For serious cinephiles looking to feed their home video jones, there have always been only two choices. Those living in the Coral Gables area flocked to Lion Video (thankfully resuscitated after some financial troubles), while Miami Beach-ers hit New Concept Video. For those residing somewhere between the two, New Concept gets our nod for remembering that in a world of satellite television, hundreds of new cable channels, and the flowering of video on demand, it's the hunt for obscurities and underground faves that makes us leave our homes. Looking for Lord of the Rings? Sure, Blockbuster has that as well, but just try finding the bulk of New Concept's sprawling collection of gay-themed flicks there. Likewise for this store's separate room of adult videos -- for both gay and straight tastes. We could go on: Wowed by Denys Arcand's scathing take on baby boomer intellectuals in The Barbarian Invasions when it played theaters this past winter? Try renting a copy of his 1986 film The Decline of the American Empire, featuring those same characters in their preening prime. It's out of print, and yet to hit DVD, but you can still find a VHS copy here. How about the hilarious BBC series The Office, or the wryly ahead-of-its-time HBO series The Larry Sanders Show? Both are at New Concept. But don't take our word for it -- Beach residents are clearly voting with their wallets. At a time when mom-and-pop video shops are increasingly beleaguered, New Concept has opened up a second DVD-only location on West Avenue. That's the kind of commercial expansion we'll gladly give a thumbs-up to.

Small and unassuming (and totally outdoors), Ruben's flower stand is a landmark in the rapidly changing blood frenzy known as Coconut Grove real estate development. A tranquil, colorful oasis on the corner of Bird Avenue and Indiana Street (and across diagonally and directly from two looming condo monstrosities), the gentlemen at Ruben's are friendly, even courtly. Beyond that, their selection of fresh blooms and exotic botanical wonders -- sprays of ginger from Ecuador, tulips bursting with color that seem to have been ripped from the beds of the Vondelpark -- is eye-popping. Daffodils in November? Violets in May? No problem. Plus, you can fill every room of your (modest, old-Grove bungalow-style) home with flowers from Ruben's for less than the price of a tank of gas. Bunches of tulips are six dollars, and a dozen roses will set you back only ten.

Small and unassuming (and totally outdoors), Ruben's flower stand is a landmark in the rapidly changing blood frenzy known as Coconut Grove real estate development. A tranquil, colorful oasis on the corner of Bird Avenue and Indiana Street (and across diagonally and directly from two looming condo monstrosities), the gentlemen at Ruben's are friendly, even courtly. Beyond that, their selection of fresh blooms and exotic botanical wonders -- sprays of ginger from Ecuador, tulips bursting with color that seem to have been ripped from the beds of the Vondelpark -- is eye-popping. Daffodils in November? Violets in May? No problem. Plus, you can fill every room of your (modest, old-Grove bungalow-style) home with flowers from Ruben's for less than the price of a tank of gas. Bunches of tulips are six dollars, and a dozen roses will set you back only ten.

Visiting film crews and local television commercial producers alike know Prop Central as their one-stop shop for period costumes. Every Halloween, however, Prop Central throws open its doors to the general public, outfitting a steady stream of firemen, marines, pirates, Twenties-styled flappers, dark-suited gangsters, bell bottom-clad hippies, and enough platform shoe-sporting, wide-lapel-wearing pimps to make you seriously question all the talk of South Beach's emerging "maturity." Indeed it's hard to tell who's having more fun dashing in and out of the dressing rooms here -- the straight-laced businessman who suddenly emerges as the imposing leatherman (sorry, make that "motorcycle enthusiast") or the enthused staff, whipping through their racks of clothing and accessories to help the newest member of the Village People realize his previously hidden dream.

Visiting film crews and local television commercial producers alike know Prop Central as their one-stop shop for period costumes. Every Halloween, however, Prop Central throws open its doors to the general public, outfitting a steady stream of firemen, marines, pirates, Twenties-styled flappers, dark-suited gangsters, bell bottom-clad hippies, and enough platform shoe-sporting, wide-lapel-wearing pimps to make you seriously question all the talk of South Beach's emerging "maturity." Indeed it's hard to tell who's having more fun dashing in and out of the dressing rooms here -- the straight-laced businessman who suddenly emerges as the imposing leatherman (sorry, make that "motorcycle enthusiast") or the enthused staff, whipping through their racks of clothing and accessories to help the newest member of the Village People realize his previously hidden dream.

Athens is a fructose-drenched local landmark. For 62 years the same family has been squeezing, chopping, and crushing the succulence out of local produce (for the most part) and serving it in a variety of healthy ways. Vegetable and fruit juices, smoothies, and luxurious fruit salads festooned with everything grown under a South Florida sun. Today Athens is owned by John Chavles, who is helped out by his brother George. They are the nephews of the two men who first opened Athens in 1942, brothers-in-law Peter Antonopoulos and Gus Siatis. John and George grew up working weekends for their uncles, scouring Miami Shores and Miami Beach neighborhoods for coconuts and mangoes they could collect and bring to the same Collins Avenue shop they now toil in. Such dedication has paid off. Six decades of doing business with Homestead and Florida City farms means Athens gets first pick of fruits and vegetables. They try to go with tree-ripened, locally grown produce. One of the big sellers is the coconut milk. While other fruit juice vendors sell coco frio, a coconut with a hole chopped in it, Athens mixes coconut water with its meat, creating a refreshing milky beverage. Athens is open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Collins Avenue, and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Washington Avenue, Monday through Saturday. Sundays the hours are 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Collins and 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Washington.

