La Estancia Argentina
BEST ARGENTINE MARKET La Estancia Argentina 17870 Biscayne Boulevard

North Miami

305-932-6477 and 4425 Ponce de Leon Boulevard (Village of Merrick Park)Coral Gables

305-445-3933

www.laestanciaweb.com In Argentina there are three pastimes: soccer, soccer, and soccer. And all that soccer playing makes a body hungry. Which brings us to Argentina's three food groups: bread, wine, and meat. Some of the most highly regarded versions of these in the world are produced on the many estancias of that panoramic nation. Particularly in the past four years (since the country's economy collapsed in what is known as "the crisis") residents of Argentina -- as much as they appreciate their soccer, their panoramas, and their three food groups -- have grown tired of politicians' favorite pastime: stuffing their pockets with the people's money. Many decided to move to Miami. Good for them, as there's no corruption here. Ahem. Okay, then, lucky for us, because they have also decided to open up a slew of food-related businesses. Argentine markets are increasing exponentially all over town, the classiest example being La Estancia Argentina, where you can literally pick up everything you need for a true Argentine barbecue: fresh meat, cut the way you like it; house made chimichurri; fragrant breads baked on premises; and a wide selection of Argentine wines and ports. Of course they also sell fresh pastas, medialunas (tiny croissants), sweet pastries, gourmet cheeses, mate (herb tea), sandwiches, and dried goods from the homeland. With streamlined, modern décor, the place is just as good for shopping as it is for relaxing with a hot cup of café con leche. You can stop in just for the coffee and walk out empty-handed if you choose, but it's unlikely that you will.

PERSONAL BEST M.I.A. Skate Shop Skateboarders, longtime friends, and business partners Chris Williams and Ed Selego aren't the wordiest fellows in town. This is because they're practicing grinding while running M.I.A. Skate Shop (229 Ninth Street, Miami Beach), which opened two summers ago. During M.I.A.'s short existence, it has become the place to visit when skaters come to town. "People come from all over the world to skate and take photos of skaters. The store becomes a central meeting point for the professionals," says Williams. In addition to boards and DVDs, the shop carries clothing from Zoo York and Earth Products and shoes from Vans, Nike SB, and Adio Footwear.

Best cheap thrill: Just wandering around South Beach any day of the week.

Best reason to stay in Miami for the summer: Fewer tourists, more relaxed, and more locals.

Best place to Rollerblade: Ocean Drive (ladies only, please).

Best place to ditch the kids for a few hours: M.I.A. of course. Or the best skate park -- Control Skatepark.

What are your predictions for skateboarding in the year 2055? Skateboards take flight. You are able to skate skyscrapers downtown, grind on treetops in the woods, and drop in on the pyramids in Cairo. Skateboarding becomes the national pastime. Everyone skateboards in the future. All ages, all races, all people. Skateboarding is so hot. You are able to live out all the fantasies that Tony Hawk Pro Skater offers. Then again, it might be banned from the Earth, depending on who our new leader is.

BEST DISCOUNT MEN'S CLOTHIER Marshall's on Thursdays around 2:00 p.m. Various locations in Miami-Dade County Here's a little secret. Those $90 jeans on sale at Express? With a little patience and some ingenuity you can get them for twelve bucks. Around 2:00 p.m. Thursdays, Marshall's puts out the week's delivery. Aside from the usual crap, price-busters can find the overstock jeans and shirts that other suckers pay a pretty penny to wear. Rookies beware: This isn't news to serious shopaholics. Finding the right size is a matter of speed. You have to dig, but if you don't mind being like the lady in the commercials obsessively repeating "open, open, open," you will enjoy serious bargains.

BEST SKATE SHOP M.I.A. Skate Shop 229 Ninth Street

Miami Beach

786-621-3511

www.miaskateshop.com After less than two years, M.I.A. Skate Shop proprietors Chris Williams and professional skater Ed Selego (who also has his own shoe line with Adio) have already established their store as the place for famous skaters to meet when in town. It's also the only store in Miami that carries the Nike SB line of skater footwear. You'll find the coolest decks, clothes, and gear from Zoo York, Organika, Earth Products, and Habitat Skateboards, or you can just chill and watch DVDs (also for sale) of other skaters ripping, grinding, and getting racked. The shop also hosts autograph signings and skating demos with Control Skatepark, and Williams doesn't mind the thrasher kids hanging out in his shop after school.

