People & Places

  • Best Chatter at a Cafetería Window

    La Carreta Restaurant

    "If you could call this place something, it would be tantamount, in Spanish, to that sitcom in English where everybody knows your name -- Cheers," says Miami-Dade Fire Rescue's Lt. Eddie Ballester. The firefighter and paramedic, stationed five blocks away, is a regular at this window. Over the years Brothers to the Rescue leader José Basulto has scarfed… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    Regal South Beach Cinema

    There was much trepidation about the coming of this monster movie theater to our much-treasured Road. Would this cold and corporate megaplex shoveling out Hollywood hits put an end to any remaining pretense of funkiness that the mall had? Surprise: The Regal on South Beach has fit in more snug than many thought. First, it lived up to its promise… More >>
  • Best Political Miscalculation

    J.L. Plummer

    Miami Commissioner J.L. Plummer had his re-election formula down pat: Raise tons of cash, glad-hand voters at community festivals, and have his Cuban friends praise him on Spanish-language radio. It had worked seven times before, after all. Upstart businessman Johnny Winton might push him into a runoff, but the veteran's vast war chest would crush him. Oops! While Miami politics… More >>
  • Best Salsa Scene

    Salsa Lovers Dance Studio

    It all began here in 1993: salsa classes on Monday and Wednesday nights at the spacious and charmingly down-at-the-heels Blue Banquet Hall. By now the place is packed four nights a week, and Salsa Lovers is a huge enterprise, having expanded to two more locations. But the West Miami-Dade scene has a festive, nightclubby quality all its own, and it… More >>
  • Best Unguarded Moment Caught On Videotape

    Henry Fraind

    In his many years as the public face of the county's public schools, Fraind had repeatedly proven himself to be inarticulate, insensitive, and inflexible. When school-board members finally got tired of him making them look bad and decided, at their March meeting, to appoint someone else as their spokesman, Fraind demonstrated the wisdom of the decision by offering an upraised… More >>
  • Best Locally Produced Play


    In many American political plays, a guy (it's usually a guy) comes onstage and talks. The set, the costumes, the lighting -- they're all window dressing, which helps to explain the sorry state of political drama. Doug Wright's 1995 work Quills, however, dissects the issues of censorship through the trials of the Marquis de Sade. It's a play… More >>
  • Best Lobby

    Beach House Bal Harbour

    It's supposed to feel like a little bit of Nantucket down here on the lower peninsula. A fresh and crisp Northeastern respite from the scorching Southern sun. But really the lobby in the new Beach House is Florida through and through. This is no rectangular foyer, stop-over-while-you-check-in type of lobby. Instead you get different lounges with different flavors for different… More >>
  • Best Solo Show

    Judith Delgado as Diana Vreeland

    In a season fraught with top-drawer solo performances (Charles Nelson Reilly in Life of Reilly, Kathleen Turner in Tallulah, Melinda Lopez in Medianoche, and Jean Stapleton in Eleanor: Her Secret Journey), Judith Delgado towered over all. Playing fashion diva Diana Vreeland, the actress delivered a performance that lived up to Vreeland's motto: "Give 'em what they didn't know they wanted."… More >>
  • Best Gadfly

    Daniel Ricker

    "Have Character, Will Travel." So reads the business card of Daniel Ricker, self-appointed "citizen advocate," who spent the past year attending county commission meetings, city commission meetings, school board meetings, and Public Health Trust meetings, all in an effort to better understand how government operates. He even sat through the public-corruption trial of former county Commissioner James Burke so he… More >>
  • Best Ride

    ElectroWave shuttle

    In a county with woefully slim public-transportation options, Miami Beach planners looked out their windows, past the backed-up traffic at the stoplights, and saw the future. It was pretty, environmentally friendly, and didn't cost a lot. The ElectroWave shuttle buses premiered two years ago and have proven to be a wonderfully hassle-free way to navigate the often congested streets of… More >>
  • Second Best Cheap Thrill

    Black Point Marina

    Every weekend, particularly on holidays, large numbers of people take to the water. The transformation of these landlubbers into weekend mariners is not always smooth. Add alcohol to the mix, and it can be downright disastrous. At no time is this more obvious than at the end of the day, when they try to move their boats from water to… More >>
  • Best Dance Studio

    In Motion Dance Center North

    Last year's winner got even better this year. In Motion Dance Center expanded from its base on Bird Road and is now contributing to the Biscayne Boulevard renaissance with a new studio in a quaint converted house. Local dancers finally get the facilities they deserve, with high ceilings, exposed beams, a wide expanse of mirror, and an enormous floor. Offerings… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Pinecrest Farmers' Market

    Oddly enough, in an area known as one of the winter vegetable baskets of the nation, it's slim pickings for farmers' markets in Miami-Dade County. Basically there seems to be two options: Pinecrest or Coral Gables. Located in the parking lot of Gardner's Market, the Pinecrest operation offers a feast for the taste buds and a greater selection than its… More >>
  • Best TV Station

    WJAN-TV (Channel 41)

    Remember WAMI, the overly hyped television-station startup? The one with the glamorous sidewalk studios on Lincoln Road? The one that was going to revolutionize TV by returning it to its extremely local roots? The City Was Their Studio or something like that? As anyone who has spent any time in this town knows, the real Miami is not South Beach… More >>
  • Best Local Phantasmagoria

    Lightning strikes, Glades burn, schools flunk, cocaine arrives, Soyka arrives, Elian arrives, Lincoln Road gets malled, Cuban rafters get gassed, code inspectors get bribed, transit tax goes down, Calle Ocho rips up, I-95 rips up, Stiltsville survives, gay-rights law survives, Cuban spies get busted, Columba Bush gets busted, too hot, too wet, too congested, Rickymania strikes, road debris strikes, phony… More >>
  • Best Panthers Player

