BEST PLACE TO SAVOR THE FLAVOR OF MIAMI El Palacio de los Jugos 5721 W. Flagler Street

Miami

305-264-4557

and

14300 SW Eighth Street

West Miami-Dade

305-221-1616 Stepping into one of these anachronistic juice bars is like taking a stroll through el campo. The aroma of pork and tamales suffuses the air, and mostly Cuban visitors mull about, checking out the produce while enjoying guava juice and mango shakes. This is one of those places where the first and second generations from the island nation converge to shoot the breeze and sip on flavors as diverse as the ethnicity of this magnetic city. Hungry? There's no table service here. That would just detract from the communal vibe. Walk right up, stand in line (there are almost always lines), and choose from the tropical delicacies at the cafeteria-style counters. Make sure you have a firm grip when the server hands you a heap of hot, delicious fare. Dine on traditional Latin favorites or try the nontraditional Chinese fried rice the palaces are famous for -- estillo Cubano of course.

BEST PLACE TO SEE MIAMI LIKE A NATIVE -- A NINETEENTH-CENTURY NATIVE

Twelfth Annual Miami International Map Fair

BEST PLACE TO SEE MIAMI LIKE A NATIVE -- A NINETEENTH-CENTURY NATIVE Twelfth Annual Miami International Map Fair Hosted by the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, the Map Fair drew a slightly less boisterous crowd of out-of-towners than the Boat Show or the Winter Music Conference, but one no less enthusiastic about a shared passion -- collecting vintage maps. Florida was a particular fave on display, and though the prices rarely started below $500 (and often climbed to twenty times that), the window-shopping among various dealers' tables was priceless, if a bit depressing. It was bracing to watch Miami's charted boundaries explode -- and those of the Everglades shrink -- from era to era. Of course there's still reason to be hopeful: That Louisiana Purchase outlined on one map looks mighty promising.

BEST PLACE TO THROW A PARTY The former building of La Moderna Poesia 5246 SW Eighth Street

Coral Gables Here's a little real-estate advice for any savvy entrepreneur with some green to spread around. Miami Beach is too expensive, and everyone knows downtown is riddled with cranes and dump trucks working away at creating a metropolis for the millennium. But where is that diamond in the rough? The undeveloped area waiting to explode with profit and booze is on the outskirts of the Gables, not far from Little Havana. The vacant building that once housed La Moderna Poesia is just the right size and only blocks away from DJ Le Spam's weekly gig, which is always packed. The Suenalo Sound System commune is right around the corner, as are many of the group's fans. A creative person just might be able to revitalize the area into the new hot hang. Don't be turned off by the demise of the previous tenants. Much of Miami doesn't like to read, let alone in Spanish. Much of Miami does, however, love to party.

BEST POET Will "Da Real One" Bell www.willdarealone.com Will "Da Real One" Bell represents the new poetry. He spits words like high-caliber machine-gun fire, and his booming voice sets ears ablaze. He snarls ferocious truth about the things he's seen -- heartbreak and pain, crime and punishment, struggle and poverty. Much of his work is inspired by his hardscrabble Liberty City childhood. His parents still live there, but Will has moved away. "I got tired of coming home and all my stuff was missing," he explains. Now he makes his home in Miami Shores, but "I be keepin' it real for where I am," he stresses. Indeed Will Bell has followed an unusual path to poetry stardom. He discovered his talent while he was a county inmate, serving fourteen months for trafficking cocaine. "It wasn't even the money for me -- it was the lifestyle," he says. "Fast money, money all the time, money every day. You can afford to be very spontaneous when you're raking in four, five grand a day. I wasn't like no Colombian drug lord, but that ain't nothing to sneeze at," he says. "I had a chance to look at who I was when I was incarcerated, which made me make different decisions as a human being when I was released." In 2001 he emerged as Will Da Real One and proceeded to blaze a trail to the top of the local spoken-word scene. Bell was invited to perform on Russell Simmons's HBO program Def Poetry Jam. This past February, he filmed his second appearance on the show. "I've been doing some volunteer work with the Department of Corrections, and I'm trying to introduce poetry workshops in the county jail system." He also co-owns a small coffee shop in North Miami called The Literary Café. "I just got a knack for reaching people," Bell says. "I got a message that I'm trying to distribute, a piece of myself I'm trying to share."

