Best Bar, West 2015 | The Bend Liquor Lounge | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Courtesy of the Bend Liquor Lounge

This strip-mall space in Hialeah used to be called Our Place — until that dive bar got busted by the feds May 2, 2014, for drug dealing and illegal gambling. Now under new ownership, the bar has gone legit. Architect Landy Lamas and builder Mo Lacayo have given these formerly sleazy digs a major face-lift, a fresh booze list, and a new name, opening as the Bend Liquor Lounge in February 2015. "This was our local watering hole, our favorite dive, until it started going downhill," Lamas told New Times just after the fixed-up boozing spot began slinging drinks. "The bar was opened in the '70s but had been muddled up by shabby remodels. After stripping it down to its bones, we could appreciate its original spirit and decided to build on it. The '70s was a key time for the development of the area, and we thought of nothing more fitting for a quote-unquote local bar." As for the brand of intoxicants being peddled at the Bend, there's $2.50 beer (Miller High Life, Rolling Rock, Coors Banquet, Pabst Blue Ribbon), $6 local pints (Biscayne Bay Brewing, Wynwood Brewing, M.I.A. Brewing), and $8 classic cocktails too. But no more cocaine, weed, or molly. Sorry, old-timers.

Readers' choice: Finka Table & Tap

We ended up writing an entire 340-page book about how much we love Scully's, but we didn't have enough room to print it all. So we can show you only the table of contents.

Chapter 1: Cheap Drinks

Chapter 2: "This Food Is Really Good": An Ode to Scully's Culinary Side.

Chapter 3: Gridiron Glory: An Interview Series With 32 Football Fans on Why Scully's Is Their Favorite Place to Watch a Game

Chapter 4: "I Really Love These Green Walls": An Analysis of the Charming Interior Decor of the Restaurant

Chapter 5: That Time Guy Fieri Featured It on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Chapter 6: Pool Rules: A Photographic Essay of the Men and Women Who Shoot Pool at Scully's

Chapter 7: No, This Food Is Really Good

Chapter 8: A Comprehensive List of Every Live Band That Has Played Here

Chapter 9: No Lines, No List, No Cover, No Attitude

Chapter 10: Karaoke Dreams: Wednesday Nights at Scully's

Chapter 11: We Decided Its Chicken Wings Needed a Full Chapter

Readers' choice: Bougainvillea's Old Florida Tavern

Courtesy of Repour Bar

Farm-to-table dining has all but become a cliché in Miami, but how about farm-to-glass drinking? At Repour, Isaac Grillo's intimate space tucked away inside the Albion Hotel, the idea is becoming a reality. The bar, furnished out of repurposed wood from Colorado, is a welcome and rustic respite from the über-commercial Lincoln Road just outside the door. But what sets this place apart is the cocktails. The bartender turned bar owner makes drinks that are both whimsical and deceptively simple. Drinks, which are generally around $12, are handcrafted with care and use surprising ingredients like fresh herbs grown from onsite gardens, teas, and Pop Rocks (for a lip-cracking version of a sugared rim). Special attention is also given to the way your drink is chilled. Grillo uses cold Colorado River rocks in some drinks; others are made with coconut-water ice spheres. Although the cocktail menu changes monthly, there's always a freshly made cocktail or two from the garden, as well as a few porch pounders — all written right on the wall. There's one constant, however. Grillo's cocktails all contain a surprising twist — a sprig of sage in a fruity drink or a hit of black pepper in honey — because a city as exciting as Miami Beach needs cocktails that can keep us on our toes.

Readers' choice: The Broken Shaker

The tank is almost empty. And there are only a few miles left till you hit that long, winding southbound stretch of one-lane Overseas Highway with no gas, food, or beverages. It's a treacherous route along which the reckless road tripper could easily get stranded, go hungry, or even die of thirst while surrounded by a trillion gallons of salty sea. So you yank the wheel, pulling a U-turn into the RaceTrac truck-stop parking lot with plans for some unleaded, beef jerky, and ten liters of grape Gatorade. But that's when you spot Sam's Hideaway, with its placards that read, "Cocktails," "Cold Beer," and "The Oldest Southernmost Tavern on the Mainland USA." Forget dehydrated meat and purple drink. This bar's got cold $2.50 Budweiser and free hot dogs on Sundays. However, the strongest sign that Sam's just might be paradise: a painting above the doorway depicting a fanciful Florida landscape in which two dolphins can be seen leaping out of cresting waves and over a frosty, overflowing mug. So why risk crossing causeways and island chains? Perhaps this dive was always meant to be your final destination.

Rather than try to describe the magic of Monty's Sunset, let's review a random selection of recent captions from Instagram tagged at the SoBe mainstay:

"It's always a party!!"

"Doing #Business in #Miami looks like #Vacation... @ #Montys in #SoFe on #SouthBeach where else is there a #Pool in the middle of a #Restaurant w/ a #View of #Yachts on the #Intercoastal #Water"

"#DanMarino" [This person ran into Dan Marino at Monty's and took a selfie with him.]

"Why do I find it so hard to be serious? Cuz that would be no #fun #lol #Montys #miamibeach #happyhour #Mattsbday #SavvySingleGirl

"Tuna tar tar on this fine Tuesday #thenaughtyfork #PHAAT"

"This is exactly what I need after an action packed week in Miami!"

"Chilling with a #manatee. #miami #lovemylife" [There was a manatee by the marina in this pic.]

"Great view, live music, and good food and drinks. Monty's Miami Beach."

