Best Bookstore 2015 | Bookleggers | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Between Amazon undermining brick-and-mortar book shops and major chains like Borders giving up the ghost, you might be tempted to think the era of bookstores is behind us. You'd be wrong. Bookstores aren't dead. They just need a little tweaking. A greater sense of community, perhaps, and a lower price point — starting at free maybe? And hey, a few boozy beverages on the side couldn't hurt. That's the model of Bookleggers, a monthly get-together that gathers book lovers to swap their tomes in fun locations around Miami. Founder Nathaniel Sandler (an occasional New Times contributor) calls it a "community mobile library," offering one free book to first-timers. But any good dealer will tell you the first taste is always free; once hooked, voracious readers will return again and again with books from their own libraries to trade for new-to-them novels — or, failing that, with cold hard cash. (You can buy a book for $2 at any Bookleggers get-together.) Bookleggers pop-up locations are all part of the fun. Its second anniversary was a cultural affair at Downtown Art Space; bars such as Gramps and the Broken Shaker have hosted other appearances; and for the O, Miami festival this year, it set up shop at Collins Park so readers could bring their dogs along for the ride. Try having that much fun clicking around Amazon.

Readers' choice: Books & Books

Like other postal locations, the lines are long and the pens mysteriously disappear from the counters at the Miami Beach Post Office. But instead of having to endure petulant eye-rolling and foot-tapping in line, customers can enjoy awe-inspiring art deco design. The symmetrical, cylindrical structure and large, rectangular windows are characteristic of post-Depression-era style. Inside, the forest-green art on the ceiling makes everyone glance up upon arrival (don't trip on the inoperable fountain in the middle). Along the back wall that houses the P.O. boxes, three New Deal murals, painted by artist Charles Hardman in 1940, depict Spanish conquistadors like Ponce de León and de Soto fighting Floridian tribes. Yeah, you can get your stamps here, but this post office is more like a free museum than a government agency.

For most Miamians, photography has become synonymous with selfies. Aim, filter, upload, and — bam — you're a portrait-maker! But some people, like the staff at WorldWide Foto, still hold the art and practice of photography sacred. Open in Miami since 1978, WorldWide Foto is like taking a trip to those hallowed pre-Instagram days. The no-frills store is stocked with vintage cameras and digital devices, and it's a go-to for film enthusiasts. In fact, it's one of the very few places in Miami to buy different film for that Pentax or Yashica, plus developers, toners, fixers, and other supplies. If by chance WorldWide Foto doesn't carry a certain product, the knowledgeable staff goes above and beyond to find and order it for you. They can handle questions from experienced photographers, and although it's frequented by professionals, the company fosters photography interest at all skill levels with its friendly, welcoming attitude. If you don't know how to use that charger, filter, or even video tools, you can bring in your own equipment to ask questions. Unlike shopping online, WorldWide Foto allows you to try out its equipment before buying. And though you might get that film processed cheaper at a Walmart lab, places like those don't know squat about photography. Log off Instagram for a minute, grab that Nikon, and learn something about real photography at WorldWide Foto.

Courtesy of the Café at Books & Books

The hardest part about working from home is being stuck in the same residential box day in and day out. Sometimes you need to break free, but it's difficult to find the right spot to muscle through the day's to-dos. Coffee shops are full of overcaffeinated blabbers screaming into their cell phones, and restaurants do their best to hustle you away from your table to keep customers rolling in. At the newest outlet of the Café at Books & Books, situated amid the inspiring architecture of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, none of those concerns applies. It's a restaurant, true, but it's also a bookstore. Thinking, working, creating, and meeting like-minded individuals is encouraged and celebrated here. You can sit inside and enjoy the A/C, or head to the back patio for a table, some of which even have electrical sockets right next to them — score! If you get hungry, there's a great menu of food, teas, and coffees to keep you going through the hours. Need a break? Peruse the captivating literature selections, relax in a comfy chair, and waste a few hours in the latest Murakami. The good folks at Books & Books simply want you to enjoy the space, and that's something any laptop lackey can appreciate.

The only thing radder than Team Iguana Sports' logo — a totally gnarly, ripped green lizard dude shredding on a board — is the selection of mountain and road bikes priced to hit the road around $700 and up. This shop on the northern edge of Miami Beach is jam-packed with custom-painted skateboard decks and neon accessories, pro-quality bike shoes and helmets, and racks and racks full of cycles. Whether you're looking for a bike to get you to Publix and back or you're plotting a course through the French Alps, Team Iguana has you covered. The biggest attraction of all, though, is the shop's owner: Ron is the definition of cycling passion, an idiosyncratic big-talker who loves nothing more than telling tales from the road and getting you ready for your own bike adventures.

