Best of Miami®

Best Of 2000

Neighborhoods

  • + Aventura/North Miami Beach
  • + Beaches
  • + Boca Raton
  • + Brickell
  • + Central Dade
  • + Coconut Grove
  • + Cooper City
  • + Coral Gables
  • + Coral Gables/South Miami
  • + Coral Springs/Margate
  • + Cutler Bay/Palmetto Bay
  • + Dania Beach
  • + Davie
  • + Davie/West Hollywood
  • + Doral
  • + Downtown/Overtown
  • + East Kendall/Pinecrest
  • + Florida Keys
  • + Fort Lauderdale
  • + Hallandale Beach
  • + Hialeah
  • + Highland Beach
  • + Hollywood
  • + Homestead/Florida City
  • + Key Biscayne
  • + Lauderhill
  • + Little Haiti/Liberty City
  • + Little Havana
  • + Miami Gardens
  • + Miami Lakes
  • + Mid/North Beach
  • + Midtown/Wynwood/Design District
  • + Miramar
  • + North Dade
  • + North Miami
  • + North Palm Beach
  • + Oakland Park
  • + Out of Town
  • + Outside South Florida
  • + Palm Beach County
  • + Palm Beach Gardens
  • + Pembroke Pines
  • + Plantation
  • + Plantation/Sunrise/Tamarac
  • + Pompano Beach
  • + Pompano Beach/Deerfield Beach/Coconut Creek
  • + Riviera Beach
  • + Sea Ranch Lakes
  • + South Beach
  • + South Dade
  • + Sunrise
  • + Sunrise/Plantation
  • + Surfside/Bal Harbor/Bay Harbor Islands
  • + Sweetwater/Westchester/West Miami
  • + Tamiami
  • + Unknown
  • + Upper Eastside/Miami Shores/Biscayne Park
  • + Wellington
  • + West Dade
  • + West Kendall
  • + West Palm Beach
  • + Weston
  • + Wilton Manors
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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Spanish-Language Newsstand

Although he's only worked here for thirteen years, Guido Dominguez claims a newsstand has been on this corner for forty-three years. If that's true the place is almost half as old as the City of Miami. As the number of bilingual citizens has grown, so has the quantity of reading material in languages other than English, Dominguez says. Four decades ago there weren't many Chileans around to buy the newspaper El Mercurio, which today figures prominently in the racks. In bygone days soccer didn't register as a sport in Miami; today soccer magazines El Gráfico and Don Balon are fast-selling items. Long ago Brazilians rarely visited downtown Miami; now Brasileros often grab O Estado de São Paulo. There also are entertainment magazines such as Caras (kind of like People's Spanish-language edition) and the famous TV y Novelas (sort of like Soap Opera Digest but with more flair). News magazines such as Año Cero also abound. For the less serious reader, there's El Condorito, a comic-book series featuring guess what bird.

Best Barbershop

Blink and you'll drive past this quaint barbershop tucked away in a dingy strip mall on the northern edge of the City of Progress. Want to take the pulse of Miami-Dade's second largest municipality? Plop down on one of the three red-vinyl barbers' chairs, grab a macho car magazine, and engage owner Manuel Perez in conversation. The tonsorial artist will boisterously complain about local politicians, critique a new restaurant, and tell tall tales of his latest fishing expedition. While he is snipping and clipping, a cast of local characters ranging from the neighborhood drunk to the beat cop will walk in to greet the middle-age barber, who sports a full head of salt-and-pepper locks. Spend a little time and you'll get not only the scoop, but a good cut for a measly $12. And Manny will even shave those pesky hairs from the back of your neck.

Best Hip-Hop Barbershop

An unlikely combination in an unlikely place. During the day this little storefront, wedged between an antique shop and a plumbing-supply store near the Miami-Coral Gables frontier, is mostly a haircut hangout. Nelson, an affable, experienced barber, dispenses 'dos and relationship advice, in both English and Spanish, to customers who recline in two barbers' chairs. DJ Flex Perez devotes one wall to baggy jeans and T-shirts the size of pup tents. Perez also oversees a rack of vinyl for party-spinning (heavy on rap and house), a few CDs, some caps, and some videos for sale. But the place's real genius lies in the crossmarketing. On his business cards, Perez emphasizes Nelson's scissors skillz, including "Fadez," "Caesars," and "Close Cuts." If you're kickin' it old-school, Nelson offers a half-price senior-citizen discount on weekdays -- five bucks.

