Japanese Market Sushi Deli
Looking for a certain trendy Japanese toy? Hungering for the latest installment of grotesquely cute anime gore? Then keep flipping — because Japanese Market is all about food, and the real stuff at that. Tiny it is, but filled with goodies. An easy dozen of canned curry pastes inhabit one shelf, right below a diverse crop of fish sauces, dried shrimp seasonings, and things made mostly of fermented soybean. For those seeking a quick fix, there are plenty of exciting Japanese munchies to try, from wasabi peas to ... well, we're not sure what they were, but they looked good. Frozen tuna, pickled ginger, shrimp tempura, and a hundred other tasties line the fridges; one is given entirely over to sake, of which the little shop boasts an impressive collection. There are also sake sets, as well as fancy chopsticks, sushi tools, and — for those missing the homeland — a few Japanese newspapers for sale. If you get hungry while you're there, take a seat at the shop's small sushi bar, where you'll discover tasty and very reasonably priced plates — eight bucks, and you've had one terrific lunch.
Sesame Step
It's all about cute shoes and customer service at this Kendall-mom, window-shopping favorite. It's best to look first and then bring in your little rugrat — feet can grow by the hour, and employees here take the time to measure and analyze their teeny customers. The people at Sesame Step make recommendations based on your specific needs, rather than price and profit. This isn't some overpriced joint where they're just trying to make a buck, prices for a pair of chic, perfect-for-dress-up gold flats start around $28. And the highest price you'll pay is $70 for an adorable, unique sandal.
Casa Bonita
Ever been in a Goodwill for too long? Your eyes are red, your lungs are slowly filling with mold, and just when you feel like one more $10 rack will transform your nostrils into Niagara Falls, you happen upon the perfect vintage leather jacket. That's what Casa Bonita — a jewelry, belt, and handbag store in the heart of the Fashion Distict — is like. It's filled with buried cuteness and future compliments, minus that musky, icky secondhand feeling. And, okay, at Casa Bonita you're not going to stumble upon any labels that read Chanel or Louie Vuitton. Nor will you find a carbon copy of that drool-worthy Birkin bag you saw in the pages of Vogue. But you will find brands such as Bella Collection and Rina Rich, knockoffs of knockoffs, that sell for $20 to $35 a bag and $4 to $8 a wallet. They're not posh, but perfect for the thrifty fashionista who likes rare finds.
Nowadays many record shops are losing costumers and boarding up their doors. Music downloads and file sharing are rendering them obsolete. In spite of all this, the mighty Do-Re-Mi Music Center keeps attracting scores of clients. The reason: Well, Do-Re-Mi specializes in hard-to-find Latin music. Many of its albums are out-of-print gems that are not available on iTunes or anywhere else. The always-impressive selection includes rare albums from old-time, classic labels such as Alegre, Tico and Vaya. The large store also offers modern Latin music including reggaeton and rock en español, but the bulk is reserved for incomparable Latin music legends such as Sandro and Celia Cruz. A truly educated staff enhances the shopping experience, offering suggestions and help in finding those long-out-of-print, 1950s Celia Cruz Old Havana recordings. Do-Re-Mi also has a colossal selection of music DVDs, with classics such as The Fania All Stars in Yankee Stadium for $19.99. So the next time you can't find that special tune on the Internet, head to Do-Re-Mi, where the record store tradition lives on.
Demis Liquors
As we enter this little liquor store, we become mesmerized by the hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful bottles on display. An entire wall of vodka takes up is the first aisle, where we grab our favorite: a liter of Ciroc ($42.99). Then we head over to the whiskey and bourbon aisle, where the fluorescent lights reflect off the myriad glass vessels. A 750-milliliter bottle of Gentleman Jack goes for $31.99. At the back of the store, we find the fridge. It's full of beer, energy drinks, and another fave: cold bottles of Hypnotiq ($13.99 each). We also come across those icy-cold little bottles of Alize for $13.99 apiece. And then we spot some fresh Phillies, not those dried-up pieces of crap that most liquor stores peddle. This shop is in Kendall, so these people know we need our blunts moist for our chronic. Cognac Phillies go for $1 each, so stock up. The location is in a nice little strip mall that also houses a Cuban bakery, a pizza place, and a convenience store. If you don't live in Kendall, take a drive through Miami's best burb, and be sure to stop at Demis.