    Pavel Bure

    He slept with Anna Kournikova. That alone is enough. His incredible talent, his prolific goal-scoring, his All-Star game MVP award? The fact that he's the most dominant athlete in his sport? Just icing on the cake. He slept with Anna Kournikova.… More >>
  • Best Local Girl Gone Bad

    Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin

    February 11, 1999: Adrian Dominican nun Jeanne O'Laughlin's tireless volunteerism earns her the Sand in My Shoes award from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. She is the first woman to win the honor, just as she was the first female member of the Orange Bowl Committee and of the Non-Group, a group of influential business people. March 17, 1999:… More >>
  • Best Miami Fusion Player

    Eric Wynalda

    Relatively new to the Fusion, he's already making a contribution both as a playmaker and a scorer. Indeed Captain Wynalda could very well be labeled Captain Wonderful by season's end if he continues to fulfill his reputation as the highest goal-scorer in Major League Soccer. One drawback, of course, is that Wynalda is known to be weak in the knees… More >>
  • Best Hero

    Robert Beatty

    Beatty stood up to the craven Miami city commissioners and mayor who couldn't stand up to their own constituents. And he didn't shrink from publicly admonishing them -- with eloquent directness -- for playing politics with the city's dire financial crisis. That was back in mid-1999, when Beatty was chairman of the governor's financial oversight board,… More >>
  • Best Local Writer

    Judith Berke

    Shy and retiring, poet Judith Berke doesn't always come to mind in this era of feted writers receiving gargantuan prizes. Yet her work epitomizes our region, not as a visitor or as a tourist, but as a long-time resident. In "Vizcaya," from her book White Morning, Berke brings us wisdom from another time that is no less valid today: "Under… More >>
  • Best Uniforms

    Toll takers

    Highway coin collectors rarely inspire envy. Imagine handing out change to an endless parade of cars, vans, and tractor trailers, touching thousands of dirty hands each day while sucking down a full shift of lung-blackening exhaust fumes. No envy, that is, until now. Since this past summer, toll takers along Florida's Turnpike and other toll roads have been sporting spiffy… More >>
  • Best Indoor Playground

    Adventurer's Cove

    Aye, matey, it's truly an indoor playground designed just for the wee ones. In fact kids over the height of 42 inches are restricted from entering (parents are permitted; strollers are not). The centerpiece is a play pirate ship, complete with slide (instead of plank) and ship's wheel. "Leaping" dolphins are scattered over the floor and make for great climbing… More >>
  • Best Bard

    Campbell McGrath

    There is word of a poetry renaissance in America (well, at least sales of poetry books are up). One of the progenitors is right here in our Magic City, née the Great Marsh. A Chicago native who teaches creative writing at Florida International University, McGrath told New Times in 1997 his aspiration was to write in "a big expansive kind… More >>
  • Best Spanish-Language Radio Personality

    Maria Elvira Salazar

    In the often strident world of Cuban radio, locutores regularly inject the airways with a daily dose of their self-serving agendas in the name of el exilio. Maria Elvira Salazar is an antidote to the inflammatory diatribes that blare from AM frequencies. She is la moderadora (the moderator) on her noon talk show Polos Opuestos, one of the few Cuban-radio… More >>
  • Best Place For A Second Date

    The Russian and Turkish baths

    You've had dinner. You held hands when you walked him/her home. You know you want to see each other again. So don't ruin it by doing something predictable. Move with eccentric genius by inviting her/him to the baths. Set in a basement grotto of the Castillo del Mar Resort, the baths are a unique way to get to know someone… More >>
  • Best Proof That Losers Do Indeed Get Lucky Sometimes

    Jimmy Johnson failed as the Miami Dolphins head coach. His best friend, Dave Wannstedt, failed as the head coach of the Chicago Bears. So why was Johnson allowed to handpick Wannstedt as the Dolphins new head coach? Good question.… More >>
  • Best Downtown Oasis

    Allen Morris Park

    Only in Miami would a swath of green amid Brickell Avenue's concrete jungle be named for a real estate entrepreneur. But credit must be given where it is due. The late developer L. Allen Morris donated a quarter of a city block to the City of Miami, which wisely (for once) preserved the eleven tall oaks and one banyan tree… More >>
  • Best Ongoing Astonishment

    Ed Jovanovski for Pavel Bure

    Pavel Bure is amazing. Good god, the Russian Rocket is the best player in the world right now, the most exciting and prolific scorer in the game, the All-Star game MVP, a strong candidate for league MVP, a reason all by himself to drive to godforsaken Sunrise to watch the Panthers play. And as he flies around the rink, firing… More >>
  • Best Political Comeback

    Matti Bower

    For a time it seemed as if Matti Bower was destined to be a political bridesmaid but never a bride. She ran for the Miami Beach City Commission in 1995 and lost to Martin Shapiro. (Had she won, she would have been the first Hispanic to sit on the commission.) She ran again in 1997 but was edged out by… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    WQBA-AM (1140)

    WQBA is no longer La Cubanísima. If nothing else this is a clear indication that someone has finally figured out that the majority of Miami's Spanish-speaking citizens is not obsessed with Fidel Castro. The formatting changes that began in late 1997 -- after the giant Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation (HBC) acquired WQBA and three other Miami stations --… More >>
  • Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill

    Helicopter rides

    If purchasing and maintaining your own aircraft is a just a wee bit beyond your means, yet you hanker for an eagle's view of the world, see pilot Philip Shelnut. For a mere $65 you can gain that perspective for about ten minutes. Too little time aloft? Several other tours are available, including a 45-mile, half-hour jaunt for $149. This… More >>
  • Best Haitian Bookstore