BEST POETRY SCENE Mello Mondays at the District 35 NE 40th Street

Miami

305-576-7242 This weekly event is a baby among the other spoken-word evenings, but Mello Mondays gets two snaps up for distinguishing itself from the pack by mixing celebrity poets in with locals. Hosted by local poet Ingrid B., the gathering's tribe includes Will Da Real One, Asia of the Slanted Eye poets, Rebecca "Butterfly" Vaughns, and Shiraz. But many fans come for more famous faces like Stic and M1 of the hip-hop group dead prez. Alonzo Mourning held his welcome-back party here and enjoyed a performance by political comedian/slam poet Shang. National personalities Georgia Me, Big Brooklyn Red, J. Ivy, and Urban Mystic have blessed the mike. Next up are performances by the reggae group Inner Circle, MTV2 hip-hop hostess Amanda Diva, former Def Poets Sekou Tha Misfit and Steve Connell, and Steele, a rapper from the group Smif-N-Wessun who will lay down the weapons and pick up the poems.

BEST RADIO STATION 99 Jamz (WEDR-FM 99.1) www.wedr.com Many debate which is the best urban station: 99 Jamz or The Beat (WMIB-FM 103.5). It's a tough call, but 99 Jamz has a killer mix-show roster (including DJs Khaled, Irie, and KD), as well as several distinctive on-air voices, particularly the morning team of Big Lip Bandit, Supa Cindy, and Benji Brown. Then there's the music itself, which, while sometimes formulaic (this is commercial radio), often includes hot new local artists such as Dirtbag, Jacki-O, and most recently Prettie Rickie and the Maverix.

Readers´ Choice: WLRN-FM (91.3)

BEST READING SERIES Books & Books Various locations in Miami-Dade County

www.booksandbooks.com Mitchell Kaplan is our collective dignity's last line of defense. Do we really want the rest of the world to think of us as only a romper room for Paris Hilton? Our highest cultural aspirations to be the fashion photo shoot? Our most fervid debates to be about Botox? Kaplan's long-running reading series at his Books & Books stores in Coral Gables and Miami Beach brings us in contact with the world of letters and ideas, a world that too often skirts our shores. And in a nod to the nature of the community, he assembles an international array of literary stars to read from their works: Haiti's Edwidge Danticat, Chile's Isabel Allende, St. Louis's Jonathan Franzen. This past year saw both press handler Ari Fleischer and former President Bill Clinton walk through the doors. We've got enough eye candy. Books & Books gives us much needed brain candy.

BEST SET DESIGN Adrian W. Jones Anna in the Tropics Jones's inspired design -- a lone windswept palm tree against a huge sky with a massive interior of walls and wooden beams depicting a Tampa cigar factory in the Twenties -- gave Nilo Cruz's production of his own play great emotional texture and beautifully emphasized the story's tensions between emotional freedom and societal restrictions. Here's hoping audiences have the chance to see Jones's work again in this region -- and soon.

BEST SPANISH-LANGUAGE RADIO PERSONALITY Elba la Fumadora (The Pot Smoker) El Zol (WXDJ-FM 95.7) When she's not busy toking up a storm outside the studio, Elba is doing all she can to steal the thunder from Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos, the male cohosts of Miami's funniest and most tasteless morning radio show. After Mayor Carlos Alvarez won the election, she penned and sang a ballad proclaiming herself the mother of the mayor's bastard child. When Pilar Montenegro made an appearance on the program, Elba antagonized the Mexican pop star by asking her if she was still writing bad checks. Raspy-voiced (cough, cough) and sharp-tongued, Elba la Fumadora could make the stoniest of Secret Service agents laugh with unadulterated glee. Her mayoral beau "Carlitos" should seriously consider making Elba an official ambassador: She embodies the obnoxious Cubanasa in all real Miamians.

BEST SPORTSCASTER Lindsay Czarniak WTVJ-TV (Channel 6) Czarniak is the dedicated anchor/reporter for Fins TV, a half-hour program that comes on at 7:00 p.m. Saturdays 52 weeks per year. She also does live reports and features for NBC 6 Sports Final. Czarniak gave up a career as a CNN associate news producer to become a DolFan, and she has inhabited the role of anchor on Fins TV to the extent that it's not just a pretty girl talking about the big handsome men of the NFL. Some of the more interesting segments this past year were not exactly about the sport at all. Czarniak traveled to the factory where headbutt-resistant helmets are made and showed how deflated footballs are cut up to create soft rubber "mulch" for playgrounds. She is cute and personable and knowledgeable about football without being a jockette herself.

Readers´ Choice: Jimmy Cefalo, WPLG-TV (Channel 10)

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®