Best Barbershop

Blink and you'll drive past this quaint barbershop tucked away in a dingy strip mall on the northern edge of the City of Progress. Want to take the pulse of Miami-Dade's second largest municipality? Plop down on one of the three red-vinyl barbers' chairs, grab a macho car magazine, and engage owner Manuel Perez in conversation. The tonsorial artist will boisterously complain about local politicians, critique a new restaurant, and tell tall tales of his latest fishing expedition. While he is snipping and clipping, a cast of local characters ranging from the neighborhood drunk to the beat cop will walk in to greet the middle-age barber, who sports a full head of salt-and-pepper locks. Spend a little time and you'll get not only the scoop, but a good cut for a measly $12. And Manny will even shave those pesky hairs from the back of your neck.

Best Skate Shop

The in-line skater brings home a new set of wheels. They are too big. This bothers him. He returns to Universal, where he purchased the wheels a day earlier. Returns are no problem, he's told, even though he'd opened the packages. "Where do you skate?" he is asked. A nearby rink, he replies. "Oh, really? I used to skate out there. These wheels are too hard for that surface. You'd be better off with something softer, such as these," the clerk says, holding out a new package of wheels. Not only is the clerk's selection the proper size and better for the intended purpose, it also costs a lot less money. The clerk wraps up the new wheels, signs a form, then reaches into the register for a twenty-dollar refund. The customer is bothered no more. In fact he is delighted. Service like this is rare, he thinks to himself. Service like this is why Universal wins the Best Skate Shop award year after year. Universal is the best, hands down.

Best Place To Style The Pooch

It's that time again. Fido is a mess, and you're in no mood to wrestle him into the tub. For 40 years Dog Charm has catered to the needs of area pet owners. At a cost of just $25, these canine lovers will bathe shaggy manes and brush them to groomed perfection. And they'll throw in a good nail-clipping. For $60 they'll perfectly shave him so he can withstand the brutal Florida summer. And this is no cost-cutting trim; these dog charmers are as sensitive to mutts' allergies as the little beasts themselves. Forget about ticks and fleas. One visit to this place and that annoying morning scratching will be a distant memory. Bring the pooch in early and you'll get him back by afternoon. Appointments are recommended.

Best Mall
Aventura Mall

Retail stores and malls in Miami-Dade County continue to multiply exponentially, complicating the question of where to shop. Oh the Falls has its merits: lush foliage, soothing sounds of water, and a view of the sky. But on a sticky summer day, when it rains sideways, you better hope you're not strolling down the sidewalk toting your brand-new wedding dress. The fortresslike Shops at Sunset Place also boasts that indoor/outdoor thing, including fake trees and a lot more concrete. The IMAX theater is swell, but the joint is really just an inward-looking CocoWalk. Bal Harbour? Too chichi, even though the Everyman Gap and Banana Republic are there. But pay to park our car? Don't think so, even less because the management is squabbling with a neighboring church. Tacky! We like to stay dry, not feel claustrophobic, park for free, and, of course, enjoy a wide selection of shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and myriad free events like antique and flower shows. Aventura more than meets all those requirements. After a multimillion-dollar revamp, it touts major anchors such as Burdines, Bloomingdale's, and Macy's; 250 specialty stores, including chains like Restoration Hardware, BCBG, and Nine West; plus a smattering of independent boutiques. There's also 24 new theaters and enough food to feed a Third World country for years. An early morning mall-walking exercise program is available for those who overindulge. Quite simply shopping utopia.

