For a town that has produced a substantial stable of top-shelf writers, it's surprising there are so few bookstores in the Magic City to pay them homage. There's a Barnes & Noble here and there, but as far as independent, funky, uniquely Miami booksellers, we have only a handful of options. That said, Books & Books does what any locally owned bookstore should do, and it does it well. No, the selection doesn't stack up to those of national chains, but the shop does an excellent job of showcasing lesser-known works, and what's more, it has fostered a community of readers through its book clubs and author lecture series. There are three locations in Miami-Dade, but this year we're celebrating the new and improved Lincoln Road spot. Forced out of his storefront location by rising rents, owner Mitchell Kaplan made the best of it and actually increased the size of his café and the amount of space he can give to books when he moved to a new location (a courtyard behind his former spot). The restaurant is one of the best inexpensive places to eat on Lincoln Road, and the bookstore is pretty much the only place in Miami Beach where you can find a decent read.

The time will come when charging for wi-fi will seem as ridiculous as charging for air, yet there are still many places that will take your Hamilton if you want to check your email or watch the latest YouTube video of a cat balancing a sardine can on its nose in a hot-air balloon. Because you can't wait till you get home to watch it. We know and we understand, but damn it, don't we deserve a comfortable spot to watch that crazy cat for free? The Bookstore in the Grove is famous for being just about the only decent bookstore in the City of Miami limits, but it's also a bastion of free wi-fi. Comfortable seats, cool air, available outlets, and café cuisine that's better than the food at most of those places that end up charging you for wi-fi anyway.

Lion Video Foreign Films

Take one: A teenage boy pursues his masochistic piano teacher (The Piano Teacher). Take two: A dying Spanish fisherman fights to legalize euthanasia (The Sea Inside). Take three: A child sells himself on the streets of Brazil (Pixote). Doesn't sound like the plot of Hollywood's latest blockbuster? That's because they're all foreign-made films stocked at Lion Video, where 80,000 of the world's most brilliant and obscure movies are categorized according to country. Shot on seven continents, films are offered with both Spanish and English subtitles in a multitude of genres including documentary, comedy, gay/lesbian, and American independent. Some are imported and converted to multiregion DVD, making even the hardest-to-find niche films accessible. For lovers of the local scene, Lion also carries the widest selection in the county from the Miami International Film Festival. It's $4 for a five-day rental, and every fourth video is free. And that's a wrap.

Bhoom Shanti

Miami's Indian population has slim pickings when it comes to restaurants and even slimmer pickings when it comes to authentic fashion and home décor. That's why Biscayne Boulevard's Bhoom Shanti is a mini-mecca for expats and India-philes — a riotous explosion of ornate fabrics, dazzling jewelry, and heavily carved furniture housed in the corner storefront of an otherwise vanilla mixed-commercial strip mall. There are enough saris, salwars, wraps, and dresses here to clothe the cast of a Bollywood musical. And now that Slumdog Millionaire is the hottest film of the year, we've noticed more and more curious Westerners checking out stores in the quiet strip mall, seeking bindis and anklets of their own.

During special events, Bhoom Shanti brings its culture to ornate, intoxicating life. Stop by the store to sign up for the mailing list, and the ladies of Bhoom Shanti shall keep you abreast of the monthly happenings. On those enchanting evenings, Indian music resounds, the family and friends of the store's owners emerge, and you can even get your eyebrows threaded by a steady-handed expert for a mere $5. Score!

Japanese Market Sushi Deli

There's an old proverb that goes, "First the man takes a drink; then the drink takes the man." Whatever. At Japanese Market — a tiny stop-and-shop with a fresh, by-the-roll sushi counter — sometimes the drink is the whole point. With more than 50 brands of hot and cold sake ranging from $4 to $74 to choose from, you can pluck chilled sake from the fridge and drink at the counter while you munch a spicy tuna roll. The place is set up like an old-fashioned drugstore, except with an emphasis on food. It specializes in ingredients from Japan, such as fish sauce and canned curry. Looking for something sweet? Try the Pocky. It's a biscuit stick coated with chocolate, green tea, mint, or mango for $2 to $3. Or opt for Hi-chew, a fruity Starburst-like candy that comes wrapped in wax paper for $2. The saying should go, "First the man takes a drink; then the man takes a bite." Mmmm.

Best Place to Buy Gourmet Goodies at 4 a.m.

Compass Market

Compass Market

Late-night food runs on South Beach usually mean pizza pies or greasy (yet delicious) tacos. Sure, it's fun to stumble out of the club and end up at 7-Eleven, stuffing footlong hot dogs down your gullet, but you could hit Compass Market for gourmet goodies that are worthy of A-list munchies moments. Got two gallons of tequila in your stomach? Hit the refrigerated case for ready-to-eat empanadas, wraps, panini, and ceviche. Sometimes food is the last thing on your mind, so the cases of Izze natural beverages and juices will help replenish the electrolytes you lost in that bottomless glass of gin, and a bottle of Perrier-Jouët bubbly has "hair of the dog" written all over it. Snacks and sundries. Papaya and arugula. Grab a pack of fresh-roasted gourmet java straight from the Keys to your coffeemaker and your hangover. The wall of cigarettes, cigars, and, um, rolling papers means your club-worthy lung destruction doesn't have to end. Ever.

From the outside, these two establishments look like they'd have to be connected. Come on, who would put two porn shops directly next to each other? But look closer and you'll see there are actually a couple of inches of space where one wall stops and another begins. To your left, a sign heralds "Adult & Non-Adult Video," while the other side gets to the point with just "Adult Video." Choose which hole — um, doorway — you want poke yourself into and you couldn't be in for a bigger surprise. On the left, Adult Supermarket is the kind of classy porn shop you'd take a girlfriend to, if a classy porn shop actually exists. There are well-kept displays, bright lighting, and tastefully mirrored walls. You don't have to think twice about touching anything. Then there's J&R Books & Video. Despite having the more subtle name of these straight-up I'm-here-to-find-something-to-get-me-off shops, this place comes complete with video viewing booths (if you don't know, you probably don't want to). Together they're like no other two naughty spots that happen to be close to each other: One is classy and traditional; the other is a little freaky.

Playthings

Unlike the adult outposts of old, Playthings isn't some sleazy shack marked with a big, red triple X. Located across the street from Bird Bowl, this locally owned sex shop blends seamlessly into the family-oriented strip mall. And once inside, you shouldn't be surprised to find yourself browsing $20 PVC underwear alongside a young mother and her screaming toddler. However, don't assume that friendliness precludes freakiness: The huge main room features a massive selection of masturbatory devices. There's the silicone true-skin Mini Tongue ($74.99) and the Dream Maker Lunar vibrator ($149.99), with its super-thick, knobby shaft. There's also a connoisseur's corner of flogging devices, including plastic paddles and braided horse crops ($9.99). But take note: The truly hard-core stuff is stashed in a backroom bunker. There you'll find a stockpile of $40 DVD and Blu-ray porn, from Bettie Page to the entire Bang Bros catalogue. Plus, it's where Playthings hides its biggest toys, such as the legendary 12-inch John Holmes cock, the Boston penis enlargement pump, and lifelike asses. Weird but awesome.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®