This store is small, but every available nook and cranny has been stuffed with tennis supplies. Rackets (for both tennis and racquetball) hang from the ceiling. The walls are covered in shoes. Apparel, equipment, strings, dozens of brands of balls (sold by the can or by the case), ball hoppers, and ball machines are all crammed in and sold by Steve Tandlich, who has owned the store since 1974. Forget the minimum-wage henchmen at Sports Authority. Tandlich can guide the beginning player toward the best racket for his or her needs without charging gut-wrenching prices — many run less than $100. He has tennis togs for children and floppy hats for the elderly, as well as info on local leagues and tournaments. For those who dread the drive down South Dixie Highway on a Saturday, Tandlich will also ship anywhere.
On the western edge of Miami, three triple-alarmed tool sheds are packed with swing bikes and lowriders, bikes for the mountains and the road, children's bikes, and tandems. Burning Marlboros through a bushy handlebar mustache, The King rebuilds bike after bike from a shed so stuffed that it seems ready to vomit cans of paint, primer, oil, and grease. He wheels them between a carpet of parts and fittings and speaks about each one like a painting. At 48 years old, The King (real name Jay) works six or seven days a week as a handyman at FIU. But when he arrives home, the real work begins. "There's too many bikes, man," he cries, gesturing to the sea of parts that covers his back lawn. "I can't keep up with 'em all. I got a full-time job, plus a family." (The King often returns home to find that his wife has accepted five more bikes for rehabilitation.) But like any addict, The King has taken to selling his poison to support his habit. He prefers to do business in pure cottage fashion: Call him, he makes/restores/finds what you want, he sells it to you (in pristine condition) from his home at a ridiculously reasonable price. "I don't care about the money," he says as he applies a thin layer of motor grease to our new bike's chain with a toothbrush. "I'm just trying to make a couple of bucks."
Coral Way Bicycle Shop
Finding a really good bike shop can be tricky. You want a place that's low-key, a little run-down, maybe: a place with mechanics who understand your crappy bike, who'll help you fix it without asking you to empty your wallet. At the same time, a cheap fix can be a cheap fix, and a good bike shop should have good products and thorough mechanics. Coral Way Bicycle Shop, in its 65th year of business, walks the line. The staff is knowledgeable, friendly — because there's nothing worse than a smug bike mechanic — and honest. They'll explain your options and give you straight answers about prices without pressuring; if you just want to look around, they'll leave you alone. The store sells new models, ranging from $200 mountain bikes to high-end, multi-thousand-dollar road bikes. Coral Way Bicycle is a full-service shop with reasonable prices: A complete tune-up is just $18.95.
Few powerboat rental places come close to the captain's prices, and those that do, usually bump up their rates for weekends or offer rundown craft. At Captain Joe's, you have your choice of seven boats — from a twenty-foot Four Winds runabout with room for eight people, to a 40-foot Tiara with teak decks and massive outboards. Two hours on the twenty-footer, which is equipped with a 150-horsepower outboard, will set you back $130. A four-hour tour on the same boat costs $272, and an entire day on the water goes for $395. That's less than $60 per person for a party of six. Shit, even with the extra fee for gas and taxes, it's not much more than a couple of drinks and a bland steak at some waterfront joint. If you can't be bothered with navigation, you can hire a captain for $30 an hour, take a sightseeing tour, or rent one of the significantly more expensive charter options, which include a 73-foot yacht with room for 50.
Tarpoon Dive Center
Tarpoon Dive Center's Hialeah store is pretty much where diving began in Miami. Opened in 1952 (and in its current building since 1956), The 'Poon has helped generations of locals find their way to the silent world just offshore. Its founder, the late Mike Kevorkian, was a legend in the underwater education world. He produced hundreds of live marine biology-oriented TV programs for Miami's WPBT Channel 2, developed the first CO2 spear gun, and helped make possible one of Jacques Cousteau's first U.S. public appearances. Kevorkian's daughters, Valerie and Stephanie, continue the tradition. Their staff of highly experienced, knowledgeable divers will talk you through your purchase, steer you to a class (there are regular sessions held in the heated indoor pool, available in English, Spanish, or Portuguese, for everyone from novices to assistant instructors), or simply give you good tips on where to dive. Recent deals included a three-millimeter-thick full wetsuit for $101 and an underwater digital camera set marked down from $770 to $530.Tarpoon also has a store at the Miami Beach Marina, feet from where it docks its own 46-foot custom-built dive boat.