"#Painreliever" [Seriously, though, do get a signature Pain Remover drink, which range from $10 to $12 depending on how much pain you need to remove.]

"Delicia de noite em otima companhia."


Of course, the captions are even better when attached to the breathtaking sunset views, but these will have to do.

Courtesy of Pubgrill

Sports bar in a strip mall. We'd usually sneer. But we swear Pubgrill doesn't suck. In fact, this Cutler Bay spot's game-time eats are awesome, whether it's brunch stuff like bourbon-and-brown-sugar-glazed ham with eggs or dinner grub like jalapeño-bacon maple syrup chicken 'n' waffles with a side of truffle mac 'n' cheese. There are also upgraded bar-food staples, from $10 baskets of wings in seven signature flavors to $9 beef burgers topped with Gouda, bacon, and rosé sauce to $17 racks of slow-roasted, sauce-slathered ribs. And, dude, the booze menu isn't any less badass, boasting tons of solid $7 to $9 craft beers on draft, even from Florida's Cigar City and Miami's own Wynwood, M.I.A., Concrete Beach, and J. Wakefield breweries. As for Pubgrill's walls, they're loaded with flat-screens, which means you can easily watch three games without ever having to take a time-out from stuffing that gut and swilling fancy pints.

Readers' choice: Flanigan's Seafood Bar & Grill

Photo courtesy of Happy Stork Lounge

A curious child asks, "Mommy, where do dive bars come from?" In Miami at least, Happy's Stork Lounge is the correct answer. This glorious dive on the JFK Causeway breathes a special life into the neighborhood and acts as a courier for grimy, boozy goodness. Here you have two options: To the left is the liquor store, and to the right is the bar. This stork has been making dive-bomb deliveries for more than 50 years, and the bar has the scars to prove it. There is the pool table that has turned more gray than green, humorous signs that give you material for days, sections of the bar that have never been dusted, and the painting of a woman on the back wall has a bullet hole piercing her face (right in the Marilyn Monroe birthmark region). Legend goes it came from an off-duty policeman who was mad about losing a card game. This bar is filled with people and bartenders who have some good stories to tell. The original owner of the joint went by "Happy," and each drink you down keeps the memory and sentiment alive and well.

Karli Evans

Drag fans know that the performances are largely a nocturnal art form. Most queens around America save their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent for the cover of darkness — you gotta wait for the pitchfork-wielders to turn in, after all. Miami Beach is so bursting with rainbow pride, however, that lucky locals get treated to the rare sight of daytime drag every weekend at legendary hangout the Palace. Delighting beach revelers and tourists alike for more than 25 years, the Palace is the only gay restaurant and bar in Miami where you can watch queens turn it out while you get trashed and munch toast. While the Palace's popular nighttime shows are usually more fierce, the weekly Sunday Brunch is a beloved frontrunner for the most fun show in town. With two seatings, at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., at $39.99, each Sunday brings bottomless mimosas and nonstop drag shows while you down breakfast grub like chocolate-chip pancakes and chicken and waffles. The talented ladies traipse through the tables with traffic-stopping performances that spill onto Ocean Drive, where shocked looks from South Beach tourists only add to the entertainment. The friendly interaction between the queens and the crowds — plus the prime people-watching location — makes this a great place to take out-of-towners. Maybe underground drag nights are more your thing, but these queens will impress with fun sidewalk-grinding lip-syncs full of hits from Rihanna, Gloria Estefan, Whitney Houston, and more. This is the former stomping ground of RuPaul's Drag Race star Latrice Royale, after all, and respect and tribute are owed. So bring your appetite and plenty of dollar bills — these ladies ain't dancing in the South Florida heat for nothin'.

Photo by Alex Markow

The search for good gay nightlife options outside South Beach has sometimes resembled an Indiana Jones-esque quest. So thank God for Gramps for cracking that conundrum once and for all by bringing us Double Stubble. It's a welcome new hipster piece to gay Miami's party puzzle. The last Sunday afternoon of every month, there's no need to keep your sexuality subtle. The disco beats of DJ Hottpants will surely make everyone shuffle or do the hustle. Whether you like muscle or a little extra stubble, you may even find someone to snuggle, cuddle, or get into some other sort of trouble. So get all your friends in a huddle, hop in a shuttle, and come out, because missing this tea dance is certainly a social fumble.

Alexander Guerra

"What are we doing tonight?" Roy asks his roommate, Danny.

"I was thinking maybe we could go out to a place with a dark dance floor. Find ourselves some men," replies Danny.

"No thanks; I've had my fill of Tribal House remixes of Beyoncé tracks for the month."

"That place with the naughty backroom?"

"You've got Grindr for that."

"We could head up to one of those go-go-boy bars in Broward?"

"Ugh, I wish there were a gay bar that was just like an actual bar. One that actually served craft cocktails instead of having shirtless bartenders shoot out vodka crans like it was an assembly line. A place that's not too dark, well decorated, with decent music. A place where you can actually talk with a good mix of locals and tourists. Dudes of all types and ages. Maybe they did things like weekly trivia nights. No lines out front or VIP rooms. You know, like those charming little neighborhood bars straight people have so many of."

"Oh, you mean the Bar at Hotel Gaythering. It's at that new gay hotel in South Beach. It's Thursday, right? I think they've got '90s music night and $3 local craft beers."

"Gaythering? Well, that's certainly a name."

"Eh, well having a slightly silly name is just about the only thing this place has in common with the rest of the gay bars in town."

Readers' choice: Twist

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®