Where To Get Dinner With Someone Who Talks Too Loud
9 places to take that human megaphone you call a friend.
Miami is a city that does not seem to grasp the concept of an inside voice. This means we all have a Loud Mouth in our lives who we love (or at least tolerate) and occasionally agree to have dinner with. But the consequences of bringing that person to the wrong restaurant might involve making enemies with an entire dining room. Don't do that. Instead, bring that human megaphone you call a friend to a restaurant where volume is irrelevant, music is loud, and you will receive zero dirty looks when they start oversharing about their last one-night stand.
Cafe La Trova
Yelling is sort of mandatory at Little Havana's Cafe La Trova, thanks to the great live music that takes place in the dining room. And there’s also the fact that the bartenders occasionally whip out instruments and start jamming behind the bar. So, needless to say, things get loud here. But that's also the point. Cafe la Trova is the best spot in Miami to have a big, loud, and fun dinner that actually tastes good. The whole fried snapper and perfect daiquiris are far from an afterthought, and every meal we have at this Cuban spot here feels like a celebration, even if it’s just a regular old Tuesday.
Downtown's Over Under has the DNA of a dive bar, upscale cocktail bar, and a very good restaurant all rolled into one. They'll occasionally do karaoke inside or stick a DJ right in the middle of the dining room. It's perfectly acceptable to get a little drunk here, but also fine to just hang out, drink water, and eat a cheeseburger and fish dip. All this is to say: Over Under wears a lot of hats. And none of them will mind if the volume of your voice is above average.
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Sweet Liberty Drink & Supply Co.
South Beach's Sweet Liberty is another bar where you can also eat good food. But it's first and foremost a bar, which means it is very much a safe space for friends who say hello by running towards you while literally screaming. Cocktail options are plentiful, and also include the world's best piña colada. To eat, there are great versions of bar snacking favorites like buffalo wings and chips with caviar onion dip as well as bigger entrees like steak frites and a solid cheeseburger.
Lung Yai Thai Tapas
Yes, from the outside, Little Havana’s Lung Yai looks like the kind of tiny restaurant where screaming might earn you a fork to the temple. But during dinner, this place feels like that one time the jellyfish took over SpongeBob’s pineapple house and threw a rave. There is loud dance music blasting both inside and over the narrow outdoor patio. That plus noise from the open kitchen make this a place fit for your friend who, in a previous life, was a town crier. Plus, Lung Yai serves khao soi, papaya salad, and more excellent Thai food. There will most likely be a wait, but you can kill time while having a beer on the sidewalk, which is also an appropriate environment for folks who never quite discovered their inside voice.
Rakija Grill is a Balkan restaurant in Downtown that's perfect for a fun, loud group dinner—especially if you order a few rounds of the restaurant's namesake: rakija, a type of flavored Balkan brandy. The menu is big, but stick with the Balkan specialties—it's what they do best. Start with the deluxe meze plate and then go for the gurmanska pljeskavica (essentially a Balkan burger stuffed with cheese and pancetta) and be sure to order the best stuffed cabbage rolls in Miami too. If you want to literally scream during dinner, come on Sundays. That’s when Rakija turns into the Balkan version of a pachanga complete with a DJ and sometimes well-known live acts from the region.
Dukunoo Jamaican Kitchen
Dukunoo is a Jamaican restaurant in Wynwood that can really feel more like a bar sometimes, thanks to very loud music and a nightlife personality (there’s occasionally a bouncer at the front door). However, you can (and should) come here to eat, because the food is really good. Focus on the jerk portion of their menu, which includes smoky jerk chicken, ribs, and pork—served individually and in a platter that can feed up to four. If you’re not trying to partake in the clubstaurant vibes, avoid the weekends. Things are a tad more chill during the week, but not so chill that the dining room will look on in horror as your friend loudly recaps the fistfight they got into over a parking space.
Sala'o Cuban Bar & Pescaderia
That stretch of Calle Ocho by Domino Park clogged with tourists is like a buffet of loud restaurants. But Sala’o is one of those few restaurants where the food is actually good and the blaring Latin music doesn’t feel so out of place. Sala’o specializes in modern Cuban seafood dishes, like sardine croquetas that hide slivers of roasted red peppers or a bowl of crispy fried glass minnows. They also have interesting cocktails, including a sherry old fashioned made with piloncillo (AKA unrefined cane sugar) and a jumbo coconut water ice cube. It’s not only a great place to take a loud friend, but the ideal place to take an out-of-towner who has been shouting “I’m in Miami, bitch!” since they touched down in MIA. At Sala’o they can let everyone know where they are (for the 20th time), get a selfie doing a little perreo, and then sit back down to enjoy a pan con minuta.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
A perk of eating inside a warehouse is that your voice won't bounce off a low ceiling or cramped walls. But of course, that isn't the only perk to eating inside Allapattah's Hometown Barbecue, which is literally an old warehouse. This place serves all the things we expect from a stellar pit-smoked barbecue spot. Their ribs, brisket, mole-dusted wings, and smoked turkey BLT all make us want to go immediately chop down a tree so Hometown’s smoker place never runs out of wood. But this huge Allapattah warehouse also offers lots of great things we don’t necessarily expect at a barbecue joint, like excellent cocktails, a yucca bowl drizzled with avocado mayo, and a huge charred broccoli with chili oil and poblano crema.
Freehold is another Wynwood spot that’s part bar, part restaurant. Most of the tables are located in the outdoor courtyard. The tables are generously spaced-out and there’s usually a DJ, so the sound of your friend’s voice won’t echo off walls and ceilings and into the eardrums of every person within eyesight. They have some shareable small plates, but pizza is what takes up the bulk of the menu and Freehold makes a nice, foldable thin-crust version. It usually comes to the table quickly too, so it’s a good option if you’re in a bit of a rush.
Dinner at Esotico is a loud, boozy affair. The music is thumping and there's a decent chance you'll see a server bang a gong in the dining room while preparing a tableside cocktail that bursts into flame. In other words, this is precisely the sort of place to bring that friend who insists on holding a normal conversation in very crowded elevators. This is more of a place to drink and turn up with the assistance of lots of rum, but they do have a big menu with dumplings, poke bowls, ceviche, and an octopus hot dog—which is exactly what it sounds like and also better than it sounds like.