Modern Nail Spa
Let's keep this short and sweet — just like the amount of time you'll spend at this tiny nail salon nestled in a nondescript Pinecrest shopping center. You enter, take a seat, get your hands soaked and your fingernails clipped, nipped, filed, and polished. Next, settle into a large leather massage chair and indulge in your choice of trashy celebrity rags as heavenly as the skilled fingers that buff your callused feet. The best part: This mani/pedi combo costs only $30 for women and $35 for men, plus pedicures last for an entire month. Full-service with a fabulous finale — now that's what we call a happy ending.
Uhma Spa combines a healthy environment and pure, decadent ecstasy for your mind, body, and spirit. The beautifully tranquil place is bedecked to resemble the interior of a tree; rounded wood corners, green accents, stone vases, and mossy walls add to the ambiance. You can have a waterless pedicure or an organic botanical facial. But what you really need is a massage. Uhma is amazing. Professional masseuses employ Thai, hot stone, and shiatsu techniques to exorcise the rock-hard knots in your shoulders, thighs, and lower back. The primal relaxation massage costs $110 for 60 minutes of bliss. It is worth every penny. The masseuse slathers on your choice of the in-house Uhma Nagri massage oil. Once the tension in your back and shoulders disappears, you'll likely drift off to Neverland. Don't feel bad — it's a compliment to their skills. Uhma also offers a variety of Asian and French wet and dry massage techniques. Other options on the menu include the Sabai Herbal Ball massage ($170 for 90 minutes), which involves the use of a warm — you guessed it — herbal ball, and the Tian Di Bamboo ($120 for an hour), which uses warm bamboo sticks to apply deep pressure and heat. The spa is part of the new Wellness on 6th mini shopping district of holistic and organic stores in Miami Beach, which all in all is pretty cool.
Taystee Gourmet Bakery
You might know about yerba mate via its recent desecration as the "maté latté." But before it was served in postconsumer recycled cardboard Starbucks cups, the South American herb was more typically imbibed through a silver straw stuck into a hollowed-out gourd filled with the bitter, naturally caffeinated herb. And it still is — drinking maté is a strong cultural tradition practiced in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. You can cultivate the habit too — this is Miami, after all — but you'll need the right equipment. The Taystee Gourmet Deli and Bakery might not seem like the first choice of an aspiring matero, but don't be fooled: The back wall boasts an impressive collection of Argentine necessities, including matés, the hollow gourds that take the shredded leaves (ranging in price from about $5 to $7), and bombillas, the little metal straws that filter the drink and bring it piping-hot to your boca. Of course, the store sells the yerba maté itself, with a few brands to choose from; a pound of the stuff, plenty to get you started, won't cost more than $3 or $4.
It's amazing, but in a city with a Little Havana, a Little Haiti, a Little Buenos Aires, a Little Colombia, a Little Venezuela, and a Little Nicaragua, there aren't many places to fill that deeply felt American need for all things Mexican. But for you, our piñata-craving, taco-demanding, ranchera-howling friend, there is a spot to get all that you desire: Redland Market Village. Run largely by and for people born in Mexico, this weekend bazaar is a vibrant, bustling place filled with great food, cheerful live music, and a selection of produce, meats, and all manner of powder, spice, chilies, and beans. Best of all, it's located along the newly completed 22-mile bicycle path/Busway — which makes it a perfect lunch stop on a weekend bike ride to Florida City. Try the menudo — a stew made of pork, hominy, and a touch of amor, Mexican-style.
What do Jamie Foxx, Ray Charles, Alicia Keys, Tennessee Williams, Lauren Hill, Itzhak Perlman, Francis Ford Coppola, and Jackie Gleason have in common? They all bought pianos at Victor Pianos, that's what. The owner, Victor Tibaledo, is sitting behind the desk there today — right now, if it's Monday through Saturday from 9 to 5, or Sunday 12:30 to 5 — just as he was 50 years ago, when he started the business in a single building filled with pianos. Now there are five buildings — one for grand pianos, one for uprights, one for organs, one for keyboards, and one for the office, where Victor holds court and occasionally sells sheet music. He has plenty of everything at whatever price (within reason) you feel like paying. ("I just sold a piano to a truck driver," Victor's daughter Lisa told us when we visited.) Pianos range from $4,000 to $50,000, organs go for about $1,300 and up, and keyboards start at $500.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®