Best Tea Room 2011 | TeaLicious Tea Room | People & Places | South Florida

The Chinese discovered it. The Japanese made it ceremonial. The Indians made it a latte. And the Brits, well, they took it over and made it seem like their idea. Typical. But it's merry old England we have to thank for afternoon tea as we know it. Probably the most perfect place in the world for a traditional cream tea is the Orangery in Kensington Palace at the west end of Hyde Park in the heart of London. Since that would require an eight-hour plane ride and an updated passport, TeaLicious Tea Room in Delray Beach is the next best thing. Patrons will find themselves in a perfect re-creation of a posh English parlor, free to reenact their favorite scene from a Jane Austen novel. Surrounded by porcelain and silver, vases of roses, and pastries piled three tiers high, diners can choose from a simple repast of tea and scone or a lavish spread of croquettes and finger sandwiches. Brits wouldn't consider getting through the day without stopping for a cuppa, and frankly neither should you. So reread a few chapters of Northanger Abbey, find something floral and flowy to wear, and treat yourself to the great Chinese/Japanese/Indian/British tradition that is tea.

Tabatha Mudra

A vast selection of varietals, wallet-friendly prices, an informed staff, and delicious catered eats — wine snobs don't expect anything less from a shop. At Wine Watch, proprietor Andrew Lampasone believes "you should have between three and five glasses of wine a day." In that case, we better get sipping. Good thing his shop features more than 3,000 wines, with tastings offered regularly. Sample a great-tasting weekday bottle, then procure a celebratory champagne from a few shelves away. Oh, did we mention that Wine Watch also offers an informative email listserve announcing upcoming winetastings and online shopping? Wine Watch, how helpful.

If, by some minor miracle of the market, the new outpost of Miami's noblest booksellers manages to flourish in its home at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, we'll all be better for it. Books & Books does bookstores right — all the coolest authors come and speak (Greil Marcus! Bernard-Henri Lévy!), all the coolest books are kept in stock (books by Nabokov that aren't Lolita or Pale Fire!), and the people who run the floors have the bookseller's aesthetic down pat. Of course, the outpost at the Museum is artcentric, but oh well. Fact is, we need some good bookstores in Lauderdale, and it doesn't really matter what kind they are. Downtown isn't known for its appreciation of life's finer things, but here's hoping Books & Books can help change that image with a new, literary crowd.

Like the miles and miles of our sun-drenched beaches, there are miles and miles of (seemingly) sun-drenched (flatironed) blond hair. But if you're not afraid of big, bold curls, then head to Donna Pascoe Salon. Curly girls — and lads — this is your new hair home. Aside from all the usual posh salon services and the fact that they've recently switched to organic products, Donna Pascoe has Katrina Rodriguez, curl specialist. She's a Color & Cut Deva Specialist trained at the Devachan salon in NYC. She's a curl educator, and she will not only teach your curls to behave but she'll teach you how to let them be free. So be brave. Put down the flatiron. (And walk away from the Sun-In.) Walk in to Donna Pascoe's, and let your curls be free.

Judge a building by its cover, sure. If you're in Dania Beach, taking a gander at the Design Center of the Americas is a must: It occupies 775,000 square feet. It turns colors at night, with shades of pink and yellow and green that light up the east side of I-95. This squarish white building is not a bank or a grand hotel. It's a campus — for trade design — the largest of its kind in the world. So you better believe you should get out of the car and explore what's beyond the front walls. The building is open to the public. You can meander throughout more than 100 showrooms. Yes, you got that right: somewhere around 150 rooms, displaying interior and designer showrooms. Folks spend a whole day inside this building — not just the internationally renowned designer suits trying to lock in clients, but those guys are there too. You're inside a giant swatch. Discover different types of flooring, lighting, window treatments, every style of furniture, every type of paint and fabric. This turns Rooms to Go into a yucky kiddie Fun Zone containing plastic tunnels and pits of balls with spit on them. Ikea, shucks, it's nothing but a Charlie Brown playpen.

A well-funded city library, the Delray Beach Public Library has all the usual modern media amenities in spades. There are quiet study rooms, large meeting rooms, and youth activities. There's ample free parking, a café, and row after row of shelves containing more than 250,000 books. There's free Wi-Fi throughout the building, with no pesky registration and login system, so even visitors and tourists can get on the web. But this library's main attraction, what it really has going for it, is the location. Two stories of airy openness and bright, sunny windows, the library sits smack in the middle of the growing downtown scene. After spending the morning at the green market, having some lunch on Atlantic, or even lounging on the beach, the library serves as a retreat; grab a book or a laptop, a cup of coffee, and watch the parade on the avenue go by.

One trip to the asbestos-laden, flooding, disorganized, corrupt, stinking, harrowing, overcrowded, labyrinthine, and depressing Broward Main Courthouse (if you can even manage to find a $10 parking spot) can sour one's very concept of justice. After this experience, a trip to West Palm's Shangri-la of law makes even the most hardened Browardian feel like he's arrived at God's golden door. Clerks are responsive. Records are easily accessible. And the place is almost... pretty. Keep that in mind when choosing a spot to commit a crime.

We're proud to give graduation announcements when it's for a plethora of brand-spanking-new drag queens. The nonprofit Drag It Out mentors, inspires, fundraises, and teaches the art of drag. After ten weeks of free workshops, coached by professional drag queens, these draglings learn how to walk in six-inch heels. They create personas. They get real tools on how to enter the professional drag world — like how to create a "super sweet stache." Many students attend the workshops for fun — to learn the art of drag — but once in costume, some alumnae want to perform. All proceeds of their shows go to the Pride Center at Equality Park, Animal Aid, and Safe Schools of South Florida — for what Drag It Out nicknames "the Kids, the Queers, and the Animals."

A cougar needs to hunt for young males, and the cubs are in need of some cash. (It's OK, cougars: Everyone agrees there's nothing wrong with being a sugar mama.) So, really, the natural location to find a cougar is Whole Foods. What young gent can easily afford a $15 bottle of jelly on his own? But to linger by the jellies would be uncouth for a cougar. She needs to be the lioness, royalty, even though she is wearing her yoga pants. Cougars need to be in the meat section. They sashay near the deli case. But they also need to smell good. Cougars need you to know that they do smell very good. Where the younger populace might leave it to Pantene Pro-V, the cougar goes exotic. That's what makes their prime hunting spot... the herbal soaps and shampoos area. She needs you little buckaroos to feel young, and you need your raw veggies and seeds to keep up your stamina. Rawr!

If you want to add dating and/or marrying above your income bracket to your résumé, Mizner Park is the glittery office park where you should be knocking on doors for an interview. The ostentatious nature of many of the downtown Boca visitors means it can be hard to determine who's truly loaded and who's just really good at playing — and looking — the part. Rest assured; there is gold that is ready and willing to be dug. Looking for an ice breaker? Offer to order up a bowl of San Pellegrino for the hairless dog peeking out of (and peeing into) her/his $6,000 handbag. Barring that, a bit of well-placed cleavage never seemed to hurt a candidate's prospects.

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