Locals know that getting a table at a sports bar during the NBA Finals is like trying to get backstage passes to a Justin Beiber concert -- only much more difficult. But there are other, less "typical" places to get your game on as well.
I decided to turn the last game of the NBA season into a dining and drinking tour of Miami so we could experience the Magic City at its two extremes - sophisticated metropolis and sports-worshiping wonderland.
Delectable filet mignon and potatoes with peppercorn sauce.
We started out the night at Del Sur Market (Miami New Times' Best Restaurant in South Miami-Dade). Del Sur has a three-course meal with wine pairing ($25) every Thursday at 7 pm. We'd been told the game would be turned on after the pairing just before nine o'clock, so we watched the first half of the game at Del Sur.
The crowd was definitely more mature than what you would find at Hooters, but lively just the same. The food and wine were superb, and Del Sur offered $3 artisan beers during the game, including Monk in the Trunk and Magic Hat #9. It wasn't crowded or overly noisy which meant you could still carry on a conversation and hear what the announcers were saying.
Lobster ravioli made with squid ink and surprising texture.
The first course was lobster ravioli, the second was filet mignon, and the third was a dulce de leche crepe. All three were superb. During the game we ordered some chicken empanadas and a few craft beers. We had a great time and it was a perfect segue to...
Woot City aka Flanigan's
Due more to divine fortune and less to careful planning, it was a mere dozen blocks to our second destination. We left Del Sur at the end of the second period and drove north on US1 to Flanigan's. It was so crowded that dozens of people were milling about in front of the restaurant and in the parking lot.
It was even more chaotic inside and there was even a party which had set up an impromptu dining area in the arcade. The bar was three deep and all tables were taken -- of course.
The atmosphere was what you would expect - loud and rowdy. The servers and hostesses were all very friendly, as was Stephanie, the manager, who hooked it up with a free shot for the wait. The drink specials were phenomenal - a free order of wings with every pitcher and half-off drinks after 10 pm and it was exhilarating to shout and stomp with other locals as our Heat made history.
Then of course, we had to make our way to Bird Road for dessert at La Carretta, where we got some real #305cafecito accompanied by a cacophony of bleating horns, cucharas and cazuelas (spoons and pots). It was a nonstop block party from the Palmetto Expressway's Bird Road exit to SW 87 Avenue, complete with car horns blaring, flares, fireworks, and high-fiving. Good times.
All in all, both Del Sur and Flanigan's worked for us as far as watching the game. Both places offered good food, good drink, good prices, and good energy -- just depends on whether you're feeling highbrow or (Miller) High Life.