Why is it that so many of the best things in life end up being the ones that were there all along, hidden in plain sight? Whether we're staring at our phones too often to notice or simply haven't been looking in the right places, South Florida is home to a handful of off-the-beaten-path venues where the vibes are chill and the music is almost always spot-on.
Prepare to revel in that special thrill that can come only from discovering, or rediscovering, a hidden gem in your own backyard. Here are five secretly awesome spots to catch killer live music in South Florida.
Stache 1920's Drinking Den
109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-449-1044, or visit stacheftl.com.
Stache is the latest incarnation in a long line of predecessors in its back-of-the-block SW Second Avenue location. But even with its late-2013 speakeasy face-lift and an impressive history as a venue for alternative music in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Stache can get lost in the shadow of its big brother, Revolution Live, and drunk, spring-breaker cousin, America's Backyard. While weekends tend to see this venue forming lines for its bumping, late-night house-music parties, Stache's music programming throughout the week is actually eclectic and out-of-the-box.
Thursdays and Fridays are dedicated to
"We're not Revolution," Stache tells us of the venues' sound technicians. "But it's that same quality and detail that carries through to Stache. The venues care about it."
All That Jazz Café
3491 N. Hiatus Road, Sunrise. Call 754-216-9643, or visit allthatjazzcafe.com.
All That Jazz opened up shop around two and a half years ago to little fanfare. The unsuspecting venue is nestled in a strip mall way out west in Sunrise but secretly plays host to some of South Florida's most talented jazz musicians every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The brainchild of Dave and Mike Kolber, two brothers who moved from New York to Sunrise in 1972, "back when Pine Island was still a dirt road," the café goes part and parcel with New York Music Academy, the music school next door that the same family also runs.
While Dave, whose wife serves as head chef of the Italian/Cajun-focused eatery, says they consider the space "more of a restaurant with live music than a club," he admits that they receive their share of patrons who come expressly for the tunes — which is why, although there is never a cover charge, they do adhere to a food/beverage minimum. Co-owner Mike Kolber, director of the music school and an esteemed double bassist in his own right, can often be seen jumping in on Thursday nights to accompany the Mike Norris 17-piece jazz orchestra for the "Big Band/Double Feature" from 8 to 10 p.m. It's a definite highlight of the venue's programming, which features some of South Florida's brightest jazz talents "warming up" for bigger gigs out east and around the world.
52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-330-3232, or visit dadadelray.com.
Dada in Delray Beach boasts a pretty high-brow food and beverage menu that includes entrées like braised lamb neck, grilled Brie, and a "Dali’s Thyme" cocktail — not to mention a gorgeous outdoor patio that could rival any chic NYC
A self-professed "eclectic restaurant with an artistic bent," the folks behind Dada transformed a historic home into an artistic enclave where daily entertainment programming isn't just a sidebar to the food. The venue hosts regular
Lafayette's Music Room
550 S. Rosemary Ave., Suite 236, West Palm Beach. Call 561-420-8600, or visit lafayettes.com/westpalmbeach.
Carrying the torch for authentic, seven-nights-a-week Southern music is relative newcomer Lafayette's. The CityPlace restaurant and bar features a pretty serious and eclectic nightly program of live music, offering patrons everything from Americana, country, and blues to jazz and rock 'n' roll. Playing up its speakeasy vibe, Lafayette's hosts live piano music or acoustic guitar every night during dinner and rotates in a steady stream of both local and visiting musicians to keep music lovers coming back night after night.
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Acts like soulful Virginia group the Congress, reggae-funk rockers Spiritual Rez, and New Orleans brass aficionados the Dirty Bourbon River Show are just a few upcoming acts to look forward to.
Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery
2621 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton. Call 561-368-4643, or visit thefunkybuddha.com.
Here's another great South Florida music venue that maintains a pretty low profile — and we like it that way. The cozy Boca spot was originally a craft microbrewery, but it's also a longstanding home for local musicians, aspiring poets and comedians, and generally cool, artsy people who enjoy congregating to share ideas and support local talent.
Every Monday, the Buddha hosts its Homemade Jam improv music night, and every Wednesday, it's home to the longest-running