BEST COMIC-BOOK SHOP Outland Station 12540 SW 120th Street

Kendall

305-252-1176

and

Outland Station Annex

Shops at Sunset Place

5701 Sunset Drive

South Miami

305-668-3515

www.outlandstation.com For more than ten years Outland Station was situated in a brick-and-stone storefront on Red Road, two blocks east of South Dixie Highway. Dusty cardboard boxes overflowed with almost every comic book produced by D.C., Marvel, Dark Horse, and those Image guys, whose independent imprint gave birth to Spawn, the Savage Dragon, and The Maxx, antiheroes on quests for redemption. Over the years Outland's owners added action figures and memorabilia to their stock, becoming one of the few comic-book stores to offer customers advance orders for collectibles based on forthcoming releases. Earlier this year Outland relocated its fantasy realm to West Kendall, doubling its space. (The recently opened Annex is located near the old Outland spot.) Outland Station's venerable line of products remains intact. Displays reveal that this place still stays a step ahead, with items keyed to movies like Sin City and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Twelve-inch dolls of sadistic movie slashers Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface stand on one of the counters. Hard-to-find Batman figures designed by Jim Lee and Kia Asamiya hang on one wall. If you can't find what you're looking for, simply ask Eric or Frank, Outland's congenial apprentices, to take a special order. Both Outland locations also host trading-card competitions Friday nights and weekends.

BEST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT STORE Sam Ash Music 5360 NW 167th Street

Miami Lakes

305-628-3510

and

11421 NW 12th Street

Miami

786-331-9688

www.samashmusic.com Sometimes bigger is better when it comes to a great music store, as it's all about selection, a place where both newbie guitarists who don't know the difference between nylon and steel strings and dudes who have Flying Vs older than said newbies can get their hands on anything and everything required to rock out. Crobar meets New World Symphony meets Churchill's in this 46,000-square-foot space, which houses everything from orchestral instruments and sheet music to DJ gear to all the drums, guitars, basses, and amps your inner Metallica can handle. The store also holds periodical clinics -- guitarist Alan Holdsworth and bassist Jeff Berlin are on the schedule -- and yes, you are allowed to play "Stairway to Heaven" (if you must).

BEST PLACE TO GET A USED BIKE Victor's Bicycles & Supplies 3434 NW 27th Avenue

Miami

305-638-1443 Grease cakes Osvaldo Rojas's fingers. His stained, callused hands are the mark of a meticulous man who takes pride in refurbishing bicycles. Rojas is part of a family-owned business that has sold used bikes for more than 30 years. Open Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Victor's has a wide selection of used bikes ranging in price from $30 to $75. The shop's selection includes children's bicycles by Huffy, professional racing bikes from Cannondale, and most everything in between. Victor's is easy to find: It's the big royal blue building with the billboard-size black sign with gold lettering.

BEST SPORTING GOODS STORE Play It Again Sports 9019 SW 107th Avenue

Kendall

305-596-6380 Yes it's a chain, and yes it's a repeat Best of Miami winner, but that only reinforces the fact that most of the nonspecialized sporting goods stores in town are even bigger chains, generally employing high-school age salespeople who barely know a bowling ball from a lacrosse stick. This Kendall franchise carries the goods to perfectly reflect the range of Miamians' sporting goods needs because the gear comes from other Miamians. Buy, sell, or trade your equipment here if you like to deal with knowledgeable clerks and prefer bargain prices. Does it really matter if your shin guards have been broken in by someone else?

Readers´ Choice: Sports Authority

BEST GAY GIFT SHOP Lambda Passages 7545 Biscayne Boulevard

Miami

305-754-6900 The problem with finding a good gay gift shop in Miami is that most of them have packed up and moved north to Broward. There are gay-owned shops lacking a worthwhile selection of gay merchandise, and straight-owned gay sex-toy shops, but not much in between. John Drew has owned and operated Lambda Passages Bookstore (named "Best Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Bookstore" in 1994) since 1983, and he still has the best selection of books, DVDs, and sexy greeting cards sans some raunchy display of cock rings, anal beads, and such. If you're looking for the naughty bits, there are plenty of tacky shops on the Beach, but if it's literature and friendly service you desire, Mr. Drew will be happy to oblige.