    Libreri Mapou

    Recorded compas music from St. Andre's Record Store across the street fills this shop in the heart of Little Haiti, often accompanied by the live drumming of percussion students or the rehearsals of the dance company Sosyete Koukouy out back. Paintings by Haitian artists and larger-than-life photos of folkloric dancers and musicians cover the walls, while frequent readings and panel… More >>
  • Best Small-Town Parade

    Santa's Parade of Elves

    Can you imagine anything cuter than hundreds of youngsters, dressed as elves, marching along Sunset Drive and Red Road? Well, truth be told, we can't either. In what has become a South Miami tradition, Santa's Parade of Elves is a glorious start to the holiday season. Heading into its seventeenth year, the parade keeps getting bigger and bigger. Last year… More >>
  • Best New Play

    A Bicycle Country

    Nilo Cruz's haunting A Bicycle Country, a play about three Cuban balseros, arrived at the Florida Stage just a few weeks after boat boy Elian Gonzalez was rescued off the Fort Lauderdale coast. Here's betting it will be remembered long after young Elian grows up. Set in Cuba and in the waters between Havana and Miami, the play stakes a… More >>
  • Best Aching Plea For An Intervention

    Brett O'Bourke

    In the few short months since Brett O'Bourke debuted as the "I Love Trouble" nightlife columnist in the Miami Herald's weekly tabloid Street, he's revealed so much about himself that unsuspecting readers have been seen dropping the publication from their hands, their bodies convulsing with a severe case of the willies. O'Bourke has bragged in print that he uses his… More >>
  • Best Supporting Player

    Lisa Morgan

    Actress Lisa Morgan is a great supporting player in the sense that, no matter how she's cast, she magnificently supports the interests of theatergoers, directors, fellow actors, and playwrights. Last season she appeared most notably in two shows. As the twittery, resolute mother of the flapper Sally Bowles in New Theatre's I Am a Camera, Morgan's onstage time clocked in… More >>
  • Best TV Reporter

    Mark Londner

    Mark Londner is the iron man of the WSVN staff. You can drop him into the middle of any crisis, any breaking-news event, and be guaranteed the sort of smart and incisive reporting that often is lacking in television news. He's proved himself time and time again, from events as varied as the OJ Simpson murder trial in 1994 to… More >>
  • Best Baseball Memorabilia

    Charles Monfort

    Monfort's passion for baseball has its roots in Cuba, his homeland. As a ten-year-old kid, he began collecting mementos from his favorite teams and players. Later he embraced America's baseball heroes as well. Today he can boast of a private collection he accurately refers to as his "mini-Cooperstown." Hanging on the walls of his Westchester home are autographed photos of… More >>
  • Best Political Gamble

    Governor's office sit-in

    When state Sen. Kendrick Meek of Miami and state Rep. Tony Hill of Jacksonville decided to park their fannies outside Gov. Jeb Bush's office and refuse to leave until the governor listened to their concerns about his unilateral decision to dismantle the state's affirmative-action program, it was an extremely risky gambit that easily could have backfired on the two legislators.… More >>
  • Best TV News Anchor

    Angela Rae

    In little more than a year, Angela Rae has helped turned WFOR from a ratings joke into a serious contender. In the last ratings period, Channel 4 was the number-one station at 11:00 p.m., an advance largely owing to Rae's presence at the anchor desk. She is bright (packing a law degree from the University of Virginia), articulate (a rarity… More >>
  • Best New Gridlock

    American Airlines Arena

    Nearly 20,000 basketball fans pouring on to Biscayne Boulevard after the final buzzer gives new meaning to the word jammed. Think that's fun? Just wait till the hoopsters are joined by another 12,000 leaving their concert at Bayfront Park Amphitheater and 8000 more from events at the Performing Arts Center up the road.… More >>
  • Best Dolphins Player

    Olindo Mare

    Of all the blame for the sham of a disaster of a debacle in Jacksonville that ended this mind-numbingly disappointing Dolphins season, none can be laid at the golden right foot of the team's kicker. In fact if it hadn't been for good ol' No. 10, the Fins wouldn't have won enough games to earn the right to drive up… More >>
  • Best Defense

    Last fall criminal defense attorney Curt Obront argued before a federal jury that his client, who had been arrested for smuggling cocaine into the Port of Miami, was innocent because federal agents didn't actually catch him with the offending kilo of cocaine. Rather the agents found it on the ground near where his client was walking. Obront argued that finding… More >>
  • Best Heat Player

    Alonzo Mourning

    Alonzo Mourning is so good it's dangerously easy to take him for granted. The All-Star center was the NBA's defensive player of the year in 1999. He has diversified his offensive game, making his midrange jumper more reliable while improving his post-up skills. He rebounds well. He runs the floor. His shot blocking remains incredible. And though he's a little… More >>
  • Best Place To Meet Single Men

    The Home Depot

    The best place is over near the lumber. All that fragrant wood is a kind of aphrodisiac in itself. The tool section, of course, is not bad either. Nor the paint area, especially because it can be a long wait in line to get that color mixed. Stay away from home lighting. Follow these simple rules and the chance of… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Don Noe

    You know, the funny thing about Don Noe is that you can't really tell by looking at him how bad the weather is. The screen behind him could be showing a sunny summer day with light chop on the bay, or a huge killer hurricane that might hit us (Floyd), or a not-so-big hurricane that will hit us (Irene), and… More >>
  • Best Cuban-League Baseball Player Living In Miami

    Camilo Pascual

    Pascual threw one of the sweetest curve balls in baseball history while playing for the Minnesota Twins from 1961 to 1966. The Reds, L.A. Dodgers, and Cleveland also made good use of his right arm, though only briefly. But before his stint in the American big leagues, Pascual played the game in Cuba, his native country, from 1953 to 1961.… More >>
  • Best Alternative Medicine

