Best of Miami

Miami's Ten Best Intimate Spots to Catch Live Music

Colleen Green at Shirley's.
Colleen Green at Shirley's. Photo by Jessica Gibbs
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.
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La Luz playing to a packed house at Shirley's.
Photo by Monica McGivern
Shirley's at Gramps
176 NW 24th St., Miami;305-699-2669;

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.
Lagniappe House
3425 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-576-0108;

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.
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Night Breeze Jazz throwing it down.
Photo by Jessica Gibbs
Luna Star Cafe
775 NE 125th St., Miami; 305-799-7123;

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.
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Enjoy a show and a cup of joe.
Photo by Ian Wilten
Sweat Records
5505 NE Second Ave., Miami; 786-693-9309;

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 [email protected], 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.
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The band took requests all night.
Photo by Jessica Gibbs
Books & Books Coral Gables
265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 305-442-4408;

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.
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