BEST SHOE-REPAIR SHOP Marquez Shoe Repair 2281 NW Seventh Street

Allapattah

305-643-9962 Amuary Marquez has been cobbling shoes in his quaint little parlor since 1987, heeling luminaries like Xavier Suarez and Tito Puente. The raw smell of treated leather and shoe glue fills the air as he works away six days a week (Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.). Prices for standard repairs of leather dress shoes range from $26 to $36. Marquez also fixes leather belts, purses, and anything else made from animal skin. You'll find his repair shop on NW 22nd Avenue between a Salvadoran restaurant and a pharmacy.

Sweat Records
Paolo Santosuosso
BEST NEW MUSIC STORE Sweat Records 2320 NE Second Avenue

Miami

305-573-5681

www.sweatrecordsmiami.com This brand spanking new independent record store had its grand opening in Wynwood in March, and more than 500 people showed up to give a symbolic high five to its owners, former Poplife and Revolver DJ Lauren Reskin and former WVUM-FM (90.5) DJ Sara Yousuf. Posters of Napoleon Dynamite and Interpol watch over CD bins filled with everything from Yo La Tengo to Bloc Party. Within its turquoise walls, Sweat also sells used CDs, albums by local bands, DVDs, underground music mags, Japanese toys, vinyl, and works by area artists. The space boasts a back-yard patio as well as a DJ station sporting the latest equipment, which spinners can sign up to use any time -- that is, when Sweat isn't hosting one of its many in-store hootenannies. "Notice there is no ö.99' in our prices. That's because we know you're not stupid," reads a sign taped above the CDs. You would be stupid, however, if you didn't check out Miami's latest attempt to keep it real.

BEST VINTAGE STORE Fly Boutique 650 Lincoln Road

Miami Beach

305-604-8508 How do they do it? How do the proprietors of Fly Boutique manage to thrive year after year while all around them on Lincoln Road loom heavyweight national chains and high-end designer wares? The green-and-white-checked Geoffrey Beene suit for one, the kind of electric Saville Row redux that looks especially smart topped with a fine feathered bowler or a raffish tam. For that Seventies look, there's the multicolored poly-print shirt from Sears ("never needs ironing") with lapels as wide as sails. And right next to that, a deep-red silk smoking jacket made in Hong Kong (pipe optional). Feeling nostalgic for a Dennis Weaver suede jacket heavy on the fringe? No problem. And there's a heap of Stetsons to go with. Whether a dandy, a mod, or a dude, name your era and design preference and the Fly Boutique is sure to have what suits you. There are loads of purses, belts, boots, and shoes, bowling shirts and two-tone guayaberas, truck-stop caps, and even a mesh shirt that could've come straight off the back of Epstein from Welcome Back, Kotter. The friendly and knowledgeable salespeople have a keen eye for what's retro cool or ironically hip, and the velvety boudoir interior makes for a more pleasant shopping experience than dingy, mothball-redolent thrift and vintage stores. At ten years and counting, Fly Boutique is one of the last truly original places left to shop on Lincoln Road.

Readers´ Choice: Miami Twice

BEST SPANISH-LANGUAGE BOOKSTORE La Moderna Poesía 5739 NW Seventh Street

Miami

305-262-1975

and

3870 E. Fourth Avenue

Hialeah

305-556-7717 The sentimental favorite of many a Cuban immigrant who remembers the original publishing house back home, La Moderna Poesía is a one-stop for Spanish tomes and Cuban memorabilia. Spanish literature, translations from English, technical manuals, and religious texts cram the aisles. There's also an impressive section dedicated to multilingual dictionaries and study tools beyond the obvious Spanish-English variety. Where do you find a Finnish-English dictionary? La Moderna Poesía, of course!

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®