"My bartending skills? Yeah, sure, everybody gets a glass," quips Warren, known variously as "Butch" or "Beamer." So modest. Twenty years at the Taurus and you figure he's got the fundamentals down. But sitting opposite this drinkslinger is anything but routine. He has turned the skill of bartending into the entertainment of improv theater. Every day he transmutes into a different character of his own imagining. A random stop at the Taurus on a Tuesday evening finds him wearing a sign reading "Happy Infant Safety Week." He's sporting a long-eared Goofy hat, a pacifier dangling from each of the ears. Two pairs of eyeglass frames are perched on his nose. And he has bandages, crossed in a cartoon-style X, on his cheeks. "I found my proper niche in life," the 63-year-old exults. "Where else could I make a living doing what I do and not be locked up?" He's a former actor who found bartending more suited to his tastes. "Here I can be an actor every day." He consults Chase's Calendar of Events to come up with a theme for the day. The week before his infant-safety incarnation included Audubon's birthday. For that Warren wore a bird hat and bird mask. As he scans ahead to the next week, he becomes excited by the prospects, including the Kentucky Derby, Togo Independence Day, and Tourist Day. "After a long day at work, people come in and see me and pretty much leave the seriousness behind them," Warren notes.

"My bartending skills? Yeah, sure, everybody gets a glass," quips Warren, known variously as "Butch" or "Beamer." So modest. Twenty years at the Taurus and you figure he's got the fundamentals down. But sitting opposite this drinkslinger is anything but routine. He has turned the skill of bartending into the entertainment of improv theater. Every day he transmutes into a different character of his own imagining. A random stop at the Taurus on a Tuesday evening finds him wearing a sign reading "Happy Infant Safety Week." He's sporting a long-eared Goofy hat, a pacifier dangling from each of the ears. Two pairs of eyeglass frames are perched on his nose. And he has bandages, crossed in a cartoon-style X, on his cheeks. "I found my proper niche in life," the 63-year-old exults. "Where else could I make a living doing what I do and not be locked up?" He's a former actor who found bartending more suited to his tastes. "Here I can be an actor every day." He consults Chase's Calendar of Events to come up with a theme for the day. The week before his infant-safety incarnation included Audubon's birthday. For that Warren wore a bird hat and bird mask. As he scans ahead to the next week, he becomes excited by the prospects, including the Kentucky Derby, Togo Independence Day, and Tourist Day. "After a long day at work, people come in and see me and pretty much leave the seriousness behind them," Warren notes.

Let's face it, a bowl of black bean soup can be a bounty of blasé. But the chefs at these little Mexican diners add a magical elixir to their pot: a splash of beer, Dos Equis Special Lager, to be precise. That's why they call it drunken bean soup. You won't get a beer buzz, but the effect is definitely euphoric. A dollop of sour cream and some shredded cheese (which you can ask them to hold) round out the unexpectedly flavorful recipe. Please, señor, some more. ¡Ándale!
The reggae cover bands of Miami probably don't like getting up there and grinding out "No Woman No Cry" for the eight-millionth time. Alas, that's what the mainstream market demands. This is a tough town for an original reggae band, particularly one with a political consciousness, but Benaiah continues to fight the good fight. Vocalist Joseph Williamson, with help from songwriting partner Carlton Coffee (ex-Inner Circle), has led his outfit to modest success, independently producing two CDs and doing a bit of touring. Bucking the dancehall-DJ trend in reggae, Benaiah delivers smooth harmonies and slickly produced roots grooves in the tradition of vital Eighties groups Steel Pulse, Black Uhuru, and Third World. With stirring tunes such as "We Nah Give Up" and "Babylon Soft," Williamson wails against the social ills plaguing modern Babylon, and lauds the back-to-Zion messianic vision of Rastafarianism. Still crucial after all these years.
The cover photo for the tabloid weekly "Viernes" almost never fails to deliver the goods. Both of them.
It's Tuesday afternoon and you're craving chicken feet again. You had the little morsels just two days ago, but that didn't do the trick. At the same meal you scarfed turnip cakes, steamed shrimp dumplings, sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf, baked roast pork buns, spare ribs with black bean sauce, rice noodles har mon, and for dessert, steamed buns filled with lotus seed paste. Still it wasn't enough. The succulent feet remain on your brain. If you had your way, you would eat dim sum at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week. Lucky for you, at Kon Chau you can. Open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 10:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, the restaurant offers about 50 dim sum items at any time of the day, unlike other restaurants that leave you hankering for the stuff until the weekend comes. Nothing fancy here: No steam cart being rolled around by a snooty driver who refuses to reveal what exactly is on your little plate. Kon Chau offers all dim sum prepared to order. Exceptional edibles and efficient, courteous service are just two good reasons to dine here. The third: incredibly cheap prices. Two people can eat until they burst for less than 20 bucks. Now that's a lot of chicken feet.

It's been a strange morning. The kids are bored with their video games. In fact they're bored with everything. You're about to tell them to go out and play on the expressway. You feel as though you're a candidate for the funny farm. Well, why not go to one and take the kids along? Patch o' Heaven is a twenty-acre spread where owner Elaine Spear has been breeding goats, cows, deer, sheep, and emus, among other animals, since 1983. She's also devoted to providing children with an opportunity to pet and otherwise get personal with the creatures. She offers pony rides and two hayrides per day through fields that are scattered with deer and emu. Kids fraternize with ducks, geese, turkeys, parrots, pygmy goats, key deer, and some local celebrities such as Bernina Banana Capucha the monkey and Tiffany the dancing cockatoo. The patch is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admission is $8.50 per person or six dollars a head for student groups if you call in advance. Huddle with your gaggle and quack at the ducks. It just might keep you from quacking up.
Some know it's there, some hear about it through word of mouth, some are drawn by the sound of the drums and the heady scent of patchouli. For more than a year and a half, with every full moon, masses of people have gathered on the sand of Miami Beach at 22nd Street and Collins Avenue to celebrate the lunar month. Stumble by accident upon this rhythmically inclined horde of young hippies and you're bound to wonder if Phish is in town. Nope, it's just about 200 of Miami's own crunchy granola/henna tattoo/crystal friend set, kicking it new age: beating congas, Grateful Dead-dancing, and lighting incense in homage to the Earth Mother. "Organize" is probably the wrong word to use in conjunction with such a blissfully chaotic event, but Gaia Buhdai of the Synergy Yoga Center does try to keep the circle vibrant each month by making phone calls to some of the talented drummers she knows. "Some nights the drumming is great, some nights it's not that great," she allows. "But you look around and people are swimming, kids are playing, some are dancing in the circle, lovers are making out." A life-affirming, deliciously mellow affair. All hail the Mother Goddess!
After ten Best of Miami issues, it’s time to look back. What a decade it’s been for this town. South Beach went from slum to slick. Nelson Mandela was snubbed. Hurricane Andrew leveled South Dade. Cuban rafters landed by the thousands. A slew of politicians were indicted. A summit brought Latin America to us. The Everglades were saved, then burnt, then saved again. And Wayne Huizenga was a hero, then a goat, then Billy’s goat.

Amid all this we managed to publish nine editions of Best of Miami, our once-a-year respite from the usual fare of political shenanigans, public corruption, and ecological devastation. The first issue was a saucy 176-page look at the finest in the subtropics. In the years that followed, we grew in girth and made increasingly impressive choices. Among them: Stephen Talkhouse was our best concert venue. An American Place Waterside Restaurant at the Jockey Club was our best new restaurant. Les Violins was our best glitz palace. All closed. Then there was Wayne’s World, chosen as best day trip. This place was never even built.

Now here we are at number ten. In this issue you’ll find our choices for classic topics like best cover band (the Clap), best new band (Chlorine), and best band name (Ho Chi Minh), and you’ll also discover some untried categories: best way to stick it to your pet (an acupuncture vet) and best place to watch fish while dining on one (you’ll have to read on for this). You’ll also encounter readers’ preferences for everything from best hotel (the Delano) to best local girl made good (Gloria Estefan — tenth time’s a charm).

Although this is a transient, ever-changing place, one thing seems constant: the urge to cheat. Readers have always tried to stuff the ballot box. Some of this year’s miscreants hail from a stylish and well-known Lincoln Road eatery and its next-door neighbor. A hot dog vendor even asked two of our reporters to stuff the box.

But enough of that jazz. Welcome to Best of Miami 1999. Sit back, soak up some South Florida sun, and enjoy.

Contributors
In addition to the New Times staff, the following people contributed to this year’s issue: Robin Shear (coordinator), Greg Baker (section editor), Alan Diaz, Carla Diaz, Laura Esguerra, Fred Hernandez, Sara Kaplan, Lee Klein, Rebecca Muller, Jen Osorio, Victoria Pesce Elliott, Alex Salinas, and Christine Tague.

You can find these so-called salons all over our, ahem, fair city. At least five have opened within the past three years, so business appears to be sizzling. Some reasons for taking sun in a box: It's quicker, less damaging, and good for some skin diseases. Still, what's the old saw about selling ice to Eskimos?

Best Of Miami®