Miami is notorious for being the hot spot for college spring-breakers, bachelor parties, and B list celebrities. This means that all-you-can drink nightclubs, lounges, and hotel bars overflow South Beach. What many fail to realize is that Miami’s residents and their culture is far richer and more unique than plastic flamingos and ritzy martini glasses. To witness it first hand, however, you’ll want to visit one of these lesser known venues, which are sure to bring you surprises other than waking up with a stranger in your bed.
Mac’s Club Deuce
Located in the traditionally glitzy and glamorous South Beach sits Mac’s Club Deuce. This odd divey bar seems to contradict everything we’ve come to know about Miami, and we’re thankful for it. The bar was founded 1926, and was acquired by Mac Klein in 1963, who until March of this year ran the bar until he was 101 years-old. Today, Mac’s legacy lives on, making the bar the oldest one in Miami. It’s known to attract strange groups of individuals, from transvestites to lawyers to actors. The grit of the bar is matched only by stiff drinks and cheap prices. The bar feels like “Piano Man” meets Jack Kerouac meets 1962. It’s been feature on Miami Vice and praised by Anthony Bourdain. Skip the limo and club, Mac’s is definitely the place you’ll want to spend your night.
The most un-Miami Miami bar in existence, Churchill’s is for the anglophiles and audiophiles. The UK-themed bar hosts almost nightly shows, featuring local bands that range from punk to jazz. Decor includes a plethora of Union Jacks and photos of good ole’ Winston Churchill splattered all across the walls – because who doesn’t like being judged by the stern face of a scowling middle-aged man all night?
The bar has ridiculously cheap beers (sometimes as low $3) and is said to be reminiscent of New York’s iconic punk bar, CBGBs. Located in the heart of Little Haiti, nights are usually filled with traditional punky leather jackets studded with spikes-wearing 20 year olds who are ready to rock out. If you’re looking to be transported to the era of the Clash and Cure, Churchill’s is the place to be.
The Kuscher Trio – LoKal, Kush, The Spillover
Not much is known about Matt Kuscher, except maybe the fact that everything he touches turn to gold. His first restaurant venture, LoKal Burgers & Beer, located in Coconut Grove, Miami, not only fulfilled his life-long dream of opening a restaurant, but was a roaring success. By serving up some of Miami’s juiciest burgers and tastiest beers, he began making his mark in Miami’s highly competitive service industry. When his passion for beer and quality food and customer service couldn’t be satisfied, Kuscher opened another restaurant: Kusch. And then he did it again, opening his latest eatery, The Spillover.
All three of these restaurants offer their own twists and varieties on American classics, but deliver the same promises: Delicious locally-sourced food, unique decor, and unbeatable service. The first restaurant LoKal, located in Miami’s oldest community, Coconut Grove, is exactly what you’d expect from classic Miami cooking. A customer favorite LoKal burger – or fish tacos, alligator strips, or a salad – can be paired with any of the huge selection of local craft beers. Servers are always available to recommend tasty pairings.
For the more hipster crowds, Kush Wynwood is LoKal’s edgier, younger brother. LoKal classics like the LoKal burger have stuck around, but other Kush-unique dishes are provided ensuring a one-of-a-kind experience. The Beer Menu is extensive and offers the option for customers to buy a beer for the kitchen staff, which if for no other reason, should make you want to check out Kush. Lastly, Kuscher’s last beer and food joint is The Spillover, is also located in Coconut Grove and strays away from the burger and beer specialties – instead, it offers surf ‘n’ turf, paired with specialty ciders, meads, and sours.
If you’re craving beer, burgers, or mead, any one of Matt Kuscher’s three restaurants will give you a unique taste of Miami.
Another Wynwood must-see is Gramps. And no, there aren’t any AARP meetings that take place here, but rather, cool collectives of artists, DJs, and generally creative people. The way Gramps handles its cocktails can also be described as an art. The cocktails and general artsy ambiance of Wynwood really come together to their fullest potential at Gramps. They offer free shots at the door, and a beautiful terrace for party-goers to step out onto and listen to whatever hip tunes are drifting out of the speakers on the patio. The drinks are as fresh as the crowds with amazing Piña Coladas, Rosemary Baby’s, and Mojitos being served. For a hip, affordable, and friendly place, Gramps definitely takes the geriatric cake.
Tacos & Tattoos
Unsure about what might be offered at Tacos & Tattoos (T&T)? Well, for one, you can be sure to find both tacos and tattoos. Other things available for patrons include a legendary T&T Nutella donut, tostones, and patacons. The walls are covered in tattoos (no surprise there) and the venue frequently hosts open mic nights where people share their poetry, comedy, and hopes and dreams. T&Ts offers a huge selection of craft beers, and even features beer of the month. Built on the tradition and mixed with New Age taste and pizzazz, Tacos & Tattoos is one of the best gastronomical and beer experiences out there.