Joe Corbett greets customers while wearing a belt with fish embroidered on it and a button that reads, "I'm protecting what's in my genes. Are you?" Corbett thus models his two main passions: vitamins and fish. Most people know Corbett for the latter. The walls of his store are decorated with photographs of happy customers and their prize catches, mostly monstrous mahi-mahi. Also filling the place are numerous lures and a collection of antique rods and reels. The display counters and stands are replete with a wide variety of fishing accouterments, from maps to tools for constructing flies. In the back a family member expertly repairs fishing gear on a little workbench. Nearby several freezers are stocked full of frozen ballyhoo, silversides, menhaden, and other species. Two water tanks teem with live shrimp that are sure to entice fish onto your hook. And if you visit Kendall Bait and Tackle, chances are, with a minimum of prompting, Corbett will preach the gospel of a happy life through vitamins.
Worldwide is a perennial winner for the simple reason that it's hard to imagine poking around the store's carefully arranged array of international newspapers, glossy magazines, and offbeat cultural rags, and leaving empty-handed. There's simply a mind-boggling wealth of reading options. Looking for a take on Northern Ireland that differs from the mainstream media? Try a copy of the Irish Voice, which features a weekly column straight from the eloquent pen of Sinn Fein head honcho Gerry Adams. Out-of-the-ordinary music more your speed? How about snagging the Beat, which focuses on world grooves; No Depression, which covers the altcountry universe; La Banda Elastica, a colorful chronicle of the latest in rock en español; or the hoary punk-rock bible Maximum Rock and Roll? Sure, Worldwide also carries popular faves such as The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and (ahem) Miami New Times, but isn't the hot-off-the-presses issue of the Hemp Times precisely what's missing from your life?
Years ago, when a New Times writer was in graduate school in North Carolina, she took an independent-study course on Latin-American women writers. And no place in the United States did a better job of delivering the works of the most exhilarating escritoras than Juan Manuel Salvat's Little Havana shop. When the New Times writer headed south to teach graduate school in Colombia, Salvat provided a semester's stock of Spanish translations of English works by U.S. Latino writers. In business more than 30 years, the Salvat family has developed a bibliographic expertise helpful to scholars and dilettantes alike. Although Universal specializes in Cuban books, the shelves also include a wide selection of everything else imaginable. Squeezed in alongside the complete works of Lydia Cabrera and José Martí are treasures ranging from Argentine classics to daring new works from Spain. Best of all Universal hosts monthly Saturday-afternoon visits from the writers published by Salvat's press, Ediciones Universal. The lively discussions provide living proof that Universal is a bookstore for people who not only love to read, but love to think.
Granted CD Warehouse is a chain of stores. Yet unlike Home Depot or Bennigan's, the four used-CD peddlers in Miami-Dade County reflect their communities. This is true because their suppliers are their customers. Ergo the CD Warehouse in Miami Lakes has a high concentration of Latin music, which mirrors the salsa-loving population in the north end of the county. In Kendall kids trade CDs of Gothic and industrial music. The Coral Gables store, located near the University of Miami, carries numerous alternative and hip-hop discs. Our favorite is the Biscayne Boulevard location, which boasts a fine collection of Motown, reggae, blues, and plain old rock and roll. Here you can find everything from rarities to your favorite greatest-hits compilation. And there is enough turnover that a weekly visit is worthwhile. Check this out: When you buy ten discs, the eleventh is free.
"The orange suit will work," says Rochell "Raquel" Greene, assisting a customer in her small Washington Avenue boutique. "The one in your hand ... not for you! Don't even bother trying it on." For three years Greene has been selling Brazilian bikinis and high-end Italian lingerie to the fashionably svelte denizens of South Beach. An expert on fit, Greene appraises the figure of every woman who walks in and steers them toward ensembles that best suit their body type. If a bikini fails to flatter, she refuses to sell it. "If someone leaves my store with a suit they don't feel comfortable wearing, they'll never come back. It makes business sense to make my customers happy." Such exceptional service allows her small shop (the entire place is no larger than a walk-in closet) to survive Washington Avenue's boom-and-bust economy. She discounts her designer underwear, but style comes at a price; a frugal customer could save money at Victoria's Secret, though that's a purchase Greene would lobby against. "Their stuff is garbage," she says with a sniff. "Garbage!"
El Palacio doesn't look like a palace, but then your body doesn't really resemble a temple. At this rustic little produce market, you can juice up en estilo muy Miamiense. The menu includes squeezings from a spectrum of tropical fruits, including maracuya (passion fruit), tamarindo (tamarind), guanábana (soursop), papaya, mamey, and guayaba (guava). Also available: melón (cantaloupe), sandía (watermelon), coco (coconut), naranja (orange), and manzana (apple). The seriously healthy juice-hound can request zanahoria (carrot) and remolacha (beet). If you've been searching for the nectar of the gods, try a papaya colada, a blend of coconut and papaya juices (liquor not included). All juices cost $1.25 per glass, or $4 for a gallon jug (except mamey, which costs $5).
Stop picking random bottles of wine from those shelves at Publix. Just stop it. I mean, what are you doing, really? Trying to infer from the price tag and pretty pictures on the label how good the wine is? When the expertise of Chip Cassidy and his knowledgeable staff are at your disposal, why would you leave your wine selection to chance? And don't let those piles of frou-frou gourmet finger foods fool you; the people at Crown are just as happy to steer you to a $7 German Riesling (which might actually go better with your meal than the $13 one right next to it) as they are to a $319 bottle of chateau-whatever champagne. The winnah and still champeen.
If your relationship with your garden has been tepid lately, one glimpse inside Parker Sod's butterfly aviary (thus dubbed by its proprietors) will jump-start your enthusiasm. Attendants can advise you on how to attract any number of delicate and elusive creatures to your back-yard Eden or weathered front stoop. For example Zebra Longwings, Gulf Fritillaries, and Julias have a passion for the corky-stemmed passion vine. Teases like the Ruddy Daggerwing prefer fig trees. If you're fond of fronds, pick up a comely little silverlady fern for ten bucks. Or perhaps you're the fishtail-fern type. And Texas sage, fakahatchee grass, and spathiphyllum are all in an affordable price range. Take home a tall, handsome ficus for $73, or maybe you'd prefer one of many gorgeous Italian cypresses ($10 and up). Since 1970 this nursery has cultivated a reputation for good service, wide variety, and most important, "good looking material," as professional landscapers like to say. It also offers a lot of accessories and plenty of grass for your lawn, you old sod. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®