Standing in the midst of Elva's Nursery, the plants seem to go on forever. Both inside and outside, the rows stretch from bougainvillea to bonsai to baby roses to staghorn ferns and coffee trees. Well over 100 species can be found on about twenty acres of land. The selection also extends to garden accessories, the tremendous assortment of which is testimony to Miami's multiculturalism. In addition to the benches and tables that come in metal, wood, and stone, there is a little something for every race, culture, and ethnicity. Statues of the Virgin Mary standing both free and encased are prominently displayed in front. Inside, stone black angels face Buddhas and miniature statues of Confucius. Dignified native Americans are not far from Aztec sun calendars. For those who are just thankful to celebrate the good fortune of all this natural greenery and sunshine, there are stone manatees, giant sea horses, and ceramic farm animals.
Leroy Robinson, owner of this Jamaican pulp bar and take-out joint, likes to add ginger to most of his freshly squeezed juices. In his island home the pleasantly pungent spice is used as a remedy for all types of ailments. Try it with tamarind juice to give it a slightly piquant twist or with the sour-tasting sorrel concoction, a good source of fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C. Robinson also packs a powerful peanut punch and serves a damn good ginger beer, if you like the stuff straight up. Even his carrageenan juice, made from a stubby, purplish seaweed more commonly known as Irish moss, goes down smooth. Coconut, pineapple, grape, carrot, melon, strawberry, cane, and mango juices are available, as well, at the low price of one dollar for small drinks, two dollars for medium, and four dollars for large and combinations of liquids. This righteous juice bar even stocks a full line of Caribbean foods, spices, fresh fruit, and Bob Marley paraphernalia. Give thanks and praises.

In the midst of the marine industries on the Miami River lies the junker's mother lode. Weird and unusual salvage from the land and sea is stuffed, stacked, and crammed into every nook, shelf, and cranny of Stone Age Antiques. What didn't fit there is hung from rafters and walls. Among the booty: rusty cannons that date from the 1700s; deep-sea-diving suits with copper and brass bubble helmets; a harvest of huge green glass floats that marked fishing nets in Asia; enough portholes to outfit a cruise ship; and spooky reproductions of sailing ship figureheads. The difference between Stone and someone who can't throw away cardboard toilet-paper tubes is that Stone has an eye. He has culled through the flotsam and jetsam that have floated his way over the past 30 years. In addition to the nautical artifacts, there are stacks of fancy rusting metal bed heads; stuffed llamas; an 1899 bell from a church in Troy, New York; reproductions of African masks; old metal store signs; B-movie posters; and much, much, much more. Because there is so much, this is a place that will make you slow down and open your eyes. Just be careful not to break anything as your jaw drops.

