South Beach and its streets are always showing up in the gossip pages.
Whether socialite Kim Kardashian is hosting a New Year's Eve party at a club called Mansion, Paris Hilton is hopping from party to party during the city's annual Art Basel, Miami Beach festival, or Lindsay Lohan is on the arm of yet another guy, this section of Miami Beach is known as a setting for the glamorous life.
It's after the sun goes down that South Beach really shows its wild side. Here's a list of places worth stopping by for a drink -- or five. Just be prepared; it's common to spend $100 in one night for cover charges and taxi fares in addition to expensive drinks.
For great people watching, shopping, dining and drinking, Lincoln Road is a must. The road, which is mostly closed to cars, stretches for several long blocks. We stopped at Zeke's Roadhouse, the place to have beers. The tiny bar, which masquerades as a beer garden, imports beers from all over the world, and the majority of them sell for only $3.
Mango's Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive is known for one thing and one thing only -- Latin women wearing tight and revealing clothing gyrating to salsa and meringue music on the bar as the band plays a few feet away. Mango's is pure kitsch, with its walls covered in bright greens, blues, oranges and pinks, and stuffed tropical birds hang all over the place. There's even a guy with large parrots on his shoulders who goes around the tables, forcing his pets on the diners. The food is just OK -- there was nothing fantastic about the wings or burger my friend and I ate. His whiskey and soda and my caipirinha, the Brazilian national drink, were better.
Wet Willie's on Ocean Drive is a bar that serves slushies, which doesn't sound like typical bar fare, and it's not. The slushies are served in plastic cups, from small to large sizes, and are highly alcoholic. The different flavors are churning in vessels lining the back wall of the bar, each one a different bright color. My friends and I ordered Call-a-Cab, which lives up to its name. We went to Wet Willie's on a Friday afternoon and sat underneath the sun on the upstairs deck overlooking Ocean Drive and watched the tourists walk by.
B.E.D. Miami is a pioneer of the clubs that sprouted up around the country featuring -- you guessed it -- beds instead of couches or chairs. The beds, which are for bottle service only, are covered in faux suede and are separated by hanging sheer white sheets. A dance floor and small stage fill the center of the club. On a Friday night at the Washington Avenue club, drunken women took to the stage, interrupted only by a drag queen wearing an enormous bouffant-style hot-pink wig. She performed a scene in which she was chased by a man wielding a chainsaw. After a few minutes, the performance was over, the music was cranked up again and the stage was covered by a myriad of women doing their best impressions of strippers.
Prive is the swanky place that was the "it" club and gathering point for celebrities. But Prive became second best when the company that owns it opened a new "it" club in Miami a few months ago. There's always a line to get into the place and, depending on how crowded it gets, a room may temporarily be closed to those trying to get in for the first time that night. The multilevel building on Collins Avenue features zebra-patterned couches, dim lighting and big balloons hanging from the ceiling. As in most large clubs, you can dance to hip-hop or techno music, but unlike most clubs, these rooms are separated by velvet ropes. We had to push our way through three velvet ropes in that one club. There's a $20 cover.
Automatic Slim's is a place where art, rock 'n' roll and nightlife collide in a very unpretentious way. The bar is in the Design District on Washington Avenue and very different from the bars and clubs in other parts of Miami. People come relaxed, preferring to chill out instead of dealing with oppressive bouncers who pick and choose who is allowed inside. The DJ spins a mix of popular music, mostly rock from the past couple of decades, and everyone stands around the circular outdoor bar if they can't find a seat in the room in the back, which also has a bar. The place is filled with sculptures and paintings, including one of Bob Marley. The space proudly exploits its location with large windows affording view of artwork in neighboring showrooms.
Directly across the street from Automatic Slim's is a restaurant and club called Grass where most people only get into the club if they know someone or if they know someone who knows someone. Some make dinner reservations, dress like the models in fashion magazines and linger long after the dishes have been cleared to get into the club. The music is hip-hop and reggaeton, and hundreds gather on the tables and benches underneath what resembles a grass hut. Pushing the grass theme even further, the bathroom stalls are covered in sod, or a material that looks and feels like sod. And upping the cool factor is the bar, where flowers are displayed in glass jars in cubbyholes on the back wall -- resembling anatomical parts in a biology lab.
Sunday is not a day of rest in South Beach. People drag themselves from their hangovers by the afternoon to continue partying at Nikki Beach Club on Ocean Drive and the Shore Club on Collins Avenue, where they can sip cocktails poolside or on the beach. We decided to go to Lucky Strike, a posh bowling alley most famous for its Hollywood location than the one here. Lucky Strike is just off Lincoln Road and is a great place to throw back a few beers and eat expensive American meals. You can sit in front of many flat-screen TVs at the bar or on one of a few lounge couches, or have a waitress serve you at your bowling lane.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times