After so many years it's reassuring that owner Mitchell Kaplan sometimes answers the telephone at Books & Books. Aside from their many tangible qualities -- a great selection, regular readings by nationally and internationally known authors, and a cool kids' section -- the stores are distinctive because they have improved and evolved while retaining their essential charm. Last year Kaplan took the cyberspace plunge. And coming in October: a new home. Kaplan plans to move the Gables store from its present location to the Mediterranean-style historic building (265 Aragon Ave.) across the street. The move will double the size to more than 6000 square feet and allow for a courtyard cafe. All is not copacetic, though. Kaplan's smooth monotone belies his anxiety. "It's a risky time in the book business," he volunteers. It's another big investment in a literate community, whose support, the bookseller is quick to point out, has allowed his business to survive.
Although he's only worked here for thirteen years, Guido Dominguez claims a newsstand has been on this corner for forty-three years. If that's true the place is almost half as old as the City of Miami. As the number of bilingual citizens has grown, so has the quantity of reading material in languages other than English, Dominguez says. Four decades ago there weren't many Chileans around to buy the newspaper El Mercurio, which today figures prominently in the racks. In bygone days soccer didn't register as a sport in Miami; today soccer magazines El Gráfico and Don Balon are fast-selling items. Long ago Brazilians rarely visited downtown Miami; now Brasileros often grab O Estado de São Paulo. There also are entertainment magazines such as Caras (kind of like People's Spanish-language edition) and the famous TV y Novelas (sort of like Soap Opera Digest but with more flair). News magazines such as Año Cero also abound. For the less serious reader, there's El Condorito, a comic-book series featuring guess what bird.

Best Design Firm That Doubles As A Record Store

Plex

Look closely at the most creative flyers touting the barrage of DJ events in Miami, and you're sure to spot the Plex credit. The firm is the creation of graphic-design team Steven Castro and Rick Garrido, who have done some gleefully twisted stuff. Less well-known is the appointment-only record store the duo operates out of their Lincoln Road office. The selection isn't voluminous but the accent is on quality, not quantity. They peddle vinyl that's truly underground (and otherwise impossible to find in this neck of the swamp), from off-kilter artists such as Detroit's neoelectro tweaker Ectomorph, Minneapolis idm creepy-crawler Jake Mandell, and Berlin's dubbed-out Chain Reaction crew.
Entering this flea market seems like a trip to the Caribbean. Meandering among the throngs of customers that cram the hundreds of stalls every weekend, one can hear a Jamaican lilt, Haitian patois, and Dominican-accented Spanish. The blaring music is equally eclectic; it ranges from gospel to salsa. You can buy almost anything here, from palm readings to power tools. The most frequently proffered items, though, seem to be toiletries and children's clothes. At the southeast end's bustling food market, you can purchase fruits, vegetables, fish, and meat. Or you can enjoy fresh-squeezed orange juice and coconut milk. Settle back. Take your time. You're in the islands now.
If you're a yuppie, this may not be the place for you. It's not in hip South Beach. Not even in kinda-hip South Miami. It's on NW Seventh Avenue, in an area some might charitably call industrial. And hey, there's not a lot of Lycra here, but there is a 1973 Orange Crate stingray, which sells for $2200. Owner Chris Marshall has rented bikes to movie and television producers, including the hipsters who made There's Something About Mary. And Broken Spoke is one of Florida's oldest cycleries, having opened nearby in 1944; it's been in its present location since 1976. The store has a few road bikes and a solid collection of off-road models at decent prices. Marshall, who sponsors a team of off-road racers, was instrumental in setting up a cycling course in Oleta State Park, and he's advocating for another at Miami-Dade's Amelia Earhart Park. What's more important, Marshall fixes flats for kids who need help, just like neighborhood bike peddlers of yore. "We are a family shop," Marshall says emphatically.
This little warehouse has a large, knowledgeable staff and the best selection of gear in town. Balls include the phosphorescent yellow Diadora ($17) and the traffic-cone-orange Fila ($25); cleats range from a $38 pair of black-and-white Diadoras to the flashy $152 Puma Cellulators; Adidas and Umbro shin pads start at $15. What do you need to judge the joint besides the endorsement of Juan Carlos Michia, a loyal customer who happens to be the U.S. Soccer Federation's head scout in the United States? "They can help you with any product you want," raves Michia, a native of Argentina who played pro ball in the United States. As any soccer mom knows, fútbol-mania extends far beyond the field. Store hours are 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. This giant locker for all things soccer is closed Sunday.
It's late. You're home alone, and that Coke you're sipping just isn't cutting it. Definitely needs to be jacked up. You need a hit of the hard stuff. But you're out of whisky and worse, out of cash. Those not-so-convenient drugstore liquor emporiums shuttered their doors hours ago. What to do? Get on the horn and hit your friends up for free booze? Go to a bar, start a tab, and guzzle a few alone? We think not. Take a stroll over to Fox's handy-dandy walk-up window. The dark bar may have the illicit feel of a speakeasy. The well-lighted window, open until 2:00 a.m. daily, is a different story altogether. The friendly attendant won't mind answering incessant questions about what size bottle is the best deal for your money, and trust us, you'll have a variety of sizes and brands from which to choose. Pick your potion, hand over your credit card, and in no time at all you'll be toting home the toxin of your choice in a lovely brown paper bag, you lush!
Have you been searching for a gem-hunter's kit? A solar-powered model biplane? An ant factory, a hand-held metal detector, or ingredients to brew your own root beer? You have? Then breathe easy. Dr. Einstein has blown into town. Or rather his namesake, this toy store, has arrived. With a terrific selection of scientific, ecological, and mathematical games and experiments, Dr. Einstein's ranks as a good idea that borders on genius. Of course the shop's location in Miami's hookerville is a little weird, but it beats all those other mall-rat-infested stores and toy shops in the area. And there's more to attract you to this place than just the educational fun a kid can have assembling his own robot. You won't find Tickle Me Elmos or Furbies, or even Teletubbies. Take that, Tinky Winky.
When Norman Wong left Hong Kong twelve years ago, he moved to Miami "because," as he says, "somebody's got to live there." He founded PK in 1994 and has worked hard to build the market's reputation as one of the most reliable sources of East Asian foods in South Florida. The store has a down-home, middle-America feel, with no trace of the religious paraphernalia, sexy videos, or raggedy clutter that tends to show up in smaller, mom-and-pop specialty stores. Instead you'll find well-scrubbed aisles, a sweet smelling fish market, and a dandy supply of the goodies that a wok-wielding cook will need to stir some of the multitudinous styles of Asian grub at home: hot chili oil, live blue eels, Florida farm-grown Chinese vegetables, ya pears flown in fresh from China, and -- our favorite -- the best brands of frozen dumplings imported all the way from Brooklyn.
Imagine a delightful forest of hundreds of varieties of tropical and subtropical trees. There are old-growth hardwoods, including a 600-year-old bald cypress, its snarled trunk dappled with green moss. Nearby are rare Florida native species like lysiloma, also known as wild tamarind, and lignum vitae, nicknamed iron wood for its strength. Color is added by flowering bougainvillea and the white petals of Suriname cherry. Now imagine this forest in miniature, and you have Miami Tropical Bonsai. More than 10,000 trees, many of them from Asia, spread out over five acres in this family-run grove. Classes on bonsai styling and care are offered for experts and novices. Tree prices range from an affordable $15 to thousands of dollars. A small manmade pond with a waterfall at the entrance underscores that the art of bonsai is the patient cultivation of beauty in nature.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®