Best Florist 2016 | Sprout | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Courtesy of Sprout

Like every business in Wynwood, Sprout isn't simply a floral shop. It's an art gallery for Mother Nature's finest work. It's also a gathering space for the city's intelligentsia. And it's even a small coffee shop for those looking to linger. Owned by longtime local scenester Bianca Ruggeri and her mother Angelica, Sprout is more welcoming than most shops, with blooming flowers, greenery, and planters neatly arranged to make on-the-fly arrangements easy. Ruggeri or one of her assistants will help put together the perfect bouquet, whether it's for a love interest, a friend, or your mom. Begin by picking whatever flower catches your eye, and they'll select the ideal foliage to complement the blooms. The shop also has a solid selection of succulents if you're looking for something that will last longer but doesn't require an extraordinary ability to make plants grow well. But if you want to become a green thumb, Sprout also hosts workshops, such as learning to make your own terrarium or macramé designs. Or just relax with a $2.50 espresso and $4 vegan chocolate chip cookie while surrounded by a fresh-smelling scene of beautiful flowers.

A "shanty" by definition is a crudely built shack, but Shanty Shoes, though small, is far from shabby. Located in the heart of the Airport Convention Center, Shanty Shoes offers a range of affordable and fashionable shoes perfect for summertime — all priced to move a hell of a lot faster than the TSA lines just down the road. The styles here range from patent platform sandals to knee-high-wrapped stilettos; there are even orthopedic flats for abuelita. And the footwear will set you back only $20 to $25 depending upon the models. Shanty Shoes just opened in April and runs kiosks all over South Florida malls, including Westland Mall and International Mall, in case a trip to the airport isn't in your near future.

Photo by Tim Elfrink

Like priceless historic artifacts or mint-condition baseball cards, many of the rainbow array of sneakers lining the walls inside Sneak Attack are carefully protected from the elements with shrink-wrapped plastic. That's just how the customers at this stylish shop like it. "If I sell one on display, I'll be like, 'Yo, you want me to unwrap this?' and a lot of times they're like, "No, I'm not ever going to wear it,' " says store manager Al Elkerson. Sneak Attack is the brainchild of Miami native Nick Cortes, a sneakerhead collector himself who opened his shop just in time for Art Basel last year. His shop caters to aficionados who view kicks the way Basel patrons view Warhol prints. Sneak Attack concentrates on limited runs and collector editions and can special-order sizes in hard-to-get custom shoes. The shop is like a museum for serious footwear collectors, with everything from a sneaker that Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden signed for Jay Z to the one-off, gold-cleated shoes Derek Jeter was supposed to wear during his last game as a Yankee. (Jeter later chose to wear his regular cleats instead, but this special pair will still set you back $10,000 if you want it.) "Our customers are true collectors," Elkerson says.

Readers' choice: Sneak Attack

What do you look for in a getaway? Chances are, you'll seek out a lovely hotel complete with spacious accommodations, cozy bedding, a convivial lounge area where you can meet new friends and relax, and — vitally — plenty of good food. How about a spa with a masseuse and a gym? A salon for a little mani-pedi action? Some outdoor green space is always good for a stroll or just to relax in the sun. Guess what? Your dog just called and said, "Screw you. I don't want to sit in a cage at the vet's office. I want the same things you want. I need a break too." Before you check into that all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, book Fido at Pet Lounge Resort & Spa. Located in the hip MiMo District, Pet Lounge has all the things you want in a vacation — just doggie-style. A central lounge features several flat-screen TVs playing your pup's favorite shows (apparently dogs love SpongeBob). There are plenty of cozy beds and sofas for plopping down and napping in front of the telly. Your pup can hang there or in a private VIP suite, complete with beds and framed pictures of Paris and other world attractions. Don't forget to book your dog a pedicure or a massage (yes, on a real massage table). To burn off excess calories, there's an outdoor play area and even a canine treadmill. With rates starting at $25 per night, your pooch will have all the amenities of a five-star resort. Heck, a quick visit and you might want to cancel your cruise plans and join Fluffy for the week.

Courtesy of Dogtown

Binky is more than a dog. He's your adopted four-legged son. He's smart, he's funny, he's a great companion for walks or grabbing a beer. The only problem is that Binky smells really bad. Let's face it — dogs get dirty. Even the ones dressed in Chanel outfits still prefer to roll atop a dead squirrel or a steaming pile of crap. Plus they lick their butts. If your human friends did this, you would not allow them to share your bed. But Binky is so cute — and the bed is so large. What's a canine parent to do? The solution is a trip to Dogtown. This friendly Coconut Grove shop can tame even the scruffiest beast using organic shampoos and all-natural, chemical-free flea treatments. Dogtown also offers sedative-free teeth cleaning, so your pooch will remain smoochable — even after that lizard-eating incident. Grooming sessions start at $35 (and go up depending upon the size and breed) and include a cut, a bath, ear cleaning, nail clipping, and, yes, even an anal gland expression (does your salon do that for you?). After getting fresh, Binky can relax in a nice dog bed or roam cage-free while waiting for you. As you move in for the doggie hug, take a whiff of that minty breath and sweet-smelling fur. Your baby is bedtime snuggle-ready once again.

