You smell Broward before you reach it — a whiff of brine and ambition. Broward, at least the southern bit, feels unsettled. At a certain famous Hollywood restaurant, you can maow a world-class seafood sammich or cheeseburger while sitting on a piece of unpolished driftwood and watching cockroaches scuttle up nearby trees. In Dania, a town constructed of decommissioned buoys and hammocks, you can eat Florida's most decadent ice-cream sundaes in a place that hasn't changed its décor since about 1890. (Situated in such an atavistic town, it doesn't seem retro at all.) Downtown Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale look like the products of a young architect's unwarranted grandiosity, adolescent stabs at urbanity in places that never needed any — sort of an American's answer to Dubai. For these reasons, and many more, Broward is a step backward in time — to the days when pioneers roamed the swamps; when plastic surgery was a novelty and not a rite of passage; when life was slow, and when it wasn't slow, it was lawless; and when you weren't looked at like a crazy person for speaking English.

Best Place to Do Your Laundry, Get Dinner, and Grab Coffee

Mary's Coin Laundry

Laundry or dinner? As grim a Sophie's choice as we've ever had to make. What if there were another way? Welcome to Mary's Coin Laundry. Materials: two loads of dirty laundry, lots of quarters, spare cash, ravenous appetite, preferably spurred by misguided late-Sunday-night marathon of Dazed and Confused. Instructions: Panic. The workday begins in a couple of hours, and there are exactly zero clean pants. Begin a sartorial search party. Socks should be under the bed; boxers inside the oven; pants, T-shirts, and ties in the bat-infested cave that is the closet. With duds in basket, drive to Mary's Coin Laundry. Inside the cramped 24-hour Laundromat-slash-cafeteria, take a minute to enjoy the aroma — ah, nothing like detergent and butter in the morning. Drop $2.75 into adjoining Speed Queen machines. Choose heavily soiled or normal wash? Heavily soiled. Add detergent, push Start, and let the Queen do its business. Order a choripan, $4.50. Ten minutes to go. Mamey milkshake, $3.50. Watch the clothes spin as hypnotically as the shake swirls. Extract wet load, deposit four quarters into the dryer. This is the last stretch. Get a cortadito, 75 cents. Some things aren't meant to go together. Watching television in the bathtub, sex and pastrami, dinner and laundry. Somehow you're doing it. The dryer trills. Load finished. Laundry: $6.50. Dinner: $8.75. Getting it all done in less than an hour: priceless.
Riding a bicycle is fun. Drinking booze is totally awesome. What happens when you mix the two together? Totally awesome fun! And judging from the success of the first Beer Snob MIA-Bicycle Pub Crawl, combining boozing and cycling is an indicator of why Bicycling magazine rated Miami one of its Top 50 cities for bike lovers. Nearly 100 cyclists met at Zeke's on Lincoln Road this past March 6. Their mission: Savor an array of tasty, frothy, so-sweet-when-it-touches-your-lips beeeeerrrrrr. The South Beach watering hole, famous for its impressive selection of ales and lagers at $4 each, was the first stop on a journey that included the Abbey Brewing Company near Lincoln Road, the Democratic Republic of Beers across the street from the Arsht Center, and Titanic Brewery & Restaurant, the final destination, near the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables. A ride like that requires a lot of sustenance — the kind that incorporates barley, wheat, and yeast. Of course, Miami's cyclists practice responsible drinking, so anyone who got too sloshed was encouraged to take the Metrorail or bus back home. And if you missed the pub crawl, don't worry — the organizers are planning another one for September.
Mondrian South Beach Hotel
Courtesy of Mondrian South Beach
So there you are, lounging by the pool at your fancy hotel, when it hits you: You forgot to bring your $350 gold handcuffs! You also left your $25 fake eyelashes at home! And, dammit, you didn't pack your $400 marabou feather vest! Well, don't worry your pretty little head. The vending machine at Mondrian South Beach — the glittering, chandeliered, luxury waterfront hotel on West Avenue — is stocked with all of those things. There are no candy bars or soda inside this sleek white contraption, which takes only credit cards and sits across from the hotel bar. Dubbed the "Semi-Automatic," it is also full of T-shirts, sunglasses, and best-selling novels. Oh, and the keys to a $90,000 Bentley Arnage T. (A voucher is printed and the vehicle is delivered to the hotel in minutes.) You know, just in case you left yours at home.
Once upon a time, there was a little prince who wanted to dress up like a girl. His majesty was named Kenny, and he was not happy in his kingdom. Unhappy he was, for there were no fair maidens he wanted to wed. He preferred to take dance classes, listen to Tori Amos records, and kiss other princes. One day, he moved to a far-away land called Miami. "Oh, how splendid!" he exclaimed and then put on a long red wig and a pretty gown. Suddenly — poof! — he was more beautiful than all the "real" ladies of the land. He got on a stage in South Beach and was christened with the title "Queen." It was much more fun than actually being royalty. He would henceforth be named "Daisy Deadpetals." He'd spin records at nightclub Buck15, appear on a TV show called Deco Drive, and perform at the region's longest-running queer show, Life's a Drag. Then, of course, he lived happily ever after.
Balans Restaurant
Prudes freak when they see the glass-door bathrooms at Balans in Brickell. That is, until they flip the lock to the left and realize the door magically fogs up to provide discretion. Totally private stalls? Priceless! Not having to hear your neighbor deal with his or her gas or nausea? Refreshing. Knowing no one is looking under the partition at your chipped toenails or underpolished shoes? Much appreciated. Plus a sensual sink delivers water in fountain-like fashion, and guests have their own personal hand dryers. Entertainment value + privacy + nice décor = a squatting experience like nowhere else around.

