Ball & Chain
Name: Gina Pelaez
Occupation: English Teacher
Lives In: Hialeah
Restaurant Pick: Ball and Chain
Reviewed: Ball and Chain
The reason I keep going back to ball and chain over and over again is the atmosphere. Typically my husband and I have to wait for a family party like a quinces or wedding to have the opportunity to dance salsa the majority of the night. Ball and Chain offers the same sort of fun all the time along with some amazing entertainers and live bands. Outside by the pineapple, where the live band plays, there isn't one person who is just standing without dancing. It's a party every night. Ball and Chain feels like the kind of Cuban nights my husband and I might have been able to enjoy if we were actually on the Island itself. It's a place where young and old come together to enjoy a night full of music, fun and life. Getting ready for a night out in Little Havana is much like prepping for a party. Cute cocktail dress, heels are a must and typically a kickass red lipstick. My husband knows that if that's the direction my attire is taking for the night, we must be heading to Ball and Chain. There is plenty of street parking but also valet for those that don't feel as comfortable navigating the one way only streets. There is a red velvet rope outside for the hours when the crowds start to form but no cover charge which is one of the reasons why it's tops on my favorites list. The outside looks like you might have stepped back in time to Cuba during its heydays. A large marquee features the band of the night, a vintage car parked out front so you already know you aren't in modern day Miami anymore.
The place is packed inside after 9pm on weekends so getting a seat at the bar or a table can be tricky, fortunately, we scored one stool and my husband was happy to stand behind me while we waited for our appetizers. I ordered the canita and my husband the Calle Ocho old fashioned, we like to share our first drinks to decide which we prefer for our second round. The tobacco leaf was a nice touch to the smoky yet sweet old fashioned and the smooth sweetness of the canita made me certain that it was pure delicious and fresh sugarcane that was used in my drink. The flavors were perfectly balanced and a nice start for the night but we switched to our reliable Cuba Libres (aka mentirita) for the following rounds (run and diet with lime, strong yet refreshing). We typically don't eat when we come to Ball and Chain but were intrigued by their tapas selections this night since we had skimped out on dinner. The hubs loves corn so we order the roasted corn tapas as well as queso frito (because I love cheese as much as he loves corn) and the B&C tacos felt like just the right amount of food to bite our hunger without being too full to dance. The corn was tough to eat at a bar but the queso frito and tacos proved to be just the right dishes to go along with our drinks without filling up too much. The queso frito came along with a nice little guava sauce so my already favorite thing to eat was made a little extra special topped with the extra sweetness. The pork tacos were a nice balance for the cheese appetizer and topped with queso fresco automatically won me over. Once we polished off our tapas we ordered another drink to share and hit the dance floor outside where the live band was chiming out tunes to get old and young alike up on their feet. Ball and Chain is the sort of place where you'll find a grandfather dancing with his adult grandchildren as they celebrate his 80th birthday. Reminiscing of days of old while enjoying the energy and beautiful music you are always sure to find at this place. The inside area turns into a DJ dance party with performers dancing bar top to modern day hits while the band outside sticks to old classics flanked by private table service for those out for a special occasion. This last visit to Ball and Chain proved to me, once more, that it's as reliable as a family party, just the right mix of ages, great music and authentic cultural fare and always a good time!
Name: Alex Bokor
Lives In: Miami, Florida
Restaurant Pick: Pamela’s Restaurant
Reviewed: Ball and Chain
We parked on the street, it may be better to uber, lyft, or taxi, especially if you’re having more than one drink, but they also have valet for those that drive. The ambiance when you walk in is inviting, crowded, and loud, in a great way. The crowd is culturally and age diverse, but everyone there is enjoying the 1930s Cuban vibe. The music is great, often with live music in the main room and also with performers in the patio stage, which is really where the fun is. We didn’t reserve a table so I just got my food and my drink at the bar. The service was stellar and friendly—sometimes hard to find in a bar in Miami. I love going out in Little Havana, this is a spot my wife and I have been to many times and have brought friends. I’m not a great dancer but my wife is, so it gives us an opportunity to dance for a few minutes to make her happy, and we both love live music. Honestly, the food is very nice and fairly priced, especially for the ambiance. It is not the star of the show. The drinks are fun. This time, I had my favorite, the bananita daiquiri which is creamy without being overly sweet or cloying. But I have had several drinks off their menu and they do an excellent job matching the ambiance and providing a bit of a Cuban themed craft cocktail feel to a great bar and lounge. . Ball and Chain hits a sweet spot!
