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The Best Bars For A First Date In Miami

Good luck out there.
The Best Bars For A First Date In Miami  image

photo credit: Rami Sabban

After months of swiping, messaging, Instagram lurking, and bargaining with a higher power, you finally did it—you’re going on a first date. But that also means you have to do that thing where you meet a complete stranger and attempt to convince them that you are a cool, stable person who’s worthy of love and affection. To pull that off, it helps to have alcohol. Preferably at a bar that’s not so fancy it’s uncomfortable, not so loud you have to shout, and not so quiet you can hear the other person regretting this decision. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt if that bar also has delicious drinks and a decent food menu, either. It’s a tall order, but we have some ideas.

THE SPOTS

Spanish

Downtown

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good Wine
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NIU Wine is always one of our favorite spots in town for a date night. The narrow space has an intimate dinner party energy, a noise level that’s perfect for conversation, and lots of candlelight, which will elegantly conceal the pimple that sprung to life six hours before your date. There’s not really a wine menu here. You just chat with the staff and they'll bring you some bottles to try. But there is a rotating food menu, and it’s full of wine bar-appropriate tapas, little sandwiches, and a spiced chocolate truffle you definitely want alongside a glass of that red you picked because you liked the label. This place is super tiny, so grab a reservation and you won't have to stress about not getting a table.

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The Sylvester feels like the living room of your aunt who never misses a good estate sale. So there are plenty of comfortable spots to sit and have a conversation among the mismatched furniture at this Midtown bar. Also, the cocktails are great and the food (things like fish dip and a medianoche) is solid. They also have a pool table, in case you want to impress your date with your pool skills and/or let them win in what will surely be an irresistible display of vulnerability. Also, they do accept reservations online, in case you also want to demonstrate how organized and prepared you are.

If the president gathered a team of NASA’s top scientists and ordered them to build the perfect first date bar, you’d get Margot. The narrow Downtown spot is a very romantic shade of pink, has lots of natural wine options, and can simply be described with no word other than “cozy.” Plus, there are tasty small plates you can eat without making a mess—like crudo, marinated olives, and a sardine bahn mi. Before you plan a date here, we should warn you that this place is popular and doesn’t take reservations, so try to come at an off-time, or risk waiting 40 sober minutes for a seat, which is a first-date worst-case scenario.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Next Door is a wine bar run by (and right next door to) Key Biscayne’s Flour & Weirdoughs. And it’s a perfect option for a chill date with a bottle of wine and some excellent dishes involving bread. The menu is small, but as good as you’d expect from one of Miami’s best bakeries. They make a simple, outstanding choripan, eggplant escabeche served with sliced baguette and crispy baguette chips, and a few sourdough pizzas. Nothing on the menu costs more than $20 either. The space is small, but perfect for couples and not too loud to have a conversation. And if it’s nice out, they slide open the windows to take advantage of the ocean breeze. 

Casa Florida is one of our favorite places to drink outside, because it has a lovely, spread-out space, solid cocktails, and feels secluded even though it’s just across the river from the dreaded Wharf. Your date will (hopefully) appreciate all of these things, including the retro bus that’s been repurposed into additional seating. Maybe you can hide in there if it starts raining. That sounds like a cute story you could tell the kids one day, huh?

For something a little more intimate, go to Swizzle in South Beach. We really love this bar, mostly for their stellar cocktails, but also because it feels like a basement bar (even though it’s only three steps below sea level) and we so rarely get the chance to feel like we’re drinking underground in Miami. Even though it’s in a touristy part of South Beach most locals vow never to step foot in, this place still feels like a secret and it’s not so loud that you can’t have a conversation. They have outdoor seating too, in case you’re feeling a little claustrophobic inside.

The Abbey isn’t a first date spot for everyone. It’s on the dive bar end of the spectrum—although not at the extreme end. But if your date appreciates an old school bar with lots of charm, then go for it. Despite being just off Lincoln Road, The Abbey feels like a local’s spot. The staff is friendly, they have darts and pool, and you can sit in these adorable little mini booths perfect for couples. The Abbey feels more vaguely European than South Beach, and could make for a delightful change of pace if you’ve spent the last seven first-dates at Lagniappe.

Taking a date to Gramps is like having them meet your best friend, or your dog. If they don’t like it, it was probably never going to work out. Because what’s not to like about Gramps? It’s a tropical bar that blends old Florida dive-i-ness with the atmosphere of a modern cocktail bar. The drinks are awesome, they sell great pizza by-the-slice, and the music is always on point. Because you are in Wynwood, weekend nights can get crowded and loud. Weekdays or afternoon dates will be more subdued and first-date-friendly, except for maybe the (very fun) Thursday night Double Stubble party.

Is Lagniappe a bit of a first-date cliche? Yes. But is it also still a really lovely spot to enjoy a bottle of wine and some cheese outside? Absolutely. The hardest part about planning a date here is the uncertainty of whether or not you’ll be able to find a table in the always-crowded backyard. So, this is another place where you’ll want to come during an off time, or pay a friend $15 to arrive 45 minutes before you and claim your table.

There’s nothing too complicated going on at Lost Boy, which is why we love it for a first date. This place is pretty casual, but not at all divey. Grab a seat at the long bar, order a gin and tonic, and enjoy a noise level several merciful decibels below most of the surrounding Downtown bars. This is a great call for both a post-work Happy Hour or a post-9pm meet-up.

Sweet Liberty should always be high on the list for date night consideration, because there really is no downside to coming here. They make some of the best cocktails in the city, have a solid kitchen serving things like oysters or caviar onion dip with house-made potato chips, and the service is always on point. So even if your date won’t stop talking about their high school football career, you’ll at least have something delicious to distract you from the regrettable realities of online dating.

Minibar is a rare kind of cocktail bar for South Beach. It has a local crowd (despite technically being a hotel bar), is small but rarely overcrowded, and serves pretty good cocktails that don’t cost $25. So it definitely deserves to be on your roster of potential date spots. There are some outdoor tables where you can hang out on a nice day, but we really like sitting at the bar here, which pretty much takes up the entire space.

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