Best Wine Store 2015 | Buena Vista Chocolate & Wine | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

The French know romance. They also know chocolat et vin. So it was entirely à propos when Frenchmen and restaurateurs Cory Finot and Claude Postel, the duo that's also behind Buena Vista Deli and Buena Vista Bistro, opened Buena Vista Chocolate & Wine in 2013. This NE Second Avenue shop's bonbon cases are filled with saffron-infused and merengue-topped chocolates made according to ancient family recipes inherited from Postel's ancestors, who once crafted candy for the kings and queens of France. However, it is the 100 or so bouteilles de vin lining the store's shelves that les ivrognes chics would call dessert. Some shoppers might complain about the limited selection, but Finot and Postel have conscientiously created a collection of fine French and American wines — Bordeaux, Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blancs, champagnes — for either after-work sipping, dinnertime drinking, or pairing avec les chocolats. And unlike a lot of other booze boutiques, Buena Vista has decent prices. Get a bottle a day starting at $10 or quelque chose de spécial for $400. Oh, and Buena Vista Chocolate & Wine is open late, till just two hours before minuit. You know, in case of an unexpected rendezvous romantique.

Hall and Oates. Guava paste and pastelitos. Little Havana and cigars. Some pairs are just natural. All it takes is a quick cruise on SW Eighth Street to see why that last marriage has been so enduring, and nowhere is the love affair more evident than at Top Cigars. Here, the wooden shelves are lined bottom to top with boxes of rolled tobacco — whether you're into maduros or claros or prefer toro over robusto, Top Cigars has options for days. Next to the storefront window stands a domino table whose every seat is occupied by someone clacking down tiles while rolling fresh stogies. Ah, it smells and sounds like home. The average cigar costs about $10, and if paying in cash, you can usually negotiate a deal.

Readers' choice: Little Havana Cigar Factory

You've socked away some money and rebuilt your credit after spending like Paris Hilton on a bender in your younger days. You've even decided Miami is where you want to put down roots. Congratulations — you're officially a grownup. So prove it. Buy a house. Here's the catch: The rest of the world is also looking, and many of these people have a cool million in cash. Foreign buyers have driven up the cost of housing in Miami. This has made the Beach impossible, Coconut Grove impenetrable, and Brickell laughable (that's the bank laughing — not you — when you tell them you want a mortgage on a $500,000 one-bedroom on your $40,000 salary). Are your dreams of house parties and gardening shattered forever? Should you move to (gasp) Broward? There is one option: El Portal. This tiny village that covers a canopied swath of land from 85th to 90th Street just west of Biscayne Boulevard has a history that dates back to the 1500s (yes, the 1500s!) and was incorporated in 1937. Lush with 75-year-old oak trees and native plants, the town has about a thousand single-family houses and bungalows. There's a nature trail, a Tequesta Indian mound, and peacocks. Chances are you'll share your backyard with butterflies, blue jays, and raccoons. In the evening, a walk through the Sherwood Forest section is accompanied by a chorus of frogs, geckos, and night birds. It's just like Coconut Grove — without the astounding price tag. The current average sold home price is $323,557, according to That means you can get a house for the price of a condo in other parts of Miami. Add the fact that the neighboring MiMo District is on an upswing, with restaurants like the Vagabond and Loba opening and Phuc Yea moving in, and you have a home you can afford in a neighborhood on the way up. Don't thank us for the real-estate tip. Just invite us to the housewarming party.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®