By: Kara Franker
Explore Little Haiti’s independent music and nightlife scene.
A vibrant and colorful cultural haven, Little Haiti is where you’ll find live music, book stores, art galleries, voodoo shops, wall murals and even a large cultural center. Go to this popular Miami neighborhood for a popular bar scene, laid-back pubs and good restaurants with global flavors.
Little Haiti’s dynamic impact in Miami’s thriving independent music scene centers around NE 2nd Avenue and NE 55th Street where Churchill’s Pub and Sweat Records are located. Little Haiti fosters a unique sound: a blend of jazz, Afro-Cuban, rap, electronic and everything in between.
There was a time when record shops were crucial to local music and people congregated over new vinyl releases. The shop owners knew every band you had to listen to. It’s gotten tougher to keep the magic of the record shop alive, but Sweat Records has proven it’s not impossible. Sweat Records is more than a record shop, it’s a café, music store, event space and hangout to Miami’s indie scene. Sweat Records is credited with organizing and spreading the word on the rise of the indie scene in Miami. While still cozy, the space has a small stage, a vegan café with delicious specialty coffee drinks (using soy and almond milk), free WiFi and space to use it, rows and rows of CDs and records with hand drawn labels, T-shirts and merchandise from local bands. Sweat puts on a yearly block-party called Sweatstock and has named a new holiday, Record Store Day.
A no frills hotspot, Churchill’s Pub is one of Little Haiti’s most popular bar and music venues. Head to this dive bar for cheap beer and a fun night out with friends. Around since 1979, this unpretentious spot has become a haven for everything from classic jazz and alternative rock bands, to football watch parties, casual get-togethers and more. Still as popular as it was when it first opened, go there for a stiff cocktail and a fun game of pool with your friends, and stay for the laid-back vibes and Scotch eggs. The latter is the most popular dish on the menu. 5501 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33137
A lively cocktail lounge, Punch is where you can go to nosh on Cuban food, sip mojitos and dance the night away. Known for its creative mojitos with a tropical twist, served in fishbowl-sized urns with spigots, this spot is both a throwback and a new find. American food is fused with traditional Cuban fare, and a new music style, RESASÓN (a mix of reggaetón, salsa and són) keeps everyone in high spirits. Punch is an indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar, with an intimate interior and a 100-seat patio in the former space of News Lounge. 5580 NE 4th Court #6, Miami, FL 33137
You’d think this tiny wine bar belongs in a Parisian alleyway. BarMeli69 is known for its friendly staff, live music and impressive wine selection. Owner Liza Meli showcases unusual wine blends to sip and savor with friends. A lively spot, this bar attracts a crowd, especially on nights with live music. When you go, pair your Mediterranean tapas with the owner’s personal red-blend sangria. It’s as refreshing and eclectic as the bar it is served in. 6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138
Rasta Village is an outdoor spot that fuses natural food with music and community. Wander through the venue, and you’ll find Rastafarian-inspired murals, a cascading fountain filled with fish and turtles, and even a giant shade tree, all of which create laid-back vibes. In line with its commitment to natural food, you'll find juice bars and a Jamaican menu with rice and peas, ackee and salt fish, veggie stews, jerk chicken and more, all made from produce in the onsite garden. Near the back, a stage hosts spoken word and live music performances, while gatherings centered around physical activity and well-being. 5225 NW Second Avenue, Miami, FL 33128
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