Best Gas Station 2014 | Valero Station Connected to Taqueria Morelia | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

OK, there's technically another station about half a block south, but for the sake of all things sacred and guacamole (this nomination comes with an appetizer of nacho cheese), consider this the real last stop before entering Everglades National Park. You'll need to gas up anyway before heading down the 40-mile road that leads to Flamingo, so you might as well do it here. Pro tip: Get a café con leche at the Valero and drink it with your meal next door at Taqueria Morelia. No one there will mind. As for the food, you can't go wrong with any of the tacos ($2.15 each), although the best bets are the suadero, al pastor, and lengua. If you're in the mood for something hardier, check out the alambres: heaping plates of melted cheese, bell peppers, Mexican sausage, onion, and bacon that are served with corn or flour tortillas ($7.95 for one person, $13.95 for two). Don't forget to load up on tiny cups of heaven at the salsa bar and grab some extra diced onions and jalapeños there for your campfire cooking later on. Oh, and gas. You should definitely get gas.

Courtesy of Books & Books

Picture shelves with books upon books upon even more books. Imagine books covering every inch of the walls, from piles on the ground to piles atop the shelves. Inhale deeply and you'll smell the richness of parchment — an aroma that would make even Hermione swoon with delight. There's a shelf on your immediate right offering books for $1, and a shelf next to that one offering another magical deal on literature. This is the place where people go to exchange previously read books for credit toward new favorites that will one day line their personal bookshelves. But do not despair — Book Barn not only trades in used books but also carries plenty of new releases and bestsellers. And if you don't see a book you want on the abundantly stocked shelves, one of the employees will gladly order it for you. And we mean gladly — the employees are incredibly passionate about books and are always pleased to chat about the latest novel they've read or their take on the screen adaptation of Harry Potter.

Hemingway did some stuff, sure. But imagine what he could have accomplished if he'd had access to the internet. Add Wi-Fi to your writerly dreams and you've got access to a wellspring of inspiration, from Ayn Rand to Pablo Neruda to F. Scott Fitzgerald. At the Bookstore in the Grove, you can work, you can dream, you can pen your own tome. You can sip handcrafted coffee, hear an author speak, meet your literary soulmate. All while happily connected to the vast expanse of mankind's wisdom via the World Wide Web. Ain't technology grand? Now get to writing that great American novel already.

From Magneto to the Joker to Lex Luthor, the bad guys never get enough credit even though they're the real stars of most great comics. So it is on Miami's comics scene, where the underappreciated star is none other than Villains Comics and Games. OK, so there's no dark, malign heart to this intimate — some might call it cozy — shop that makes great use of its space. Make your way past the glass counter full of rarefied Magic the Gathering cards and crisp-condition collectible busts and figurines, and you're suddenly sorting through row after row of comic-filled crates and low-lying shelves lined with all manner of graphic novels, from the classically popular to the obscurely coveted. You might just pop in to find the occasional Kaijudo league or Vanguard card tournament. Prices are fair, the selection is strong — from recent printings to some older vintages that span several decades — and the boss, Glenn, is always more than capable of helping you find what you're looking for. There's no evil plot necessary — in Miami, Villains already rules the roost.

Courtesy of Vice City Barber Shop

When Gloria and Emilio Estefan's son Nayib needs his hair trimmed and his face shaved, he heads to the good people of Vice City. Why? Because they offer the kind of community-based, high-quality professional services that a hard-working man deserves, whether or not he's the scion of Miami royalty. Owned by passionate partners and cousins William and Hamlet Garcia, the shop is the continuation of a legacy started decades ago by their first business, New York Barber Shop. When the chance to move down the plaza into a bigger building presented itself, the guys couldn't resist the urge to expand and rebrand, tossing out the NYC name-drop for the chance to represent Miami to the fullest. What hasn't changed are their grade-A services offered at superaffordable prices. An all-out shave — complete with warm towels, essential oils, and a massage — runs $15, and topnotch haircuts go for the same. The price is right, and you're sure to get a fade, pompadour, or design better than anything else in town. William, who has earned the title of "fade master," is ready to put any challenger to shame, and Hamlet has garnered international recognition for his artful take on men's hair, which you can see for yourself via his Instagram profile: @inthecut305. The shop is as unique as its keepers; it's plastered in hardcore, punk, and rockabilly show posters and blasts all types of music from a real-deal record player. But don't let the atmosphere fool you — you're sure to have the same casual, conversational experience you'd get in any other hometown barbershop. Like every great barber, these guys know you're only as good as your last haircut.

The scene opens on a woman alone in a coffee shop. She sips slowly. Her face is concealed with sunglasses, and her hair is hidden in one of those hipster beanies. She's waiting for someone. Finally, another woman sits across from her.

Nervous coffee drinker: "Cassie, what are you doing here? I thought we agreed to meet in secret later today."

Cassie: "Chill, Lexi, you're the one who decided to come drink coffee where I work."

Lexi: [cursing] "Fine. Let's get this over with."

Cassie: "Well, you're going to have to show me first."

Lexi: "Here?" [shocked and disgusted] "But people will see!"

