The following compendium is not to be confused with our Top Five Restaurants for Outdoor Dining. The former isn't concerned with how good the restaurant is overall, and just having outside seating doesn't cut it. The great outdoors on this list has to come with something lovely to look at, and the establishment must have a smart selection of cold beer to sit back and drink while scanning the scintillating vista. The following quintet is ideal when it comes to quenching your thirst for suds in the sort of environment found only in Miami.
We should note that Jimbo's would have surely been toward the top of this list if it hadn't been recently closed down.
The 400-slip Miami Beach Marina, with pelicans fluttering their big wings about, is lovely any time of day, but offers picture-postcard silouettes during sunset hours -- which merrily coincide with happy hour.
The brew: Drafts by the glass, small pitcher, and large pitcher. Heineken, Presidente, Sam Adams, and Bass Ale are best bets among those on tap; ice-cold cans of beer include Guinness and Red Stripe. Reduced beer prices are in effect Monday through Friday 4 to 8 p.m., during which time other drinks are half-price, oysters are 6 for $5, shrimp or clams are four for $3, and stone crab claws are $4 each.
The view: A spacious outdoor dining area with picnic tables overlooking beautiful Biscayne Bay -- as seen from the Coconut Grove side, with boats docking in Grove Key Marina and seagulls swooping down for crumbs.
The brew: 12-ounce mugs or 60-ounce pitchers of draft beer, including Sam Adams Boston Lager, New Castle Brown Ale, and Guinness by-the-pint. Ten types of bottled beers are up for grabs too; if you get a bucket of bottled beers, the seventh one is free.
The view: A very lively post-work bar scene backdropped by a spectacular view of Biscayne Bay. An outdoor terrace wraps around that view, a perfect place to sip an ice cold beer.
The brew: Mahou (from Madrid) and Stella Artois are on tap ($8). Bottles ($6) include Stella, Heineken, Presidente and Corona. Glass of house wine is just $4.
The view: A wistful stretch of the Miami River, with barges, yachts, and cargo ships plied with goods floating by while heading for the islands. Storage facilities across the way that perhaps look like you've seen them before in old Miami Vice episodes. Before you know it, the view will be that of condos.
Ice cold bottles of Presidente, Sam Adams, Heineken...the usual suspects, but at a good price: $3.50 for domestic beer, $4.50 for imported.
The view: A jaw-dropping, panoramic view of Biscayne Bay, with the marina in the foregrround and the Miami skyline winking its' twinkling lights at night from afar. Outdoor seats are dramatically lighted by fire pits.
The brew: PBR Tall Boy ($4), Key West Southernmost Wheat ($6), Stella Artois ($5) and others on tap. Monk in the Trunk , Avery White Rascal, Cigar City, Holy Mackerel and others, all $6. Happy hour Monday through Friday 4 to 7 p.m. offers selected bottled beers for $3 (in the lounge only) (but the lounge also has a view).