Tired from laying out in the hot sun all day at the beach? Wash off the SPF, shake the sand off your feet and head over to The Palace. Located on the corner of 12th Street and Ocean Drive, The Palace is an outdoor cafe and bar that's perfect for hanging out and watching people.
The only gay bar/cafe located on Ocean Drive, be sure to ask for the daily drink specials that go on all day and be on the lookout for drag show performances.
The space itself is not huge. There are tables that line the sidewalk at street level. People do come and eat, so using the tables to hang out in isn't allowed.
The Palace offers a wide array of food and drink on their menu, so you can commence the day with breakfast or swing by during lunch, or end it with dinner. The prices are reasonable and the food is okay. The service is surprisingly quick even on days like Saturday and Sunday when there's a packed house.
If you're not eating you can move up the steps onto the raised platform where you encounter a split floor plan. To the left, there's a patio deck with some limited seating and chairs. The main bar is located to the back of the deck where there's a makeshift DJ booth in the front corner. Here you have more room to hang out but generally people gravitate towards the front facing Ocean Drive. To the left of the patio deck there's another bar that has seating around it and a few chairs line a smallish veranda that faces the street.
The crowd is made up of locals, tourists, men, women, straight and gay. The vibe is always happy and the typical South Beach attitude is non-existent. The constant pillars of people watching and good music don't change.
Sunday is the best day to go. The Palace T-Dance gets good an hour or so before the sun starts to set. Then the drag show begins, and you don’t want to miss it. The show usually begins on the strip of sidewalk that is nestled between the cafe style tables. On occasion, the show has spilled onto Ocean Drive, making it literally a traffic stopper.
The Palace Food Bar & Grill, 1200 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-531-7234
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 10 a.m - 2 a.m.
Best days: Saturday and Sunday (T-Dance)
Details: All major credit cards accepted; full bar and food menu; wheelchair accessible.
The Palace Food Bar & Grill, 1200 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. Photo: Alex Guerra