19501 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura, 33180
MAP
305-935-1110
Best Piñata Maker

In a small warehouse Liliana Perez stores papier-mâché creations, some up to six feet tall and covered in crepe paper of every hue imaginable. Each week Perez says she moves about 200 piñatas, including bright-green dragons, coffee-color horses, jolly clowns, and even butterflies. Drum-shape piñatas are stacked to the ceiling; they go for wholesale prices to party-supply stores. "I can make a piñata for any occasion," Perez boasts. A few years ago Metrozoo asked Perez to make five life-size animals for display. During the Christmas season, she produces Santa Clauses. And some corporations have ordered their company logos in the form of piñatas. Perez even made a perfectly round sun with tentaclelike rays that brightened up a little boy's winter birthday party. When the children pulled on its orange, yellow, and red strings, a shower of sweets poured down on them. Prices for Perez's piñatas range from $12 to $250.

Best Botánica

For practitioners of Santería and vodou, mystery has always been the vessel of the sacred. Since the days of colonialism, when slaves kept African gods alive by cloaking them with the names of Catholic saints, keeping a secret has meant preserving one's culture. Although the world has changed, practitioners of syncretic religions today are as secretive as ever. Indeed reticence may be the very measure of quality. This year's choice shop for incense, spell-casting oils, and books of the trade is Vierge Miracle and Saint Philippe Botánica. For days the female attendant at this shop kept New Times at bay, refusing to answer even the most basic questions. The store's façade is playfully decorated in purple-painted faux bricks. Ezili Dantó, a mother-warrior spirit depicted as the Virgin Mother with child, is painted high above the entrance doors. Compas music from a nearby record store flows through the incense-scented air inside. Colorful, sequined libation bottles featuring deities' pictures fill the top rows of a glass-enclosed bookshelf. And in a nod to Afro-Cuban culture, you can find candles and perfume staples like Rompe Brujo (spell breaker), Intranquilo (restless), and Ven-a-mi (come to me). For serious ailments of the body and soul, a consultation with owner Elsie Joseph is recommended. If lack of faith puts a damper on your cure, the vibrant colors of Little Haiti street life at NE 59th Street and Second Avenue will chase away those doubt-creating spirits.

Best Art-Supply Store

Old school is the way Sidney Kaufman describes his one-of-a-kind arts emporium. Indeed this spacious shop is frozen in time. At the 24-year-old Palette, you can find graphic-arts supplies that haven't been available in most stores since the dawn of the computer age. Transfer type, which was used to do layout before the advent of Quark, can be purchased here. But it won't be around for long. Manufacturers have stopped making it, complains Kaufman, who has been in the business 55 years. The Palette also offers stuff to get you started on blast-from-the-past art forms like screen printing, block printing, calligraphy, and bumper-sticker making. Of course there timeless oil paints are available in every hue imaginable. Watercolors and acrylics abound. And there are fiber-tip pens, charcoal, drafting gear, easels, china markers, artists' pencils, and recycled artist paper. Art students even get discounts at the Palette. "We try to look out for them," says Kaufman with a sympathetic smile.

Best Fantasy Clothes

Marriage stale? Bored with your boyfriend? Feeling more stagnant than sexy? Before hunting for a divorce lawyer or breaking the monotony with small animals, try Oxys. Almost every clothing fantasy is accommodated in this emporium, which offers wares that make Victoria's Secret's selection seem like Sunday-school attire. In the front room are fantasy outfits like jungle girl or French maid, as well as a wide range of thongs, teddies, nightgowns, crotchless panties, and bustiers. The message is clear: Less is definitely more. The most popular color seems to be fire-engine red. The back room holds novelty items -- whips, vibrators, lotions, and edible undies. "It lets you keep on being creative, baby," says store owner Barbara Houghton, who has catered to adventurous patrons for the past ten years. Oxys is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Best Place For DJs To Buy Vinyl

If you want to track down your favorite DJ during daylight hours, head for the row of turntables inside Yesterday & Today, which retains its long-time position as ground zero for the doyens of clubland. The reasons are simple: a friendly and knowledgeable staff, weekly infusions of new releases (including a steady stream of white-label twelve-inchers), and a mellow vibe that's conducive to hanging out and catching up on the latest dance-scene gossip. Best of all, hometown hero DJ Stryke has recently returned to his place behind the counter, and he's spiced up the store's stock with some left-field techno and experimental grooves.

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Best Spanish-Language Newsstand: Guido's Stand

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