A cameo to nestle in your cleavage. Rhinestones to ring your fingers. Austrian crystals to drape around your neck. No matter what manner of costume jewelry you seek, you'll most likely find it at this vintage shop, where numerous cases house quality watches, fobs, brooches, chains, chokers, and the like. An added advantage: Since C. Madeleine's accepts items on consignment (by appointment only), you can trade in those pieces that no longer tickle your fancy for some trinkets that do. Chances are you'll discover that one item you've always wished your great-grandmother had the good taste to wear -- and the good sense to pass down to you.
When the vindaloo you've eaten in restaurants just won't do, it's time to try making it yourself. The perfect place to stock up on supplies is Bombay Super Bazaar. This small market boasts a bounty of ingredients destined for innumerable Indian dishes from every region. Packed in bags of various sizes: every spice known to man (including elusive cardamom pods), chickpeas, lentils, assorted legumes, and fragrant basmati rice. A freezer holds meats and filled breads. Bunches of aromatic fresh herbs are available too. And for those less inclined to create things from scratch, shelves display a slew of sauces, soups, pastes, and chutneys that can be mixed with all sorts of elements for a quick meal.

An unofficial survey indicates many Miamians (well, at least three or four) do not buy anything, except groceries, anywhere but this flea market. Why run around to different malls and spend more, they reason, when on any given Sunday afternoon they can take Mom and the kids out to the pulguero (that's what the thrifty souls in the survey call it -- Spanish, you know, the preferred language of the majority of the sellers and clientele), plop down 50 cents to get in, a few more dollars for sodas or sno-cones, pick up the underwear or socks or mattress or kitchen table they need, and make a nice outing of it. A little extra change and you've got a stuffed bear that dances to merengue and a stunning pair of green plastic five-inch platform sandals. For today's busy American, this is where you get more for your dollar and your time!

We trolled bowling-alley parking lots, video arcades, tattoo parlors, and public handicap ramps to survey skate rats about the best shop in town. Whether it was in Kendall, Westchester, or Aventura, the overwhelming favorite was Fritz's. This Lincoln Road storefront distinguishes itself by not only being the coolest place to assemble a new skateboard, but the friendly staff is knowledgeable enough to hook you up with the best trucks, king pins, and baddest-looking deck around. The fact that Fritz's has been on Lincoln Road for more than half a decade is testament enough to its popularity. Many of the independent boutiques that once dotted the mall folded as rents skyrocketed. So skate on over. It's still not a crime to Rollerblade on wannabe-tony Lincoln Road. But skateboarders beware: You're likely to be busted.
Zoom by too fast on Biscayne Boulevard and you might mistake Morningside Antiques for a small house. And it certainly was once upon a time. Now it's an intimate antique mall featuring a series of rooms that act as booths run by different dealers. Wander through leisurely and you're sure to come upon treasures: tasteful midcentury modern marvels that seem as if they were dropped here from outer space, prim and proper Victoriana, swanky Art Deco delights, rustic French provincial furniture and decorative arts, swinging Sixties and Seventies lamps and the like, tiny silver spoons, un-PC Black Americana, colorful printed linens, and sparkling trinkets galore. So what if the Baroque mahogany rocking chair you bought looks a little odd with the boomerang Formica coffee table in your living room? Tell the friends about to commit you that your style is eclectic -- not schizophrenic.
If you're looking for a stark example of the difference between a corporate giant and a locally owned emporium, just mosey through the carefully stocked aisles of New Concept Video, which serves up practically everything its surrounding community is after: imported fashion magazines, of-the-moment dance-music CDs, and of course an array of offbeat titles -- both new and old, foreign and homegrown. What really makes New Concept shine, however, isn't just the presence of recent highly touted indie flicks that never graced Miami's theaters (Lisa Picard is Famous, Wet Hot American Summer, George Washington, the list sadly goes on), but a redefinition of that very phrase "blockbuster." Don't have Showtime? Still curious about that cable channel's gay telenovela Queer As Folk and its resultant buzz? Forget about hitting your nearest Blockbuster. That chain's Miami outlets dithered for more than two months before finally overcoming prudish moral concerns and deciding to stock tapes of the series' episodes. As for other "controversial" films, such as Bad Lieutenant, Blockbuster demands its very own customized edit before it'll deign to carry the picture. Over at New Concept, however, from its first day of release there was an entire wall of Queer As Folk (on both VHS and DVD), ensuring the type of "always available" rental status that this store's rivals only extend to more hackneyed displays of male bonding such as Pearl Harbor. We'll stick with the shop that keeps its priorities, ahem, straight.

In the Bird-Ludlam Shopping Center there are three places to get your nails done, but only one salon will do if you want a seven-dollar manicure and more chisme (gossip) than you can possibly process. While your cuticles are being pushed back and the polish is being applied, you'll hear about what happened this week in the Mexican telenovelas, reviews of Enrique Iglesias's newest release, and why the latest fatal disease to strike Fidel Castro means that for el tirano the end is surely near. Knowledge of Spanish is a help, but the dish comes in English too.

The topiaries perched on the fence posts give you a clue about what you'll discover at this family-run nursery. The eager assistance, available as soon as you open your car door, will soothe any confusion you may experience gazing upon the tangle of vegetation in front of you. And the landscaping know-how will allow you to select the best ground cover, flowering bushes, ficus hedges, and climbing vines for your home. But sometimes it's all about the veggies. That's what endears us to Cornell's. This Eden stocks the best garden starters around, from beefsteak seedlings to Scotch bonnet peppers already in bloom. Some of the items, including baby mixed greens and flowering purple cabbages, come up from Lovell Farms down south, but others are nurtured in the nursery simply because the proprietors love to experiment. That means when you're ready to plant your plot in the early spring, you can buy the notoriously slow-to-grow garlic and leeks already well established. It also means you can get some produce plants you may not be able to find at Wal-Mart or Home Depot. Whether you're looking for lemongrass or lemon-yellow tomatoes, you have a better chance at Cornell's, where the owners are also students of home agriculture.

You've got the family, the job, the little plot of land. What's missing from your idyllic life? Oh, right. The folks from whom you bought your house had thumbs about as green as the sky. You need trees, and since you live in Miami you figure they might as well bear fruit and save you some bucks in the end. Not that they cost that much to begin with, if you buy them young and do so at Clinica de las Plantas. "Florida Master gardener" Jesus A. Ramos stocks a large supply of subtropical saplings in this nursery. Don't be fooled by the flowers in front; make your way to the back. There you'll find sapodilla, mamey, guayaba (guava), lychee, and longan trees. In the market for mangoes? You can find at least five different varieties here, including the ever-popular Haden, football-size Keitt, juicy Edward, sun-yellow Carrie, fiberless Beverly, and top-notch Nom Dac Mai. Bargain-hunting for bananas? Buy them if you see them -- these are the Clinica's biggest sellers and Ramos is often out. Trees range from $29.95 to $39.95, depending on size, and the staff will assist you in choosing the nicest specimens and then carry them to your car for you. In fact, the only thing they won't do is help you plant them at home. But that's okay. Nothing's more satisfying than knowing the fruit of your labors is yours alone.
This is the place for those who want to scope out their funnybooks and still feel like a grownup. The Archie/Pokémon/Disney presence is relatively low-key. Cutesy card games and movie tie-in toys clearly aren't this previous "Best of Miami" winner's reason for existing. Instead the haphazardly stacked selections feature everything from Marvel to Oni Press, plus a good variety of gaming materials and Japanimation. It can be a little tough to find that one specific title in this tiny space, but the friendly folks behind the counter will be happy to get it for you.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®