Best of Miami®

Best Of 2011

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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Shopping & Services

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Vintage Lingerie Shop
L.A. Boudoir

Cross the threshold of this retro temple of drool-inducing, naughty lace and silk confections and you'll feel as if you're intruding on the sumptuous dressing room of Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, or any other Tinseltown bombshell of yesteryear we all fantasize about. Inside you'll discover hard-to-find marabou-covered slippers or peep-toe stilettos to go along with frilly panties, curve-cinching corsets, sheer chiffon peignoirs, Victorian-era bras, sexy silk stockings, and a rare, buttery-soft charmeuse camisole. Owner and designer Lauren Arkin also keeps her trove of vintage offerings stocked with beaded period costume jewelry priced in the $10 to $30 range; boasts shelves covered with antique perfume atomizers, vanity mirror sets, and sundry accessories; and creates custom lingerie for her clients. A knockout collection of black-and-white pictures of Marilyn Monroe lines the boutique's pastel-pink walls, heightening the sense that you have stumbled into a sex symbol's private closet. If you're looking to spice up bedroom romps with the pin-up girl in your life or transport your dream hunk to cloud nine, L.A. Boudoir is definitely the joint to visit to get the loins girded for some nasty, old-fangled mano a mano at surprisingly affordable prices. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

6900 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33138
MAP
305-775-8127
Best Mall

In 2002, the Village of Merrick Park did what no other shopping mall seemed capable of doing. It broke the stronghold the Bal Harbour Shops had on luxury goods. If you wanted to drop outrageous amounts of money on ready-to-wear items from the world's top designers, you had to travel to the small town near the Broward County line, quite a trek if you lived in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, or Pinecrest. But the Village of Merrick Park cut travel time to a few short minutes and borrowed heavily from its Bal Harbour counterpart — an open-air layout, high-end eateries, and an atmosphere decidedly non-mall. And with stores such as Neiman Marcus, Betsey Johnson, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Jimmy Choo, and La Perla, Merrick Park is a worthy competitor for high-end clientele. Besides, it boasts one of the few Borders bookstores still left.

358 San Lorenzo Ave., Miami, 33146
MAP
305-447-8144
Best Secondhand Store
The Rabbit Hole

When your party-animal level reaches such a high point that only an explosion of '80s sequins and shoulder pads can do it justice, or when your art-gallery day job requires you look like a '70s Lolita adorned in ruffles and soft chiffon, only one store can adequately quell your ravenous vintage appetite. Tiny, well-organized, adorned with a huge black-and-white print that quotes Alice in Wonderland, and filled with quirky details (care for a collection of doll heads?), the Rabbit Hole is an expertly curated and moderately priced potpourri of secondhand goods plucked from New York City flea markets, Los Angeles vintage warehouses, and other corners of the world where cool and original live (and where the husband-and-wife owners, who are also photographers, travel). If a bunny called this shop home, it would be the type that sports nerdy, oversize glasses; hops around in old-school combat boots; and refuses to eat carrots because "they're so conventional." In other words, exactly the type of rabbit we like.

17032 W. Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, 33160
MAP
305-705-2343
Best Used Bookstore
Fifteenth Street Books

Given that most of the used bookstores left in Miami are in strip malls and half of their stock comprises multiple copies of the same wildly popular romance and teen novels, Fifteenth Street Books could easily be mistaken for a book museum. The store, which occupies the original site of Books & Books, is lined floor to ceiling with wooden shelves brimming with actual, real, bona fide literature and grand art books featuring lavish reproductions. Climb the hardwood stairs to the sun-filled second floor and you'll find collectibles and limited-edition prints, not hidden in some showcase, but on shelves to grab and actually peruse. Scour the store and you can find some real gems, such as a copy of a first edition (albeit a later printing) of Naked Lunch in its original, though well-worn, dust jacket for $20. Heck, that's almost what a new, tacky-looking paperback of this modern-day Inferno will set you back at Borders, if you can find a Borders, that is.