    East-West Health Alliance

    All those new-age clichés about nurturing and caring and sensing energies and auras? They apply here, but it's the real thing. East-West is not a huge, bustling operation; the office is intimate and tranquil. You will not find every specialty under the sun here, but you will find gifted and skilled healers who incorporate conventional and alternative medicine within both… More >>
  • Best Charity

    Food for Life Network

    It's pretty tough to argue with an outfit that feeds the HIV-positive among us. But throw in a few twists -- say, delivering groceries to those who are not ambulatory, providing foodstuffs to victims' families, and even catering home-cooked meals for those who are too sick to cook -- and you've got one dedicated charity. Indeed… More >>
  • Best Fish Tank

    Seahorse Bar at Beach House Bal Harbour

    The bar's name blatantly announces what placidly swims in the showcase aquarium: live sea horses. The gracefully curved creatures add whimsy to the long, narrow lounge and give new meaning to the term captive audience. The tiny fish bedazzle barflies who are gulping martinis as if they were downing water. Kudos to the hotel's owners, the Rubell family, for deciding… More >>
  • Best Sanctuary From The Fast Track

    Simpson Park Hammock

    Enter deep into this eight-acre native hardwood hammock and become a witness to the past in all its former glory, a time when banyan, pigeon plums, velvet seed, gumbo limbo, and Gulf licaria trees covered the Brickell area. The park has been undergoing restoration for several months (pesky foreign plants had threatened to wipe out the fragile native flora) and… More >>
  • Best New Performance Space


    From postmodern tributes to the Cuban orisha Babalu Aye to the monthly "hood crawl" through Little Havana, the artists at lab6 have taken up a kind of anti-gentrification of Little Havana. Never content to confine art to the walls, visual artists Carlos Suarez de Jesus and Vivian Marthell traffic in the wacky and disturbing, often inviting dancers and other conspirators… More >>
  • Best Nonprofit

    Grubstake Resources for Recovery

    Since opening in October, the grassroots Grubstake has helped an estimated 150 women, many of them drug-addicted prostitutes who prowled Biscayne Boulevard for tricks, right their upturned lives. Grubstake and its companion thrift store, Good & Funky, are the brainchild of Heather Klinker, who gave up a lucrative job in promotions to launch this venture. Klinker knows whereof she speaks;… More >>
  • Best Local Artist

    Edouard Duval-Carrié

    Since moving to Miami in 1992, painter, sculptor, and installation artist Edouard Duval-Carrié has forged some of the city's most enduring symbols. Ailing souls in the waiting room of Overtown's Jefferson Reeves Health Center can find temporary relief in the artist's renderings of vodou sirens and snakewomen that float in an ethereal sea of green across the atrium above their… More >>
  • Best Candidate For Urban Renewal

    NW 79th Street between NW Tenth and NW 27th avenues

    What's up with this boulevard through nowhere? It's sort of like taking a trip down a rural Southern road, where all you see are tarpaper shacks, junk, and mud. This stretch of pavement remains countrified, but with a touch of strip mall here and there. Maybe someone tried to develop the area and just gave up. Vacant, weed-choked lots run… More >>
  • Best Banquet Hall

    Coral Gables Woman's Club

    This venerable coral-rock edifice is on the National Register of Historic Places, and deservedly so. Built in 1935, it features numerous stately bas-reliefs on its pockmarked walls, and a fountain alive with sculpted sea creatures. Indoors the club has two large meeting halls, one with terrazzo floors and murals of roseate spoonbills, the other with a lofty ceiling and impressive… More >>
  • Best Whiners

    Miami-Dade County Commission

    For almost a year -- and at nearly every commission meeting -- at least one member of the Miami-Dade County Commission grouses about how the whole world thinks they are a pack of corrupt nincompoops, all of whom are on the verge of being indicted. The king of whiners is Dennis Moss, who trots out his… More >>
  • Best Drag Queen


    For millennia men have made an art of impersonating women in the theater. For the past fourteen years at Teatro de Bellas Artes in Little Havana, Mariloly has continued the tradition. This Spanish-speaking diva plies his craft far from the clubs of Miami Beach on a stage patronized by Miami's exile community, as well as Latin-American and European tourists. Did… More >>
  • Best Political Consultant In The Hereafter

    Phil Hamersmith

    Phil Hamersmith… More >>
  • Best Locally Generated Website

    "We had a daughter in Boston. We used to visit her on the weekends," says Bob Hummel, the man behind the Website called "It was a monthly trip, and it went on for four or five years. We were always in the struggle of finding [Catholic] masses, and that's how it all kind of got started." It's a database… More >>
  • Best Budget Date

    Miami Space Transit Planetarium

    Sure you could go to the movies, but two hours seems like an eternity if you're eager to make it home and (with any luck) into each other's arms. A trip to the planetarium, where exhibitions tend to run under an hour, is ideal. The shows at the planetarium are even darker than a movie theater, perfect for smooching. And… More >>
  • Best Museum

    The Wolfsonian-FIU

    In a city whose international image is often, and sometimes wrongly, drawn by hypesters peddling simplistic images of hot-pink flamingos, drag queens, scheming thugs, and hysterical politicians, it is somehow not surprising to find that the best museum in town is a South Beach warehouse packed full of the fruits of one local rich-guy-collector's aggressive, Deco-tinged whimsy. Indeed at Micky… More >>
  • Best Kids' Thrill

    GameWorks - CLOSED

    More than a video-game store, GameWorks is a virtual theme park in which the latest technology is offered exclusively in the service of fulfilling your kid's wildest fantasies. Not only is a youngster's nervous system zapped into a frenzy by the blinking lights, jingling bells, firing laser guns, and the sensation of being on another planet, but the payment system… More >>
  • Best Actress

    Pat Nesbit

    Pat Nesbit is the sort of performer whose work finds its way to the foreground even if she's part of an ensemble, as she was in 1998's The Last Night of Ballyhoo at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. This past season South Florida audiences were lucky to see her at the Caldwell Theatre Company as one of two players in Donald… More >>
  • Best Reason To Stay In Miami For The Summer

    Venetian Pool

    (1) Cool spring water. (2) Two waterfalls. (3) None of those irritating models who pose like bags of bones over the loggias, under the porticos, on the cobblestone bridge. And no professional photographers who consider this particular locale indispensable. Summer in Miami, when the locals come out to play, is the ideal time to take advantage of this historic 1923… More >>
  • Best Ensemble Cast

    Caldwell Theatre Company's How I Learned to Drive

    Paula Vogel's 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive is not an easy play to sit through. Incest, alcoholism, self-destruction, and probing questions about the nature of love are the subjects it takes on. Told through the eyes of Li'l Bit, a woman who looks back at her youth and girlhood to recount how she was molested by a… More >>
  • Best Place To Take Out-Of-Towners

    Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area

    Be they from purple mountains, fruited plains, or anywhere else, just about all your visitors will appreciate the shining turquoise sea visible from this southern point of Key Biscayne. The only edifice obstructing the splendid ocean view is the restored Cape Florida lighthouse, erected in 1825 by some of our first out-of-towners, including a builder from Boston. It was burned… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery

    Silvana Facchini Gallery

    Step into this 7400-square-foot space and you are assured an intense visual experience with a mood somewhere between SoHo and Sofia, Bulgaria. Facchini, a São Paulo native, opened her Design District gallery in November 1999. She seems to have a taste for large paintings with an "elegant use of colors," as she likes to say. She also is fond of… More >>
  • Best Internet Café

    Kafka's Kafe and Newsstand

    Is your home office lacking some gadgets? Maybe your computer blew a chip and Web withdrawal is taking its toll? Perhaps you've never had a computer and want to see what all the fuss is about? Internet access is not only available at Kafka's, it's cool. Long a ramshackle used bookstore and coffee bar with a European beatnik feel, the… More >>
  • Best Place To Ditch The Kids For A Few Hours

    The Shops at Sunset Place

    Keep in mind that this behemoth contains more than 502,000 square feet of retail space. Then consider the multitude of twists and turns it takes to find your way from one location to another -- say, from the parking garage to the IMAX theater. (Did M.C. Escher design this place?) Finally take note of the mall anchors: NikeTown,… More >>
  • Best Restoration

    Lyric Theater

    This Overtown theater mirrored its dilapidated surroundings when the Black Archives History and Research Foundation took possession in 1988. The roof bore a massive hole. A fire caused extensive damage to the interior. Birds claimed the abandoned rafters. Thanks to $1.5 million in grants and a ton of elbow grease, the 400-seat venue, built in 1913, celebrated its grand reopening… More >>
  • Best Heat Player Emeritus

    Keith Askins

    The lanky swingman has been a Heater his entire professional career, mostly lingering at the end of the bench but hanging around because of his defense, rebounding, occasional three-pointers, and perpetual hustle. To make room for some younger players, Pat Riley cut Askins before this season. Instead of continuing to ply his trade in a lower-echelon league, Askins decided simply… More >>
  • Best Politician Convicted In The Past Twelve Months

    Alberto Gutman

    The state senator pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to defraud Medicare and was removed from office by the governor. Gutman's scheme cost taxpayers nearly two million dollars between 1990 and 1992, according to prosecutors, who alleged that he held a secret interest in a pair of home-health-care companies that ripped off Medicare by submitting false bills for phony patients.… More >>
  • Best Place To Kiss A Baby Alligator

    Everglades Alligator Farm

    Forget all your nightmares about big toothy beasts that threaten pets and small children from back-yard canals. Alligators can actually be quite cuddly -- at least newly hatched babies are. Don't believe it? Find out for yourself at this alligator farm and airboat attraction, which has been breeding alligators since they were an endangered species. There was a… More >>
  • Best Place To People-Watch

    Outdoor patio, Stephen P. Clark Government Center

    Suited men on their way to someplace else get their shoes shined. A woman vends green plantains and umbrellas under the Metromover. Beneath the bench-wrapped trees outside the county government's headquarters, there is shade and a breeze even on the hottest day. In this multiple-ring circus of the absurd, nothing much happens, yet it is fascinating, mesmerizing. Everyone is either… More >>
  • Best Book By A Local Author

    Fathers Aren't Supposed to Die: Five Brothers Reunite to Say Goodbye

    In a year when a slew of noteworthy writers, including MacArthur Foundation Fellow Campbell McGrath, Carl Hiaasen, Les Standiford, Vicki Hendricks, and Marjorie Klein published books, this selection was no small task. A customer review on calls veteran reporter T.M. Shine "an undiscovered master." And Bill Moyers described Shine's nonfiction narrative of his father's sudden illness and demise a… More >>
  • Best Place To Meet Single Women

    Books & Books reading series

    Miami's most prominent reading series, by current authors of predictably high caliber, is a good way to defy this city's tendency to settle for beauty over substance. And no doubt about it, intelligence more often than not cultivates a singular kind of beauty. In short, good-looking women go to these things, and they probably are smarter than your average barfly.… More >>
  • Best FM Radio Personality

    Freddy Cruz

    As you roll down the highway in your car, the radio blasts the last few notes of the Commodores' sappy hit "Three Times a Lady." Suddenly your speakers begin to rattle. You turn down the volume, fiddle with the bass, adjust the treble. Nothing works. That hum is still there. Not to worry: Your stereo is fine. It's just broadcasting… More >>
  • Best Sign That Tom Fiedler Is Spending Too Much Time At The Gym