Best Plastic Surgeon With an Artistic Streak

Dr. Jose Perez-Gurri

More often than not, it's difficult to find your daughter and girlfriend in harmonious accord over aesthetic issues. But when it comes to cosmetic surgery, they are in melodious agreement when chirping away at the virtues of Jose Perez-Gurri, M.D., founder and director of Imagos Plastic Surgery in Kendall. Sure, they discovered the talented doctor independently and had their procedures done years apart, yet they speak of his handiwork with a gleam in their eyes that almost borders on religious fervor. Both are members of a sisterhood that commonly refers to Perez-Gurri as the "Bernini of breast augmentation." And not unlike the Renaissance artist, the surgeon is a student of classical sculpture as well as an avid art collector. His patients, along with the men who love them, typically boast of the dramatic, naturalistic realism of his work. Perez-Gurri likens his approach to correcting nature's imperfections by executing the virtuosity of a master sculptor teasing out a work of art from unpolished stone in order to help unleash the inner Venus. The good doctor might not be chiseling marble, but Perez-Gurri's crafty attention to detail and finesse with many a bosom, not to mention an easy payment plan, has landed him on the Cristina Show and Sábado Gigante, while inspiring a cult following.
Gold Coast Railroad Museum
From an early age, kids show a glowing fascination for trains and train sets. Maybe it's because they're drawn to the power and ingenuity of a train, to the rumble of steam and coal and thundering wheels. Maybe it's the innate sense of exploration that only a locomotive can satisfy. Or maybe it's because trains are just so friggin' cool. But that inherent love has been drowned out in a digital world of exploding videogames and screaming cartoons. It's still there, though. You can find it again at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, which features more than 30 historic trains, including an authentic president's car that was once used by FDR, Harry Truman (the same car where he took his iconic "Dewey Defeats Truman" photo), and Ronald Reagan. With more than three miles of track out back, kids can hop a link train, as well as a vintage coach that everyone can ride. The museum also boasts a massive model train collection and offers several fun and interactive activities. Admission is $6 for adults and kids 12 and older, $4 for those under 12, and free for children under 3. All aboard!
We love the work of Edouard Duval-Carrié for many reasons. Not the least of which is that we snagged one of his iconic sculptures for $20 at a Wynwood thrift shop during Art Basel 2007. The kiwi-green resin figure represented Agoue, Haiti's version of Poseidon. It was appraised at $500 by Bernice Steinbaum, the artist's longtime dealer, less than a mile up the road from where it was purchased. Duval-Carrié's work is in the permanent collections of the Bass Museum of Art and the Miami Art Museum. He is known for weaving African fables, classical mythology, Haitian and world history, and contemporary events into a rich symbolic tapestry of haunting imagery. When experiencing his work, you can almost hear the resurrection drums tapping out the messages of Haiti's vodou pantheon, reminding one of that Caribbean nation's mysterious cultural legacy. This past December at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, Duval-Carrié organized and curated "Global Caribbean," a world-class exhibit featuring the work of 25 of the region's top talent. In March, he contributed to the Haitian earthquake relief efforts by hosting a highly successful fundraiser during the ArteAmericas Fair at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The streets of Wynwood are one big outdoor museum. There's no entrance fee, the art is world-caliber, you can stay as long as you like, and (almost) no one will get mad if you piss in the bushes. Take that, MOMA! It's mostly all thanks to the folks behind the world's largest site-specific street-level mural installation project. Every year, some of the best street painters in the world converge for Art Basel week. Since 2006, a guy named Books IIII has corralled the talent, mediums, and paint for a creative explosion called Primary Flight. If the names London Police, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Dolla, El Mac, Retna, and Typoe (to name a few) mean anything to you, you already know. If they don't, you need to examine the acres worth of fantastic, bold, and vibrant imagery that adorn wall surfaces all over this hood.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®