Considering Miami’s abundance of and affection for mixologists and craft cocktails, you might think that the best place to drink in the city would be a glamorous hot spot in Brickell overflowing with influencers.
But you would be wrong.
The best place to drink in Miami, according to Yelp, is an unassuming bar and bottle store in Little Havana, with wrestling on the TV and a whale mural on the wall.
Yelp announced its list of the 50 Best Places to Drink in Miami recently on its blog, and Union Beer on Calle Ocho was No. 1. The hybrid bar-and-bottle shop from husband-and-wife team David and Cici Rodriguez, formerly owners of the Miami Brew Bus, opened in 2015.
Pretension is in short supply at Union Beer. You can sit at the bar and try one of the craft beers on tap (from Miami, Tampa, New York, Charleston, Maine and beyond). There’s also a robust list of beers in cans or bottles. You can also shop for brews to take home. Or all of the above.
You can also eat, because Union Beer is pop-up paradise. Victoriano Hernandez (aka @chef_shaggy of Haochi) makes homemade dumplings Sunday through Wednesday, while Adrian Castro, founder of Miami Beer Week, serves up his legendary pan con bistec at his pop-up Panolo’s on Thursdays. On Fridays through September, Gorilla City Sandwiches will take over as the pop-up du jour.
Union Beer has hosted live music and comedy as well as trivia nights. But David Rodriguez, who also managed the beverage program at Lokal and Kush restaurants, says he thinks it’s the friendly, laid-back atmosphere that brings customers back. He credits his team — his wife, Hernandez, Castro — with making people feel at home.
“It’s the vibe,” he says. “It’s always super unpretentious. It really feels like a hangout. We mostly have had the same staff for the past two or three years, the same cast of characters. It’s become like a ‘Cheers’ spot, with a lot of regulars.”
Also on the top 10 list for Yelp was Florida Keys Brewing in Islamorada (No. 2), the first microbrewery in the Upper Keys, which has not only a tasting room but also a beer garden. Please note that Miami is about 85 miles away from Islamorada before you head out for a night of bar hopping.
Yelp didn’t limit its Best Places to Drink list to lounges, wineries or beer halls; the ranking also includes coffee shops, tea rooms and juice bars. Which means Swizzle Rum Bar & Drinkery in Miami Beach (3) was followed by Vegan & Juice in Doral and Brewing Buddha Cafe & Arthouse in Miami.
The rest of the top 10 were Suit Habana Cafe in Wynwood; La Colada Gourmet in Miami; La Fresa Francesa in Hialeah; Jaguar Sun in downtown Miami; and Under the Mango Tree in Miami Beach.
Yelp ranked these businesses using such factors as the total volume and ratings of reviews for each spot.
Where: 1547 SW Eighth St., Miami
Hours: 2-10 p.m. Sunday; 2-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 2 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday