Astro Scooter Sales & Service

We have a rule when choosing where to shop: If we can buy a product from an Eastern European man named Walter, that's where we go. We buy our loaves of bread from a Slovenian baker named Walter. Our pirated channels come from a Ukrainian cable guy named Walter. See the tile in our kitchen? The guy who laid it goes by Wally. We think he's from Poland. Anyway, when it came time to buy a scooter — the need hits you upon acceptance that you're never getting that promotion to Chicago so you might as well wear only shorts, learn what the hell jai-alai is, and commute on a little two-wheeled apparatus powered by a blender motor — we snubbed the purveyors of brand-new Vespas. We want a cheap and enjoyable way to flit around town, not a second mortgage. So we found Astro Scooters, where the brusque, grizzled Walter Presic showed us a neat lineup of mopeds. Their prices range from $400 to $600 — a big money saver considering they get more than 100 miles to the gallon. If your moped breaks, Walter shows up at your door with a toolbox. Oh, by the way: Unrelated to his scooter business, Walter rents tools, which is the most old-school business since, like, renting leaches. Like we said: Eastern European dudes named Walter. They'll never fail ya.

Ocean Drive Limousines

Got a quinceañera coming up? Junior's senior prom is just around the corner? Or perhaps you're forming a posse to celebrate your last night in single's land? Best let Ocean Drive Limo get you to the banquet hall or strip club in one piece while you get your crunk on. Since 1995, company CEO Richard Bennetti has been piloting limousines for every type of baller. Whether you prefer a sleek Mercedes-Benz S550 or a 24-person party mobile, Ocean Drive Limo is the place for chauffeured rides around the Magic City. The company's celebrity clientele includes Kim Kardashian and the cast of The Real Housewives of Miami, and it's the exclusive limo service of Barton G. Prices start at $90 an hour for a minimum three-hour rental for a basic limo. But we advise splurging on the Ford F-650. We're talking about a 300-horsepower steel mammoth that is a roving version of LIV nightclub. It boasts a stargazer ceiling, two laser lights, and aircraft light tubes to go along with a fully stocked bar. When you roll up in this beast, everyone will know you're a bigger Bawse than Rick Ross.

The Collection
Courtesy of The Collection

Stressful credit checks, pushy salesmen — buying a car ain't fun. Unless you're flush enough to make your purchases at the Collection, that is. Located in a gorgeous Spanish Revival building on the corner of Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Bird Road, this Merrick Park institution has been supplying South Florida's exotic-car market with some much-needed class for 30 years. You can find everything short of a Lamborghini or Bugatti here — Ferraris, Maseratis, Aston Martins, Porsches, Jaguars. The Collection's brand-new McLaren showroom — South Florida's first, and one of only ten in North America — even has a Formula One vehicle on display, should you be in the market for a spur-of-the-moment racecar purchase. And with a Ferrari boutique that sells watches, shoes, and T-shirts branded with the Italian carmaker's trademark horse, the Collection is open to daydreamers too. Unlike most dealerships that cater to a wealthy clientele, the Collection has salesmen who won't treat you like a chump if you tell them you're just looking.

Tired of the two-hour ride on the Metrobus from your house in Hialeah Gardens to your job in downtown Miami? Well, if you have a credit score that terrifies financing companies, consider visiting the used car sales staff at Latin Motors in Allapattah. You won't have to worry about any Don Ready clones who live by the credo "Live Hard, Sell Hard" here. The salespeople are easygoing folks who are sympathetic to the situation of people down on their luck and trying to get some decent wheels in order to survive in auto-dependent Miami-Dade. With a couple of pay stubs and a utility bill, you will get approved. Latin Motors even promises to refinance your deal in six months if you hold up your end of the bargain by paying your monthly installments on time. The year-old dealership carries a varied inventory, from simple sedans such as Honda Civics and Volkswagen Jettas to pricier models like BMW roadsters and Hummers.

Chevron

From bustling Biscayne Boulevard, it looks like a regular gas station and car wash. But saunter inside and — boom — this Chevron station slaps you in the face with sleek, immaculate luxury. Flat-screen TV sets everywhere. Fresh pastries behind glass. A gaudy espresso machine, complete with real ceramic miniature cups. A lounge with comfortable seating and armchairs covered in the type of upholstery that still resembles the spotted cow it came from. (Don't know why that's classy, but it is.) Free wireless Internet. Friendly employees. And the gas prices hover near the county average. Forget filling your jalopy or getting it washed. You might start frequenting this gas station just to get some work done and hang out.

