Best of Miami®

Best Of 2002

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

BEST TOY STORE

Dolls are toys too! A toy emporium doesn't have to be packed with Pokémon, G.I. Joes, Beanie Babies, or remote-controlled cars. We'll admit it may be a little creepy walking into this two-and-a-half-year-old store, which is wall-to-wall dolls, and being stared at by a thousand pairs of eyes. But we're happy to report that one pair of peepers belongs to famous Spanish figure Mariquita Perez, a post-World War II favorite of many an affluent Latin girl. Mariquita, born in 1938 San Sebastian, Spain, sports a head full of long brown curls, big blue eyes, and a series of snazzy outfits and accessories -- straw hats, sundresses, sailor suits, and the like. Outside of Spain she is only available here, in a large porcelain-faced expensive example, an eighteen-inch vinyl version, or a mini model. In addition the eight shelves lining the long room offer playthings from the Asi Collection (designed by Angela Simon) and a slew of Madame Alexander collector's dolls, many decked out as fictional characters. Hansel and Gretel wear little lederhosen. The Wizard of Oz's Glinda the Good Witch gently wields her wand while her malevolent green-faced sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, fiercely rides her broom. Folks on a budget can pick up a book of paper dolls. And those who prefer stuffed animals over pretend people can choose from an assortment of terry-cloth-covered teddy bears, cows, and lambs. Shop Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. On Sunday the dolls get some shuteye.

BEST JUNK

This is junkyard heaven, the place where cool, funky things go to die or to be bought or rented as the case may be. Chandeliers and traffic lights hang from the ceiling while stained-glass windows, Coca-Cola vending machines, marble busts, golf clubs, and bookshelves line the walls. Looking for a life-size bronze boar sculpture with green patina? It's here. A vintage, Jetsons-style Philco Predicta television set from the Fifties? Yep, right over there. A giant Head and Shoulders shampoo display bottle? Check the back. Old gas station signs, telephones, typewriters? Got 'em. Don't know what you're looking for? Give yourself at least an hour to walk through this Smithsonian-scale emporium. If you feel yourself getting tired, plop yourself down in that row of movie-theater seats over by the door.

BEST PLACE TO BUY ITALIAN DELICACIES WHILE LISTENING TO DEAN MARTIN
Laurenzo's Italian Market

If Laurenzo's were nothing more than the area's best Italian market (and most people say it is), it would still be worth writing about. But the 50-year-old institution is so much more: a slice of Little Italy in Miami-Dade County, an oasis of Old World charm, a portal onto the past. Laurenzo's isn't just a store. It's a milieu. And it comes with its own soundtrack, piped in direct from the Fifties and featuring a couple of Italian crooners you may have heard before. Where else can you get "Volare" with your veal? "Memories Are Made of This" with your mozzarella? "Sway" with your spaghetti? Ah, Laurenzo's. "That's Amore!"

16385 W. Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, 33160
MAP
305-945-6381
BEST FLORIST

"From the womb to the tomb and all moments in between." Those are the appropriate times for flowers and plants, according to the ebullient Jenny Kallert, who has run her famous flower shop since 1973. With the fastidious zip of a German-accented bee in pollination mode, she works in her environs making "creations," not mere arrangements. To Jenny, who in 1959 escaped communist East Germany with her family (all of whom were also florists), flowers are not just luxuries to be appreciated on special occasions. They are necessities, as vital to life as air, food, and water. She keeps things intimate by customizing each piece and working only with independently owned greenhouses instead of large-scale flower growers; Jenny's stock includes a variety of tulips, azaleas, orchids, and roses not normally sold at your everyday FTD stand.

BEST NEWSSTAND

Broward has Bob's and we have Worldwide. That's the best way to explain this store's perennial lock on this category. If you're looking for an obscure magazine or an out-of-town newspaper, this is where you must come. And if Worldwide doesn't have it, you're out of luck, bub. Regardless of what you were searching for initially, it's hard to imagine leaving Worldwide empty-handed. Several well-organized aisles offer up everything from the Observer (both London's and New York City's) to more colorful publications such as Paranoia! and Bitch. Best of all is an owner who is not only familiar with virtually every title in his store but the precise day of the week they're set to arrive. Never again will you miss an issue of Asian Cult Cinema.

BEST COSTUME JEWELRY

A cameo to nestle in your cleavage. Rhinestones to ring your fingers. Austrian crystals to drape around your neck. No matter what manner of costume jewelry you seek, you'll most likely find it at this vintage shop, where numerous cases house quality watches, fobs, brooches, chains, chokers, and the like. An added advantage: Since C. Madeleine's accepts items on consignment (by appointment only), you can trade in those pieces that no longer tickle your fancy for some trinkets that do. Chances are you'll discover that one item you've always wished your great-grandmother had the good taste to wear -- and the good sense to pass down to you.

13702 Biscayne Blvd., North Miami, 33181
MAP
305-945-7770
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BEST TOY STORE: The House of Dolls

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