People flock to Miami for bachelor parties, 21st birthday celebrations and Miami Music Week. The city’s seen more bottles of champagne than Diddy’s green room in the ‘90s. But let’s be real. If you party every day, forever, you’ll probably die. Where do you go when you want a breath of fresh air in the Magic City? Places that don’t feel like Miami, of course, and luckily there are quite a few of them.
I went on a quest to find a handful of bars, restaurants and coffee shops that cater to a different crowd—those of us that dance to the beat of our own drums, delight in all things that divert from the norm and still prefer Bob Dylan to Calvin Harris. Below, Miami establishments I uncovered in my search. They all have one thing in common: they feel like not-Miami in a good way.
With traditional Bavarian food, imported beer, kitschy decor (think fake flower garland strung across the bar and a blue and white cloudy sky-painted ceiling) and a bangin’ Biergarten, Royal Bavarian Schnitzel Haus—located on Miami’s Upper East Side—transports you to Germany the minute you walk through its doors. I arrived early a couple Sundays ago before the kitchen had even opened. Though there were no other patrons in the restaurant, the chef made us dinner anyway. Talk about a warm welcome.
Just next door to Schnitzel Haus is Tap 79, a small gastropub offering tap and bottled craft beers, wine, snacks, small plates and cheese boards. The simple Shorecrest sports bar could be a casual Chicago eatery with its U-shaped bar, hanging Edison lights and dog-friendly menu items. The relaxed ambiance doesn’t hurt, either.
Not technically a bar (but you can order beers here), the Brewing Buddha Cafe & Arthouse is unassuming from the outside, in a Pinecrest strip mall. Once you enter, though, you’re transported to Newport Beach. The family-owned coffeehouse is filled with art, a little neon and a touch of greenery.
The menu not only includes your everyday coffee faves like flat whites and pour-overs, but Brewing Buddha goes a step further in a way only Californians seem to do with espresso beverages like the Wild Rose Latte, Honey Turmeric Latte, Coconut Cold Brew and more.
You can hang around for hours here, working or chit-chatting with the owners (who are siblings). Ask about live music events—though the shop closes at 7pm daily, it stays open later on occasion to showcase local acts.
Melinda’s, a mezcaleria that opened earlier this year, embodies Williamsburg more than Wynwood and that makes me very happy. A 1920s-inspired dimly lit space with light walls, gold accents and a mix of dark velvet and wood furniture, this place gets it so right.
It’s perfect for a date, but also girls’ night, and the bartenders might be your BFFs by the end of the evening. The menu here consists mainly of Mezcalitas (a smoky take on the Margarita) made with El Tinieblo Mezcal, crudo dishes and cheesy nachos, plus some classic faves like smashed avocado served with tortilla chips.
This North Bay Village lounge and liquor store is a bit of a dive, to say the least, and has been open for more than 50 years. At Happy’s Stork Lounge (this bar feels like that neighborhood standalone in any small town, really) you can drink until 5am daily, and it’s just an overall cool place to grab a beer or a whiskey and catch up with friends.
With a pool table, a jukebox and some arcade games (including Pac-Man), you’ll feel right at home at Happy’s. It even offers happy *hours* with discounted prices from 11am to 8pm daily.
Another divey bar in Miami’s North Beach area, On the Rocks, is reminiscent of the Florida Keys with its neon lights, straightforward cocktails (at straightforward prices) and street signs/knick knack-covered walls. The saloon is open 21 hours a day (from 8am daily) and has a pool table and gambling machines in the back, just in case drinks and conversation aren’t enough.
This bar is always packed, always affordable and always a good time, making it another great place to watch a game… or two or three.
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