Don't you hate those shady mechanics who don't give a crap about you, let alone your '97 Honda Accord? How about the grease monkeys who sell you things you don't need, like seat-belt insurance and door-handle user guides? Well, at J & M Auto Doctors, they care for not only your car but also your safety. The best antidote to that cynical mechanic hatred bubbling up in your stomach is honest, reliable, and speedy service — from minor repairs like a flat-tire fix, to the extremes of a blown-out engine. J & M has been in business for more than 13 years and will be around to work on your kid's car too. Another perk: If you have to leave your ride there, there's a rental car agency a half-block away.

Whether you drive a '94 Saturn with a sagging roof or a luxury Italian speedster with leather detailing, at Executive Car Care, every vehicle is treated like a Ferrari. The shop is nothing more than a tent in the middle of a parking lot next to a Burger King, but don't judge a book by its cover. There are several wash options, but even the cheapest — just $18 — buys you a loyal team of workers who scrub every inch of your jalopy by hand, inside and out. For vans and SUVs, Executive charges $20 and $25. For 45 bucks, you can get the works: a wash and wax, a generous coat of Armor All inside and out, a good scrub for your plastic floor mats, an interior vacuuming, and air freshener. Executive's employees might not speak the best English, but they are beyond fluent in the language of making your car kick ass.

Living on South Beach means fearing the fickle wrath of the flash-flood gods. Take a walk around the neighborhood after a heavy rain and you'll find half a dozen people furiously bailing out their cars and cursing at the heavens. Assuming your vehicle starts, the best bet to salvage your ride is to take it across the causeway to Just Right Car Wash in Wynwood. For $25, Just Right employees will drain your vehicle of the foul-smelling liquid sloshing around your feet. For $65, they'll vacuum your car's crusty crevasses and shampoo it from glove-box to trunk, leaving you with the fleeting, false impression that you have a new whip and not a 2005 Honda Civic with more miles on it than Joan Rivers. Speaking of ladies, Just Right offers them a discount every Tuesday. Check out the company's website for other special offers. And in case your car isn't the only thing that needs work, Just Right is located next door to a barbershop where you can get some pimping too.

Owning a dog or cat is a joy. That little bundle of fur just oozes unconditional love and devotion. But it's not all fun and games. Pets, unlike that carnival monkey you won by spraying water into a clown's mouth, need shots and medication. And, like humans, they get sick. So what do you do when Fido is filled with fleas or Tiger is yakking all over because she ate a bad lizard? You take your little friend to the Coconut Grove Animal Hospital. It's been around since 1965. One look at the wood paneling reveals that nothing has really changed since then — including the old-fashioned care you would have expected 40-some years ago. Dr. Michael Marmesh Jr. and his daughter Dr. Kate Marmesh attend to your darling with the gentleness of a small-town vet who stepped out of the pages of the Saturday Evening Post. The clinic is open six days a week and you don't need an appointment (except for surgery, dental work, and boarding), which means that if you forgot to renew Minky's rabies tag the day before your big vacation, you can just waltz her right in and be seen. Don't you wish your shrink had the same open-door policy?

Shopping on Lincoln Road brings a mismatch of national retailers and cheesy tourist traps. That's why Alchemist easily stands out. With two locations on either end of the pedestrian mall, Alchemist doesn't need to advertise with double-D-size mannequins. Instead, it takes a minimalist approach — think Paris or New York — with its layout and décor, which, while stunning, isn't noisy and doesn't overwhelm the selection of both men's and women's clothing, accessories, and shoes. Our favorite location is the carefully curated store at 1111, inside the flashy designer parking garage, that affords a view of Miami Beach and beyond from its fifth-floor perch. Labels and designers such as Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten, Lydia Courteille, Alaïa, and Givenchy can be found here. That also means you better have disposable income or a credit card with a high spending limit if you plan on taking anything home — prices range from $225 for a top to $45,000 for jewelry. However, the salespeople are friendly and helpful to everyone who stops by, meaning you won't get shooed away if you don't look the part. There's a bonus attraction too: If you are shopping at the 1111 location, look up. Those mirrors above you do more than give off a reflection. Installed by rAndom International, the 44 mirrors are part of a kinetic installation that moves as shoppers walk around the store, making a visit to Alchemist a true interactive experience.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®