Best Of 2006


Retail's rare breed

Nothing says "discriminating pet owner" like an Alaskan Klee Kai, a supernaturally handsome and intelligent dog breed limited to only a few hundred specimens throughout the globe. To adopt one, you need a lot of money, a few years of your life on a waiting list and the ability to meet a picky breeder's rigorous specifications. While you're toughing it out, enjoy the next best thing: Visits with Lupin, the gorgeous, personality-laden Klee Kai that often accompanies Steve Lewis to his Winter Park hipster emporium, Überbot. Lupin is a genuine animal lover's find — perhaps the only one of her breed living anywhere in Florida. But you'd hardly know it from the totally non-diva-ish way in which she howls out a greeting to recognized customers, accepts some gentle petting — remember, we said "some" and "gentle" — and then lets them indulge their inexplicable interest in all that other stuff on the shelves. You know, that stuff that's not her. Hmmmph.

(Überbot, Winter Park Village, 480 N. Orlando Ave., Suite 126, Winter Park; 407-788-8237;

Become a vegetarian, unexpectedly

One look at the chopped neck of a pinkish bird or the dilated eye of a dead fish, and anybody with a mind for aesthetics would grab a square of tofu with a scallion on it and run for the nearest huggable tree. There's a culture of offensiveness to outsiders in the Asian markets that proliferate in the so-called Little Saigon area of town; the shops are seemingly dedicated to the smell of dead fish and rotting carcasses. (Day-after bingers beware.) Dong A Imports & Market may be the best among them, but still, don't be surprised when you give your conscience a deserved vacation and toss your eating habits safely into the guiltless wrap of a spinach leaf.

(Dong A Imports & Market, 706 N. Mills Ave., Orlando; 407-894-6062)

(Dong A Imports & Market, 706 N. Mills Ave., Orlando; 407-894-6062)

Catch a rising (or falling) star

The relocation of Park Ave CDs (from tony Park Avenue to funky Corrine Drive) elicited many an indie-rock sigh. Scenesters moped through anemic angst at the prospect of Central Florida's best music store losing its religion among the barbershops of old Corrine. Not so! The bigger, better Park Ave CDs now boasts both wider aisle space to shake your hips through and a stage for in-store performances. Every day can be Rex Manning Day there — and frequently is. Live acoustic sets make being a music fan fun again, even when it's dreary Jared Leto pantomiming rock-star with his 30 Seconds to Mars outfit.

(Park Ave CDs, 2916 Corrine Drive, Orlando; 407-629-5293;


Best bartender

1st — Jeff at Back Booth

(37 W. Pine St., Orlando; 407-999-2570;

2nd — Dan Dyer at Crooked Bayou

(50 E. Central Blvd., Orlando; 407-839-5852;

3rd, tie:

Holly at Independent Bar

(70 N. Orange Ave., Orlando; 407-839-0457;

Kimmy at Big Daddy’s Roadhouse

(3001 Corrine Drive, Orlando; 407-644-2844;

Best liquor store

1st — ABC Fine Wines and Spirits

(multiple locations;

2nd — Wally’s — Mills Avenue Liquors

(1001 N. Mills Ave., Orlando; 407-896-6975)

3rd — Lee’s Liquor

(761 Orange Ave., Winter Park; 407-645-3395)

Best wine shop

1st — Eola Wine Company

(500 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, 407-481-9100; 136 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-9103;

2nd — Tim’s Wine Market

(1223 N. Orange Ave., Orlando; 407-895-9463;

3rd — Cavanaugh’s Fine Wines

(1215 Edgewater Drive, Orlando; 407-426-7510;

Best adult entertainment store

1st — Fairvilla Megastore

(1740 N. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando; 407-425-6005;

2nd — Premier Adult Factory Outlet

(5009 S. Orange Blossom Trail; 407-857-2050;

3rd — Dancers Royale

(5221 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando; 407-281-0120)

Best tattoo/piercing parlor

1st — Ascension Custom Dermagraphics

(2510 N. Orange Ave., Orlando; 407-898-2013;

2nd — Inkredible Ink

(1 S. Orange Ave., Orlando, 407-843-3666; 7215 International Drive, Orlando, 407-370-3101;

3rd — Chrome Lotus Tattoo

(9914 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando; 407-658-0554)

Best smoke shop

1st — Pipe Dreams

(multiple locations)

