Best of Miami®

Best Of 2006

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 :: People & Places

Best Spectacle

All you have to do is watch an episode of The Sopranos to see how the nouveau riche have, tragically, trampled upon all that once was the province of old money from the Old World. Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts might chomp cigars, swig Jameson, and tote copies of the Robb Report while profanely clomping across Pine Valley Golf Club's pristine eighteen holes. Yet there is one world that so far has escaped the grubby attentions of the crass-but-moneyed masses, and that is the domain of equestrian sports. Horses are not Porsche Cayennes, and they require a rather high-octane attention span; it takes time to learn to ride, handle, curry, and bond with a flesh-and-blood ride. You can bling out a thoroughbred only so much. And riding horses -- really doing it well -- isn't easy. So steeplechasing, dressage, and quadrilles remain for the moment a very blue-blood pursuit. The queen of these human-horse sports is of course polo, which pairs extraordinary equine athleticism with equal effort from riders, who basically play a wicked form of lacrosse astride 1000-pound thoroughbreds. In April 2005, Reto Gaudenzi, the master of Casa Casuarina who is also, as luck might have it, a professional polo player, thought to bring his beloved sport here and arranged for a three-day series of matches on Miami Beach across from the Casa at Eleventh Street and Ocean Drive. Polo on the sand was a novelty, but more interesting was that the matches -- played in innings called chukkers -- were open to the public. Despite frequent downpours and blowing sands courtesy of some errant April showers, it was successful. This year -- from April 11 to 13 -- the polo matches, still hosted by Gaudenzi, moved south to the beach behind The Setai on Twentieth Street and Collins Avenue, adjacent to the public beach on 21st Street. The weather cooperated. More children were on hand -- more observers in general -- and the ponies that weren't playing were stationed where scores of little equine lovers could get close enough to inhale. Polo ponies are actually the same thoroughbreds whose cousins race in the Triple Crown, but they are gelded and generally composed of a more compact, stocky body type, similar to that of a quarter horse. Yet in their polo finery -- plaited manes, tales coaxed into pompons or sleek braids, colorful saddle blankets -- they appear majestic. And these horses can haul hindquarters, possessing both sprinting speed and endurance. They are able to spin on a hoof and not get their elegant legs entangled in the dozen others seeking the five-inch-diameter orange ball. The party behind the polo is no joke either -- beyond the expected open bar, both years' tournaments have offered snacks above the norm, from a dozen flavors of gelato to fresh salmon rolls to crabcakes and éclairs. At the end of this past April's tourney, Melissa Ganzi, the only female rider, doffed her pink helmet to a cheering crowd as her Team Kreon emerged triumphant. It was a gracious, graceful spectacle. Don't you barons and baronesses of Brickell get any ideas.

Personal Best

James "Jimbo" Luznar opened his joint on Virginia Key, Jimbo's, a half-century ago. And there's no better place on the water to take a toot.

What is your greatest triumph?

We used to be where the Herald building is, but then they said our boats would have to go. So we looked at Snapper Creek, Mart’ Park, then we ended up on Virginia Key. It stunk sometimes, and there were mosquitoes, snakes, coons, opossums, and iguanas. It cost us a lot of money to be there, but we stayed. They've been trying to get me out of there for a long time, but now everyone all over the world knows Jimbo.

Personal Best

Born in Homestead, Kevin Wynn is the producer and cohost of Downtown Dade, a TV talk show that covers the arts and culture and airs on the county's government access channel. He is also the coprogrammer, with Barron Sherer, of Cinema Vortex, a nonprofit organization devoted to screening unusual, significant, and neglected film and video works. And he's the creator of Public Domain Playhouse, a continuing series of screenings he curates with Sherer.

What is your greatest triumph?

My greatest triumph? I don’t do “triumph.” I’ve never had one. I can’t tell you how it feels to triumph, or what it looks, tastes or smells like. I wouldn’t know “triumph” if some guy ran over me with a TR4.

Best Dog Park

There are several safe, clean places where we can let Fido run off-leash in Miami-Dade. Coconut Grove has several dog-friendly parks; the Beach has some nice locations; there's a spot on Virginia Key where dogs can swim and sunbathe; but of all the canine treats in my Miami, the mac daddy of all dog parks is in Aventura. Two years ago the city, which is burgeoning with young dog-owning families, built the expansive new Veterans Park. The $600,000 two-acre expanse has a wonderful, well-kept, welcoming space. There are pooper-scooper dispensers throughout the space. There are doggy water fountains and doggy showers. And the most endearing detail: red fire hydrants. All of this greatness, of course, comes at a price: You have to live in Aventura, and show proof of residence, to gain access. It's almost reason enough to move there.

Best Local Politician

It is a dark time for Miami-Dade County's executive mayor. The evil lords on the county commission annihilated Carlos Alvarez's bold offensive to strip them of some bribe-making abilities. Then the Galactic Empire displayed the true power of the Dark Side when it crushed Alvarez in the Boundary Wars. Beaten but resolute, the good mayor fled to the outer rim of the county's suburban wasteland to regroup and complete his training. Upon his return, Alvarez successfully destroyed the Imperials' diabolical device: The Public Silencer. In time, this Obi-wan of the Swamp may finally bring balance to the county.

Best Listener

Come one, come all, to the "Read to Farley" sessions at the children's section of the North Miami Beach Library, the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 4:00 p.m. This is no ordinary dog. This shaggy mop o' unconditional love once suffered from crippling agoraphobia, owing to early abuse. But his patient handler, Margo Berman, a professor at Florida International University, worked tirelessly, training him to overcome his fears and earn his Therapy Dog badge. Now Farley helps shy children who have trouble reading aloud. Once the youngsters sit down with Farley on the colorful rugs, they don't want to stop reading him stories because he is a great listener, mispronunciations be damned!

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Best Spectacle: Miami Beach Polo Cup

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