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  • Personal Best

    Amanda Magnetta-Ottati

    For years, Amanda Magnetta-Ottati helped her husband Tate run Tate's Comics, but it wasn't until the couple decided to expand the popular comic book store this year that she quit her steady gig in advertising. Magnetta-Ottati now runs an eclectic hideaway, Bear and Bird, in the store's loft space. Call it an alternative art gallery. "Something that's been sorely lacking… More >>
  • Best Computer Repair Store

    Take a Byte - CLOSED

    Yes, that's a huge glass case filled with toothpicks mounted on the east wall of the Take a Byte showroom in downtown Hollywood. To answer your next question, there are exactly 1 million of them. As to the questions of why someone collected them and who that someone is, let's all agree not to ask, OK? You may not want… More >>
  • Best Pawn Shop

    Casino Pawn & Jewelry - CLOSED

    You can hock Granddaddy's watch in any old shop, but rare are the pawn shops where a fellow can pawn in bulk. Like his helicopter. Or his bulldozer. They buy it all at Casino Pawn & Jewelry, located across Stirling Road from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino — a short stroll for the inveterate gamblers among us. Buyers… More >>
  • Best Health Food Store

    Simply Natural

    Any health-food store can sell stuff that claims to be good for you. But go to the counter at Simply Natural and you're liable to find Richard or Shahrooz, the husband-and-wife owners who have been known to offer free meditation classes, free guest lecturers, and even free samples of vegan foods. They can draw upon their vast expertise on all… More >>
  • Best Stencils

    BlackBooks Stencils

    So there's this guy, Books. He won't say his real name. He does some graffiti, but he can't talk about that either because, you know, it's illegal. He and his business partner, Dr. Black (don't ask him his real name either), have taken stencil to an artistic level. Remember stencils from grade school? These ain't them. Books and Black have… More >>
  • Best Place to Game

    Sub Zero Games

    Sub Zero Gaming Center is a mix of Internet café and video arcade, with a twist of home gaming. It's got all the comforts of gaming at home (a snack bar, comfy chairs, individual glass desks, and headsets) without the solitude. The Greenacres joint has 17 computers equipped with 19-inch LCD gaming monitors and a half-dozen console stations, all connected… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    Kids-n-Science

    Babies are stupid. Many of them can't even talk. So they're in no position to complain if all their toys serve some ulterior parental motive, like education. Rather than letting the TV set play babysitter, pop in Brainy Baby, the DVD that teaches junior how to access his right brain (for creativity) and then his left (for logic). As the… More >>
  • Best Gift Shop

    Sticks and Stones

    So you need to buy some turquoise jewelry created by local craftsmen, pick up a chunk of petrified dinosaur dung, and relieve that pesky itch via a holistic earwax-removal candle, but you don't have time to run all over town. Lucky for you, the Hollywood Beach Resort has just the one-stop shopping mecca you seek. Walk into the giant building's… More >>
  • Best Signature Gift

    Rose Vine Winery

    Thanks to the enterprising folks over at Rose Vine Winery, you can now do in a Federal Highway shopping plaza what it took Robert Mondavi acres and acres of expensive Napa Valley real estate to do: make your own wine. First, a winemaking specialist lets you sample a range of flavors and explains concepts like fermentation, clarification, and aeration. Do… More >>
  • Best Housewares

    Jezebel

    Over the past 20 years, this boutique has evolved from humble roots: It started as the Stock Exchange in Wilton Manors, a tiny closet of a shop jam-packed full of vintage textile treasures. Now (and for the past 16 or so years), it calls the Gateway Plaza home and has expanded its inventory to include every adorable shiny trinket you… More >>
  • Best Leather

    Minimalista Inc.

    We all know that the softest, most sublime, and supple leather comes from Italy. Whether it's shoes, a jacket, skirt, pants, or even chaps, the Italians can make even the most loyal vegans want to wear it. And at Minimalista Furniture in the Gateway Shopping Plaza — where Sunrise Boulevard and Federal Highway converge/diverge — you'll want to strip off… More >>
  • Best Mechanic

    Rothe's

    He could have said it was the flux capacitor, and sadly, I wouldn't have known the difference. So you can imagine my surprise when the vehicle that I had nervously abandoned only 15 minutes earlier was already prepped for surgery, diagnosed, and broken down into words that even I understood. Nick said the "scary gasoline smell" that needed to be… More >>
  • Best Motorcycle Shop

    Competition Cycle Center

    Outside Competition Cycle Center, a hulking doorman sits on a chair, his vest appliquéd with rock 'n' roll patches and an embroidered outline of a middle finger. Inside, rows of gladiator-style body armor hang from waterfall racks like a daredevil army. Across from them, a weathered man in sun-faded denim and a beard worthy of a ZZ Top roadie examines… More >>
  • Best Nursery

