Where to Tailgate and Watch Football in Miami
The best places to cheer on whichever home team you're into.
Going out to watch football in Miami is an interesting adventure, where any bar sporting NFL Sunday Ticket is going to be awash of transplants teaching the entire bar how to spell “Eagles” and “Jets.” Still, football weekends are never a bad time in South Florida, where you can immerse yourself in a dark cavern of televisions or watch games on a sunny waterside patio. From tailgates at Hard Rock to college bars in the Grove, here are the best places to watch football and tailgate in Miami.
Brickell’s OG sports bar still brings it every weekend, with flat screens lining the entire bar and a projection TV on the balmy front patio. You’ll also find five-for-$25 mix and match beer buckets any time there’s football being played. Batch also isn’t afraid to play game sound, so if football just isn’t the same for you without the insights of Tony Romo and Ian Eagle, make this your regular watch spot. Be warned though—Batch is a serious Gator bar, so if you happen on a day when UF is playing, don’t ask them to change the TV.
The old Playwright on Washington Ave. is reborn as a locals’-focused casual bar named after South Beach service industry legend Mickey Burke. It is the brainchild of longtime Clevelander alums, and features craft cocktails and a far more extensive craft beer selection than most find in South Beach. In addition to TVs pretty much everywhere, Mickey Burke’s also offers some standout food, like the massive fish and chips, and the ever-addictive bonchon cauliflower bites.
It’s not glitzy, glamorous, or anything resembling trendy, but if you want to watch football with longtime locals who take their pigskin seriously, hit this bar across the street from the back gate of MIA. Formerly Tom’s NFL (that’s, Roger Goddell!) this classic sports bar is filled with former pilots, Miami Springs lifers, and generally the type of people who wouldn’t be caught dead in South Beach. They’re all enjoying cold beer, fantastic wings, and the general anonymity that comes with watching a game at Tom’s.
It’s quite the dilemma during fall in South Florida, when the weather is all warm breezes and blue sky, but the Dolphins are playing at 1 pm. Get the best of both worlds at the Bayshore Club, a stunning new spot on the bay in Coconut Grove where towering screens surround a sleek bar stocked with plenty of cold beer. If the Fins are having a bad day, you can get lost in the front-row views of the water, or head out to the back lawn for some oversized chess or jenga. The food is a big step above usual sports bar fare too, with conch fritters and fresh fish specials worth sticking around for after the game.
Posting up with a plate of wings and a pitcher of light domestic drafts at Sports Grill is a Miami rite of passage. With locations throughout the western suburbs, it’s a go-to of almost anyone who grew up here as the place to watch football. Though countless gourmet wing spots have opened during Sports Grill’s lifespan, it still boasts the best wings in Miami. Not just because of nostalgia, but because sauces like the Dale and Miami Heats can’t be duplicated elsewhere.
Hard Rock Stadium
Yes, there are inherent disadvantages to having your football stadium light years from downtown and isolated from anything other than Tootsie’s. The upside, however, is the abundance of tailgating space, where both Fins and Canes fans fire it up every weekend. While this year, Canes fans might credit our tailgate intensity to the fact that blacking out during the game is often preferable to watching it, Tua and the Dolphins have filled Hard Rock tailgates with legitimate pre-game excitement. And no matter how hot it gets we can take comfort knowing the opposing team is going to feel even hotter.
This Wynwood tribute to all things sneakers is like walking into a cavern dripping with televisions, where rows of flatscreens hang from both the indoor and outdoor spaces. Grails’ shady back patio makes for a perfectly pleasant place to enjoy a game now that the weather’s cooled off. And the creative cocktail menu surpasses anything you’d expect from a sports bar, highlighted by the Sneaker Cocktail, served in a ceramic shoe you can take home with you.
Shuckers Waterfront Grill
Miami’s classic spot for cold brews on the water is also among its longest-running homes for NFL Sundays. Regardless of whether or not you can tell a nose tackle from a nose job, it’s hard not to have fun when you’re pounding five-for-$20 beer buckets while literally standing over Biscayne Bay. On weekends, Shucker’s broadcasts all the action on TVs behind the bar and on the dock, alongside a full menu of $12 appetizers like Blackened Chicken Nachos and Loaded Cheese Fries.
If you long for the 1970s and ‘80s dominance of Dolphins and Hurricanes football, do your game-watching at Black Market. The walls are literally papered in reminiscences of the teams’ heydays, so you can ignore the score on TV and focus on better times. The drinks will also help you reminisce on the good old days, with creations like the Eleven After This, a blend of Don Julio Tequila, fresh lime juice, watermelon, agave, and muddled jalapeño, complete with cayenne-salt rim, plus $5 beers and Bacardi drinks during the games.
Sandbar and Grill
The last vestige of Coconut Grove’s college bar persona lives on at Sandbar, where students and alumni still pack the place on Saturday for the Hurricanes. No, not the football team anymore, but the sweet, rum-packed drinks which run from category one through five, turning the place into an indoor tailgate by halftime. Stop by for NFL Sunday Ticket, where those same students show up to watch all the pro teams from “back home.”
Duffy's Sports Grill
For sheer quantity of sports on TV, nowhere in South Florida does it better than Duffy’s, which stuffs both its indoor bar and sprawling waterfront patio with screens. The two-for-one drinks keep flowing during the games, too, meaning you can watch football here every week and still spend less than you would on your cable bill. The food is similarly tailgate-worthy, boasting one of the best burgers in Miami, and a surprisingly strong selection of steaks.
Kush at The Clevelander
The Kush team took over the indoor sports bar at the venerable Cleve, replacing its touristy décor with tributes to old Miami and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The cocktail menu is a fitting tribute, boasting drinks with names like “Finkle is Einhorn” and “I still call it Joe Robbie.” You can post under graffitied signs from the Palmetto Expressway in between watching games on its abundance of flat screens. Or, if you’d rather get out and enjoy the weather, the same menu is available outside along with one of Miami’s best pool parties.
While Miami might not have boat-up tailgating like they do in Seattle or Knoxville, we do have boat-up sports bars, which might be even better. Sun-kissed revelers pull up to this spot on the Brickell side of the Miami River all day long, pausing their rosé-fueled photo sessions long enough to come ashore and down $18 buckets of Bud Light during the game. Toss in the hoards of Brickell locals who’ve made this spot a weekend go-to for all things sports, and you’ve got the closest thing to a Miami yacht party you’ll ever find on land.