2nd — Purple Ringer

(1436 State Road 436, Casselberry; 407-767-7441)

3rd — G-Spot

(5618 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando; 407-306-8777)

Best bookstore

1st — Barnes & Noble

(multiple locations;

2nd — Borders

(multiple locations;

3rd — Urban Think

(625 E. Central Blvd., Orlando; 407-650-8004;

Best DVD/video store

1st — Stardust Video & Coffee

(1842 E. Winter Park Road, Orlando; 407-623-3393)

2nd — Blockbuster

(multiple locations;

3rd — Best Buy

(multiple locations;

Best comic book store

1st — Coliseum of Comics

(4722 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, 407-240-7882; Fashion Square Mall, 3201 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, 407-228-1210;

2nd — Bad Apple Comics

(8110 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando; 407-859-3422;

3rd — Überbot

(480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park; 407-788-8237;

Best video game store

1st — EB Games

(multiple locations;

2nd — Gamestop

(multiple locations;

3rd — Best Buy

(multiple locations;

Best vinyl records store

1st — Rock & Roll Heaven

(1814 N. Orange Ave., Orlando; 407-896-1952;

2nd — Park Ave CDs

(2916 Corrine Drive, Orlando, 407-629-5293; No. 102A, UCF Student Union, Orlando, 407-282-1616;

3rd — The Drop Shop

(2422 E. Robinson St., Orlando; 407-839-6050;

Best CD store

1st — Park Ave CDs

(2916 Corrine Drive, Orlando, 407-629-5293; No. 102A, UCF Student Union, Orlando, 407-282-1616;

2nd — Best Buy

(multiple locations;

3rd — CD Warehouse

(1560 E. State Road 436, Fern Park, 407-339-6005; 2525 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, 407-896-7015;

Best home furnishings store

1st — Living Quarters Fresh Furniture

(multiple locations;

2nd — American Signature Furniture

(multiple locations;

3rd — Ashley Furniture Home Store

(829 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando, 407-382-1505; 880 W. State Road 436, Altamonte Springs, 407-389-1860;

Best antiques shop

1st — Flo’s Attic

(1800 N. Orange Ave., Orlando; 407-895-1800)

2nd — Orange Tree Antiques Mall

(150 Lake Ave., Maitland, 407-622-0060; 853 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-4547)

3rd — Washburn Import

(1616 N. Orange Ave., Orlando; 407-228-4403)

Best farmers market

1st — Winter Park Farmers Market

(7 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, 200 W. New England Ave., Winter Park; 407-599-3358;

2nd — College Park Market

(no longer in business)

3rd — Sunday Eola Market

(9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at Lake Eola Park, Orlando; 321-689-2798;

Best health food store

1st — Whole Foods Market

(1989 Aloma Ave., Winter Park; 407-673-8788; stores/winterpark)

2nd — Chamberlin’s Market and Café

(multiple locations;

3rd — Economy Health Foods

(1035 Academy Drive, Altamonte Springs; 407-869-0000;

Best sunglasses store

1st — Sunglass Hut

(multiple locations;

2nd — Oakley

(multiple locations;

3rd — Solstice

(The Florida Mall, 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando; 407-812-1818;

Best vintage clothing store

1st — Dechoes

(multiple locations,

2nd — Orlando Vintage Clothing Company

(2117 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; 407-599-7225)

3rd — Deja Vu Vintage Clothing & Accessories

(1825 N. Orange Ave., Orlando; 407-898-3609)

Best thrift store

1st — Thriftko

(1442 State Road 436, Casselberry; 407-657-0082)

2nd — Goodwill

(multiple locations,

3rd — Salvation Army

(multiple locations;

Best hair salon

1st — Twist

(3708 Edgewater Drive, Orlando; 407-293-3950;

2nd, tie:


(2812 Edgewater Drive, Orlando; 407-650-8022)

Salon Ciseaux

(658 N. Wymore Road, Winter Park; 407-865-5881;

3rd, tie:


(1209 Park Lake St., Orlando; 407-895-5885)

Alta Moda

(411 E. Central Blvd., Orlando; 407-481-8883;

Best nails

1st — The Beauty Spot

(364 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; 407-772-4500)

2nd — Spa Nails

(3463 Edgewater Drive, Orlando; 407-999-2666)

3rd — Queen Nails

(multiple locations)