BEST MATERNITY BOUTIQUE Mommy's Place 5845 SW 73rd Street

South Miami

305-663-5636

www.mommysplacematernity.com When your belly is expanding, your feet are swollen, and you're not feeling like your usual sassy self, you still want to wear stylish (but comfortable) clothing. And because you never know when the next mood swing will kick in and you'll suddenly find yourself irrationally hating plaids or polka dots, you want the clothing to be affordable. Mommy's Place has eveningwear, swimsuits, lingerie, casual, and career clothing from hot maternity designers such as Olian, Tummi, Japanese Weekend, and Belly Basics, plus sexy denim from Earl Jean. And with tops and dresses priced from $40 to $150, you can be a cool mom with some change left in your pocket.

BEST SECONDHAND STORE Bargain Shop, Inc. 17 North Flagler Avenue

Homestead

305-246-2504 What makes a good thrift shop -- the number of items it carries or the amount of good stuff you can find at affordable prices? Tucked away in Homestead's warehouse district, Bargain Shop, Inc. is a small store with aisles full of DVDs, VHS tapes, collectible dolls, glassware, books, vinyl records, rare and out-of-print CDs, clothes, et cetera, et cetera, and so on. At three dollars, the used CDs are cheap, and at one dollar, the used records are even cheaper. Unlike all the overpriced thrift shops strewn along North Krome Avenue, most of the items at Bargain Shop, Inc. are true bargains. It's a nice place to browse, as well.

BEST LAUNDROMAT Miami Coin Laundry 1569 NW Seventeenth Avenue

Miami

305-549-6670 That guy selling the limited edition Fantastic Four comic book on eBay only accepts money orders, your laundry pile is looking like the Trash Heap on Fraggle Rock, and all you really want to do is play some Galaga. The solution: A trip to Miami Coin Laundry. This place is the Wal-Mart of laundromats. There's a snack shop stocked with frosty beverages, the usual candy bar and salty chip fare, and homemade goodies packaged in Saran Wrap. Bins of dollar-store items such as plastic handcuffs, seat belts, vanity license plates, and ceramic knick-knacks line the length of the space, as do higher ticket items, like a violin (could be a viola) priced to sell at $97. Video games are in the back -- Galaga, Tekken, and a few others -- as is a miniature car the kiddies can ride. Detergent and money orders at the counter. Oh yeah, and while you're there, you might as well do your laundry.

Wolfe's Wine Shoppe
BEST WINE STORE Wolfe's Wine Shoppe 124 Miracle Mile

Coral Gables

305-445-4567

www.wolfeswines.com Wolfe's does not have the largest selection of wines in town. Most Publix supermarkets carry more labels. Wolfe's doesn't stock every big-name winery on the planet. The closest you'll get to that is Crown Wine and Spirits. You can't even buy beer or liquor or sodas or beef jerky at Wolfe's. But there is a good reason this place takes the honor once again: Sometimes less is more. Jeffrey and Christie Wolfe are specialists. Their tastes are eclectic. This business is something personal for them. They've visited the wineries and met the winemakers whose products they sell. Not huge producers but family-owned operations in Spain, France, Italy, California -- people a lot like the Wolfes themselves, for whom quality always trumps quantity. At a time when mass-produced wines are becoming more and more homogenized by global corporate conglomerates, the Wolfes offer a valuable alternative: wines with character.

BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE Caliente Adult Superstore 1820 West Eighth Avenue

Hialeah

305-885-1100 Pleasure Emporium may be large, but Caliente is hot. At the same time, Caliente is cool enough to stock not only the Pocket Rocket but also the Pocket Kamasutra. The shop -- spacious, organized, and clean enough to consider a lingerie purchase -- is located one block north of Okeechobee Road and few blocks south of the studios of Telemundo. So there's always an extremely slim chance of running into your favorite Channel 51 on-air hunk or babe in the small but sizzling Latin racks, where titles range from the innocent (Panochitas) to the sophisticated (Latinas en Europa) to the sublime (Beautiful Brazilian Whores). Other sections run the traditional gamut, including anal, oral, all-girl, all-black, and gang-bang, to name, alas, only a few. You might even find Panochitas Gorditas 11 in the new releases display. Rentals are $5.25 a pop.

USA Flea Market
BEST FLEA MARKET Flea Market USA 3015 NW 79th Street

Miami

305-836-3677 Located in the heart of Liberty City, Flea Market USA is the bargain mecca for people who earn money through the underground economy or want to look ghetto fabulous. Inside several makeshift barbershops and unisex salons men and boys sit patiently in swivel chairs as stylists weave their long, unruly Afros into intricate cornrows. Young women dressed in shorts and tube tops and donned in gold bling get their nails painted. Dozens of booths sell marked-down name-brand sneakers, clothes, car and home electronics, and jewelry. Tough-looking guys and girls line up at tattoo parlors for ink. Flea Market USA is also one of the few places in Miami-Dade where dope dealers can buy the specialty materials for making crack. Some might find this place exotic, but for us it's essential.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®