Remember how much better you felt when you kicked your greasy-fast-food habit to the curb? Well, now you can help your dog look, feel, and smell brand-new too. Most of the market for dog food uses ingredients rejected for human consumption (think hot-dog paste and then think even worse meat than that). Enter Farm Fresh Pet Food. Five years ago, a local couple started the company after getting their hands on some European dog food and realizing it was made from the real stuff — like actual meat and vegetables — instead of dehydrated mystery-meat paste. Their dogs noticed the difference, so they started selling the European stuff at farmers' markets while they learned how it was made. Then they began making their own products, always with a minimum 80 percent Grade A meat, mixed with veggies sourced from local farms when available. What you won't find in Farm Fresh's formula: preservatives, salt, fillers, corn, wheat, or soy. Recipes like chicken and rice, Duck 'n Spuds, and Liver Lover range from $4.50 to $7.50. You can find Farm Fresh for sale at area farmers' markets from North Miami to Homestead and direct from their website. The only risk of switching your dog to such fresh food: You may want to eat it too.

Ted Sanchez is not a people person — he's an animal person. In 1996, he founded Silver Bluff Animal Clinic, a humane and home-like environment for pets that he relates to an equine stable. Located on bustling SW 27th Avenue between Coral Way and U.S. 1, it has a tranquil back-door entrance surrounded by lush fauna that leads into a natural oasis. Everything about the space's design is intentionally suited to an animal's comfort. Canines will appreciate the wood floors under their paws instead of uninviting cold tiles. And Dr. Sanchez's affinity for animals is equally in sync. These are not just pets for him — they are living beings, deserving of the same respect and love we have for our human counterparts. Though this place isn't cheap — $60 for an initial exam and about $400 to spay a small dog — it's worth every penny.

Stroll into Libreri Mapou in the heart of Little Haiti on a Saturday night, and you'll hear the sounds of Port-au-Prince. It's Zetwal Kreyòl, a folkloric Haitian band led by Pierre Antoine Jules, rehearsing, with Jules strumming an acoustic guitar along with Willer Fils-Aimé (baritone), Alex Toussaint (bass/baritone), and Reimsky Toussaint (tenor). That's exactly what this iconic bookstore brings to Little Haiti — a vital link to the vibrant island whose cultural home in Miami is under ever-greater threat of gentrification. The beating heart of the bookstore is its founder, Jan Mapou, a Miami icon in his own right. Mapou came here after spending time in jail in the late '60s for defying Papa Doc Duvalier's orders against speaking Kreyol on the airwaves. As befits a man willing to do hard time to fight for his culture, Mapou has spent more than four decades in Miami celebrating Haitian culture by writing plays and poetry and running the art group Sosyete Koukouy. His Little Haiti bookstore remains one of the Magic City's most authentic bastions of literary freedom. In the front room, the shelves are always stocked with Kreyol- and English-language works related to Haitian culture and literature. Miami's own Edwidge Danticat's portfolio is available here. In an ever-changing Miami, Libreri Mapou keeps Haitian culture alive through stories rooted in unity and love.

Readers' choice: Books & Books

It's an odd thing to say in a sprawling metropolis of 2.5 million people, but it's all too easy to be alone in Miami-Dade County. Most of us spend our days shuttling from air-conditioned cubicle to hermetically sealed home via cars with windows rolled up, blocking out our fellow citizens. That's not the case on the Metromover. On the free rail loop around downtown, the magic of public transit happens — Miamian brushes shoulders with Miamian, sometimes even exchanging meaningful words and conversation. That kind of connection inspires another — a social media link to everyone else in the same city you suddenly remember you share. Just look at the number of Instagrams and Snapchats broadcast from the moving cars rolling tranquilly across downtown — all thanks to rapid-fire free Wi-Fi on the cars. Hop onboard, exchange smiles with an actual human being in your city, and share the link to the global network spreading the love. It's a beautiful link.

A major dilemma: Your hot, single co-worker never seems to notice you no matter how many times you bring by a cup of coffee or "accidentally" drop a stack of papers nearby. Sure, you could just directly ask for a date. But why not sweeten your chances first with a love potion from your local botanica? Flossie's has you covered. Here, you'll find a trove of spiritual oils, perfumes, crystals, books, candles, and incense. Since 1976, the store's namesake has been helping South Floridians find the solution to their problems and perhaps a bit of luck. Looking to dive into Afro-Caribbean spiritualism? Flossie's carries books about Shango, Oshun, Oya, and other topics. Need essential oils to awaken the senses? Flossie's will help you create the perfect mix for your needs. Whether you take it seriously by practicing Yoruba, Vodou, or Wicca to quickly free yourself from el mal de ojo or are just looking for a fun way to pass the time or an interesting keepsake, it's worth spending a few minutes with Flossie. Just remember — you still have to work up the courage to ask for that first date, even after your co-worker chugs that love potion.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®