kid. Hours are noon to midnight Sunday through Thursday and noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Charly’s Vegan Tacos

An excellent taco in Miami is no longer hard to find. But few places craft one as masterfully as Charly's Vegan Tacos, which specializes in plant-based authentic versions of the Mexican classic. The restaurant concept, conceived by chef Charly Garcia and whose flagship is located in Tulum, makes its corn tortillas in house and fills them with a bevy of vegetables and meat alternatives. There are nine taco options, and they come in orders of three for $16. Go for the jackfruit pulled "pork" with ancho pepper adobo, shredded lettuce, cured red onion, vegan creme, and creamy green salsa. Another favorite is the al pastor, containing a mixture of grilled mushrooms marinated in achiote, garlic, pineapple, and cilantro and served with cured red onion, fresh pineapple, and cilantro. Here, the recognizable Mexican flavors have proven worthy enough to attract even the staunchest carnivores. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Readers' choice: The Taco Stand

Love Life Cafe photo

Wynwood's popular plant-based eatery Love Life Cafe is a standalone location that evolved out of the Love Life Wellness Center, dedicated to promoting a holistic approach to health. The café follows in that same spirit by offering its guests healthful meal options. The menu includes an array of vegan-friendly breakfast and lunch creations, such as the croissandwich, featuring a L'Artisane croissant, a vegan Just Egg patty, and cheddar "cheese," served with herb fries ($11), and the superfood-infused Love Life arepa, with black bean sofrito, avocado, and cilantro aioli sauce ($14). Its signature burger — made famous after winning the Plant-Based Burger Battle in 2016 — is a hearty superfood patty topped with homemade guacamole, pickles, plant-based cheddar, marinated kale, and cilantro aioli ($17). Love Life Cafe also serves plant-powered salads, soups, pizzas, burritos, tacos, desserts, and more. Hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Readers' choice: Planta

Courtesy of Soul Tavern
Mushroom ceviche

Traditional gastropubs go heavy on the meat, but Soul Tavern has created its own plant-forward niche. The Miami Beach restaurant and bar is all about creating a community around inspired, veg-strong cuisine and cocktails. There's the earthy wild mushroom and truffle pizza ($21); the fresh, pickly edamame hummus ($8); the Asian-inspired jackfruit gyoza ($13); the decadent truffle mac-n-cheese ($13); the flavorful, crispy oyster mushroom tacos ($19); and the beet-, bean-, and mushroom-based "Jucy" Burger ($19). Soul offers a full menu of libations, wine, and beer, but its herbal elixirs (served hot or cold for $7) level up the pub's presence on the Beach. Hours are noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®