    Flamingo Road Nursery

    For a place with sand instead of soil, South Florida's got some persistent native plants. And if the long drive west on Griffin Road is any indication, there's no shortage of businesses that want to sell those plants to you. But the question you have to ask yourself is: "What kind of Eden do I want my yard to be?"… More >>
  • Best Pet Store

    Chippy the Pirate

    To get voted Best Pet Store, a place has gotta have pizzazz! It needs spunk, it needs that certain something that really puts it over the edge, it needs (drum roll here) "Parrotphernalia." Yes, that's right. Chippy the Pirate is as authentic to Florida as margarita lunch breaks, because at Chippy the Pirate, you can pick up any number of… More >>
  • Best Place for Musicians

    Alpha Kinetix

    Musicians know that one of life's greatest pleasures is to plug in and turn on an amplifier: The hum as it warms up, a familiar sound promising future tones and harmonics served up loud. Knowing that she has a willing slave, the glowing red beacon of an LED bulb beckons the musician on. But she's a cruel mistress, that power-driven… More >>
  • Best Dollar Store

    99 Cents Stuff

    This Deerfield Beach discount store, between a Pier One outlet store and Costume World, is one of about a dozen in a locally owned chain. If the little girl in you can resist the pink plastic "Fancy & Cutie" comb-and-mirror set, perhaps the grown-up you could use the TGI Friday's hurricane glasses or a pack of three shower caps featuring… More >>
  • Best Vintage Store

    House of Vintage

    As Gen Xers age, they take their love of thrift-store scavenging with them. The only difference now is that nobody has the time to dig through rack after rack of hideous garments to find the real treasures: sexy '50s hot pants, girly '60s swing coats, or coy '20s sheers. Time is too precious a commodity to run all over town,… More >>
  • Best Place to Donate Your Clothes

    Covenant House Florida

    Covenant House Florida has helped thousands of displaced kids each year since opening in 1985. The Fort Lauderdale Beach crisis shelter is famous throughout SoFla for its open-intake policy, which provides food and shelter to youth with no place else to go, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These kids have recently been kicked out of their homes… More >>
  • Best Shoe Shop

    $9.99 Shoe Warehouse - CLOSED

    Click your heels together three times and say, "I want to go to the $9.99 Shoe Warehouse." Once you've made it to this bonanza of delight for the feet, you'll find ruby red slippers and more. Got a hard-to-match outfit of orange, lime green, purple, or electric blue? No worries — there's a strappy sandal, mule, or pump here for… More >>
  • Best Boutique

    Bear and Bird

    Inside the Lauderhill staple Tate's Comics, girls jog up a sturdy wooden stairway to a living-room-sized wooden loft where a metal sign on the wallpapered perimeter reads: "Bear and Bird." The space radiates vibes of being part boutique, part girly clubhouse. Toward the front, sterling-silver necklaces dangle in two vintage armoires. In another corner, plush jester-colored couches form a nook… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    Tate's Comics

    When Tate Ottati opened his comic book store, he wanted it to be an alternative to the cutthroat, high-priced comic book retailers in town. The then-17-year-old high-schooler used money he'd invested in Marvel stock to buy the place. Now, almost 15 years later, Tate's has become the one-stop shop for a person's comic book needs, already winning the honor of… More >>
  • Best Record/CD Store

    Backbone Music

    Who the hell would want to open a record store in the Age of the Digital Download? It's pure masochism. At least, that's what everyone told Backbone Music's Nunzio and Rafael Esposito before they opened the place in late 2005. But they didn't listen, and you can thank the vinyl gods for that. Backbone is one of the few joints… More >>
  • Best Sex Toys Shop

    Hustler Hollywood

    Before the advent of Larry Flynt's 17,000-square-foot porn emporium, local sex freaks had to slum it. Try as they might, local triple-X video joints never shake their sketchiness. They may claim to be couples-friendly, but there's always a supercreepy dude behind the counter or shady characters pawing through the bargain bin. Worse, those cheap vibrators they sell are notorious for… More >>
  • Best Adult DVD/Video Store

    Rio Vista (This Is It)

    Have you ever wanted a sandwich, a bottle of wine, a seven-inch dildo, and some beef jerky all at once? If so, then Rio Vista in southern Fort Lauderdale was designed exactly for you. This well-stocked porno/convenience store has all the goodies of a 7-Eleven but with a sex-toy department in the back. Butt plugs and gangbang videos are in… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Crown Wine and Spirits

    Perhaps the crown jewel of the Crown franchise, this exquisitely well-stocked pantry at the corner of Yacht Captain Row and Cruise Ship Lane caters to those with a need for the finer things in life. Landlubbers and regular wage slaves come in and gawk at the kind of victuals a real-life Thurston J. Howell III would bring along for a… More >>
  • Best Salon

    Tease

    It looks like an airy loft apartment and is so smartly urbane that forward-thinking stylists like Gina Zompa won't let you settle for just a trim if what you really need is a re-'do. Even if you've got perfectly long, straight, blond locks or fabulous cork-screw curls waving throughout your strawberry-blonde mane, owners Luann and Andrew Alorro and their half-dozen… More >>
  • Best Discount Beauty Supply Store

