Music & Nightlife - Staff Picks
Published: July 18, 2012
Best improved concert room
Small hall at the Plaza Live
The old splendor of this venue's grand hall is undeniable. But, besides being in its considerable shadow, the small hall used to feel like an ad hoc music room. However, recent investments like a new PA, permanent sound booth, additional acoustic wall treatment for improved sound, upgraded lighting rig and removal of the tiered floor to increase capacity have gradually transformed the more accessible space into a legitimate concert room in its own right that's hosted acts like Maps & Atlases and Cults. And according to the venue, plans to double the PA are already in the works.
Best High-End Space for Lowdown Gossip
100 S. Eola Drive
Though we may have been initially dubious about the potential for the Abbey – it is, after all, located at the base of the Sanctuary, one of downtown's more glamorous condo-living compounds – thinking it would be little more than a mess hall for people with no messes, it's actually blossomed into a charming multi-purpose venue for parties and performances alike. The Abbey's real value, though, comes during political season, when it unconsciously morphs into the de facto donor magnet for your suited hopefuls. Put politics and booze together and you're bound to have some seething gossip, emotional breakdowns and even, on occasion, somebody passing out. Turns out that everyone has messes!
Best bar to really feel like you're in Florida
1014 Miami Springs Drive, Longwood
No matter how urban – or urbane – you think you are, sometimes nothing beats a lazy day drinking alongside a good old-fashioned gator-infested Central Florida river. Wekiva Island, a little hot spot for boating, drinking and other outdoorsy good times tucked just off a main thoroughfare down the road from Wekiwa Springs State Park, is one part marina, one part environmentalist retreat, with a big old dose of outdoor bar and grill thrown in for good measure. It's got lush, jungly scenery that serves as the backdrop for bonfires, cornhole games, volleyball and lounging. Rent a canoe and spend the day cruising up and down the river, then rent a party cabana or sit on the boardwalk with a beer in hand and watch the world – and its wildlife – go by. It really doesn't get much more Florida than this.
Best sober-up, don't hate yourself late-night food
932 N. Mills Ave., 321-236-7457, takocheena.com