Best of Miami®

Best Of 2004

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 PAWNSHOP

True story: Vacationing Miami Beach homeowner returns to find house ransacked. Not much missing except one thing -- valuable painting, lifted off the wall and hustled away. Chances of recovery approach zero. Weeks later, somewhere in California, man purchases laptop computer via eBay. Receives computer. Turns it on, discovers many files, some personal. Thinks: Uh-oh ... must be stolen. Snoops around hard drive, uncovers likely owner's name and phone number. Calls. Miami Beach resident answers, confirms it's his computer, stolen weeks earlier. Beach guy calls cops, who contact California buyer, who leads them to eBay, which provides identity of seller. Cops contact seller -- a Miami pawnshop. Pawn broker, following Florida law, has record of kid who pawned stolen computer. Cops nab kid. They have a nice little chat. Kid decides to cooperate. They go for a drive. Kid points out various places he's pawned stolen goods. Cops pay a visit to one of them, I-95 Pawn. Caged in by bulletproof glass and iron bars, pawn broker, a burly biker with Glock semiautomatic strapped to his bountiful waist, displays surprising proficiency on computer. Quickly pulls up items kid has pawned. Cops scan printout, match items to stolen-property list. Start making calls. Burglary detective and owner of ransacked Miami Beach home drop in on I-95 Pawn. Gun barely visible beneath prodigious belly, pawn broker fires up computer, strokes chin whiskers, disappears into office, returns with large framed object, asks: Is this it? Homeowner smiles. Detective smiles. Pawn broker smiles. Yes, that's it. One last thing. Homeowner by law must buy it back for same price pawn broker paid: $55. Homeowner does so happily. Value of (undamaged) painting: $5000.

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 PAWNSHOP: I-95 Pawn

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