Tivoli Liquors
It's just past midnight on Saturday and you're about to bring your date back to your place for, you know, a drink. Only your liquor cabinet is empty and your date is one of those "I don't do beer" types. What's a horny toad to doç The answer is illuminated by a neon sign of tipping bottles — the blue glow above Tivoli Liquors. While most pansy liquor stores close at midnight on weekends, Tivoli is open seven days a week till 2:00 a.m. The wide selection of alcohol includes all the basics (Jack Daniel's, Hennessy, Jägermeister, Captain Morgan, Grey Goose, and so on) but also offers an assortment of fine Spanish wines. There are obscure brands like Palacio de Oro for just $6.99, while a bottle of Emilio Moro will set more cultivated winos back a solid $30.99. For imbibers on a budget, get a mild bang for your buck with a $3.99 bottle of Sidra el Gaitero.
W Wine Bistro
It's not one of those wine warehouses that took over a defunct Winn Dixie and still has a row of checkout registers up front. And it's not one of those trendy storefronts that stock only Bordeaux and other cocky wines that cost three figures. No, this little brick-walled bistro lets you eat and drink — and take home a bottle of that drink — without signing over your weekly paycheck. Ask for Florent, the owner and your new best friend. Name a price range and a style. Florent will pull just the perfect bottle down from his expansive wall, from the very cheap to the very pricey. If you're not in a rush, find a quiet table and plunk down a modest corkage fee. Then order yourself a cheese plate or a nice soup, or bum out on the awesome housemade bread. Raise your glass to the colorful verve of this sassy Parisian dilettante. He has been everywhere, has seen everything, and commands a certain I don't know what that will have you ordering another bottle. Or take one home for the kids.
Listen up, all you wimps who lack the backbone to quit smoking. Sure, you don't have a pack of cigarettes lying around the house. It will only tempt you. But sometimes you just need a fix. Whaddya doç You can find loosies in any New York bodega or Philly Chinese carryout, but Miami is well, weird. So here you have to head for the Alton Food Plaza, which is the local go-to spot for pathetic peeps. Try the Marlboro Lights for just 25 cents — and pick up some frozen mozzarella sticks or empanadas while you're at it.
El Titan de Bronze
Evelio Guelmes, age 83, is steeped in the knowledge of what it takes to create a robust, full-bodied cigar. The master, who crafted his own brand of cheroot, El Turco, in Carbaiguan, Cuba, is one of eight veteran roleros — with a combined 150 years of tobacco-twisting experience — who work their nimble-fingered magic at El Titan de Bronze Cigar Factory in Little Havana. Run by Don Carlos Covis and his clan, the factory manufactures a line of quality stogies on site using a sublime mix of the aromatic leaf from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, North America, Indonesia, and Brazil. Popular brands include La Herencia Cubana, El Titan de Bronze, and Gran Reserva — and range in price from $3.50 to $5.25 for a single cigar to $85 to $120 per box. For those looking to spark up a stick offering earthy, optimal flavor and a sweet draw, these babies do the trick.
At night this space is an empty lot, desolate and spooky. By day it's a thriving mini farmer's market in the middle of bustling Little Haiti, usually staffed by Bernadette, a large Haitian woman who doesn't speak English but has a mile-wide smile. She and a few other Haitians sit under umbrellas and sell produce straight from Homestead out of the back of a van. Sometimes they stack crates of produce on tables, sometimes not. Onions, peppers, and muddy-looking root vegetable offerings come and go, but plump papayas, sweet pineapples, and tall stalks of sugarcane are mainstays. Occasionally Bernadette fires up a grill and roasts corn ears to sell, and another woman comes by to peddle housedresses. Pineapples go for around $3 to $4 (as opposed to $5 to $7 at Publix and Whole Foods), but feel free to haggle. Don't be surprised if you get your final tally in Kreyol — that's part of the joy and adventure of Miami, and of buying fruit out of the back of a van.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®