BEST RENOVATION Hotel Victor 1144 Ocean Drive

Miami Beach

305-428-1234

www.hotelvictorsouthbeach.com His name is Victor. He'd been big on the scene for a number of years but then fell on hard times. The last anybody saw of him, he was no more than a gutter punk, a bum surrounded by lowlifes and scum. For a while he was managing, just barely, to remain standing by loitering near the classy people. Not that they were any better, just rich and connected. Still everyone knew he was no more than a con man -- a big phony. Until a couple of years ago, when lady luck finally smiled on Victor. He got a job with the Hyatt hotel company and now oversees 91 opulent rooms and bungalows across the street from one of the world's most fabulous beaches. And not just any opulent hotel rooms, either. Developer Steve Patterson, CEO of ZOM, gave Victor the go-ahead to splurge on the last great piece of underutilized real estate on Ocean Drive. The Deco/Asian feel of L. Murray Dixon's 1937 design remains intact but is enhanced by a sophisticated modern look created by Parisian decorator Jacques Garcia. There's a new pool, European spa, Turkish bath, and entirely new wing, as well as top-quality food and entertainment. That lucky bum.

BEST ART CINEMA Miami Beach Cinematheque 512 Española Way

Miami Beach

305-673-4567

www.mbcinema.com This intimate venue offers exhibitions, performance art, photography, dance, combinations thereof, and of course film. Loads of quirky, interesting film festivals touch down here: the Next Gen International Film Festival; the Subtropics Film Festival; Resfest 2005; and Microcinema International's series of edgy, avant-garde short shorts, Independent Exposure X. While The Aviator was gathering Oscars, this place was showing actual Howard Hughes productions. A given month at the Cinematheque provides fans of short, classic, and foreign films much to cheer about. And at the end of each month there's Miss Shelley Novak, the fabulous, knowledgeable drag queen who presents an entertaining and frequently bawdy screening as an apt precursor to crobar's sexy Back Door Bamby shindig.

BEST FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME Katrina Campins Even though she was fired as a contestant during the first season of Donald Trump's The Apprentice reality TV show, Campins has mastered the art of the fame game. A Google search found Campins in People magazine, on Access Hollywood and E!, and in the gossip pages of the New York Post. Wherever she made an appearance, whether it was dashing off to Santa Monica to participate in a Tommy Hilfiger runway show or strutting around in skimpy underwear for Maxim, Campins embodied the perfect Miami woman: vain, vapid, yet voraciously fine. Even when she suffered a broken nose and some bruises after she and her equally photogenic beau Ben Moss tussled with some tow-truck drivers in North Miami Beach, Katrina managed to look exquisite in front of the cameras. If anything, the 24-year-old real estate agent gives hope to all sorority sisters majoring in international finance and marketing at the University of Miami.

BEST PANTHERS PLAYER Kristian Huselius and Andreas Lilja Even though the NHL season was canceled this year, two homeboys still managed to make international headlines when they were accused of raping a 22-year-old woman in Sweden. Even though the charges were eventually dropped, for Zamboni-deprived fans it was as exciting as a hat trick to see our team living up to the high moral standards we've come to expect from our athletes. After all, aren't headlines about questionable multinational sex-related crimes what Miami and hockey are all about?

Readers´ Choice: Roberto Luongo

Books & Books
Courtesy of Books & Books
BEST PLACE TO MEET INTELLIGENT MEN Books & Books 265 Aragon Avenue

Coral Gables

305-442-4408

www.booksandbooks.com Reading is sexy. And men who read books are really sexy. And no, Maxim and Stuff magazines don't count as books. Spend a Thursday evening or a Saturday afternoon strolling through the stacks to see who's interested in the same subjects you are. Maybe that hot guy in the travel section is in need of a backpacking companion, or the handsome gentleman rifling through the cookbooks could be looking to add a little more spice to his bachelor life. The redhead in politics and current affairs is a nice catch if you like the challenge of a good argument, but perhaps the blond holding a copy of The Poetry of Pablo Neruda is just the romantic type you've been looking for. Just steer clear of the self-help section -- you came here to find intelligent men, not needy men.

