Best of Miami®

Best Of 2013

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Dry Cleaner

Daenerys Targaryen and Ser Jorah Mormont, characters from HBO's Game of Thrones, stand beside their ship, washed up on the shores of South Beach.

— What strange shores are these, Ser Jorah?

— Khaleesi, we appear to have arrived in the exotic city of Miami. Our ship must have made a wrong turn en route to Westeros.

— Ser Jorah, this is unwelcome news. My dragons grow stronger every day. My men are eager to fight. I must return to King's Landing and claim the Iron Throne.

— I know, my queen. But right now, there is nothing to be done. I suggest we stay the night. This Miami place is not so bad. Its weather is almost unbearably warm, so your desert-dwelling Khalasar will feel at home. Your dragons can feast on its pythons and feral cats. And you, Khaleesi, you should pay a visit to Sir Galloway.

— Ser Galloway? Who is this man? A cruel king? An evil soothsayer? Another pretender to my throne?

— No, Khaleesi. It's Sir, not Ser, Galloway Cleaners, a gang of local tradesmen who can— um ­— make your queen's attire seem all the more, uh, royal.

— How dare you address your queen this way, Ser Jorah! I am the Mother of Dragons. It matters not what I am wearing.

— That is true, Khaleesi. I only meant that, well, we've come such a long way from the Dothraki plains, and you carry only a limited wardrobe.

— Perhaps what you say is true. I have not laundered my royal attire since I housetrained the dragons. And some of my Dothraki have still not gotten over their seasickness. The bile they leave on the decks of the ship has been impossible to avoid.

— If I may speak plainly, my queen, you're a bloody-ripe mess. And I have heard the locals here speak of Sir Galloway with awe and admiration. They say it is the best dry cleaner in all the land, caring for delicate silks and garments such as yours with expert care. Sir Galloway will remove the dragon pee from your dresses, shine your shoes, and even clean your royal knapsack and any other handbags or accessories as you see fit. They are members of the environmentally friendly Green Cleaners Council, so the work they do for you will have little negative impact on the locals here. And they even have a wash-and-fold-by-the-pound service, should you see fit to treat your army to fresh garments.

— A fine idea, Ser Jorah. But can they do it in time?

— If they're late in returning your precious attire, we shall pay them not a single silver coin. And the kind Sir will freely pick up and deliver almost anywhere in Miami, from Bal Harbour in the north to Cutler Bay in the south. They will not likely desire to deliver to you in Westeros, of course, but I believe your dragons can convince them.

— Very good, Ser Jorah. Send a pigeon to summon Sir Galloway immediately.

(A loud, throbbing sound erupts from a nearby building.)

— But wait! Ser Jorah, what is that menacing sound?

— That is EDM, Khaleesi. Come, let me show you the customs of this strange place.

Multiple Locations
Best Gas Station
BP/El Carajo International Tapas & Wines
George Martinez

You're driving on South Dixie Highway when you notice the needle on your tank approaching E. So you pull up to the BP on SW 17th Avenue to fill 'er up. As you walk in, a glass case displaying fruit tarts, fine chocolates, Spanish-style desserts, and flaky, chocolate-drizzled pastries slaps you across the face. After staring in awe at the goodness that lies before you, you realize this isn't your typical gas station. Murals of colonial-like structures adorn the walls. Instead of rows of dusty honey buns and oil cans, you'll find specialty beers such as Stone Cherry Chocolate Stout and Twisted Pine Ghost Face Killah Chili beer, a selection of more than 2,000 wines, and a variety of champagne. Toward the back of the store is the most surprising feature: Spanish restaurant El Carajo International Tapas & Wines, which serves an array of tapas, including tortilla española and stuffed piquillo peppers. Forget filling up your tank — you might catch yourself visiting this BP to fill up on food and drinks.

