Crown, a frequent Best of Miami winner, relocated its Coral Gables store in September, and the new spot -- just a couple of blocks away from the old -- lives up to Crown's well-deserved reputation. Whether you're interested in wines (Crown took advantage of the increased shelf space at the new location to improve on its heralded selection), booze, or beer, the place remains in a league of its own. For a little something to go with your beverage purchase, check out the food. "We have a huge deli counter, with fresh baked bread and eight artisanal cheeses," says Crown wine consultant Fred Barger. "Pâté, fresh caviar -- you name it."

Readers Choice: Crown Wine and Spirits

This is the Alhambra of local shopping malls. Village of Merrick Park could put CocoWalk in its back pocket. It is a step up from Aventura Mall, and you're outside. Located a stone's throw from South Dixie Highway and Ponce de Leon Boulevard, the Village is a three-level, open-air fortress containing 115 "designer boutiques," which means stores full of a lot of high-quality stuff that a lot of thought went into. Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom's hold down the fort. Beyond merchandise, the Village also has towering palm trees, a kid-friendly fountain, and one adult sanctuary, the Elemis Day Spa. Bring plenty of money, for shopping is nothing without money. Even if you have none, you can still feel that sense of well-being the high-rollers do here. Abundance, style, quality, and glamour abound. Maybe someone will invite you to enjoy some pricey cuisine from chef Norman Van Aken's Mundo or chef Peter Hansen's Pescado.

Original maternity gear from one of Miami's brightest stars, Debbie Ohanian. When pregnant women make the trek to this store from Boca Raton and New York City in order to buy clothes, you know you have yourself a winner. By appointment only, Ohanian offers her clientele personalized service not found at any other maternity retailer. Plus she serves a killer cup of java. "I would come every week if I didn't live so far away," says Alissa Goldman, a bubbly Boca Raton resident who was making her second trek to Ohanian's private showroom. In addition to helping her customers select styles, Ohanian will recut the clothes until her clients are satisfied with the fit. Ohanian enjoys the feedback from people like Goldman. "Their comments help," she says. "It's almost like a consumer study." Ohanian has also branched out, selling her line in more than 100 retail stores around the nation, not to mention accounts in Ireland and Singapore. Average prices for Meet Me in Miami couture range from $40 to $100.

William J. Fleischer's four-year-old business in the heart of the Design District repairs, restores, sells, and even rents almost all stringed instruments -- violins, violas, cellos, and basses. Catering to local and visiting classical musicians as well as students of varied ages and skill levels, the store boasts a staff of five, working under the direction of Fleischer, who studied violin-making in Italy and has been practicing his craft for more than 30 years. While the V-shaped glass case holds numerous bows ranging from $200 to $900, for a mere $500 a person can acquire his own instrument (plus case and bow) and take the first step toward becoming the next Itzhak Perlman or Anne-Sophie Mutter. Those more inclined to listen to violins than play them can be one of fifteen people who enjoy the shop's exclusive chamber-concert series, featuring an hors d'oeuvres reception, a performance by renowned musicians, a champagne intermission, and then a buffet dinner with the players outdoors under the stars.

It's hard to believe that Worldwide News stands alone in this major metropolitan area as an excellent, independently owned resource for newspapers and magazines. Other contenders like South Beach's News Café come to mind, but Worldwide trumps them by carrying an enviable selection of small-print 'zines, foreign publications, trades, and nudies. It doesn't have everything, so you may have to go to Borders to pick up the latest issue of the Village Voice. Yet Worldwide's continued dominance in this category (more than seven awards) speaks volumes about its admirable collection of titles and the frustrating lack of good competition for magazine lovers.

Goldmasters is a great pawn shop because it's only partly pawn shop. The store also retails jewelry and somehow manages to shed the fouler aspects of the average casa de empeño. The store has a pretty good jewelry selection and good service, but the best things about the store are those qualities it doesn't have: the air of desperation, junkies pawning the family TV again, cynical and mean-spirited characters sneering from behind the counter. So if you have to hock Grandma's necklace because the Hurricanes didn't cover the spread, do it at Goldmasters, where you'll feel more like an average shopper and less like the degenerate gambler that you probably are.

These high-ceilinged, oolitic limestone and exposed-wood ballrooms (built in 1937) are a steal on Sundays and weekdays, when the Woman's Club rents for $650 (including chairs and tables) and the adjacent, slightly larger, Junior Woman's Club goes for $750. Fridays and Saturdays cost a bit more, but you still won't find a better deal this close to all the Gables tony shops and restaurants. The Woman's Club, a registered historic site, is also a short drive from the airport and nearby hotels.

Over the years Uncle Sam's has developed a controversial reputation among local DJs who argue that they must travel to out-of-town shops to find the best vinyl. True, Uncle Sam's could use less main-floor stuff and more deep house, underground hip-hop, and breakbeat. But the store is best seen as a jack-of-all-trades, a place for the casual consumer to pick up a good CD, record, magazine, or even a bong (discreetly referred to as a water pipe). It carries the latest tracks on Yoshitoshi, Wave, and other top labels, as well as current rap hits by Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and others. Plus what other DJ store in the nation can boast of staying open seven days a week -- and keeping its doors open until well after midnight at that?

BEST PLACE TO BUY BRAZILIAN BIKINIS AT A BARGAIN

Brazilian Fashion

Ever since the girl from Ipanema wore one, inspiring Antonio Carlos Jobim to compose the international hit song, the skimpy two-piece from Brazil has endured as the sexiest swimwear fashion statement there is. A variety of minimalist styles have emerged over the years -- from the tiny tanga, which consists of about an ounce of fabric, to the triangular halter and the boomerang. Each summer the new styles seem to turn more revealing. By offering maximum exposure, the Brazilian bikini has blurred the line as to what should constitute nude sunbathing. But though more skin means less fabric, in most bathing-suit boutiques, particularly those in South Beach, the Brazilian label also translates into muito dinheiro. Not at Brazilian Fashion. Quality, affordability (bikinis go for $28), and an array of styles and colors to choose from make this Brazilian-owned store stand out on the retail runway.

Still clamoring for that bump-and-grind classic salsa from the Seventies? You know: Fania All-Stars, Cheo Feliciano, Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barreto, and Celia Cruz. Lily's has more than one record from these guys. You'll also find boleros, rock, poetry, and if you're lucky, the patrons will be watching a home video from their latest trip to Cuba.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®