One way to tell a sports bar from any other is the array of 20-plus TV sets with live broadcasts of every college or professional football/basketball/soccer game or pay-per-view game known to man.
However, you can't simply judge a good sports bar by its flat-screens; some actually have kitchens that serve great food. With Miami Heat basketball in full swing and the Super Bowl quickly approaching, you also need to check out the décor and happy hour.
Miami has as many sports bars as Cuban cafés, so it was tough narrowing down the list. Honorable mention must be made to the Cutler Bay Sports Bar & Grill, a decent hole in the wall that has Texas hold 'em poker tournaments (winnings are bar credit, not cash) four nights a week, a cheap menu, and open-mike night Wednesdays. Now here are the top ten:
10. Keg South of Kendall
Keg South isn't a big place, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in a large and varied menu. It includes appetizers, entrées, burgers, wings, salads, desserts, and the famous Keg Bites -- ten ounces of filet tips. There are also, of course, pool tables, arcade games, and large flat-screen TVs to watch the games.
9. Gatsby's Bar & Grill
Aside from being a good place to watch a game, this bar touts itself as a pool hall too. Recalling the era of the Roaring '20s, there's a private martini bar and a cozy vibe. Happy hour includes half-priced drinks and pool from 4 to 8 p.m. weekdays. They have cheap-ass shots of Jack Daniel's for $3.50.
8. Irish Times Pub & Eatery
A place to go if you love the Canes. Obviously, it's an Irish pub, but it's the only one we know of in South Miami. Half-price burgers and sliders for only $5 and two-for-one taps during happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Food is served until 4 p.m., and guests can enjoy all-day breakfast. You will also find the standard fish and chips ($16) on the menu, as well as the appropriately named beef and Guinness stew ($15). Not a lot of TV set, but they do have NFL Sunday Ticket. Good selection of Irish beer taps, but no Smithwick's! Parking is hard to find, unless you're lucky enough to land a spot on the street for $1.50 an hour.
7. The Joint Bar & Grill
It's not so much a sports bar as a gastropub because of its extensive menu with high-end food and craft beer tap selection, but when you walk in and see the huge projection-screen TV, sports bar immediately comes to mind. Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m., with half-priced well drinks (includinh Bacardi, Jack Daniel's, and Dewar's), drafts and appetizers -- as long as it's not seafood. The wood floor and furniture give the room a country-western feel, and the space is large enough for a small crowd to get down with some line dancing.
6. The Village Tavern in King's Creek
Another solid UM sports hangout in South Miami, the Village Tavern serves beer and wine only. This quaint little place has daily specials on beer and food, including $10 Bud Light beer buckets on Mondays. With NFL Sunday Ticket and its wood and brick décor, this place will make you feel at home.
5. Little Hoolie's Sports Bar & Grill
Located across from the Falls, Little Hoolie's has 25 TV sets situated throughout the bar, including a projector screen for big games. There isn't a spot where you're not in full view of a TV. One of the few legitimate live music venues in South Miami, the place also has a stage. Neatly organized around it are pool tables and arcade games off to the left, and the main bar to the right. They have a full kitchen and $2 domestic drafts during happy hour every weekday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. During Dolphins, Heat, Hurricanes, and Marlins games, enjoy $3 domestic drafts and $9 pitchers.
4. Scully's Tavern
Featured on Diner's, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri, this place has long been a popular destination for tourists and locals. The "best-kept secret in Kendall," Scully's is also situated close to the University of Miami. It has a billiard room and a Southern-inspired menu with fried green tomatoes and slow-cooked barbecue (ribs, sliced pork, and mahi-mahi). Come here Wednesdays for a $9.95 prime rib dinner. New Times awarded Scully's Best Bar Food in 2009 and 2002.
3. Duffy's Sports Grill in North Miami Beach
With a name like Duffy's, you can't go wrong. Even though this place is a chain, it's a South Florida chain, and that is quite acceptable. The North Miami Beach is the flagship location. The menu is huge -- too many items to list in one paragraph -- but it has the standard huge burgers and wings. Two-for-one drinks (all drinks) start at 4 p.m. and run all night long. With so many big-screen TVs in this place, you might have trouble focusing on just one.
2. Shucker's Bar & Grill
This place is a hidden gem in the bar scene. It's located behind a Best Western Hotel on the way to Normandy Isle and has a fantastic view of the bay. Waterfront dining and cheap eats define this little enclave. Guests can enjoy NFL Sunday Ticket on 23 flat-screen, high-definition TV sets. There are also docks to park your boat if you're coming in off the water.
Sandbar's interior is decorated with beachy-type stuff -- surfboards, life preservers -- and lots of sports memorabilia. Every year during the Super Bowl, the place holds an annual King of the Couch contest, where the winner and some friends get a comfy couch, exclusive access to a big-screen TV, and an ice chest full of beer. There are 26 high-definition, flat-screen TV sets, including two huge projector screens. Why stay home and watch the game? Go to Sandbar instead.
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