    Fantastic Beauty Supplies

    Forget about leaving here without spending at least $20. If you have a nail-polish fetish so severe that the vast subtle difference in pink from "Ballet Slippers" to "Sugar Daddy" means that you have to buy them both, then this warehouse-in-a-strip-mall is your mecca. You've got $7-a-bottle access to the full lines and most current seasonal offerings from OPI, Essie,… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Blue Rinse

    Artistic Expressions by Riviera In Athena's Salon & Spa

    Women used to be so striking. Look at Billie Holliday's pin curls, held taut with gardenias. Or Lucille Ball's slicked-up, lacquered-down poodle cut. There were soda-can bouffants, beehives woven into architectural wonders, and, of course, more sexy, bad girl, and rockabilly up-dos than you can wag your wrench at. So, when did things get so... flat? Well, for Riviera DeCordova,… More >>
  • Best Massage

    ManKind

    Men aren't always that comfortable pampering themselves. Most guys are more likely to buy spa packages for their spouses than expect one as a gift for themselves. Theories abound on why that is, but it's important for certain male-only day spas like ManKind in downtown Fort Lauderdale to pick up the slack for this underserved demographic. Let the name say… More >>
  • Best Skate Shop

    Surf World

    Don't let the name fool you. At Surf World, you'll find supplies for everything you can do in South Florida that requires putting both feet on some sort of board and holding your body in balance while moving. In the back of both of these Broward County locations, past that hollow black $1,049 Lost surfboard, is an entire array of… More >>
  • Best Gym

    The Athletic Club at Weston

    At about $115 a month, the Midtown Athletic Club in Weston is about triple the cost of Gold's Gym or L.A. Fitness. But those other places don't have 25 tennis courts, three pools, and classes on how to dance the zumba. Bring CDs and DVDs to play while you're burning calories on the elliptical trainer, bike, or treadmill, each of… More >>
  • Best Dive Shop

    The Scuba Club

    It's advertised as "a country club for scuba divers" and, less humbly, "the best damn facility on the planet since 1972." Those claims are hard to argue with, because the Scuba Club has everything you need, from wetsuits and regulators (for rent or sale at the pro shop) to a classroom (basic certification costs $250 and includes five dives) to… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Riverland Hardware

    American hardware stores bore witness to three distinct evolutionary stages: First came the mom-and-pop epoch, where a kindly soul would take you by the hand down dusty aisles to find exactly the eyehook or hose bib you'd been searching for. Next came the Ace/TrueValue era, which began to outshine small family-run stores with their bright fluorescents and abundantly organized overstock.… More >>
  • Best Cheap Thrill in Broward

    Beer Pong at the Cloud Nine Lounge

    Much like the National Beer Pong League and the American Beer Pong Association of America, the Cloud Nine takes its beer pong seriously. Not only does the bar have its own custom-built plywood competition tables, house rules, and referees; it knows how to draw hardcore "athletes" — with weekly $150 prizes leading up to the May championship (which comes with… More >>
  • Best Cheap Thrill in Palm Beach

    Driving as Fast as You Can

    Everyone knows there isn't a legitimately cheap thrill to be found in money-mad Palm Beach County, so we decided to focus more on the thrill aspect of this award. And what could be more thrilling than driving your car as fast as you damned well please? Although you can achieve this cheaply on the highway if you so desire, there's… More >>
  • Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill

    Gotham Dream Cars

    At press time, luxury car-rental shop Gotham Dream Cars had seven shiny machines in its fleet: a Lamborghini Murcielago with scissor doors ("as loud and as screaming a car — visually and acoustically — as you can get," according to the company owner, 28-year-old Noah Lehmann-Haupt), a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder ("the baby Lambo"), a Ferrari 360 Spyder ("a classic"), a… More >>
  • Best Place to Purchase the Florida Dream

    Spyke's Grove

    They came for the spot of subtropical sand with an orange tree in the backyard. That's the way Florida was built: countless bungalows on drained swamp with fresh citrus at near arm's reach. Then came the canker scare and the state's disastrous killing spree, wherein the dream was turned into a horror show of arboreal carnage. That unfathomable, shameful, and… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    Stevie Moon

    When you show up for your appointment with Stevie Moon or his cohort, Todd K., you realize one thing the moment you step inside the new, cathedral-ceilinged studio: You are not about to get beaten up. This may seem like an obvious point, but it's not. Most tattoo parlors are fetid swamps of masculine aggression, where the artists and the… More >>
  • Best Cigar Bar

    Macabi Smoke and Beanery

    We may have been in a port-wine-induced haze, but we could have sworn that Macabi's has something that so many modern establishments lack: an aura. It wasn't just a cloud of delicious cigar smoke. We recall dim lighting, a couch in the corner, and endearing piles of clutter behind the bar. There were chatty businessmen with shirtsleeves rolled up and… More >>

Best of Award Graphics

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