Athens is a fructose-drenched local landmark. For 62 years the same family has been squeezing, chopping, and crushing the succulence out of local produce (for the most part) and serving it in a variety of healthy ways. Vegetable and fruit juices, smoothies, and luxurious fruit salads festooned with everything grown under a South Florida sun. Today Athens is owned by John Chavles, who is helped out by his brother George. They are the nephews of the two men who first opened Athens in 1942, brothers-in-law Peter Antonopoulos and Gus Siatis. John and George grew up working weekends for their uncles, scouring Miami Shores and Miami Beach neighborhoods for coconuts and mangoes they could collect and bring to the same Collins Avenue shop they now toil in. Such dedication has paid off. Six decades of doing business with Homestead and Florida City farms means Athens gets first pick of fruits and vegetables. They try to go with tree-ripened, locally grown produce. One of the big sellers is the coconut milk. While other fruit juice vendors sell coco frio, a coconut with a hole chopped in it, Athens mixes coconut water with its meat, creating a refreshing milky beverage. Athens is open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Collins Avenue, and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Washington Avenue, Monday through Saturday. Sundays the hours are 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Collins and 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Washington.

True story: Vacationing Miami Beach homeowner returns to find house ransacked. Not much missing except one thing -- valuable painting, lifted off the wall and hustled away. Chances of recovery approach zero. Weeks later, somewhere in California, man purchases laptop computer via eBay. Receives computer. Turns it on, discovers many files, some personal. Thinks: Uh-oh ... must be stolen. Snoops around hard drive, uncovers likely owner's name and phone number. Calls. Miami Beach resident answers, confirms it's his computer, stolen weeks earlier. Beach guy calls cops, who contact California buyer, who leads them to eBay, which provides identity of seller. Cops contact seller -- a Miami pawnshop. Pawn broker, following Florida law, has record of kid who pawned stolen computer. Cops nab kid. They have a nice little chat. Kid decides to cooperate. They go for a drive. Kid points out various places he's pawned stolen goods. Cops pay a visit to one of them, I-95 Pawn. Caged in by bulletproof glass and iron bars, pawn broker, a burly biker with Glock semiautomatic strapped to his bountiful waist, displays surprising proficiency on computer. Quickly pulls up items kid has pawned. Cops scan printout, match items to stolen-property list. Start making calls. Burglary detective and owner of ransacked Miami Beach home drop in on I-95 Pawn. Gun barely visible beneath prodigious belly, pawn broker fires up computer, strokes chin whiskers, disappears into office, returns with large framed object, asks: Is this it? Homeowner smiles. Detective smiles. Pawn broker smiles. Yes, that's it. One last thing. Homeowner by law must buy it back for same price pawn broker paid: $55. Homeowner does so happily. Value of (undamaged) painting: $5000.

True story: Vacationing Miami Beach homeowner returns to find house ransacked. Not much missing except one thing -- valuable painting, lifted off the wall and hustled away. Chances of recovery approach zero. Weeks later, somewhere in California, man purchases laptop computer via eBay. Receives computer. Turns it on, discovers many files, some personal. Thinks: Uh-oh ... must be stolen. Snoops around hard drive, uncovers likely owner's name and phone number. Calls. Miami Beach resident answers, confirms it's his computer, stolen weeks earlier. Beach guy calls cops, who contact California buyer, who leads them to eBay, which provides identity of seller. Cops contact seller -- a Miami pawnshop. Pawn broker, following Florida law, has record of kid who pawned stolen computer. Cops nab kid. They have a nice little chat. Kid decides to cooperate. They go for a drive. Kid points out various places he's pawned stolen goods. Cops pay a visit to one of them, I-95 Pawn. Caged in by bulletproof glass and iron bars, pawn broker, a burly biker with Glock semiautomatic strapped to his bountiful waist, displays surprising proficiency on computer. Quickly pulls up items kid has pawned. Cops scan printout, match items to stolen-property list. Start making calls. Burglary detective and owner of ransacked Miami Beach home drop in on I-95 Pawn. Gun barely visible beneath prodigious belly, pawn broker fires up computer, strokes chin whiskers, disappears into office, returns with large framed object, asks: Is this it? Homeowner smiles. Detective smiles. Pawn broker smiles. Yes, that's it. One last thing. Homeowner by law must buy it back for same price pawn broker paid: $55. Homeowner does so happily. Value of (undamaged) painting: $5000.

Cutz Barbershop
A clean crop is very important among the increasingly metrosexualized male population. Even the ghetto-fabulous hip-hop sect is all about looking so fresh and so clean these days. But that doesn't mean you have to leave behind your gansta' flair for a fine fade. Cutz, located on Biscayne Boulevard on the Upper East Side and co-owned by ex-Heatster Alonzo Mourning, has the flavor of an urban hangout, but with the polished appearance of a high-end salon. Wood floors, old-style stools, and portraits of black icons adorn the place as BET and rap tunes entertain those waiting. And wait you will, because these guys take their time, making sure the cut is just right. But it's always worth it -- ask any player on the Miami Heat roster. On any given day you can catch Dwyane Wade, Loren Woods, or Rasual Butler getting a pregame buzz. This place is so popular that not even the gangland execution of a hip-hop label exec, XELA Entertainment's Alexander Bernard Harris, as he sat in a stool at Cutz one fateful night last summer, deterred its faithful clientele; in fact business increased. But the real reasons for Cutz's success is the quality of its barbers/stylists, especially Jason, a Cuban link from Jersey, and Claude, a Haitian Biggie Smalls look-alike with a bellowing laugh. Just make sure you tip them, or your next do might be uneven.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®