BEST SANCTUARY FROM THE FAST TRACK Jimbo's Virginia Key

305-361-7026 If you know Jimbo's, you know why. If you don't know Jimbo's, you have a treat in store. Pay the modest entry fee to gain access to Virginia Key, drive beyond the main beach parking lot, around the bend by the sewage treatment plant, then park. Get out and trudge through the pine trees and junk toward the commotion. Sometimes it's a live band. Sometimes it's the peculiar sound made by bocce-ball players working on their tenth Budweiser. Sometimes it's the honky-tonk of a barely able to stand upright piano. Smoked fish and cold beer. Weekend warriors, lowlifes, highlifes, attorneys with Harleys, models and photographers, skittering kids, mongrel dogs, more beer and bocce ball, and of course His Cigar-Chomping Eminence Jim Luznar, for half a century or so the lovable old coot supposedly in charge of the place.

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.

Bill Cosford Cinema
Photo by Conan O'Brien
BEST MOVIE THEATER Bill Cosford Cinema University of Miami

Dooley Memorial Building

1111 Memorial Drive

Coral Gables

305-284-4861

www.miami.edu/cosford Built in 1947 as the Louis D. Beaumont Lecture Hall, after a Palm Beach retiree gave $50,000 toward its construction, this theater was renamed to honor the late Miami Herald film critic Bill Cosford, a member of the school's faculty until his passing in 1994. Classically styled and housed on the second floor of the Dooley Memorial classroom building, the Cosford has served as the city's most dependable repertory house, a comfortable place to see art films, political tracts, documentaries, and other esoteric fare from around the world. Recent screenings, programmed by the university's School of Communication, have included Postmen in the Mountains, a Chinese effort that explores the bonds between father and son; the Venice Film Festival-winning Vodka Lemon, a September-December romance from Armenia; and another Venice Film Festival award winner, Light of My Eyes, an exercise in Neo-Realism. These films, screened from DVD and stock prints, are affordably priced -- a mere six dollars for admission -- and a welcome respite from predictable Hollywood spectacles.

Readers´ Choice: Regal South Beach Stadium 18

BEST POLITICAL COMEBACK Justice Leslie Rothenberg Third District Court of Appeal Talk about comebacks! Rothenberg keeps popping up in the most influential places, defying all expectations and, some would say, reason. First she quit her job as a circuit court judge to run for state attorney. (Her tenure on the circuit court had its fair share of controversies; she had to recuse herself several times for displaying bias against defendants.) While campaigning for state attorney, she snuggled up to the Christian Family Coalition by publicly vowing to oppose while in office most anything that aided or abetted homosexuality. But alas, she was trounced in the Republican primary and limped off to the private sector. But wait! Gov. Jeb Bush himself plucked her from her ignoble fate as a private lawyer and whisked her up to even greater heights by appointing her to fill a vacancy on the Third District Court of Appeal. Her openly anti-gay position could prove troublesome as issues related to sexual orientation make their way through the court system, a prospect that apparently didn't faze the guv.

BEST MILE OF MIAMI The Venetian Causeway Yes, we know it's 2.75 miles long. It also crosses eleven islands by means of twelve bridges, two of which open for boats. It's also South Florida's oldest causeway (in continuous operation since 1926) and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As for its length, just pick the mile that best suits your needs. For those who seek to be mesmerized by glittering panoramas, there's no better place than the western side. Whether by bike, car, or on foot, this is the best place to take in the visual wonderland that is the Miami skyline. For those who seek to indulge fantasies, the eastern section allows for up-close views of luxurious yachts moored at million-dollar homes -- the perfect place to dream of what could be. In fact it was an indulgence of fantasy that created the Venetian. The islands didn't even exist when the causeway was conceived, a detail that didn't stop Miami dream merchants from selling submerged home sites; and the destination -- Miami Beach -- wasn't much more than a sandbar ringed by mangroves. To traverse the Venetian Causeway, then and now, is to blur the line between reality and imagination.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®