Where to Tailgate and Watch Football in Miami

The best places to cheer on the home team in Miami.

The Clevelander
Photo courtesy of The Clevelander

There are a great many lifebloods running through South Florida, but local football fandom is not one of them. Not only because neither of our local teams has sniffed a championship since leaving the Orange Bowl, but also because any time we go out to watch a game, we’re inevitably outnumbered by fans from Philadelphia and New York who, er, really love spelling. And yet, while our skills may be mediocre, our parties never are—so if you can handle the opposing fans’ jawing and still enjoy a good weekend of debaucherous football, here are the 11 best places to tailgate or catch a game around Miami.

Hard Rock Stadium

Miami Gardens

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. Some might credit our tailgate intensity to the fact that blacking out during the game is often preferable to watching it, but it’s a testament to our fans’ collective dedication that no matter how bad local football gets, it never affects the action in the parking lots.

Grails

Wynwood

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.

Veza Sur

Wynwood

Miami’s best party brewery is no slouch when it comes to sports, setting up big projection screens on its patio and giving viewers buckets filled with six of their beers for just $20. Not content to leave the pachanga at the brewery, Veza Sur also rolls its famous party bus over to Hard Rock for all Dolphins home games, posting up with a pre-game DJ and abundant beer samples, including the Blood Orange Kolsch, the first-ever beer brewed in collaboration with the Miami Dolphins.

Riverside

Brickell

The most Miami way to watch football isn’t at a stadium—it’s watching on a yacht in the middle of the Miami River. No, you won’t be able to climb aboard and pose like you just made “friends” with the team owner, but for big games you can sometimes kick back at Riverside and watch the game projected on a mega-yacht. For less-important contests, this sunny drinking space brings in tons of slightly-smaller screens, making it the ideal locale for catching pigskin al fresco in South Florida.

Shuckers Waterfront Grill

North Bay Village

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.

DRV PNK Stadium

Fort Lauderdale

In Miami, “football” can also mean the sport played with a spherical ball, two nets, and a LOT of flopping around on the ground with alligator tears. For fans of that game, the tailgate scene for Inter Miami—our new MLS team—is surprisingly boisterous. The small-but-dedicated supporters have a fervor and passion typically dedicated to American football, and the scene outside DRV PNK Stadium reflects it. Don’t expect acres of debauchery like you’d find at Hard Rock, but if you’re looking to pregame Inter Miami-style, you won’t have to look far.

Black Market

Downtown

If going to the real stadium is just a little too depressing for you and you’d rather immerse yourself in Miami football’s glory days, instead, do your game-watching at Black Market. The walls are literally papered in reminiscences of the Dolphins and Hurricanes ‘70s and ‘80s heydays, so you can ignore the score on TV and focus on better times. The drinks will also help you forget the current state of South Florida football, 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

Coconut Grove

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

North Miami Beach

For sheer quantity of sports on TV, nowhere in South Florida does it better than Duffy’s, who 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.

The Clevelander

South Beach

Miami has plenty of fantastic sports bars perfect for taking in a game in air-conditioned comfort surrounded by folks who live here. But if you wanna watch football at a place where live DJs spin during commercial breaks while dancers in body paint gyrate around them and you sip frozen drinks under a palm tree, hit the Cleve. Locals daring to brave the tourists are rewarded with 20% off food and drinks, and beer buckets are a reasonable-for-the-Beach $30.

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.

Matt Meltzer is a Miami-based contributor for Thrillist.