Cocktails & Spirits

Los Altos Is a Calle Ocho Speakeasy Filled With Cocktails and Sugar Skulls

Los Altos on Calle Ocho.
Los Altos on Calle Ocho. Photo by Addison Smith
During the dark, dry days of Prohibition, the only way to get a drink was to visit a nefarious drinking establishment in a basement or behind a storefront.

Although the federal ban on alcohol is decades behind us, the speakeasy concept is alive and well. 

Miami has its share, with secret bars lurking in the backrooms of Coyo Taco and Kaido, to name a few. The latest one can be found, with a bit of searching, on Calle Ocho.

Zack Bush, Ben Bush, and Bill Fuller, the trio who revived Calle Ocho's Ball & Chain, opened Los Altos, a sexy Mexican wonderland atop Little Havana's Taquerias el Mexicano, a long-standing landmark known for its symbolic mural and neon lights. The threesome, working as Mad Room Hospitality, purchased the iconic taco shop in 2018.

Any speakeasy worth its salt will have a hidden entry. Los Altos is no different. First-timers may have to do some hunting, but here's a hint: Look for the inconspicuous bouncer stationed on the sidewalk. Once inside, you'll travel up a flight of stairs to a candy-shop front, a fully functioning bodega brimming with imported confections and chili-flavored snacks.

Past the merchandise, find a 3,000-square-foot venue furnished with plush banquettes, sugar-skull decor, and scantily clad senoritas crowned with roses. Repurposed church doors and shrine-like cubbies filled with Catholic relics blanket the space. It effortlessly transports guests to a sultry fantasy where secrets are kept and drinks are stiff.
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Los Alto's signature drinkable logo.
Photo by Elena Vivas
A sleek metal bar provides ample seating for patrons to sip from a mezcal- and tequila-rich menu. “We wish to provide our guests with an authentic Mexican experience and a taste of unique cocktails that are in the spirit of what they would find upon their travels in Mexico,” says co-owner Zack Bush.

The spicy Oaxaca al Pastor made with Los Altos reposado tequila, Ancho Verde, honey, lime, and cilantro is a crowd pleaser ($14). Another noteworthy concoction is the Sayulita, a shaken tonic with Sombra mezcal, mango, carrot, habanero, ginger, and fresh lime ($14). Craft beer from local breweries and wine are also available at reasonable prices.

If you're looking for munchies, the Bush brothers and Fuller have maintained the taco shop's original menu. Bar bites include hearty guacamole and the pastor-filled quesadillas that have been served at the location since 1985.

Los Altos. 521 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305- 456-5905; Thursday through Saturday 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.
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Attorney by day, foodie by night, Elena Vivas is a regular food and beverage contributor for Miami New Times. She was also an expert columnist for Foodable TV and a food editor for
Contact: Elena Vivas