    In a New Year's Day column, the Herald's opinion page editor asked readers to think of him and the other members of the paper's blandly predictable and pitifully self-important editorial board as "fitness instructors for your intellect."… More >>
  • Best Sportscaster

    Jimmy Cefalo

    South Florida sports icon Dan Marino retires. It's a no-brainer who we want to see cover the biggest sports story in years. Jimmy Cefalo is not just another sportscaster; he's also a former Dolphin himself. He even roomed with Marino while a receiver for the team. When he retired in 1985, he made an easy transition to broadcasting. In 1988… More >>
  • Best Local Boy Made Good

    Dan Blonsky

    All Dan Blonsky wanted, he told Regis Philbin, was a date with supermodel Elle Macpherson. All he got instead was the grand prize on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Blonsky -- single, 34 years old, a graduate of Palmetto Senior High, and an attorney at a Coconut Grove law firm -- advanced to the final… More >>
  • Best New Broadcasting Trend

    Noncommercial pirate radio

    The Miami area once had several renegade stations that eschewed advertising, including The Womb (107.1 FM) and SupaRadio (104.7 FM). But a federal assault on unlicensed broadcasters squelched them and many other pirates in 1998. In the secretive underworld of pirate radio, where stations are here today and shut down by the Federal Communications Commission tomorrow, it's hard to discern… More >>
  • Best Local Boy Gone Bad

    Alex Penelas

    Not since Richard Nixon declared "I am not a crook" has a politician shoved his foot so far down his throat as Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas did earlier this year during the Elian Gonzalez crisis. Even Ted Koppel felt the need to fly into town and bitch-slap our sexy little mayor on national television for his abrasive and incendiary… More >>
  • Best Local Defense Against Terrorism

    Call us old-fashioned patriots, but we do all our gift buying at the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens. This nonprofit operates out of the American Police Hall of Fame (the Biscayne Boulevard building with the cop car climbing its façade). We can't tell you the number of times we've gotten out of a jam by giving a dear… More >>
  • Best Festival

    The Biltmore Great South Florida Wine Festival

    This isn't your typical South Florida outdoor arts-and-crafts shindig. In fact as far as we can tell, there's nothing like it south of Atlanta. Over three days in May (sorry, just missed it) wine aficionados and food lovers gather at the grand old Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables for a feast of the senses. This year's extravaganza, the fifth annual,… More >>
  • Best Repertory Film Series

    Cinema Vortex

    How to tell Miami's film buffs from our town's film fanatics? Simple. The buffs can be found on Sunday afternoons inside the Alliance Cinema, forsaking a day at the beach for two hours in a darkened room, blissfully soaking up that week's Cinema Vortex selection. As for Miami's premier film fanatic, that would be Baron Sherer, the fair-haired young man… More >>
  • Best Soup Kitchen

    Mother Theresa Home for Women in Distress

    The Missionaries of Charity, Mother Theresa's order of nuns, are the motors that run this convent, also a home for battered women and the best soup kitchen in town. On any given day except Thursday (cook's day off), 250 homeless people eat a hearty breakfast or a full-course meal in the cafeteria at the home, one of many throughout the… More >>
  • Best Tourist Trap


    Sex sells, and Tantra is well aware of it. You could even call this restaurant self-aware, the play toward sensuality is so over-the-top. That's why the cuisine has been labeled "aphrodisiac," and dishes have been given fanciful names: A tomato salad is called the "Love Apple" and a Roquefort-Bartlett pear salad is called "The French Kiss." In addition to the… More >>
  • Best Monologuist

    Ed Kaplan

    "I'll be with you until two this morning. If you have something you want to weigh in on, maybe the over/under for the Marlins, give me a call. Maybe the upcoming NFL draft. I was just going -- " Anyone with even a splash of radio experience knows how hard it is to fill dead time between callers.… More >>
  • Best Local Erotic Website

    This slickly produced site offers much more than just a peek at a nubile young blonde lounging around her Miami Beach apartment in Victoria's Secret lingerie, with friends who are likewise scantily clad. This is South Beach pixilated. It's about time America's Sodom and Gomorrah had its own Web presence. Happily this is no sleazy porn site, nor is it… More >>
  • Best Herald Writer

    Meg Laughlin

    From the day she began writing for the Miami Herald in 1982, first as a freelancer then as a staffer, Meg Laughlin has wrapped her prose around the lives of some of South Florida's strangest characters and most disturbing stories. We love her for that. At Tropic magazine she chronicled the bizarre machinations of Hank Blair, a U.S. Customs agent… More >>
  • Best Graffiti Mural

    The Boardroom

    With the number of legal works of graffiti in the area increasing, the results have been larger projects done in plain view. The Boardroom is one of these pieces. Easily visible to traffic traveling north on NW 27th Avenue, the mural is a purist's dream. Measuring about 12 feet by 55 feet, The Boardroom demonstrates skills in three-dimensional drawing and… More >>
  • Best Cheap Thrill

    Party crashing

    Invitations are for the spineless masses and the spiritually lazy. Who are these elite snobs to banish you from their South Beach soirees? What do Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio have that you don't? Money? Looks? Fame? Bah! Level the playing field with the one thing you do have over them: smarts. This takes just a little preparation. First scour… More >>
  • Best Place To Watch The Fight

    Miami Jai Alai Fronton

    Say it's a fight. A really big fight. The kind of fight everybody wants to see. You can watch it at home, courtesy of pay-per-view, for no less than $50. Or you can go to a bar, where the cover charge can set you back $15, $20, or more. Or you can go to Miami Jai Alai. The struggling fronton… More >>
  • Best Protest Du Jour