2465 SW 17th Ave., Coral Gables, 33145
MAP
305-856-2424
Best Auto Dealership
Kendall Toyota

In Miami-Dade, car dealers get a rap somewhere between that of international weapons brokers and human-organ harvesters. But there are plenty of car dealers worth trusting — provided you do your homework and know what you want. Kendall Toyota is one of them. At Kendall, the huge inventory is key. Along with its West Kendall branch near Tamiami Airport and an off-site lot, this long-standing dealership stocks an impressive selection of both used and new cars. The display lot has vehicles that come and go as soon as they can be stickered. If you can't find the right color or features you want, they'll walk you to their onsite multilevel lot, packed tightly with automobiles in all shades. They also have more than Toyotas in their fleet, and they move cars so fast they don't waste anyone's time with lemons or jacked-up prices. Often, cars less than a year old with only a few thousand miles show up. So pack the cynicism in the trunk of your beater, head to Kendall Toyota, and ride home with a newfound faith in automobile salesmen — plus a much better set of wheels.

10943 S. Dixie Highway, Miami, 33156
MAP
305-665-6581
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200 Bird Road, Coral Gables, South Miami, 33143
MAP
Best Mechanic

Let's face it: Miami has more poorly maintained death traps rolling around its highways than any city this side of Havana. So it makes sense that the best mechanics in Dade are a brother and sister from Jaruco, a town just outside Cuba's capital packed full of rusting '50s clunkers. Family-owned and -run since 1984, Red Road Tire & Auto Center has friendly staffers always ready to make space in their day to slide your ride into the garage and get you checked out so you're one of the safe ones out on the Dolphin. And if that $70 synthetic oil change you dread every 5,000 miles has you cursing your decision to buy such a snazzy, newfangled jalopy, you'll be hard-pressed to find a place that does a quicker or cheaper change — all for less than 40 bucks. Nearly 30 years in Hialeah has made this garage battle-tested, so it's a damnably rare problem that they can't fix, and if you've let things get that drastic, you might consider throwing your keys into the river anyway. They service everything from Hummers to Hyundais and even trucks that work at Miami International Airport. Luckily, you don't have to go to all the way to Havana to find crack mechanics.

410 W. 29th St., Hialeah, 33012
MAP
305-888-5858
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1520 Alton Rd., Miami Beach, 33139
MAP
Best Car Wash

Next time you're twiddling your thumbs while waiting for one of those $10, automatic drive-thru car washes to finish blasting your ride with suds, consider this: For only $2 more, you could've had your car degreased, depollinated, and scraped for miscellaneous bug residue by hand at the Liberty Gas Station on Coral Way. Cars flood the cramped parking lot on evenings and weekends trying to get under a red-topped tent that simply reads, "Car Wash." It's nearly hidden behind the gas station's small market, which is easy to find. It's the one with the sign boasting fresh-baked bread (large Cuban loaves for less than $1). Inside, you'll discover made-to-order Cuban sandwiches, pan con lechón, and sugary-strong café con leche. Put your thumbs back in your pockets — this is how you kill time waiting for a clean car.

2190 Coral Way, Miami, 33145
MAP
305-860-5888
Best Bookstore

You hear it all the time: Bookstores are dying, hanging on to cultural relevancy by threads more battered than the spine of a well-worn paperback. But what you don't hear about are the avid, enthusiastic readers keeping those stores alive. Guys like Mike McCall of the Paperback-Book X-Change. This charming shop is yellowed and worn, just like a beloved tome. It's been around for more than 35 years, with McCall at the helm for the past 13 years. Friendly and knowledgeable, he's happy to talk to customers who care about the dying art of the bound and printed word. Like all great used-book shops, there's a fantastic element of chance in what you'll walk out with.

"Do you have Neuromancer by William Gibson?" you might ask.

"I don't know," McCall will admit, "but here is Mona Lisa Overdrive. Let's keep looking, the G's continue on that shelf."

You inquire, "Do you have The Great Gatsby?"

"I see that one all the time!" he will exclaim. "It comes in every day or every five days. You never can tell — come back tomorrow!"

Caring customers are the life-blood of the X-Change. All selections are half their original sticker price, and readers who bring in books for trade get an additional 50 percent off when it's time for check out. You never know, he might strike a deal with you just because he likes the cut of your jib.

Multiple Locations
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Best Dry Cleaner: Sir Galloway Cleaners

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