296 Aragon Ave, Coral Gables, 33134
MAP
305-442-2344
Best Place to Buy Vinyl
Goodwill Central Store

Believe it or not, there's better treasure at your local Goodwill store than just macramé owls, velvet Elvises, secondhand underwear, busted-up ham radios, and cracked souvenir ashtrays from places you'll never visit. Of course, we're talking about highly collectible vinyl. Basically, as baby boomers age, enter nursing homes, and fall into open graves, they need to get rid of their awesome stockpiles of old records. And often, the easiest and most efficient way to free themselves of these extremely precious worldly possessions is simply donating them to a nonprofit thrift outlet like Goodwill. So hurry! Go pick through the '60s generation's vinyl leftovers. Sure, it's not all gold and platinum. There's a glut of stuff such as Neil Diamond's Hot August Night, Hall & Oates's Abandoned Luncheonette, and multiple copies of every single Herb Alpert album in the universe. But look hard through the junk and you'll eventually find a few rad rarities, like Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat, or curios such as a chicken-grease-smeared first pressing of Christmas Day With Colonel Sanders. And when you're paying only $1 per LP, this kind of killer find makes you feel like an especially slick looter.

2125 NW 21st St., Miami, 33142
MAP
305-545-9421
Best Place to Buy a Used Bike
Tamiami Cyclery

With gas prices this high, even the most motor-loving among us must be considering the benefits of switching, at least on occasion, to self-powered transportation. But maybe we're not ready to shell out top dollar for a new bicycle. If you're looking for a used bike or used parts, check out Tamiami Cyclery. The small strip-mall spot has been in business for decades and looks like it, but you'll find a menagerie of vintage frames and rare parts at good prices. Plus the staff is always polite and knowledgeable.

6348 SW 8th St., Miami, 33144
MAP
305-264-6563
Best Bike Shop
All 4 Cycling USA

Not to sound like yuppies, but we feel like we're in danger of contracting tetanus whenever we enter most bicycle shops. We always have to climb around some ancient, broken-down tricycle — maybe right by the door is not the best place for that — to get to the oil-blackened bike dude. We're carrying our own bike, which has a flat tire, so it's like a claustrophobic obstacle course. The pedals of our bike always scrape against the skin of our legs, which for some reason is obscenely painful. And there are five people in line in front of us, but the bike dude is busy telling his semihomeless assistant the story of how he dropped out of Oberlin to pedal the Serengeti. All 4 Cycling USA offers a reprieve from this grubby malaise. The year-old shop is spacious, sparkling-clean, well-staffed, and welcoming. Prices are reasonable: $35 for a tuneup, $6 for a new tire tube ($12.41 if they do the labor), and $270 for adult beach cruisers. High-performance bikes include luminescent titanium beauties that would spur Lance Armstrong to peel off his spandex shorts and masturbate. Of course, that would cause him to be politely told to leave, because unlike at those dirty-ass stores we were talking about before, pleasuring oneself is not allowed at All 4 Cycling USA.

2801 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33137
MAP
305-576-8902
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1620 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 33139
MAP
305-532-1954
Best Gym
YMCA Village of Allapattah Family Branch

What Miami needs more of is a YMCA culture. We're not talking about men wearing construction-worker or police-officer or Indian-chief costumes while making letters with their arms. We're talking true YMCA culture, like those in cities such as Cleveland or Baltimore: blue-collar dudes and wealthy-commissioner types working out in the same gym and then sweating together in the steam room, grumbling about the local quarterbacks' professional inadequacies while thumbing through soggy sports sections. (Editor's note: This was written by a male who has no idea what happens in female steam rooms because he's pretty sure the Cinemax movie he watched on the subject was not accurate.) Yep, in the Rust Belt, the YMCA is where the plebeians mix easily with the fat cats. But in Miami, the rich people work out at a posh health club that looks like a Moroccan whorehouse (let's call it Pavid Carton), and the poor people get ripped in one-room gyms featuring crude paintings of barbells on the walls. That's why we're pretty happy about the YMCA Village of Allapattah Family Branch — how gloriously uncool is that name? — opening its doors. There's no steam room to hobnob with a nude and sweaty city mayor, but it is otherwise truly a gym for the people: Membership is $34 for a single adult, $44 for a couple, and $50 for two adults and as many kids as you have. Yep, kids: They're like people but smaller, and they get really emotionally invested in ice-cream cones. Bet you haven't seen any such creatures at Pavid Carton, huh, fancy-pants?

