The Least-Awful Clubstaurants In Miami
Alright, let’s get weird.
Combining two wildly different things can either go very right (see: peanut butter and jelly) or very wrong (see: toothpaste and orange juice). In the case of the clubstaurant, a mutant mashup of a nightclub and a restaurant, things somehow go both very right and very wrong. It’s about expectations. See, if you go to a clubstaurant expecting great food and impeccable service—well, just don’t. But if you accept these places for what they are (gratuitously expensive dance floors with dinner tables) you might actually have fun. Sure, they’re all sort of awful. But these are Miami’s least-awful clubstaurants.
South Beach’s Hasalon is serving the best food in the Miami clubstaurant universe right now, which, we admit, is a feat akin to being the world’s tallest chihuahua. Ordering requires patience though. The melodramatic menu reads like a freshman creative writing major’s first attempt at poetry. And your poor server will have to explain what, in the exact hell, the “7 stormy clouds. Not even one more” is (spoiler alert: decent ricotta gnocchi sitting in a pool of butter and sage). But even though the $62 local catch has an impressively crispy skin, people mostly come here to dance on furniture like it’s the apocalypse. The cavernous Israeli restaurant has a sort of Jekyll/Hyde personality going on. Before 9pm, it functions more or less as a regular restaurant. After 9pm, the music gets louder, and as the night goes on, things evolve into napkin-waving, table-dancing mayhem. The post-9pm seating requires a $120 per person minimum spend, which might explain why people are dancing so aggressively.
Mango’s comes in last place on this guide when it comes to food and drinks, which are both of the quality we expect from a classic Ocean Drive tourist mecca. However, Mango’s beats the snot out of every single place on this guide when it comes to production value. This place puts on a f*cking show. Around 8pm, the bar turns into a stage, where a flurry of back-to-back performers (who also pull double duty as servers) do everything from salsa dancing and Celia Cruz impersonations to a magic show. It’s delightfully weird, undeniably Miami, and actually more fun than we expected. The dinner and a show package costs a little over $100 per person. Is that too much? Yes. But if you enjoy getting drunk off comically large mojitos that taste like gasoline and playing tourist every now and then, you too might have an unexpectedly good time at Mango’s.
Mila, to its credit, is actually making an effort. It is, like everything on this guide, way pricier than it ought to be. But the “MediterrAsian” food isn’t merely an afterthought. Some of it’s actually tasty. Plus, the restaurant has a sleek design that’s not aesthetically chaotic and pretty outdoor patio seating. This place is honestly on the edge of the clubstaurant spectrum, leaning more towards an actual restaurant. However, it’s got a house soundtrack that’s turned up three notches too loud, fire dancers performing on the outdoor deck, and it’s still sceney enough to satisfy those looking for a proper clubstaurant experience. Just don’t come too hungry, because portions can best be described as nibble-size.
Chica is one of the more mature clubstaurant options on this guide. This MiMo spot is on a relatively quiet street far from any loud bars, so it’s a good option for folks who are afraid of South Beach. The restaurant only transforms into a full-fledged clubstaurant on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 9pm. During those times, sparkly dancers to weave through the big dining room while a DJ and accompanying live saxophone player ensure it’s loud enough to distract you from the fact that the chips and guacamole cost $22. But unlike most clubstaurants, the service is good and the restaurant’s design, a sort of mid-century modern Tulum, is actually quite pretty. The food is way overpriced and just barely above average, which, for a clubstaurant is about as good as it gets. We really like the cocktails here though, and they have some shareable drinks that can serve up to eight.
Even in a genre of dining as supremely weird as the clubstaurant, Sexy Fish stands out as the most bizarre. Where to even start with this place? There’s a life-size figure of Daniel Craig as James Bond in the men’s bathroom, positioned right by the entrance in a way meant to scare the living shit out of you. The massive pink and blue dining room is covered in shiny sculptures of sea creatures that cost so much money it’ll make you mad. This place is what would happen if The Little Mermaid spent too much time in Ibiza. Why do people come here? Mostly to take photos of the ridiculous things we just mentioned. The menu is a mix of sushi and a Mad Libs of rich people foods like wagyu, foie gras, and truffle. It’s just OK and incredibly boring. It’s also what people are paying the least attention to here, especially during dinner service, when the dining room turns into a hallucinogenic fever dream of nautical go-go dancers and sparkly bottle service.
There are two clubstaurants on the Miami River right next to each other, Seaspice and Kiki on the River. Choose Seaspice. It’s got better food (the menu is mostly seafood) and a slightly less insufferable crowd. You 1,000 percent need to make a reservation for the outdoor seating, or else risk getting seated inside the hideous dining room, which feels like a Red Lobster that took ecstasy. And even if you do sit outside, know that there’s a chance your waterfront view will be partially blocked by one of the many passing yachts that park here for a round of lobster and champagne. Maybe if you’re nice, they’ll invite you onboard.
Como Como might read more like an actual restaurant on paper. The big menu has Mexican ceviches, branzino cooked in banana leaf, and more grilled proteins. But the food isn’t nearly memorable enough to be the only reason you come here. No, you’re coming here because it’s in South Beach, you want to eat next to a DJ booth, and (the best part about this place) they have a fun little mezcal lounge in the back where you can dance off the decent roasted esquites alongside tourists who are staying in the hotel that houses this place. It’s also not a difficult reservation to snag and they can accommodate big groups, so keep this place in mind for a last-minute clubstaurant option.
Salvaje is a rooftop restaurant in Midtown best known for almost catching on fire thanks to a wayward sparkler and troublingly flammable decor (thankfully, the damage was minimal). This is an odd little restaurant whose only discernible theme is: rhinoceros. The outdoor space is decorated with an alarming amount of severed, golden rhino heads. The menu is one of those vaguely Asian menus that mostly consists of some very whatever sushi. Viewed solely as a restaurant, this place is pretty awful. But it’s making this guide for a few reasons: the outdoor rooftop space has a lovely sunset view, the food is edible, and portions aren’t laughably small. Plus, during our visit, the DJ was playing one of the better clubstaurant soundtracks we encountered, a disco-heavy mix that featured not one but three Abba songs. And Abba makes everything better.