Whatever Tio's lacks in selection, it makes up for with a knowledgeable staff. Walk in and ask for a moderately priced champagne, and they'll direct you to the Domaine St. Michelle, on sale for seven bucks. Sure they've got all your old favorites -- Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, and Stoli. The wine and beer choices are decent, and there are even kegs for sale. But it's the imported hard stuff that sets Tio's apart. We're talking several types of Russian potato vodka, including a triple-distilled, wild-berry variety made by Luksusowa, plus more than 50 types of tequila, gin, and liqueur from around the world. Best of all, if you happen to be flush, plunk down cold hard cash on the counter for a ten-percent discount. Not in such a hurry to leave? Spend the afternoon watching TV with the proprietors and supping on sandwiches at the in-house deli, which stocks Boar's Head cold cuts.
Your granite horse fountain no longer reaches toward the heavens, but your obelisk with a capital D beckons huddling masses to spend, spend, spend. You put Kendall on the map when you first opened more than 40 years ago and set the standard for frivolous buying sprees long before ATMs and credit cards made spending convenient. You survived recessions, a gas crisis, inflation, and cocaine-cowboy shootouts in your parking lot, and still you look well. The booming economy of the Clinton years has been good to you. Your promenade, tiled in cool blues and whites, features kiosks of the finest coffees, sunglasses, and caviar. But looking to the future, your prosperity once again is challenged. As consumer confidence wanes and the bubble of the new economy bursts, competition raises its ugly head. The supersize Dolphin Mall, a tract of discount outlets that opened in March, seeks to tap into your well. Next year the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables will do the same. But you've seen other malls, full of shine and fury, come and go. You've beat out the Bakery Center and its new incarnation, Sunset Place. You thrived while the once praised Omni declined into downtown decay. Even with your double cinema gone, you make the once-hip CocoWalk look like just another mob scene with bad parking. You continue to lure and lull the people with your ever-expanding free parking lots and your own entrances and off-ramps from the Palmetto. You're going to make it, after all. You're Dadeland, the granddaddy of Miami malls.
Why does the miracle of new life have to leave you feeling like you won the egg-eating contest in Cool Hand Luke? Take comfort in sheathing your gravid form in snappy capri pants in any shade you like. Shirts, skirts, and dress styles in this spacious Miracle Mile shop run the gamut from fun, flowery, and slightly retro-Sixties to understated and elegant. There's an old-fashioned standing scale on which you can confirm your worst fears, and a small box of children's toys placed strategically near the dressing rooms. Plus Mimi and her crew offer helpful appraisals and advice on everything from bras to cocktail dresses.
In his book La Ciudad Mercado, Mexican anthropologist Alejandro Morroquín proposes specific elements that define the authentic mercados of his native country. The author's Mexican markets of wooden stalls, Indian campesinos carrying heavy loads on their backs, merchants peddling medicines and magical charms, and prostitutes working the throngs of buyers is not exactly what you'll experience at Bargain Town. This flea market's Mexican roots, however, are distinct and recognizable. From live mariachi music to a wide variety of goods, you can stock up on all your household needs and personal wants in one place. Have a cold Corona and hot steaming tacos at the cantinas and even pick up a religious icon or two: We highly recommend a portrait of La Virgen de Guadalupe.
"Friend or Home Depot spy?" joked the young man behind the counter when he thought we were being a little too inquisitive about Paradise Hardware's holdings. The hardware-store wars must be more intense than anyone has imagined. In any event this neighborhood do-it-yourself fix-it shop need not fear the corporate giant. There are bigger stores for hard-core building projects, but Paradise carries everything the average home-improvement job might require: nuts, bolts, screws, assorted tools, faucets, toilets, and paint. And the large staff of helpful employees, all of whom speak both English and Spanish, won't make you feel like an idiot for not knowing what you call that little doohickey that holds the whatchamacallit together.

Everything's on the Internet now, you say. No reason to go digging for obscure magazines in something as old-fashioned as a newsstand. You'll just read it all online, right? Wrong. Take a stroll up and down Worldwide's browser-friendly aisles, and you'll find title after title that has declined to join the, ahem, new-media revolution. How about everyone's favorite chronicler of ecoterrorism and environmental monkeywrenching, Earth First! ("No compromise in defense of Mother Earth!"), or the recent issue of Fishwrap, devoted to the legendary "lost" 1967 Beach Boys album Smile. Even die-hard computer phreaks have to leave their basements and sully their hands with fusty ol' stapled-together paper if they want to keep up on all the latest code-breaking info and juicy hacking gossip. The shadowy staff behind 2600 -- The Hacker Quarterly (which was being sued in federal court by the Motion Picture Association of America for figuring out how to crack a DVD's copy protection at the time this was written) may have a Website, but they save the "good stuff" for their print edition. True, in addition to these curios, Worldwide has Vanity Fair and Der Spiegel, but why waste your money on fluff when you can buy UFO Magazine and discover "the truth!"

With more than 2000 products in stock, Chung Hing Oriental Mart boasts everything imaginable from the East. The store's owner, Chung Peng, a native of Hong Kong, even supplies local Thai, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants. The impressive inventory includes live tilapia and eels crammed together in a fish tank; hefty pork thighs hanging from steel hooks; and a range of herbal tonics such as Wuchaseng extract (dark ginseng in a honey base), Ancient Han Health-Keeping extract (the result of nearly ten years of research conducted by traditional Chinese herb experts who based their studies on ancient records from the Han Dynasty), and a bronchial comforter called Chi Ye Long. Aisles are full of products from every Eastern nation you can think of. Chung Hing offers the widest variety of Chinese noodles we've ever seen in one place. The flavoring essences from Thailand and a number of instant soups -- wakame, tofu misu, and osuimono -- are available for a quick fix. Five-pound bags of dried mushrooms are stacked against a wall near the live fish. Large glass jars of bamboo shoots; all kinds of oils for stir-fries; and green bean, sesame, and soybean powders also are for sale. Want to make sushi? At Chung Hing you can find everything you'll need.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®