Most people go out for drinks because they want to be social, get rowdy, or just meet up with friends. They might want craft cocktails and trendy tunes. But where do you go when you want to be left alone, get into a game of pool, or just lean back and watch some TV? Dive Bars, my friends. They’re our home away from home complete with sticky counters and neon lights inviting you in. Not all dive bars are seedy, but they all have plenty of stories to tell and here are just a few of our favorites:
We’ll start the list with the new kids on the block and work our way to the classic OGs. BackRoom is one of the newest bars on Miami Beach, namely in the Sunset Harbor area. From the team behind Diya, this spot refreshes the dive bar concept with craft cocktails, a variety of programming, and vegetarian bites.
Don’s 5 Star Dive Bar is the latest release from the talented minds at Kush Hospitality. Located underneath the popular Cafe Kush at Selina Gold Dust, Don’s is already a local favorite in just under a month. Not only is the atmosphere reminiscent of 70s and 80s Miami (win), and the drink/food menu delicious, but they did it right by launching with a consistent lineup of great Miami DJs that spin the kinds of tunes that make you feel good and ready for dancing.
Don’s Five Star Dive Bar
Places like Las Rosas have been a golden light for all the night owls who miss their older homes of Grand Central and Vagabond. The Allapattah outpost is a nice ways away from the bustling throngs in Wynwood, but not too far for a night hop if that’s your thing. They are home to some great open mics, nightly indie bands, and a lot of local tunes. Everyone’s happy there, and not just because the drinks are cheap.
Infamous? Maybe. Famous? Definitely. You’ll come here for a semi-innocent drink with friends and “accidentally” walk out at sunrise. It’s as standard as a dive bar gets, but with a historic Miami twist. You step inside Mac’s Club Deuce, regardless of the time of day (or night) and you feel understood–without ever having to utter a word to anyone but the bartender.
Credit: Dylan Rives for Culture Trip
The entire world might see Miami Beach as a rich destination for music which, in all senses is true, but locals know there’s more than just big name DJs that play there. Lost Weekend and its sister spot next door, Kill Your Idol have a vibrant lineup of local bands but we love it for its spacious bar with plenty of TVs, pool tables, and even a jukebox.
If you’re familiar with the Brickell neighborhood, you’ll know it’s home to Miami’s own breed of yuppies looking to let loose. There are very few options that don’t involve feeling like a sardine waiting at the bar or having to yell over top 40s music. But Better Days isn’t like the rest. It’s a gem of a dive in the heart of the financial area, complete with funky tunes, great drinks, and yes: a pool table.
Few spots are as quintessential in the drinking scene as The Bar. It’s the kind of place you go to get down, with sweaty jams and memories of college years. Their happy hour has always been on point, 2-4-1 cocktails and more, plus we love that they have an outdoor hang area in case you feel like indoors is just a little too much.
Don’t let the millennial pink facade fool you, this bar is as unassuming as can be. Another great late night hang, Ted’s Hideaway is consistently one of the locals’ favorite places to go for a cheap drink and a great escape. This spot is such an institution, it’s almost an urban legend. You have to squeeze into it from the side of The Big Pink.
During the pandemic, this South Miami landmark almost shut down due to the usual landlord/developer greed, but we’re happy to say we haven’t lost it this time. Many of us might have popped into Bougainvillea’s Old Florida Tavern (“Bougie’s) for a live show by some of the most O.G. local bands over the years.
Credit: Mackenzie Baker
On the border of Coral Gables, just a few blocks from the idillic Granada Golf Course is this low-key hang. While it might be more of an underground favorite, ask any local about dive bars and this one will certainly be on the list. Se7as Bar is a rustic, old-time spot complete with pool tables, cocktails, and even karaoke.
This one’s another best-kept-secret for Miami natives from all around. Right off of the Venetian Causeway, chances are you’ve driven by it, hidden by busy marinas and droves of bikers. Mike’s at Venetia is a classic, family-owned dive bar, servicing the city for many decades and it hasn’t lost an ounce of its homegrown charm.
via Mike’s at Venetia
Many people think Miami is seriously lacking in dive bars and although we’d agree, they obviously haven’t been to Happy’s in North Bay Village before. As Miami New Times perfectly put it, “it’s the Divingest dive bar” in the city. We’ll let you head there to figure out just what we mean by that.
Photo by Anthony J Rayburn via Punch Drink
This one’s a go-to for those of us who like to conquer a spot and become a regular. Jada Coles offer much in the way of great music–with some of the best musicians in town squeezing into its performance space and hosting jams of their own. But they also offer epic karaoke nights, drink specials, pool, and outdoor TVs for healthier hangs.
via Unsplash/Adam Mulse
Cover photo via SecretMiami.