Cassie: "You're going to have to deal with it eventually. It can't be that bad. You're a serial exaggerator. I'm sure it looks cute."

[Lexi gives Cassie a searing look that can only be compared to the fire of a thousand suns.]

Lexi: "I've been wearing this stupid hat for the past month to cover up my hideous haircut! Britney circa 2007 looked better than me!"

[Lexi cautiously lifts one hand to her head, and as she pulls off the beanie, she hunches her shoulders to try to hide her shame. Cassie bursts into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. Lexi is not pleased].

Cassie: [wiping tears from her cheeks] "Like I said, it's not that bad! Nat will definitely be able to make you fabulous again. Trust me."

[A stranger walks by and addresses Cassie.]

Stranger: "Oh my God, who cuts your hair? The way it shines and bounces — and those layers! Oh my God, is that your natural color, or did you get an ombre?"

Cassie: [glowing] "Nat cuts my hair. I've been going to her for years, and she's the only one I trust to touch my head."

Stranger: [looks at Lexi] "Oh, honey, you should really put that hat back on." [looks back at Cassie] "Thanks for the tip, sugar!" [walks away]

[Cassie slides a card over the table to Lexi.]

Cassie: "I already made an appointment for you. You're in the best hands; she's been doing this for more than seven years. Plus, look at my hair — she has the hands of a hairdressing goddess. And she starts at only $55 for a cut and blow dry, which you know is cheap for girls like us with thick hair."

Lexi: [grudgingly taking the card] "Thanks, Cass. I don't know what I would do without you."

Cassie: "Probably keep wearing hats in the middle of the summer."

In a city where 80 percent humidity can transform the perfect coif into a Sideshow Bob 'do in seconds, having a master stylist on speed dial is a must. Sam is the man. The refreshingly candid coiffeur is the one-man hairdo dynamo behind Johari, a quaint, shaded cottage that channels the old Grove. Tucked away on a side street beneath hanging vines and lush flora, it's the opposite of chain-choked CocoWalk, though it's only a stone's throw away. The cozy spot has been in Sam's fam since 1970. And in a neighborhood where countless salons have come and gone, Johari persists. Its longevity is thanks to Sam's mindset. He's all about making you look good, not milking you for the big bucks (haircuts range from $60 to $80). Trust him. Do as he says. Don't cling to your fried ends and bad dye job. Put your faith in his scissor skills, and he'll leave your locks looking their very best.

Once upon a time at an unnamed shop inside a suburban Central Florida mall, a hatchet job was performed on a girl who wanted nothing more than pierced ears. The inexperienced piercer kept making the holes uneven, and eventually the girl had about six punctures dotting her lobes. Blood stained Cinnabon's floors, and the girl's face looked as if she'd just finished watching Beaches on some cable channel that airs only Sarah McLachlan's SPCA ad during commercial breaks. It was a horrible sight, but a teachable moment: If you want someone to stick needles into your body, go to a professional, not a teenager looking for extra cash between babysitting gigs. Check out Balinese Tattoo Miami, a professional parlor that started in Venezuela and now occupies a Flagami shop that's decorated like an edgy spa. Its employees are happy to help you in your quest to affix shiny objects to your skin. Of course you can go with a standard ear piercing, but if you're looking for something a little more complicated (like microdermal or even apadravya), they can make it happen.

Photo by Shelly Davidov

There are a few areas of human achievement that Italians have on lockdown. Pasta. Chianti. Dysfunctional democracy. And shoes. Any doubts that the last category belongs to the Italians will be banished with a quick trip to Del Toro, a Wynwood-based boutique that focuses on bespoke footwear from the land of Berlusconi. The experts keep samples of the tasteful, edgy, comfortable, and unique in a wide variety of sizes and styles for women and men. Though the bulk of their catalogue is available online, you can check out the boutique in person any day of the week and complete your look with belts, bags, socks, wallets, hats, timepieces, and more. Be prepared to shell out some cash — snagging the best in human shoe achievement can cost you anywhere from a couple hundred to thousands. We're not talking Chuck Taylors here. Think Alto Chukka sneakers made with ostrich skin for $1,000, or Shayan Afshar white leather kicks with ten-karat gold stars for two G's. If that's too rich for your blood, keep an eye out for fire sales that knock some straight-from-Italy high fashion to as low as $25.

Miami is a city that lives and dies by trends. Luckily, shops such as Soles Inc. make living in the heart of trendy nation great. From exclusive action figures to superbly fresh snapbacks, this place has its finger on the pulse of what's cool, so its inventory is constantly showcasing something new. Though the clothing and accessories certainly represent their fair share of what draws people into Soles Inc., it's the kicks on the walls that set this place apart. The assortment of sneakers ranges from the newest fad to the most rarefied re-released Jordans, and with new shoes dropping on the regular, you can be assured they're selling out just as fast and frequently as they hit the shelves. Whether you're looking for some serious throwbacks, like the 20th-anniversary Adidas Mutumbos ($105), or something just as classic but slightly more understated, like the Air Jordan 1 Mid Nouveaus in a suede Night Shadow Colorway ($134.98), Soles Inc. and its exceptionally keen staff will get you laced up in the perfect gear to keep your kick game on point.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®