Best of Miami®

Best Of 2004

Neighborhoods

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

BEST LIQUOR STORE
Sunset Corners

Dubbed the patron saint of brewers and maltsters by Charles IV in 1357, Saint Wenceslas is also the patron saint of the Czech Republic. Maybe that's why the quality of a Czech beer, such as Lev or Knight -- which have been around since the Fifteenth Century -- is unquestioned. And even though it's possible to find a good imported beer at other stores, at Sunset Corners they have over 300 variations of the heavenly brew, and each comes with its own backstory. That's not all their 50 years of peddling booze will get you. The store is so cluttered that cases of alcohol litter the aisles, and as customers make their way through the maze of racks, they will find a dizzying display of the finest bottled grapes from across the world; no doubt they will finally understand what those bourgeois wine-tasting parties were all about.

8701 Sunset Dr., Kendale Lakes, 33173
MAP
305-271-8492
BEST WINE STORE

Jeffrey and Christie Wolfe opened their boutique wine store in January 2001, bringing to the enterprise substantial experience. Christie had been marketing manager for Augustan Wine Imports while Jeffrey had worked as sommelier and general manager at Norman's restaurant. But experience alone does not guarantee survival for new business ventures. Furthermore, when you want to sell wine and nothing but wine, and you refuse to stock supermarket brands, relying instead on small, family-owned wineries, you need a lot more than experience -- you probably need to have your head examined. But the Wolfes have beaten the odds. Not only was their store anointed last year as America's Best New Wine Shop by Food & Wine magazine, the husband-and-wife team have managed to attract a loyal and growing clientele that includes everyone from novices to collectors. In their postindustrial-cool store you won't find Kendall-Jackson or Beringer or Yellow Tail. You will, however, find expert assistance guiding you to new discoveries in your price range. Bargain bottles from $10 to $20 crowd the floor while pricier labels are stacked floor-to-ceiling along one wall. With an active e-mail list and regular, affordable tastings that draw crowds, the Wolfes can raise a glass to that most elusive of business goals: success.

BEST WINE STORE
Wolfe's Wine Shoppe

Jeffrey and Christie Wolfe opened their boutique wine store in January 2001, bringing to the enterprise substantial experience. Christie had been marketing manager for Augustan Wine Imports while Jeffrey had worked as sommelier and general manager at Norman's restaurant. But experience alone does not guarantee survival for new business ventures. Furthermore, when you want to sell wine and nothing but wine, and you refuse to stock supermarket brands, relying instead on small, family-owned wineries, you need a lot more than experience -- you probably need to have your head examined. But the Wolfes have beaten the odds. Not only was their store anointed last year as America's Best New Wine Shop by Food & Wine magazine, the husband-and-wife team have managed to attract a loyal and growing clientele that includes everyone from novices to collectors. In their postindustrial-cool store you won't find Kendall-Jackson or Beringer or Yellow Tail. You will, however, find expert assistance guiding you to new discoveries in your price range. Bargain bottles from $10 to $20 crowd the floor while pricier labels are stacked floor-to-ceiling along one wall. With an active e-mail list and regular, affordable tastings that draw crowds, the Wolfes can raise a glass to that most elusive of business goals: success.

124 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, 33134
MAP
305-445-4567
BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE

Though Play It Again Sports is a chain, the stores are also franchised, so this particular PIAS, owned and operated by Rich Tere, has the Miamian in mind. The store operates on the principle that after you take the first few checks to the upper lip on the rough grass in the field hockey tournament or sprain your wrist breaking a Rollerblading fall, you'll rethink those weekend passions for something along the lines of speed walking ... and you'll want to unload that gear. At Play It Again, you can buy, sell, or trade everything from boxing gloves to tennis rackets to golf clubs and even luge helmets. The prices are right, so by the time the summer heat drives you to reconsider the walking path, you can pick up a gently used bowling ball -- cheap.

BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE

Though Play It Again Sports is a chain, the stores are also franchised, so this particular PIAS, owned and operated by Rich Tere, has the Miamian in mind. The store operates on the principle that after you take the first few checks to the upper lip on the rough grass in the field hockey tournament or sprain your wrist breaking a Rollerblading fall, you'll rethink those weekend passions for something along the lines of speed walking ... and you'll want to unload that gear. At Play It Again, you can buy, sell, or trade everything from boxing gloves to tennis rackets to golf clubs and even luge helmets. The prices are right, so by the time the summer heat drives you to reconsider the walking path, you can pick up a gently used bowling ball -- cheap.

BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP

Comic book shops used to have a certain smell to them. It was the oft stale but always pleasant odor of hundreds of thousands of newsprint blotter pages, colorfully inked and full of imagination. But that is seldom the case these days as comic shops have gone to the toys, lining their stores with more heroic and villainous action figures than the comics that inspired their creation in the first place. Except for one: A & M Comic Books in West Miami. It's a treasure chest of comics ranging from popular Golden Age Marvel and DC titles to current, avant-garde series from alternative publishers such as Dark Horse. And the guys who work there can always bring you up to speed on the state of the X-Men or the Green Lantern, in case you haven't picked up a copy since just after your discovery that girls don't dig superheroes as much as you do. But when delving into the rows and rows of back issues, take heed: The big guy with the goatee who's always behind the register will explain that "little fairies don't come in here at night and put everything back in order." Hey, we never said it was the most polite comic book shop.

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BEST LIQUOR STORE: Sunset Corners

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