    Hunger strikes

    Let's see now, in just the past twelve months, there has been a series of hunger strikes to free immigrants held at the Krome Detention Center. "Nobody listened to me," Marta Berros, leader of the group Mothers for Freedom, told the Herald. "My son was being tortured, and nobody wanted to listen until I did the hunger strike." Members of… More >>
  • Best Actor

    William Metzo

    There's not a huge demand in the theater for naked middle-age men, but don't blame actor William Metzo. As the Marquis de Sade in the magnificent Florida Stage production of Doug Wright's play Quills, Metzo gave a performance that required him to 1) stop speaking after the first act (since the Marquis is relieved of his tongue by church authorities… More >>
  • Best Promoter Of Cultural Diversity

    John de Leon

    John de Leon straddles the fence -- bravely and proudly. In the past year, the president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Greater Miami dared to write an editorial calling for Elian Gonzalez's dad to raise his own kid. At the same time he listened to complaints of excessive force filed by exile protesters who wanted Elian… More >>
  • Best Locally Produced Musical

    Finian's Rainbow

    Last fall the average playgoer had to wonder: Did we really need a revival of Finian's Rainbow? Despite a glut of Broadway revivals in New York, the Coconut Grove Playhouse certainly made a good case for the 1947 classic by Fred Saidy and E.Y. Harburg, whose familiar songs ("How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and "Old Devil Moon") are just… More >>
  • Best Hotel

    The Tides

    It's getting harder and harder to recommend anything on Ocean Drive, especially a hotel. For a night of partying, the crowds and the noise can still be seductive as part of the SoBe experience. But for postparty hours, when quality lounging quarters are required, that cacophonous street life should be a distant and silent memory. Which is why the Tides… More >>
  • Best Film Festival

    Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

    It is every day, or so it seems, that a pedestrian film festival takes over a screen or two in Miami. It isn't every day that an innovative, complete, professional, lively, and good one grabs our attention. The first gay and lesbian festival last year was a surprising success. The second one, held in April, proves it has depth and… More >>
  • Best Flack

    Don Ungurait

    Ungurait is the spokesman for one of the most overworked and politically perilous government offices anywhere. Yet he remains helpful and straightforward in the face of even the most taxing demands. No question is too small, no fact too obscure. Ungurait will research and promptly report back. The infrequent times he can't dig up all the details or answer you… More >>
  • Best Marlins Player

    Mike Lowell

    After naming third baseman Mike Lowell player of the year in their minor league system for 1997, New York Yankees muckety-mucks traded him to the Marlins before the 1999 season. The Cuban-American righty repaid the team by smacking a grand-slam home run last August 9, one of a record five grand slams he and his teammates hit in that game.… More >>
  • Best Local Landmark

    Lazaro Gonzalez's house

    It's far away from the Shangri-la of South Beach, but earlier this year Lazaro Gonzalez's home in the gritty heart of Miami became the best photo opportunity since Gianni Versace gave his life for the benefit of local tour-bus operators. When young Cuban rafter Elian Gonzalez moved into the modest abode rented by his Uncle Lazaro, the house became the… More >>
  • Best Hurricanes Football Player

    Santana Moss

    What quarterback Ken Dorsey says about senior wide receiver Santana Moss: "Santana is one of the greatest athletes around, and as a quarterback, it's nice to know he's out there. He can jump, run, catch, and he ignites the team. If you throw anywhere near him, he'll go up and do anything he can to come down with the ball.… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    El Chamba Car Wash

    El Chamba has been around since 1989. Except for one minor detail (it finally has an operating permit), not much has changed at this ramshackle soap-and-suds center for cars. El Chamba's native Nicaraguan owners take pride in the fact that the only machine used on your ride is a heavy-duty vacuum for the carpets. "Machines can't think," notes Leon Mateo… More >>
  • Best Boxing Figure To Die In The Past Twelve Months

    Beau Jack

    Beau Jack, born Sidney Walker in Augusta, Georgia, was one of the most exciting fighters in the world during the Forties, a time many consider boxing's golden age. He fought the best part of his 112 professional matches before sellout crowds in Madison Square Garden, winning and losing the lightweight title twice (record: 83-24-5). Jack lived his last 44 years… More >>
  • Best Lawyer

    Benedict "Ben" Kuehne

    Miami's municipal-bond rating is improving. Mayor Joe Carollo will serve out his term in office. An eerie calm permeates the city's tumultuous political environment. Don't thank government leaders. Thank Miami attorney Ben Kuehne. His courtroom argument was simple: A proposed charter referendum for a "strong mayor" amounted to an illegal recall of Mayor Carollo. That was all Judge Fredricka Smith… More >>
  • Best AM Radio Personality

    George Rodriguez

    As the Website counts down the seconds until the expiration of Uncle Neil's contract with QAM, it is time to look to the future. Neil's numerous, well-deserved vacations and seemingly even more numerous gastrointestinal ailments (insert fart noise here) have given his second banana ample opportunity to work on his own shtick. Our verdict: Whenever the Old Man steps… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Caribbean Shores

    First things first: There is no beach at Jensen Beach. It's not on the ocean. But it does hug the western shore of the Intracoastal Waterway (known up there as the Indian River). Caribbean Shores is a funky waterfront inn just outside of town, which is just north of Stuart, which is about 100 miles north of Miami, which basically… More >>
  • Best Spot To Show Off Your Ride


    As the sun sets on the first Saturday of every month, gearheads transform this burger joint's parking lot into a sea of iron, a celebration of America's love affair with the automobile. Rebuilt Detroit muscle cars shine like new. Chromed Harley-Davidson motorcycles gurgle and roar. Modern Japanese speedsters stand inches from the pavement. Owners swarm the blacktop to spy on… More >>
  • Best Mile Of Miami

