Where To Go When Lagniappe Is Too Crowded
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings / @eatthecanvasllc
We love Lagniappe. Let us make that clear off the bat. The wine bar has always been one of—if not the—best places in Miami to hang out with a bottle of wine and some cheese. It’s perfect for dates, birthdays, listening to jazz—the list goes on. The problem is, lots of people feel this way. So many, in fact, that on a Saturday night during winter, finding an open table in Lagniappe’s backyard can feel like one of those viral Black Friday videos where people are roundhouse kicking each other for a kitchen appliance. So next time you walk into Lagniappe, see two UM students playing tug of war over a plastic chair, and instantly say “nope”—go to one of these places instead. They all either have wine, excellent vibes, live music, or all of the above.
Jass is more of a sit-down restaurant than a bar, but when we came here we also literally said out loud: “This is like if Lagniappe was a sit-down restaurant.” So it belongs on this guide. Jass is really charming, with live music (often jazz) playing at an ideal volume and a dining room that feels like a fun antique shop. Music happens nightly (but call them to ask about the current week's schedule). You can get a bottle of wine for around $50, but you should be eating too because the Mediterranean food is good. Get the clay pot of lamb, which comes encased in a dome of brioche your server will slice open at the table.
Bar Derrière is the best Lagniappe alternative in South Beach—and a somewhat hidden wine bar worth knowing about regardless. This alleyway space is actually part of À la Folie Café, a solid French spot on the west end of Española Way. The natural wine bar has an antique store thing going on, with mismatched tables for small groups and a few bottle options in the $50 to $60 range. You can just drink here, but you can also order food from À la Folie Café. They have a lot of wine bar-appropriate French snacks like charcuterie, foie gras maison, and paté served with baguette.
If you need an option that’s close to Lagniappe, Ruka will save the day. This Wynwood wine bar is only a mile south, and has a spacious outdoor patio that’s great for a breezy night. It’s also located on a backstreet east of North Miami Ave.—a.k.a. the side of Wynwood that isn’t always a complete clusterf*ck. They sometimes have food pop-ups and DJs, but even if it’s a night where nothing in particular is going on, you can still hang out, drink reasonably priced wine, and snack on marinated olives or sliced meats.
Union Beer Store's backyard is a bit more rugged than Lagniappe's. There are roosters instead of cats, and some of the furniture looks like it was used in the wrestling matches that play on a loop inside. But even though beer is the main event here, they have bottles of wine too. And they also have one of our favorite food pop-ups in the universe, Haochi, running the kitchen Wednesday through Friday. As much as we enjoy a nice Lagniappe cheese plate, it's not even in the same flavor galaxy as Haochi's beef and duck fat gyoza.
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 all occasions that call for a chill night out with a bottle of wine and some excellent dishes involving bread. The menu is tight, but as good as you’d expect from one of Miami’s best bakeries. They have an outstanding choripan, oysters, and a few sourdough pizzas. Almost nothing on the menu costs more than $20 either. The space isn’t huge, but it’s perfect for small groups or couples. And if it’s nice out, they slide open the windows to take advantage of the ocean breeze.
We should warn you, NIU Wine is super tiny. So there is also a good chance that it might not have an open table if you’re trying to walk in with a party of six. But NIU Wine has something Lagniappe doesn’t: reservations. If you have time to plan in advance, make one, and it’ll guarantee you a seat at the beautiful Downtown wine bar. There, you can have some outstanding wine, snack on mini bar sandwiches, and just generally feel like you’ve been invited to a very cool friend’s house.
Margot, also in Downtown, is a bit bigger than NIU Wine, but still firmly in the category of “small.” So proceed with caution if you’re traveling with a big group. People don’t usually camp out here as long as they do at Lagniappe, so even if you have to wait for a table or a bar seat, you’ll get in eventually. And they take reservations as well. Inside, it’s got this pinkish/purplish lighting that’ll make you look 25% more attractive, good wine options, and wine-based apertivo cocktails. There’s also a menu of small plates that involve bread, cheese, and more.
Magic 13 is a Little Haiti brewery, and its biggest strength is its outdoor space. This is, as we said nine words ago, a brewery—but they have wine as well (and a $36 corkage fee in case you'd rather bring your own bottles). Magic 13's biggest strength is its big backyard, which is organized around a top-notch tree. Other good things about Magic 13 include occasional live music programming and a small meat-centric food situation run by Meat N’ Bone.
When you want to drink outside somewhere aesthetically pleasing where you’re almost sure to find an open seat, Casa Florida is the move. The very pink outdoor bar has a spread-out space, solid cocktails, and feels secluded even though it’s near some chaotic Miami River clubstaurants They also have a retro bus that’s been repurposed for additional seating. Food is an option too (and it’s fine) but you’re mostly coming here to have cocktails, beer, and wine in a space that feels like it was decorated by hip flamingos.