The Old Miami – I’m in love!!!! I love a good dive bar, and The Old Miami is a classic.
My uncle who lives downtown tipped me off to this place; it’s one of his favorites. When my mom and I were in Detroit last Thursday celebrating my birthday, he told us stories of fireworks being set off in the bar’s backyard during Fourth of July celebrations and boozy Christmas Eve potlucks. I was like, I NEED to see this place. So after visiting nearby Source Booksellers, my mom and I decided to stop there for a quick drink.
That quick drink turned into several drinks over several hours, with my uncle coming to join us. It proved difficult to leave The Old Miami’s phenomenal backyard, a mash-up of picnic tables, an outdoor bar, a muddy koi pond/fountain, and granny-chic fabulousness(bronze statues, pots and pots of colorful flowers). Sitting out on this gorgeous day (it was in the high 70s), with the late-afternoon fall sunshine slanting through the patio umbrellas, while old men cut and weedwacked the lawn … THAT was life. That was exactly the way that life should be every day. Every day should be my birthday and a day that I get to spend at a chock-full-of-character bar instead of in my cubicle at work.
At least I have the memory of that day, and the ability to go back to The Old Miami whenever I want.
The bar’s interior is classic dive. Lots of veteran memorabilia and ’80s-era children’s school pictures – presumably relatives of the owner – form a dense collage above the bar counter. There are the requisite pool tables and pieces of grungy furniture. A tired syndicated crime drama played on the TVs the afternoon we were there. A few fellow drinkers, mostly of the younger demographic, were scattered around the bar and yard.
In researching The Old Miami online, I found accounts that said it has been around since the ’70s and is renowned for being the site of performances by many locally- and nationally-known bands. As a Detroit Metro Times profile puts it, it’s been called “the C.B.G.B’s of the Midwest.” I saw the stage when I was there, but I wouldn’t have gathered that it was such a musically significant place. Pretty cool!
I can’t speak to the men’s room, but the ladies’ room at The Old Miami is an absolute fright. There was a sign in it on my visit asking female patrons to please pardon the construction, but I got the sense that said construction – the details of which weren’t entirely clear – wasn’t going to make things much better. The front half contained a sink with no paper towel or soap; the back half was a curtained area with two toilets, just straight-up chilling out in the open – no dividers or anything shielding them from each other.
Unless two drunk college girl friends are going in to pee together (as so many of us did in our youth!), this bathroom setup is not helpful. It was hard to know if someone was already in there, so that my mom inadvertently walked in on another woman on the toilet, who cheerily urged her to come on in. My mom opted to wait for her to finish.
Still, while the ladies’ room setup was less than desirable, it didn’t detract from my adoration of the place. I’ll navigate some jank potties for access to such an epic backyard!
3930 Cass Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201