Readers' choice: Mack Cycle & Fitness

It takes a certain amount of confidence to dub your car wash simply "The Car Wash." Not Miami Car Wash. Not Shiny Wheels. Not Old Joe's Soapy Auto Emporium. Just The Car Wash. It implies you might as well be the only car wash in town, the only car wash people will ever need. For a decade, The Car Wash has been just that to its legions of customers. The lines of cars regularly seen under its familiar purple canopy attest to that. A conveyor glides vehicles through a touchless automatic wash, which features windows so you can keep an eye on your ride, and then efficient employees detail them outside by hand. Guests, meanwhile, can wait inside a clean, air-conditioned café adorned with the artwork of Stephen Gamson while enjoying coffee, juices, snacks, and free Wi-Fi. The best part is that this wash won't break the bank. Basic service starts at just $10, and specialty options such as leather cleaning and seat shampooing are available at affordable prices.

You're on your way to a friend's house for a little get-together. You're bumping tunes and feeling good, but you gotta stop at the gas station right quick. You've got three-quarters of a tank in your ride, and your friend riding shotgun is all, "What's the deal, bro?" Clearly, your friend has never been to Coral Gate Mobil before. It's cool. Tell your friend to take a deep breath as you walk through the doors and into the most exciting gas-station shopping experience of your life. Need beer for the party? Why not impress the guests with something from this one-stopper's extensive selection of craft and local brews, maybe Oberon or Terrapin, Santo or Cuvée des Trolls. Did your host ask you to pick up some noms? Tear your head away from the fine wines and order something from the in-house organic deli offering scrumptious and nutritious sandwiches for $7.99. Screw it — you might as well pick up a fresh, cold-pressed juice ($8.99) while you're at it, or a smoothie, or some boxed water, or some quinoa snacks. Um, dude, is this still a gas station? It must be. There's a groovy car wash outside, and people are pumping gas. Who would have ever guessed all of this was in here?

Readers' choice: Europa Car Wash & Cafe Chevron

On a scale of fun things to do, looking for a used car falls somewhere between undergoing anesthetic-free root-canal surgery and eating raw sand. The salesmen are sharks looking to rip you off at every turn, and the cars are gussied-up lemons waiting to explode on the Dolphin Expressway. But this is Miami, and you need a ride. Thank the car gods for Esserman International Volkswagen. Whether you're looking for a fresh new VW or a pre-owned model, Esserman is set apart by its quality sales associates, who treat customers like real people, not potential sacks of money. They put away their gimmicks and make their smiles look genuine. There's no "let me get my manager" routine here, but rather a group of people who let the quality of German engineering do most of the work for them, and they work with customers for the best possible deal on a future car, from used Toyotas and Chevys for $10,000 or less to shiny new Jettas for around $18,000.

Readers' choice: The Collection

Tony Saladrigas is the kind of guy every car owner wishes he knew. Just west of downtown, the 55-year-old Cuban American runs a Meineke garage, which he bought 12 years ago. If your brakes are squeaky or don't work correctly, he'll fix 'em — and take half off the cost of the brake shoes and pads when you print out the coupon. He can repair almost any problem with any car — except maybe a Lamborghini — or refer you to the right alternative. And he can do it fast. For a regular oil change, Tony or one of his three co-workers will have you out in just 15 or 20 minutes. The cost is only $29.95. Most comforting of all, he's a mechanic you can trust. And that's about as easy to find in Miami as a needle in a snowbank. The shop is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; Saturday hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The rides are killer, but this is a limo company: You already knew it'd be rocking some sweet wheels. What makes Majestic Limousines a cut above the rest are the men and women who pilot those rides. Their kind, professional, and in-the-know demeanor makes these drivers perfect for handling grade-A celebrity clients (like Madonna, who they say they picked up during her last visit to the Magic City) or just you and your friends when a special event arises. Based in the breathtaking Biltmore Hotel, Majestic Limousines is ready and willing to escort you around town and even point out a few landmarks. Need a car for a wedding? Corporate or business event? Heading in or out of the airport? Just want to show off that big promotion or milestone birthday? Call for a free quote or check one of the special offers online. Cars are available in as little as one to two hours, and payments can be made conveniently online. Rides are made hourly or as directed in everything from a Lincoln Town Car to a Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac sedan, Suburban, or, of course, plenty of stretch limos. You can even go all out with a Hummer limo, but at that point, maybe just get the minibus. Hummers start at $175 per person per hour, and regular stretch limos come in at $95 per person per hour.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®