Where To Make Friends When Miami Feels A Little Lonely

Places where you can have conversations with cool strangers that hopefully won’t make you want to immediately go home and take a shower.
The sitting area at ZeyZey.

photo credit: World Red Eye

Making friends as an adult anywhere is hard. But especially in Miami—where people are cliquier than a pod of dolphins. Then there’s our thriving population of health insurance fraudsters, club promoters, and identity thieves. As the saying goes, Miami is a sunny place with shady people. So we don’t blame you for having trust issues. But it can get lonely down here without making any real, long-lasting friendships. We know, because we’re struggling along with the rest of you. So we put together a guide for—believe it or not—places where you can grab a beer, bite, or coffee and meet fun, friendly (stable) people who aren’t trying to read the numbers off your credit card or lying about their marital status. Or at least we hope not.


photo credit: World Red Eye


Little River

$$$$Perfect For:DancingLive Music
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ZeyZey is special. There’s nothing like this music venue/cocktail bar/outdoor food hall in Miami, which is maybe why everyone here seems to be smiling like they just found $100 in their pocket. But ZeyZey is more useful than $100, because it’s a rare versatile space that serves many social functions. During the day, they’ll host events like yoga or the Little River Flea, a great market where you can bond with strangers over vintage t-shirts you're both thinking about buying. At night, you can come here to dance and watch live music. And unlike so many Miami nightlife spots, it’s not weird to come alone. There’s enough to keep you occupied until you strike up a conversation with the person who you’ll save in your phone as “Kevin Seems Like A Cool Guy.”

You can “yes, and…” your way into friendship at this wonderful comedy venue, who offer improv classes as well as put on live shows every weekend at their small theater in Little Haiti. There’s a full bar too, with cocktails you’ll have trouble holding down while laughing along to an improvised play about a sea monkey in the midst of an existential crisis after being rejected from Monkey Jungle. And if you’ve resolved to never miss a single episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the theater holds watch parties for your viewing pleasure. This is literally a room full of extroverts—if you leave them alone for too long, they start making friends with the walls. You can check out their full events calendar here.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

You might think making friends at a bookstore involves lots of shushing with threats to papercut anyone who speaks. But Books & Books is no ordinary bookstore—it’s where writers hold readings, book clubs meet, and plenty of thoughtful events and panels take place. There’s also a little cafe with solid food and an outdoor patio if you want to drink wine and not use your inside voice. If you care about the power of writing and its importance in Miami, you’ll find people with similar values here. It’s not just a bookstore, it’s a community with strong coffee and opinions on pantsing vs. plotting. If it wasn’t obvious already, this writer’s mostly a pantser. 

photo credit: Courtesy Tripping Animals

Not only does Tripping Animals make the best beer in Miami—a substance known for making it easier to speak to people you don’t know—but they also do a lot of really fun events. A quick glance at their Instagram reveals food pop-ups, DJs, comedy nights, live music, and even professional wrestling matches. The people here are also very friendly. And if still, after all these glorious opportunities to form a new adult friendship, you still can’t find anyone to talk to, they have a cat. Her name is Eleven and you can pet her and people will come up to you and start asking you questions as if she’s your cat. Play along.

This Hialeah dive bar has two personalities: one is loud, plays sports, and hosts DJs. The other is quiet, has a functioning N64, and oozes with ‘70s nostalgia. On Thursdays, they have karaoke nights that set the stage (literally) for friendships to form. You’ll probably meet someone who shares a similar passion for Destiny’s Child and Panic! at The Disco, and they’ll happily sing off-key with you. But if singing with a bunch of strangers isn’t your style, the N64 room is an introvert-friendly option for meeting people. Here, they only serve beer and wine, and, if nothing else, you can strike up a long conversation with the server about beer and wine. But they also have classic N64 games, which is a lovely opportunity to bond with people over your personal ranking of Smash Bros. characters.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc

Shojo’s Dojo looks and feels like that secret layer you always dreamed of having as a kid—complete with a hidden doorway to a converted warehouse with arcade games, a pool table, and foosball. But because this place is for adults, they’ve also got sake flights, Lebanese beer, and wine. Maybe it’s the playful decor or the 21% abv house sake, but everyone here is absurdly friendly. It’s the sort of place that brings out your inner child—where you can bond with strangers over your love of dinosaurs, and everyone chimes in with their favorite (this actually happened to us). Play pool with your new pals, order a round of sake, or lounge in a comfy rattan chaise. Snacks like wasabi peas and kimchi chips are always available, but they also host pop-ups, including the best (and only) Nicaraguan sushi we’ve ever had.

