South Florida boasts massive stadiums and arenas that seat thousands of fans and are ideal for catching chart-topping tours with impressive pyrotechnics, impeccable sound, and insane visuals.
Then there are intimate spots that offer music lovers an equally unforgettable experience. There's something to be said for the energy in a small room with live music.
Including coffeehouses, breweries, and music venues, here are Miami's ten best intimate spots to catch live music.
Shirley's at Gramps
176 NW 24th St., Miami;305-699-2669; gramps.com
Follow the neon-pink sign to Gramps' backroom, dubbed Shirley's. It has a capacity of about 100 standing with a few booths off to the side (which most people end up standing on anyway). Shirley's provides an up-close and personal experience to catch local and national acts. The small stage has seen bands such as La Luz, Colleen Green, Tall Juan, and a slew of others. There's a bar conveniently located near the stage and delicious Brooklyn-style pizza on the patio at Pizza Tropical. Chances are you'll leave drenched in sweat and beer after watching a show here, but you're bound to make friends.
3425 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-576-0108; lagniappehouse.com
Unwind from the dreadful 9-to-5 with a glass — or bottle — at this low-key wine bar, and enjoy live music every night beginning at 9. Seemingly endless selections of wine and a tranquil courtyard await at this charming wine aficionado's oasis. Hang out in the shabby-chic living room or relax under the palm trees while sitting in the garden. Be sure to come hungry and get some grub from the grill. Or take your pick from a wide selection of cheeses. This spot tends to get packed, especially on weekends, so head to this midtown favorite early.
Luna Star Cafe
775 NE 125th St., Miami; 305-799-7123; lunastarcafe.com
Step into this quirky North Miami café, where you'll be welcomed by an abundance of psychedelic cat paintings, life-size sea creatures that hang from the ceiling, and really friendly staff. Cozy up at a table near the stage with a cappuccino, or choose from the selection of more than 150 beers from around the world (cash only). You can find a crowd of regulars at this neighborhood joint, even some who are willing to get up onstage and showcase their talents. Take Mo, the man with a voice as smooth as butter, who recently volunteered himself to sing a few tunes with the band, Night Breeze Jazz. After a few songs, he hopped off the stage and out the door after telling the crowd he had to go home. There's nothing but great vibes and talent at this spot. Watching passionate musicians do their thing at Luna Star Cafe is nothing short of a truly intimate experience. You can catch live music here Tuesday through Saturday.
5505 NE Second Ave., Miami; 786-693-9309; sweatrecordsmiami.com
Little Haiti's Sweat Records, a staple on the music scene, has strong community roots. Sweat is Miami's subcultural hub. Not only is this independent record shop a haven for music nerds, but it's also a good place for a serious cup of joe. You can count on Sweat to host a variety of memorable community events several times a month, including live in-store performances. In 2015, the shop kicked off Live@Sweat, an in-store concert series that hosted local favorites such as SunGhosts, Wastelands, Bleeth, and many others. Browse the shop's impressive collection of records under the funky vinyl chandeliers; you'll probably go home with a haul much larger than expected. Sweat is the only record shop in Miami with a coffee bar and vegan treats (and Churchill's Pub next door). Head to the store's Facebook events page to see a list of upcoming events.
Books & Books Coral Gables
265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 305-442-4408; booksandbooks.com/coralgables
If you're feeling nostalgic for the songs of yesteryear, head to this Coral Gables hangout on a Friday or Saturday night from 7:30 to 11:30. You'll find a crowd of laid-back locals and their dogs enjoying live music in the courtyard. Before you grab a seat outside at one of the round tables, head inside and order a cafe con leche or cortadito in true Miami fashion. If you're lucky, you might be able to snag the comfy couch near the performance area. On a recent night, the band was equipped with a washboard, flute, mandolin, kazoo, tambourine, and guitars and took requests of all kinds. You can catch a variety of live acts at the bookstore's weekly free shows, which include jazz, Latin, Brazilian, and instrumental. Raul, the courtyard's bartender, might even make an appearance onstage to sing some of his favorites.
Macondo Coffee Roasters
2494 NW 89th Pl., Miami; 305-594-3808; macondocoffee.com
Macondo Coffee Roasters is a quintessential coffeehouse. It's the "Central Perk of Doral," according to Yelp commenter Jackie G. This hidden gem is tucked away in a shopping center and serves 100 percent pure Colombian coffee that's roasted in-house. The shop's laid-back atmosphere makes it the perfect spot to cozy up on the couch with your boo and a glass of wine. The impressive wooden living-room stage is set up in the front of the shop, giving local artists a platform to serenade every Thursday and Friday at 9 p.m.
Tea & Poets
5701 Sunset Dr., Unit 126, Miami; 786-216-7201; teaandpoets.com
Located at the Shops at Sunset Place, this unimposing spot is a tea lover's paradise, boasting a wide variety of finely harvested teas and signature blends from all over the world. Tea & Poets is a hybrid indoor market/tea shop that sells tons of local vendors' goods. You can find clothing, jewelry, handmade soaps, candles, art, plants, and so much more. The shop has ample seating on comfortable couches or at long tables where families can hang out and play board games. The stage hosts free shows Wednesdays at 7 p.m. (open mike) and Fridays and Sundays at 8 p.m.
Le Chat Noir
2 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-377-8899; lechatnoirdesalis.com
Downtown Miami pretty much becomes a ghost town after 6 p.m., when steel gates are pulled down over storefronts. If you look closely enough, though, you'll see a red-and-black sign hanging over the sidewalk leading locals to one of the city's best jazz nights. This vibrant spot is in the heart of downtown and is easily accessible by public transportation. In 2015, New Times named Le Chat Noir the Best Small Music Venue. This cozy corner is heaven for jazz connoisseurs; it offers live music all week upstairs or in the cellar, depending upon the night.
Wynwood Cafe & Lounge
450 NW 27th St., Miami; 786-536-7351; wynwood-cafe.com
A night out can easily be hindered when less-than-ideal parking situations are in the mix. Finding a space to park in Wynwood can be challenging at times. But rest assured, this café offers ample spots. Walk up the steps into this eclectic gallery/café that sports funky living-room decor and artwork. Even the resident piano is painted green with fish on it. Enjoy live music during the café's concert series, Wynwood Live, presenting performances by locals. Head to its event page for a list of upcoming shows.
Lincoln's Beard Brewing Company
7360 SW 41st St., Miami; 305-912-7390; lincolnsbeardbrewing.com
Behind the IHOP on Bird Road is a neighborhood craft brewery that's self-described as Miami's weirdest. Its site invites patrons to "come get weird at the Beard, more comfortable than abuela's bata." We agree with that statement 100 percent. The details — including the bar's penny countertop and the barrel tables — make this place extraspecial. Catch live music Thursday through Saturday, and don't forget to visit the food truck out back. Be sure to follow the parking map posted on the door to save yourself a night of aggravation and a trip to the tow yard.
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