Miami's Upper Eastside might be best known for its distinctive MiMo hotels and pockets of charming, historic single-family homes, but lately, the area — along with the north end of Miami Beach — has followed Wynwood and South Beach with a nightlife revival of its own.
From the fringes of Little Haiti to the 79th Street Causeway and the less noticed shores of Miami Beach, a passel of new bars, clubs, and late-night restaurants has opened, and a few old staples have been propped up by the recent growth. The area is decidedly more mature than Brickell and Wynwood, less stuffy than midtown and the Design District, and more affordable than South Beach. Here is our guide to the emerging nightlife scene in northeast Miami.
For an early start. Begin your night at Sherwood's Bistro, near the corner of NE 82nd Street and Second Avenue. Opened in summer 2017, the restaurant has quickly established itself as a reliable neighborhood spot for elevated global comfort food. A daily happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Magnolia Bar and patio out back is the true star. Attentive bar staff, well-mixed cocktails, a solid wine and beer selection, and the laid-back, chic decor keep the young, after-work crowds coming back (despite the ongoing road construction that has limited access).
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For a more casual midweek meetup or weekend-afternoon hang, head to Bousa Brewing in Little River. Nestled in a warehouse along the train tracks, the minimally designed space has all the trappings of a friendly brewery: beer flights, bar games, and a bright, open floor plan. But its rows of hanging plants, sleek wooden benches, and low-slung leather couches give it a more sophisticated edge than other breweries without pretense.
For live music. Equal parts retro lounge and relaxed tiki bar, the Anderson balances '80s kitsch and class in the beloved historic space formerly occupied by Magnum, one of the city’s oldest watering holes. Anchoring the dimly lit interior is a hulking 360-degree bar serving inventive takes on nostalgic cocktails. Kick back and enjoy daily happy hour from 5 to 8, or stay late and catch a lit live show. (Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA recently headlined an event here.)
Then there's the North Beach Bandshell, which attracts more interesting acts — and has a more laid-back vibe — than any outdoor venue in the area.
For a slinky jazz vibe, check out Midway, a new spot in the former News Lounge space at 55th Street Station. Opened last month by a crew of nightlife veterans from Purdy Lounge, Blackbird Ordinary, the Bar, and Abbey Brewing Company, it's an intimate, relaxed spot to enjoy nightly live music with classic cocktails. Outside, a large covered patio and 3 a.m. closing time promise more late-night revelry in the near future.
New Times dubbed Churchill's Pub Miami's embassy of punk, rock, metal, noise, and pints in 2014 when the venue changed ownership for the first time since its debut in 1979. This grimy, loud host of some of the city's best live shows is still the most punk spot in town.
For a dive situation. If you're a fan of the earthy set, there's no better spot than Happy's Stork Lounge. Next door to a similarly themed liquor store, this hazy hole off the JFK Causeway has all the trappings of a dive bar: a faded pool table; a reliable cast of weatherworn, chain-smoking patrons; and strong pours from bartenders who have their own viewpoints on just about everything. Happy's has been the area's go-to for a no-nonsense escape from the harsh realities outside its doors for more than 50 years.
Established in the 1970s, Norman's Tavern on Collins Avenue is a solid sports dive featuring wood-paneled walls, pool tables, flatscreen TVs, and dozens of beers. Locals enjoy friendly service and fair prices, ample indoor and outdoor seating, and better-than-average pub food. Oh, and the full liquor bar is open till 5 a.m. daily.
For soaking up the booze. 222 Taco's Cali-Mex food is delicious any time of day, but when night falls, La Margarita Shop takes over. Founder Anna Robbins calls it "the alter ego of 222." It features black-out shades, neon lighting, and a sound system built by the same guy who engineered Bardot and Coyo Taco's systems. The bar will roll out its weekly music programming in mid-September in collaboration with Miami performance artist Poorgrrrl and DJ Pam Jones. Robbins says she wants 222 to be “a platform for women in music, a home for the ladies."
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In the MiMo District, Phuc Yea serves Cajun-Vietnamese fare in a glamorously gritty dining room that gets a bit loud and rowdy on the weekends. The ample bar area already offers a generous happy hour and regular music programming on weekends, but the restaurant recently unveiled a new concept: Located at the same address, Madame Phuong serves a Southeast Asian-inspired cocktail menu, a sake selection, local craft beers, late-night bites, and a special beef pho ideal for sopping up the midnight booze.
For a little down the road. Adam Gersten of Gramps, one of Wynwood's longest-running and best-loved venues, has several new concepts up his sleeve in the coming year, and one of them is headed for Little Haiti. Simply dubbed Gramps II, the new bar and restaurant will be housed in a 1930s Spanish revival-style two-story building next to Chef Creole. "You'll know it's a Gramps," says Gersten, who's keeping specifics under wraps for now. "But it will be very aware of and celebrate the heritage of the neighborhood that it's in and the people who live there."
The Wynwood Yard founder Della Heiman and business partner Ken Lyon have been hard at work on a second iteration of the original outdoor pop-up concept. Located on a public lot at 81st Street and Collins Avenue, the North Beach Yard will incorporate shipping containers and food trucks with rotating food, beverage, and retail stores, a live performance stage, a pavilion, and an organic food garden. Unlike its Wynwood sibling, the new Yard will also offer a community center with a fitness studio and workshops centered around low-impact living. Despite recent reports of snags in the approval process, contacts at the Yard say the North Beach location is scheduled for a late-2019 opening.