El Palacio de los Jugos
Photo by Zachary Fagenson
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.
Old school is the way Sidney Kaufman describes his one-of-a-kind arts emporium. Indeed this spacious shop is frozen in time. At the 24-year-old Palette, you can find graphic-arts supplies that haven't been available in most stores since the dawn of the computer age. Transfer type, which was used to do layout before the advent of Quark, can be purchased here. But it won't be around for long. Manufacturers have stopped making it, complains Kaufman, who has been in the business 55 years. The Palette also offers stuff to get you started on blast-from-the-past art forms like screen printing, block printing, calligraphy, and bumper-sticker making. Of course there timeless oil paints are available in every hue imaginable. Watercolors and acrylics abound. And there are fiber-tip pens, charcoal, drafting gear, easels, china markers, artists' pencils, and recycled artist paper. Art students even get discounts at the Palette. "We try to look out for them," says Kaufman with a sympathetic smile.
Marriage stale? Bored with your boyfriend? Feeling more stagnant than sexy? Before hunting for a divorce lawyer or breaking the monotony with small animals, try Oxys. Almost every clothing fantasy is accommodated in this emporium, which offers wares that make Victoria's Secret's selection seem like Sunday-school attire. In the front room are fantasy outfits like jungle girl or French maid, as well as a wide range of thongs, teddies, nightgowns, crotchless panties, and bustiers. The message is clear: Less is definitely more. The most popular color seems to be fire-engine red. The back room holds novelty items -- whips, vibrators, lotions, and edible undies. "It lets you keep on being creative, baby," says store owner Barbara Houghton, who has catered to adventurous patrons for the past ten years. Oxys is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
If you want to track down your favorite DJ during daylight hours, head for the row of turntables inside Yesterday & Today, which retains its long-time position as ground zero for the doyens of clubland. The reasons are simple: a friendly and knowledgeable staff, weekly infusions of new releases (including a steady stream of white-label twelve-inchers), and a mellow vibe that's conducive to hanging out and catching up on the latest dance-scene gossip. Best of all, hometown hero DJ Stryke has recently returned to his place behind the counter, and he's spiced up the store's stock with some left-field techno and experimental grooves.
It's hard to find a knowledgeable gun owner who recommends any place other than Lou's. All the brands are in stock: Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, Colt, Beretta, Taurus, Glock, et cetera. And of course all the ammo and accessories are here, too. But that isn't really what sets Lou's apart. It's no secret the gun industry is going through some big changes, and independent stores are having a hard time of it. Gun shows are taking away a lot of business, and anti-gun sentiment is forcing many owners to feel and act persecuted. Substantial numbers of local retailers have closed in the past few years. Lou's, however, has retained a solid clientele by selling weapons for the best prices and providing up-front, honest information about arms and the laws that govern their use. Owner Lou Garcia is a former law-enforcement officer, and his staff knows their product. "Lou's a straight-shooter," unintentionally puns a veteran gun enthusiast and collector. "Good prices. Just go in and buy the damn gun, legally of course.... I would say I've never heard anyone say anything bad about Lou, whereas most of these other [gun dealers] I wouldn't turn my back on."
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®