How to Get Into Miami’s Best Speakeasies & Secret Bars

From a sexy rooftop hideaway to a boozy emporium lurking behind a porta-potty.

Mezcalista
Mezcalista | Photo by Michael Kleinberg
Mezcalista | Photo by Michael Kleinberg

You know you’re from Miami when you travel to another city, walk into a trendy taco shop, and immediately start looking for the secret backroom speakeasy. No other place in America—or possibly even Mexico—has more taco joints with clandestine cocktail lounges, and it’s a trend as unique to Miami as Cuban sandwiches and fly-by-night plastic surgeons. Still, our city’s best hidden bars aren’t limited to places plating carne asada. From a Ft. Lauderdale hotel room to a back alley in South Beach, here are the best, sorta-secret drinking dens across South Florida.

Tea Room
Tea Room

Tea Room

Brickell
While the rooftop views from Sugar might be the main attraction at Brickell City Centre’s swanky East Hotel, head past the host stand and beyond the bathrooms and you’ll find a covert bar tucked away in the sky. The views are almost as spectacular as its more public cousins—minus the humidity and sudden thunderstorms. Plus, there’s plenty of cushy seating and even an Asian Night brunch—a two-hour feast that’s almost as beautiful as the bar itself.
How to book: Reserve via Seven Rooms.

Kojin
Kojin

Kojin

Little River
Speakeasies aren’t limited to red light cocktail dens with leather-aproned mixologists. Sake bars can be just as cozy, as you’ll find behind a nondescript curtain at Hachidori, one of Miami’s best ramen joints. Koijin is adorned in upside-down parasols, 14 bar seats, and a small cluster of couches. You’ll be sipping carefully selected sake, wine, and beer, plus a menu of sake cocktails from Chat Chow’s Gio Gutierrez. And you won’t go hungry either, as the speakeasy offers a selection of Asian-inspired small plates made right in front of you.
How to book: Reserve via Tock.

Mezcalista
Mezcalista | Photo by Michael Kleinberg

Mezcalista

South Beach
When the team behind Coyo was tasked with overseeing the Moxy Hotel’s dining program, we knew it would only be a matter of time before the place had a Coyo-like speakeasy. So it was no surprise when Como Como stuck this swanky space behind the restaurant’s expo line. Mezcalista is a mezcal bar equally as upscale as the restaurant it abuts, boasting over 100 different mezcals and tequilas, live music, and overstuffed couches that will keep you hanging around longer than you’d anticipated.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

Los Altos
Photo courtesy of Los Altos

Los Altos

Little Havana
Mexican candy shops that are actually a front for, er, something else, are nothing new. But ones that are actually fronts for glorious cocktail lounges, however, are a relatively new concept, as evidenced by this standout spot above Taquerias El Mexicano on Calle Ocho. The 8th Street staple got new owners a few years back, who subsequently transformed the top floor into a church-like cocktail den that transforms into a club as the hours get later. Just head up the side stairway and wait for the nice lady behind the counter to say the magic words, and the shop’s back wall will open into a completely different experience.
How to book: Call 305-874-7414 to reserve or stop by for first come, first served seating.

Swizzle Rum Bar & Drinkery
Swizzle Rum Bar & Drinkery

Swizzle Rum Bar & Drinkery

South Beach
Basement bars are a bit of an anomaly in elevation-challenged South Florida. But the closest thing we have is this somewhat-subterranean speakeasy perched a half-story down from the Stiles Hotel lobby. Through a hallway and behind a curtain you’ll find a collection of rums from across the globe, set in a dark, nautical space that feels a bit like a ship captain’s study. The team behind Employees Only runs the bar here, which means you’re getting some of the best drinks in the city, no matter what’s on the ever-changing menu.
How to book: Stop in for first-come, first-served seating.

901
Photo courtesy of 901

901

Las Olas
The Hyatt Centric isn’t typically where one would expect to find South Florida’s coolest new speakeasy, but that’s exactly what happens when a hotel takes a nondescript ninth floor room and transforms it into a retro cocktail den, complete with vintage furniture and dim red mood lighting. Each week, the bar invites different mixologists from around the nation to strut their stuff for the reservations-only “crowd”—we put that term in quotes because no more than eight people at a time can enter 901, and parties are limited to two hours.
How to book: Reserve via Seven Rooms

El Carajo

Shenandoah
If your date wants to grab dinner from a gas station, you should probably hang up the phone, delete Tinder, and possibly reevaluate your life choices… unless, of course, they’re talking about the BP on 17th and US1, because behind the cigarette counter, there’s an intimate Spanish tapas and wine bar with long wooden tables, Mediterranean-style arches, five-star service, 2,000 vintage wines, and share plates of Spanish chorizo, bacon-wrapped dates, and more.
How to book: Reserve via OpenTable
 

Foxhole

South Beach
Marked by nothing but a single red light posted down a sketchy alleyway behind a random Dominoes, Miami’s most popular speakeasy is known for strong drinks, sexy lighting, swank vibes, and—because, when no one can find you, why not?—glass cases full of (presumably unloaded) bazookas, handguns, and assault rifles. Casual.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served service.

Bodega Taqueria y Tequila
Bodega Taqueria y Tequila

Bodega Taqueria y Tequila

Miami Beach and Ft. Lauderdale
When it comes to tacos, you’ll rarely find anything more authentic (and unnerving) than those served from an old, graffiti-covered garage with cardboard food signs, a tiny taco truck, and a battered, indoor porta-potty scribbled with “BAÑOS.” But venture through this joint’s bright blue crapper door and you’ll step right into South Florida’s version of Narnia: A swanky, two-story speakeasy lounge decked out with vintage couches, a long wooden bar, mas tequila, and lit wall-messages that are just so... Miami.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served service.

Coyo Taco
Coyo Taco

Coyo Taco

Wynwood & Coral Gable
With its wooden picnic tables, laid-back vibes, and made-to-order charred octopus, quinoa, gulf shrimp, crispy duck, and Angus steak tacos, this tiny taqueria is known for long lines and the best Mexican street food east of the Rio Grande. But just past the factory line of made-to-order guac and high-top tables is a lesser-known, equally awesome hideout: A throwback garage bar boasting an impressive number of tequilas and mezcals, in-the-know hipsters, craft beers and paletaritas (AKA popsicle-based margarita cocktails you’ll probably want at least five of).
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served service.

Apothecary 330
Photo courtesy of Apothecary 330

Apothecary 330

Fort Lauderdale
This bar throws down potent 1920s-inspired drinks right in the heart of an authentic Italian pizzeria. Tucked away in the right side of Fort Lauderdale’s Pizza Craft, this upscale speakeasy is stocked with “Bar Chefs” instead of bartenders manning more than 300 whiskeys, 20+ craft beers on tap, and an absinthe drip, all set to a backdrop that looks like a kind of stylized bistro frequented by Vito Corleone. But just because you’re drinking inside a pizzeria, don’t assume you can show up in your jorts, sandals, and an old UM shirt—this is a classy joint and the semi-formal dress code is strictly enforced.
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served service.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Matt Meltzer is a Miami-based contributor for Thrillist.