The Miami bar scene is difficult to keep up with and appropriately diverse. Whether you are single or a swinger, emo or homo, yuppie or a sick puppy, rocker or stalker, line dancer or wine sampler, aging hipster or raging sipster, there is a bar for you. We present to you a list of some of the best bars in Miami. If you disagree, I would like to point out that just because you have a place where you know the bartender, or a manager there always hooks you up, does not make the bar a cool place to anybody other than you.
There are some obvious places that everyone knows and likes such as The Bar in Coral Gables, that will be omitted. One-trick ponies like Peg’s Pocket down South, who pours free beer for you while you play pool on Tuesdays and Thursdays, need more to offer. Tourist destinations such as Mango’s in South Beach, while entertaining and serving their purpose, are also not going to make the cut. Let us begin…
El Vato Tequila & Taco Bar—1010 South Miami Ave. Miami, FL 33133
The decor is…interesting. Definitely cool. It seems to have an industrial-Mexican-goth-grafitti-lowrider-type setting. As you may imagine, patrons go there for their Patrons (Couldn’t resist that one!), or any other of the 60 tequilas offered at El Vato. 60. There are daily specials, special themed events and great happy hour prices to go with their specialty margaritas. The complimentary chips and salsa are a great touch and perfect in between sips. The food is all fresh, natural, made to order and served a la carte. Tacos are $2.50 each for chicken, pork or steak (Add $0.50 for mahi mahi), burritos are about $8.00. All the usual are here from fajitas and burritos to chimichangas, but the chicken flautas with jalapeno jelly is the epic stuff that Mexican stoners must have created. I hope this place keeps their business up and manages to stick around in the Miami bar scene that is a revolving door for business ideas and failures. Order the guacamole too.
Smith & Wollensky—1 Washington Ave. Miami Beach, FL 33139
I bartend here. Your next natural thought is that my choice is a biased one, but I am genuinely jealous of my bar guests. Smith & Wollensky has some of the best views on South Beach. From the more casual outside bar you can see Fisher Island, downtown Miami, giant cruise ships as they leave, and an incredible sunset. Don’t be surprised to catch the occasional dolphin, manatee, shark fin or jumping school of fish while watching all the hot women and diverse characters that Miami offers. Seriously…you’re just as likely to see former Heat great and world famous DJ Rony Seikaly riding by on a bicycle as you will a transvestite on a hand-remote controlled skateboard. The inside bar offers equally heavy pours on your cocktails, but they will be served to you by two hilariously flaming old Irishmen named Joe and Frank that will likely tell you to “Go fook yourself” if you order like an idiot or do something stupid. There is plenty of filling food offered on the bar menu (It’s not all just $50 steaks), including some amazing flat-bread pizzas and one of the better burgers on the beach. Like all good high-end restaurants, the bars entertain floozies and the occasional escort or four. Good food, best view, local athletes, celebrities and people watching. Smith & Wollensky offers a pretty nice cocktail menu as well.
Ted’s Hideaway—124 2nd St. Miami Beach, FL 33139
Located behind Big Pink is a classic dive bar and the perfect place to escape that South Beach glitz and glamor. Ted’s Hideaway has an affordable happy hour and a flock of friendly, sexy girls that work there. The jukebox is one of the nicer ones that lets you play any of the cuts from an album. There is a pool table, no cover charge, no bouncer and the door stays open. Ted’s is the type of place you stumble upon while wandering the beach and then next thing you know the sun is out. You rarely find anybody douchey, just cool locals, lucky tourists and a hot staff. They have TV’s for your sporting events and smoker’s are welcome too. You can get a pitcher of beer for $12 and house cocktails for just under six bucks. Did I mention all the serving girls and bartenders are super hot and friendly?
Abbey Brewing Co.—1115 16 St. Miami Beach, FL 33139
This is the beer lovers heaven. The Abbey Brewing Company serves their own microbrews and rare craft beers from around the world. It is a small bar; just some benches with about five tables, dartboard area, and a narrow walkway separating the benches from the bar. The joint looks like an old western European church. The regulars that go there are all chill people, making this the perfect unwind bar in South Beach. The beer menu also lists the alcohol content of each beer (Most being much higher than you may be used to), a nice touch. Unless you are a beer junkie and know your stuff, prepare to be adventurous with your choices because there is no such thing as Bud or Michelob Ultra here. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this place is all about the beer. No liquor served here, just great beer and a few wine choices. Your food is limited to popcorn, peanuts, Bugles, White Castle burgers (No complaints here!) and the occasional home baked empanada or bratwurst. If you require more food to keep your drinking going, there are plenty of quick places located within stumbling distance. The Abbey craft beer currently being served on tap are: the local favorite Immaculate IPA, Father Theodore’s Stout, Brother Dan’s Double, and Brother Aaron’s Quadruple (11 1/2 % ABV). There is an impressive selection of draft and bottled beer from lagers, porters, stouts and ales, as well as fruity ciders and lambics for the sweeter drinkers. There is always good or at least non-annoying music being played, usually classic rock. The bartenders are VERY helpful and knowledgeable if you are trying to find the right beer…do not be afraid to ask. They also serve each beer with its proper shaped glass…stay classy Miami. The neon sign outside simply says “Bar”, so be careful not to miss it. If the metered parking spots are full, you can always park in the Lincoln Road Mall parking garage around the corner.
Note: The Abbey is currently closed for expansion. It will apparently be taking the space next to it and will have much more room. Here’s hoping it does not lose its charm and the fact that it was easy to meet people when there is nowhere to hang out but next to them.
Note #2: Update-The Abbey is open and apparently it serves alcohol now! Still all the awesome beer, but now alcohol too. Interesting. Much more space now.
Purdy Lounge—1811 Purdy Avenue Miami Beach, FL 33139
I promised myself I was not going to put one of the trendy joints on here, but who can resist Purdy Lounge? It is always packed, always free, and the art in the main room are portraits of Street Fighter II characters. The room in the back is a Scarface homage. This is the place if you just want to drink, chill on giant couches or dance. And not the fruity kind of techno dancing that could make the Brawny guy look as soft as a Drake, but the 90′s grinding and swaying we used to do. The place is smoky, loud, and off the beaten path. In other words brimming with Miami personality. Tourists who stumble upon Purdy Lounge may love it, but they’re likely to quietly back out and pretend they were never there. Locals love their live reggae bands on Mondays, the usual good taste of the DJs, and the relatively cheap drinks with pretty good pours. If you feel like hearing “My bad dude!” every two minutes, there is a pool table in a horrible spot in the main room where you will undoubtedly knock your stick against more that one person when it is crowded.
Scully’s Tavern—9809 S.W. 72nd St. Miami, FL 33173–Best bar food in Miami. Good drink prices and at night, there are some crazy Kendall characters crooning karaoke. Featured on the Food Network. Try the scampi wings, potato chip crusted mahi-mahi sandwich (My favorite fish sandwich in Miami!), seared tuna app, garlic fries and more.
The Lucky Clover—Brickell—A new joint with heavy potential. The place is a two-story monster with Irish decor and some original and modern takes on classic Irish food. The grimier, downstairs area is huge, but still gets insanely packed with hot young people at night. The food is pretty decent. Try the dip. It’s delicious! Bonus – My boys and I got an up-skirt from our bartender as she poured my Smithwick’s.