Name: Eric Snow
Occupation: Aerospace Program Director
Lives In: Hollywood, Florida
Restaurant Pick: Tipsy Boar
Reviewed: Ball and Chain
Upon arriving at Ball and Chain Miami at 630pm on a Friday night, we were slightly concerned with my wife getting out of the passenger side of our car as the traffic moved by at a swift pace. Once safely on the sidewalk in front this unassuming location, we walked inside and were immediately immersed in an old-Florida feeling bar with smooth, live jazz playing and the smell of fresh mint and cigars in the air. Although the inside bar area was not very busy, we opted to walk towards the back and were immediately surprised by the open back patio with a pineapple bandshell where technicians were setting up music equipment. There were several small parties out back and the patio was not very busy either. We went to the bar, told them we had never been here, and both bartenders immediately began showing us the drinks and advising on some of the signature tapas delicacies. They advised that things really didn’t get hopping until around 10pm as that was when the other live band started on the patio. They also advised that all of the tables / seating areas both inside and outside are bottle service only / reserved and must be reserved via their website prior to coming. That being said, we could sit anywhere we like until 820pm as the reservations begin at 830pm. My wife ordered a Mojito, I ordered a Calle Ocho Old Fashioned – drinks were 2 for 1 at this time (before 7pm). The drinks were mixed very well (and strong!). We took a small patio seat spot and just let the evening drift on for a bit, soaking in the ambience of the patio area – relaxing and peaceful. After about 5 minutes, a server approached, informing us of the reservation rules for seating again, and wanted to know if we wanted anything; we ordered mariquitas and the Cuban spring roll. Food was provided very quickly and was simply delicious – especially the Cuban spring rolls! As these were tapas, the portions were properly sized.
As we continued to talk, we noticed that our server and several other servers were standing around chatting, basically waiting on what we assume is the “rush” to come after 830pm. Our server came back over, we ordered another round of drinks, ice waters, chicken quesadillas and the steak sliders. Drinks came quickly and the food took about 10 minutes or so. Again, we continued to enjoy the outdoor setting and were curious as to what would happen if it started to rain? If you paid, minimum $275 for a table, and it started to pour – what would they do? The steak sliders were fantastic! However, after taking a bite of our chicken quesadillas, we realized that they came out as steak quesadillas. They were delicious so, rather than sending them back, we opted to finish them. Again, as these were tapas, portions were properly sized. We requested our check (tip is included), prices were fair ($8 for all tapas food items), we tipped a little bit extra as our server took time to explain how it all worked on the patio. We went back inside to listen to the live jazz band and hung out by the bar – the jazz band was really great. People were starting to flow in and the bar was starting to get busier. At this point, we noticed it starting raining outside – which gave me the opportunity to ask my question regarding what happened if you paid for a table outside and it started raining. After asking several people (the bartender, the bounder, and another gentleman), I was advised that they were unsure but was sure that the manager would make it right; we never found out the actual answer. We finished our drinks as the jazz band finished their set; we gave our ticket to the valet who returned with our car fairly quickly. As our evening started out with being worried about my wife getting in on the busy street, I was pleasantly surprised that the valet blocked traffic this time and opened her door. Perhaps this is something they should also do when droping-off your car at the valet.
Location: 1513 SW 8th Street
Restaurant Owners: Zach Bush, Ben Bush, Bill Fuller
Type of Cuisine: Cuban tapas
Signature Dishes: Cuban Spring rolls, sliders
Vegetarian Options: Yes
Alcohol Served: Yes!
Bottle Limit: No
Monday –12PM -12AM
Tuesday –12PM -12AM
Wednesday – 12PM -12AM
Thursday –12 PM- 3AM
Friday – 12 PM- 3AM
Saturday – 12 PM- 3AM
Sunday – 2 PM- 10 PM
Meals Served: Roasted corn w/ queso fresco, plantains, steak sliders, steak quesadillas, fish tacos, sandwiches
Prix Fix Menu: N/A
Average Dinner Price Range (per person, full meal, tax, 20% gratuity, w/o alcohol):
Average Lunch Price Range (per person, full meal, tax, 20% gratuity, w/o alcohol):
Payment Options: do you accept credit cards and if so, which ones? No discovery
Accept Reservations: Yes
How far in advance do you require reservations be made: ASAP
Accommodations for Children: No children after 8
Dining Style: Casual/fun
Accommodate Groups: Yes
Private Dining Room:
Tables with Scenic Views:
Outdoor Dining: Yes
Entertainment: Yes, dancers, salsa classes, band