Best Tattoo Shop 2016 | Ocho Placas | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Karli Evans

Don't be surprised when mid-tattoo session at Ocho Placas, a neighbor drops by to hand out Cuban coffee for everyone in the room; that's just the type of vibe that emanates from this neighborhood shop in Little Havana. Fifteen years in and plenty of celebrity clients later (including Lil Wayne and Birdman), Ocho Placas is still affordable and faithful to its relaxed, artistic beginnings. Vibrantly crafted pieces line the walls as artists and customers bounce friendly banter back and forth — a nice distraction from the pain throbbing from the piercing tat gun. Though the shop is best known for its classic American work, thanks to an expansion — including a new second floor — in 2013, the eight resident artists and renowned out-of-town guests ink their indelible marks in all forms and styles. Owners John Vale and Javier Betancourt, who carry the torch from late founder Jose Carreras, are true artists. (Vale sings in local punk band Furious Dudes, while Betancourt recently launched the multimedia project This Is Meant to Hurt You, to "re-imagine subjects that have been traditionally maligned by polite society," such as tattoos and fetishism.) As one customer summed it up: Ocho Placas is "a quality tattoo place that puts the bullshit aside and outputs some great shit."

Readers' choice: Ocho Placas

With its picaresque, sailboat-dotted harbor and well-heeled residents, Coconut Grove is one of the last places in Dade you'd expect to find someone dangling from the ceiling by the metal hooks embedded in his flesh. Unless, of course, you walked into New Age Body Piercing. Established way back in 1998, the shop quickly became known as the best place to get pierced not only in the Grove but also in the whole city of Miami. Yes, they do your basic earrings, but creativity is encouraged at New Age, which has hosted suspension demonstrations where skilled participants hang from the ceiling by only hooks in their skin. But even if you're not that extreme, New Age will welcome you with open arms. The shop doesn't list prices (and in fact won't discuss them over the phone), but they're competitive. Safety and hygiene come first. Fun and hospitality are a close second.

Photo by Carolina del Busto

Leather handbags, elegant jumpsuits, handmade jewelry, affordable prices. No, these aren't the building blocks of a fashionista's fever dream. They're the core business of Earthy Chic Boutique. This Design District clothing and jewelry shop officially opened its doors in October 2015, but the boutique — the vision of two Miami gals, Eileen Perez-Carrion and Priscilla Reyes — has been in the making for more than five years. Perez-Carrion and Reyes got their start selling handmade jewelry at local events and markets, including Wynwood Art Walk and the Sunday Market at Mary Brickell Village, as well as on their online store. During that time, they also caught the attention of People StyleWatch, E! Online, and Life & Style magazine, among other fashion, entertainment, and lifestyle tastemakers. But their goal, as Perez-Carrion told New Times, "was always to have our own brick-and-mortar store, as well as online," a dream that finally came true less than a year ago. Aside from selling their own line of Earthy Chic jewelry (whose pieces are crafted in sterling silver and other materials), the ladies also sell items from local brands, including swimsuits by Palm d'Or Swimwear and pants, dresses, and other pieces by Australian designers Stylestalker and Quay Australia. And with tops around $50 and maxidresses from less than $100 to select tassel necklaces starting at $36, being fashionable doesn't have to come with a heavy price tag.

Readers' choice: Emporium

Courtesy of CA Modern Home

The trademark exterior style of Miami Beach homes is undoubtedly historic art deco, but on the inside the aesthetic is much more modern. Think bright colors, bold materials, and sleek but sensuous lines. Think serving mojitos at a sleek white Knoll dining table surrounded by Philippe Starck's famous transparent ghost chairs for Kartell, Russian models curling up on a bright-orange BluDot sofa, and hanging your bikini to dry on one of those brightly colored Eames coat racks. That's just South Beach style. Pretty much everyone in the neighborhood designs their condos like the interior of a boutique hotel lobby. But where to get furniture like that without having to go through the hassle of crossing a causeway? Well, at CA Modern Home, of course. Owned by Miami Beach native Jesse Brody (a furniture designer in his own right), the store is constantly stocked and expertly curated with some of the finest design objects from the past 60 years that will fit perfectly into almost any SoBe abode. Pieces can get pricey — a sleek Aron extendable dining table will set you back a cool $5,404, while an über-hip Alcove high-back two-seater runs $10,410. But the place also stocks all sorts of home accoutrements, from kitchenware to pillows, that are difficult to resist on any budget.

Courtesy of Chernaya Bridal House

Browsing for wedding wear is to normal shopping what a John Woo shootout is to a stoic documentary about a gunfight. If there were an army of cameras to follow you in super-slow-motion with a swelling dramatic orchestra punctuating every encounter with an inattentive salesperson and hideous dress, that wouldn't be so far from how the experience feels. The climax of your personal gown-shopping action blockbuster, though, comes as you walk through the glass doors into Chernaya Bridal House, a swank shop in the fashionable heart of the Design District. Chernaya is located just across the street from the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the location doesn't feel like an accident. Immaculately designed dresses from international names like Marchesa, Elie Saab, and Alon Livne hang under spotlights along the wall like priceless sculptures in a modernist museum. Shoes are framed in glass cases like Picassos in a stark gallery. Chernaya holds regular trunk shows that are the matrimonial wear equivalent of big-name art debuts. Yes, you'll pay a premium for these luxury brands, but again — this is your wedding we're talking about. Kick those slow-mo cameras into gear and get dramatic. You've earned it.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®