You ever wish you could rewind the clock of Miami to, like, 10-ish years ago? A lot of us probably do. Maybe the city was kinder and more friendly to locals back then. Or maybe we all just got older and grumpier. Either way, that spirit of old school Miami that made you fall in love with this city is alive at Gramps Getaway (and so are $12 cocktails). This waterfront bar from the Gramps team has an atmosphere that makes saying hello to a stranger at the bar feel like a reasonable thing to do. It puts you in a vacation mindset. You can play the ring game with people you just met, join some friendly faces at a picnic table, or just mingle with the crowd and hopefully meet someone who came here on a boat (and is willing to invite you on it). 

photo credit: Merritt Small

A place that operates on the honor system attracts the honest people you want in your life. Ordering a beer at this casual seafood spot is as simple as reaching into an icy cooler on the back patio, writing your name on a chalkboard, and marking how many you’ve had until it’s time to pay. The mismatched patio furniture makes the place look more like a summer backyard hangout than a restaurant, and the people working there run it like a house party—but they make seafood much better than you. People sit wherever they find a spot and lots of the seating is communal. There’s usually a band playing too. So if you’re missing the days when you could make a new friend over a beer cooler at a house party, go here.

This bar inside The Citadel plays reruns of every Godzilla movie (there are over 30) and makes cocktails inspired by monsters. The people here, both bartenders and the folks they're serving, appreciate good cocktails and conversations around the craft of alcoholic beverages. They host cocktail masterclasses, which is a great opportunity to meet some fellow vermouth heads. And their pop-ups with places like QP Tapas (keep an eye on Instagram for those) involve pan con tomate and lots of fun people you’ll want to ask on friendship dates. Unlike other bars in Miami, social cues are understood here. The staff is just the right amount of friendly without teetering on annoying. It’s a genuinely cool bar with bartenders who act like nice scientists and an always pleasant crowd.

photo credit: Cleveland Jennings

This spot is Temporarily Closed.

It’s almost impossible to leave QP without making friends with the folks who run this Coconut Grove pop-up. You’ll bond with them as they drop off dishes like cool ranch shishito peppers and wood roasted lamb belly. But if you really want to branch out, the Spanish/Japanese concept throws fun parties every few months at various locations around South Florida, which they always announce on their Instagram. The events feel like mini food festivals, where people move freely from table to table in search of tapas and second helpings of paella straight from a giant pan. But what sets these events apart are the hosts, who like to introduce you to all of their friends and make sure no one is ever left out.

This Bird Road brewery is free-spirited and a little weird, which is exactly why we love it. It’s a great spot to hang out by a barrel table and chat with fellow beer connoisseurs over citrusy IPAs. And there’s always something fun going on too—live performances by local musicians like Carlos Escanilla, karaoke on Wednesdays, and comedy nights on Thursdays. When that disco ball starts turning, the brewery comes alive with the kind of unbridled singing and dancing only a group full of Westchester natives (who’ve witnessed their fair share of weird chickens cross the road) could embrace without fear of judgment.   

This one feels ironic, but it’s not. Mac’s is one of the few bars in Miami where people aren’t staring at their phones. You come here to sit at the pink bar, which snakes across the space in a way that encourages eye contact and conversation. We can’t say we’ve formed any long-lasting, meaningful relationships at this iconic dive bar. But we’ve also had more conversations with friendly strangers here than anywhere else in Miami. If it’s just human contact you crave, come here at 3pm and prepare to meet at least four of the world’s most interesting people.

If you’re well past your beer pong days, Barracuda should be avoided late on Thursday nights when it’s flooded with UM students. But walk by these pink picnic tables on a sunny weekend, and you’ll probably run into acquaintances you sort of knew from high school. Are these new friends? No, so we’re kind of cheating here. But these folks are all grown up, have children with manners (surprisingly), and are here because they too are hoping to run into someone they sort-of-kind-of know. So you should say hi even though the last time you saw them was at Belen's Tombola. But even if you’re new in town or don’t see anyone you recognize, have a seat and order conch fritters and a beer. Someone will inevitably sit across from you and ask to share the table—Barracuda is just that kind of place.

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