    Fourteenth Street from North Bayshore to NW North River Drive

    Can we fudge just a bit? Let's call it the "Best Couple of Miles of Miami." Loosening the definition is worthwhile, for all aspects of life in Miami are symbolically represented along this stretch of blacktop. The journey begins at Biscayne Bay in the shadow of wealth and power: the Miami Herald building, the Grand and Plaza Venetia condominium towers,… More >>
  • Best Career Move

    Leonard Hamilton

    After taking the University of Miami's men's basketball team to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament (the most successful season in the program's history), Hamilton had the opportunity to bolt to Georgia Tech, a school with a longer basketball tradition in a stronger basketball conference. He chose to remain as head coach of the Hurricanes basketball program he built… More >>
  • Best Local Girl Made Good

    Katrina Taylor

    She may be the baddest chick, as she proclaims in her recent hit single, but this 21-year-old Miamian is part of a new breed of female rappers who rhyme as hard as any man and who aren't afraid to talk shit if you get in their face. A graduate of Northwestern High, Trina, as she's known, was working toward her… More >>
  • Best Trade

    Radek Dvorak for Mike Vernon

    Panthers general manager Bryan Murray knows how to cut a deal, as he proved last year with the acquisition of Pavel Bure. This year he executed another shrewd move by swapping Radek Dvorak for Mike Vernon. In some ways the exchange looked less than sweet. Dvorak is young, fast, and talented. Since the trade he became a star on the… More >>
  • Best Convention

    Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine Annual National Convention

    That's right, the Shriners -- polyester blazers and funny little hats (they're called fezzes). What gathering could better symbolize South Beach's transformation from fashion/celebrity hot spot to the more mundane (and sustainable) conventioneers' destination than last August's Shriners conference? Hey, we're glad to have 'em. Who needs all those limousines, paparazzi, and purple-haired kids anyway?… More >>
  • Best Theater For Drama


    The newly created GableStage arrived with a bang on the staid landscape of South Florida theater last season. To be precise the company started off with a muscular production of David Hare's Skylight, only to follow it up with the most compelling combination of programs and performances in the region. Ranging from the familiar (Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men) to… More >>
  • Best Magic City Icon

    Miami International Airport

    Say you're in Dallas and you've got a layover in Charlotte. Or make that Detroit with a layover in Chicago. Who would know the difference? Most U.S. airports are as seamlessly generic as fast-food chains and Michael Bolton concerts. But fly into Miami International Airport and whoa! -- time to check your passport. MIA contains a little of… More >>
  • Best Theater Road Show

    The Gin Game

    There's plenty of choice horseflesh in South Florida each winter, but the most appealing thoroughbreds to pass through the region were Julie Harris and Charles Durning. The two arrived as part of the National Actors Theatre's touring production of The Gin Game, directed by Charles Nelson Reilly. This sentimental piffle of a play by D.L. Coburn won the Pulitzer for… More >>
  • Best Hidden Neighborhood

    Spring Garden

    Tucked away from view, this triangle of land is wedged between NW Twelfth Avenue, State Road 836, and the north bank of the Miami River. Advertised as the most exclusive subdivision for sale in Miami in 1919, its developer, 49-year-old John Seybold, insisted on deed restrictions to preserve leafy, shaded streets and houses set back on ample lots. It worked!… More >>
  • Best Local Sports Coach

    Jim Morris

    So Miami had this one coach with interesting hair, who is a legend, who succeeded a legend, then didn't succeed. Miami still has this other coach with interesting hair, who is a legend, who succeeded a very nice man named Alvin Gentry, but this guy hasn't succeeded either. Granted it's tough to make any judgments about Jim Morris's hair,… More >>
  • Best New Law

    In October 1999 the Miami-Dade County Commission took another small step in the right direction when it unanimously approved expansion of the powers of the county's Commission on Ethics by allowing the group to initiate its own investigations. Previously the ethics panel could only act if a member of the public filed a complaint. Few in the community had the… More >>
  • Best Place For A First Date

    Skyward Kites

    Who wants to go to a smoky bar on a first date? Or a cacophonous dance club where you can't talk to each other? And who wants to risk half-a-week's pay at an expensive restaurant with someone you don't really know yet? Tell her to go fly a kite. With you. Drive to the Haulover Beach and use the huge… More >>
  • Best Public Meltdown

    Mayor Joe Carollo

    "You know, I am disgusted to sit in a democratic country and to have to put up with this kind of sickening anarchy, and this is what this is. This is not about good government. This is not about having a better Miami. This is about just a small group that couldn't get their way in stealing what they … More >>
  • Best Mobile Car Wash

    Ricky's Detailing

    Miguel Hernandez is on a holy mission. It may not be on the scale of a religious crusade, but it compels him nonetheless. "I happen to believe I work for God," says the 35-year-old car washer. "One of the things I do for a Him is not overcharge. Everybody else is charging $40 for something they know in their heart… More >>
  • Best Tollbooth

    Card Sound Bridge

    For a buck you can take Old Card Sound Road and its bridge home from the Keys and grab a bird's-eye view of South Florida that includes a wide, watery sky rich enough to satisfy spoiled Texans, as well as a shimmering horizon sprinkled with mangrove islands and funky fishermen. Watch out for the crotchety tollbooth operators who have the… More >>
  • Best Local Politician

    Jorge Mursuli

    After leading the fight to have the Miami-Dade County Commission pass a gay-rights ordinance, Jorge Mursuli easily could have retreated from the political stage, content with a single momentous victory. Instead Mursuli, chairman of SAVE Dade, has capitalized on that triumph, slowly building one of the more influential political organizations to arise in South Florida in years. He has apportioned… More >>