Best Of :: Shopping & Services
When looking for a car, everyone wants to be treated like Dwayne Johnson, but not everyone can afford his rides in HBO's Ballers. Luckily, an auto dealership in the Gables makes both of those things feel possible. If you're at all versed in luxury wheels, the showroom at the Collection of Coral Gables will slap you in the face with sparkling Ferraris and Aston Martins. But what sets the Collection apart is the substance of its selection, aimed more at the average joe than the movie star. Whether you're looking for a new or used car, the Collection has a little something for everyone: Audis, Jaguars, Porsches, and many other luxury car brands, some available for those well under baller status if you don't mind a few miles on the odometer. Valet service and comfortable areas in the showroom make for an easy shopping experience. And once you've chosen a car, the salesmen aren't pushy. Tally it all up and it's clear: The Collection is fit for your needs, as well as the Rock's. What more could you ask for in an auto dealership?
Readers' choice: The Collection
Orlie Jedwab hadn't planned to join the family business when she graduated from the University of Miami with a nursing degree in 1995. In fact, she spent the next two years working in the intensive care unit of Baptist Hospital. But then her mother fell ill and her father needed someone he could trust to help run his company, Flamingo Taxi. What began as a part-time gig a couple of days a week soon morphed into a full-time career comanaging Flamingo with her dad. By 2001 Jedwab was ready to venture out on her own. She launched Key Transportation Service with two sedans, a van, and a bus. Nearly two decades later, Jedwab heads the largest female-owned limo company in South Florida, with a fleet of 47 mostly hybrid vehicles that include luxury Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans, Cadillac Escalade SUVs, and Lincoln MKT stretch limos that can transport guests to any event, from bachelor parties hitting the South Beach nightclub circuit to gallerists in town for Art Basel. For groups of 15 or more people, the company also offers Sprinter vans, minibuses, and motor coaches. Key Transportation's attention to the smallest details, from GPS monitoring to luxury amenities, has made it the limo service of choice for the Biscayne Bay Marriott, Hello Florida, and Univision, among many other corporate clients. So what's Jedwab's secret? Personalized service in the digital age, she says. "From the time you pick up the call to the time you drop off the client, you have to follow through with excellence," she explains. "We offer boutique services. No one is ever put on hold. We keep growing because we offer that personal touch."
Unless you're a Car Talk-level expert, heading to a mechanic feels like strolling wallet-first into a dark alley while you scream, "Dear thieves! I am here! Take my money!" Unless you're referred to one by your father or a knowledgeable friend, it's difficult to find a mechanic you can trust. Consider this your dad-approved recommendation: The second you walk into Plaza Tire & Auto, Sherri, the warm-faced, throaty woman who runs the front desk, will charm you with her no-nonsense air. She handles all the greasy dudes in the back (who are quite nice if you actually talk to them) and makes sure everything is explained in full detail to you, the afraid, helpless layman. Plaza's legendary patriarch, Gabe Cortez, sadly passed away in 2014 after 35 years running the shop, but his spirit of good humor and rip-off-free car work lives on. The prices are always fair (a synthetic oil change runs about $60 depending upon the vehicle), and if you think they're not, the shop is willing to talk. The mechanics here do great work, but it's the friendly atmosphere, quick work, peace of mind, and, of course, Sherri, that will keep you coming back every time your jalopy breaks down.
Whether you spend your days kicking up mud and dust in the Everglades or smashing love bugs on I-95, the result is the same: Your car is dirtier than a Bob Saget standup special. Get thee to El Car Wash, where the only thing better than its $5 basic wash is its discounted $3 basic wash, offered weekdays from 8 to 9 a.m. and again from 6 to 8:30 p.m. With four locations in Miami and four more on the way, El Car Wash offers free vacuums, unlimited wash plans, and bulk promotions for Uber and Lyft drivers starting at just $25 a month. With prices like that, you can get a wash anytime you need, ya filthy animal.
Your brakes are squeaking? Chain is a mess? Maybe there are cobwebs growing all over your bike because you haven't bothered to ride for a while. Take it to Miami Bike Shop, an intimate spot that has served the Omni area for 11 years with reasonable prices, skilled mechanics, and a solid selection. Owner Darren Venditti opened the shop in 2006, when the neighborhood was just a bunch of vacant lots. Road construction nearly killed the place a few years later, but then the condos filled up, Publix opened, and the organized chaos of this delightful, independent store continued. Today they sell high-end stuff, from Niner mountain bikes for about $8,000 to Bianchi road bikes for around $4,400. There are also fixies — hipster-approved fixed-gear bicycles — for the far more reasonable $325. It costs just $35 for a basic tuneup and $60 for a more sophisticated one. You can even rent a beach cruiser for $25 per day. And have some fun: They stay open late after Critical Mass rides.
Readers' choice: Mack Cycle & Fitnes
Vaping gets a bad rap, mostly thanks to stodgy old-timers who hate anything popular with millennials. Damn those kids with their Facespaces and vapor machines! But those gripes are already looking about as dated as complaints that smartphones are just a fad or that Facebook will soon fade into memory. In fact, vaping has spread so quickly through South Florida that it's as easy to find a decent vape store as it is to track down a good cafecito. But finding a great vape shop is another story. South Vape Vapor, a small boutique located inside South Beach's venerable Cybr-Caffe on Washington Avenue, rises above the competition thanks to a knowledgeable staff selling the best products and liquids a vape-head could ever want. The employees can plop down hundreds of bottles of liquids on the counter to pinpoint your extra flavor profile. The shop carries 50 e-liquid brands in 150 flavors, top-shelf mods, and starter kits for the newbie vaper. This isn't rocket science: In 2017, people want to transition to a healthier lifestyle, one that doesn't include cigarettes or cigars. Vaping is the future of smoking, and South Vape Vapor is where the future already resides.