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Best Of 2009

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Reason to TGIF

You are a cubicle soldier, bravely battling work's demons for five long days each week. By Friday, you've slain the dangerous busywork dragon down to a mound of ash while retaining a jovial demeanor, and your energy is depleted. This is the day you receive your grand reward: The pies have arrived. The most delectable treats in Broward aren't found in Las Olas' rows of swanky eateries. They are ordered through the charming website of Miami's own self-taught pastry diva, Alex Van Clief. Her fruit-filled empire, Purple Pie Co., started through the basic properties of supply and demand. She would bake pies and bring them to dinner parties, but soon everyone wanted one... or three. Before long, a business grew. Once you consume her adorably packaged and deliciously crafted edibles, you quickly understand the phenomenon. Her crusts are doughy and crispy and laced with cinnamon, sugar, and other necessary comfort spices. And her seasonal varieties of fillings — pecan, blueberry, and apple — are untouchably delicious. Alex makes each pie with a renegade crafter's twist; she'll add alphabet dough messages on the top upon request. So birthday greetings, inside jokes, or just a triumphant "hang in there" can all be yours for the cost of a pie, which ranges from $15 to $20. Having a gals' night? Get a six-pack of individual pies baked in teeny-tiny Mason jars, topped with purple-and-white checkered fabric. The 20 bucks spent is well worth the reward. Order them early in the week (48 hours' notice is required) and then snag them at Pink Ghost each Friday. After five grueling days of being shackled to the office vending machine, you'll finally indulge in the brass ring of desserts. You've earned it, Little Soldier.

Best Adult Video Store
Tropixxx Video

In better economic times, you shopped differently. You felt quality transcended quantity. Nowhere else was this more apparent than at your local adult video store. It was there, in that high-ceilinged, well-lit den of sin that you slapped wads of dead presidents on the counter in exchange for Debbie's misadventures in Texas, Marilyn Chambers' cultish crossover, and, of course, the musing romps of Bimbo Cheerleaders From Outer Space. But now might be the time to explore the bargain bin at Tropixxx. More a fetish graveyard than a fertile garden of potential climax, this collection of castaways is priced in a way befitting our current recession. Five dollars will get you (VHS) videos of feet squishing ground beef, feet squishing green Jell-O, or even feet squishing mashed potatoes. Now, a smart shopper appreciates bargains, and because you are the smartest shopper around, you'll stash these treasures away like a perverted squirrel waiting for winter and give them out next holiday season to your nearest and dearest. Imagine the joy they'll get unwrapping that $3 copy of Tijuana Madness; it might not be high-brow, but the price is right, and in these tough times, that alone is pretty damned sexy.

1514 Northeast Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 33304
MAP
954-522-5988
Best Body Shop
Chassis Master

If you’re unlucky enough to need one of the body shop services, it’s tough to weed out the fly-by-nights from the real pros. Chassis Master is definitely one of the latter. Staffers are superpolite, they know how to handle insurance companies, and most important, they’re superb craftsmen who can turn a crumpled wreck into a work of beautifully contoured art, often making it look better than it was before the accident. And they might just save their recession-beaten customers a few bucks on having to buy a new car.

2400 Southwest 60th Terrace, Miramar, 33023
MAP
954-985-0900
Best Boutique
Jezebel

Dear Diary,

First off, I'm sorry I haven't written in so long — I just haven't found anything really juicy and crush-worthy to share until today. I was wandering along, underwhelmed by my shopping options, certain that I would never open my heart again, and that's when it winked at me. Jezebel. With its pink trim and dazzling window display, it drew me in like a tractor beam. I've always heard that's how love happens, but I never thought it would happen to me. If I could, I would marry the shop, move it into my home, and merge assets. It understands me. Upon first fondle, I found racks and racks of adorable vintage dresses, negligees, and skirts. Boxes were stacked high and filled with '50s gloves and embroidered hankies. And if I discuss the collection of candles, home goods, and shiny things, I might just break down with emotion. I took home mementos of our first date: Now my scrapbook is filled with bacon Band-Aids and pictures of my new, ultrafeminine wardrobe. Jezebel assured me that it's been awaiting my arrival for more than 20 years, and now that we've connected, I'm never letting it get away. I'm no longer seeing other boutiques. My wallet is off the market. I promise to write soon!

Me.

1980 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33304
MAP
954-761-7881
Best Café to Boycott
Starbucks in Wilton Manors

Less than four years ago, this Starbucks opened between two locally owned and vastly superior coffee shops — Stork's and Java Boys. Since then, the corporate storefront has been competing for one-third or more of Wilton Manors' coffee dollars and waiting for the competition to fold. Before Starbucks, the property housed a charming little café that served a perfect salmon Florentine breakfast and good booze at night. And before that, it was home to another neat breakfast joint, Health Nuts Cafe, and two pubs (one English, one Irish). All of these places enhanced the neighborhood and helped make Wilton Manors the quirky, lovable town it is today. By feeding our dollars to the wholly unnecessary Wilton Manors Starbucks, we help make this town more bland, more like every place else. So stop spending money there. Right now.

1015 NE 26th St., Wilton Manors, 33305
MAP
954-566-1304
Best Cheap Thrill
Intoxiskate at Gold Coast Roller Rink

Remember the old-school brown skates from your childhood days at the roller rink? Recall the disco ball and the Moonlight Skate? Remember how they always trucked in cases of beer and liquor... Hey, wait a second! That nifty little addition has only been part of the skating experience since the Intoxiskate party launched under the radar a couple of years ago. A $5 entry fee (and $2 skate rental) gets you six hours (!) of rink time, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. And games at 11! But wait! That's not all! The weekly party is fun enough, but in a spectacular bonus that could be matched only by a set of Ginsu knives, the peeps behind Intoxiskate kick things up a notch with a themed blowout once a month. For Saint Patrick's Day in March, there was a Beer Pong tournament; in April, the cause célèbre was Underwear Night. (Yes, it is what you're thinking: Sexy people. In hot pants. On wheels.) The most remarkable part of all this? Organizers report that even with partygoers fueled by vodka and Hokey Pokey, injuries are no more frequent than your average, sober roller-skating casualty rate. Amazing!

2604 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 33316
MAP
954-523-6783
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Best Reason to TGIF: Delivery Day from Purple Pie Co. at Pink Ghost

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