2370 NW 17th Ave., Miami, 33142
MAP
305-635-9622
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715 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 33139
MAP
305-672-8262
Best Fight Gym
Thump Fight Gym

Some people would argue that the best Jim is Jim Carrey. Or Jimmy Johnson. Maybe even Jiminy Cricket. But workout junkies in Kendall know the number one place to break a sweat is Thump Fight Gym, hidden in the lushly green Kings Creek Shopping Center. Since 1997, this seemingly rugged boxing gym — decked out with a ring, ample bags, and a loudmouthed coach — has been the perfect place for any gym rat. There are treadmills and stationary bikes for the hamster-wheel/exercise-machine set, weights for the beefcakes, yoga classes for the hippies, and spinning, CrossFit, boot camp, TRX, Thai boxing, and Brazilian jujitsu classes. What's more, this gym has a strong family vibe. Not only does owner Steve Arintok throw an annual barbecue for all gym members and staff, but also he's on site every day greeting each person by name. "Hello," heavyweight boxing and kickboxing champion James Warring. "Hello," IBF featherweight champ Stacey Reile, and if you give this place a whirl, "hello" to the future Jim "Cinderella Man" Braddock. Membership rates are $39 to $75 a month.

8100 SW 81st Dr., South Miami, 33143
MAP
305-403-7325
Best Self-Defense School

The musk inside the training room is overpowering. Dressed in black T-shirts and training pants, a couple dozen students simultaneously perform a series of devastating combinations of hooks, uppercuts, and roundhouse kicks aimed at imaginary opponents. Their instructor, Julio Castrillo, walks among his students, watching their form, making sure their fighting stance is perfect, their pivoting effortless, their follow-through ferocious. "Always keep your hands up!" Castrillo shouts. "Always guard your face!" Six days a week, sometimes twice a day, Castrillo leads grueling training sessions in the art of krav maga, a self-defense fighting style developed by the Israeli army that emphasizes endurance and precision. From perfecting joint locks to escaping headlocks to timing a well-placed knee to the ribs, the curriculum at Miami Lakes Krav Maga is enough to turn the meekest kid into the baddest brute on the block. The monthly membership is $120, plus a onetime $200 fee for the T-shirt, training pants, and fight gloves. Throughout the year, the school also holds training seminars for $35 to $50 for members and nonmembers.

6800 NW 169th St., Hialeah, 33015
MAP
305-826-9085
Best Gun Shop
Pantera Guns & Guitars

"One sunny day, the God of Gun and the God of Rock had a drunken night of pleasure after too many shots at Mansion in South Beach. They named the result of their sacred, drunken union Pantera, and it was good." Maybe that's not exactly how Pantera Guns & Guitars came to be, but it might be close. This little store is chock full of pistols, rifles, revolvers, and "axes of evil" (the musical kind). Pantera also has a special "ladies' section," complete with pink guns, pepper spray, and mace (because a girl must defend herself by any means necessary). Worried about an earthquake, nuclear fallout, or complete breakdown of society? Pantera has a fully stocked selection of survival gear. And because the world hasn't yet reached total anarchy, classes are available so you can get your concealed-weapons permit (none required to carry a guitar). Pick up a Glock 38 and a Dean Hardtail Pro and look at you — you're living like a rock star, baby. And that rock star's name just happens to be Nugent, as in Ted.

7365 NW 36th St., Doral, 33166
MAP
305-629-9980
Best Place to Buy Ninja Gear
MAC Sports Supplies

Being a ninja in Miami is hard. Not only is it really hot under that black uniform and mask, but there are hardly any tall buildings to scale. And even when you find one, everyone assumes you're another MMA fighter acting like an asshole. So where do you go when you're a master in the art of stealth and seeking a supportive community of like-minded ninjutsu practitioners who understand your struggles? A strip mall in west Miami, of course. That's where you'll find MAC Sports Supplies, a small mom-and-pop shop owned by martial arts experts who are more than willing to offer an open ear and an array of numchucks, swords, hand claws, ninja garb, and other training gear at reasonable prices. We would tell you where it is, but you'll just have to use your espionage skills. What, the address is listed above? You're good, ninja, you're good.

10756 SW 24th St., Miami, 33165
MAP
305-223-8999
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Best Vintage Lingerie Shop: L.A. Boudoir

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