Best women’s fashion

1st — Zou Zou Boutique

(2 N. Summerlin Ave., Orlando; 407-843-3373;

2nd — AntiBabe: Body Attitudes by Jodi


3rd, tie:


(multiple locations,

Stein Mart

(multiple locations,

Best men’s fashion

1st — Urban Body

(12 N. Summerlin Ave., Orlando; 407-481-7979)

2nd — Express

(multiple locations,

3rd — Men’s Wearhouse

(multiple locations,

Best shoe store

1st — DSW Warehouse

(4021 Conroy Road, Orlando, 407-903-0832; 375 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs, 407-831-1152;

2nd — Payless Shoe Source

(multiple locations,

3rd — Nordstrom

(The Florida Mall, 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail; 407-888-7889;

Best skate shop

1st — Covert Skate Shop

(2428 E. Robinson St., Orlando; 407-228-0804;

2nd — Van’s Skatepark

(5220 International Drive, Orlando; 407-351-3881;

3rd — Galactic G

(334 E. Harvard St., Orlando; 407-895-0410;

Best surf shop

1st — Ron Jon Surf Shop

(5160 International Drive, Orlando; 407-481-2555;

2nd — University Surf & Skate

(multiple locations;

3rd — Quiet Flight Surf Shop

(6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando; 407-363-8000;

Best bicycle shop

1st — Orange Cycle

(2204 Edgewater Drive, Orlando; 407-422-5552;

2nd — David’s World Cycle

(multiple locations;

3rd — Loco Motion

(125 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; 407-629-2680; 1176 Jake St., Orlando; 407-898-6411;

The future is now

Are you among the lovers of modern furnishings who've been outnumbered by the chintz-and-cherubs crowd for far too long? Help is on the way. For more than three years, Design & Solutions in the China Glass Warehouse has been the place to find modern pieces from marquee names like Kartell and Artemide. Last year, interior-design firm Studio 3 Designs opened on Orange Avenue, causing any number of near-collisions by rubberneckers gawking at the gorgeous window display of Knoll-inspired seating and chartreuse laser-cut Tord Boontje lampshades. But this summer, form-follows-function folks on a budget can hit BoConcept, an international chain overflowing with flexible modular furniture that looks like a million but rings in somewhere closer to Crate and Barrel prices. For those on a tighter budget, there's an IKEA on the horizon, scheduled to open in July 2007 near the Mall at Millenia. On the wish list: an independent design shop along the lines of New York's Moss or Future Perfect to cover the accessories like tableware, lighting and objets.

(D&S, 62 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando, 407-843-0799; Studio 3 Designs, 1217 N. Orange Ave., Orlando, 407-895-0856; BoConcept, 464 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando, 407-281-6331,

Shop like a man

If you're a man (and research indicates that about 50 percent of you are), you know: Shopping sucks. But what if you could drink beer while doing it? You can, at Petty's Meats and Specialty Foods, where the keg's always tapped — as it should be. You'll also find a huge case full of beef, sausage, chicken, turkey and fish for the grill. Even the French cheese looks good after a couple of brews.

(Petty's Meats and Specialty Foods, 2141 W. State Road 434, Longwood; 407-862-0400;

Squid, veggies and banh mi, oh my!

For a decade, the Ly family has peddled its authentic Asian foods at its L&L Oriental Market on Sand Lake Road. About three years ago, they opened a second location — Super Oriental Market in the Vietnamese enclave on Colonial Drive. The store rivals the size of the nearby Publix, and the Lys claim to have "the largest selection of vegetarian food choices in the city." Come with an open mind to browse through no-frills aisles stocked with everything from fresh ginger to fresh octopus. There's something about the sound of poppy Vietnamese music that enlivens the shopping experience. Stop by the deli counter for a liver paté banh mi (similar to a sub sandwich) for $2, or enjoy roast duck or pork banh mi on the weekends. This is not your typical American grocery store.

(Super Oriental Market, 2100 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando; 407-898-6858)

Wrap that package!

You've worked all of your life to become more than a number, but there are times when blending back into a numeric code is exactly what the doctor ordered. Orange County Health Department's confidential HIV-testing services, offered in Room 218 of its downtown Central Boulevard location, strip your pesky nomenclature prior to asking you when the last time you had sex was and whether or not you swallowed. A painless blood sample is taken, followed by a painful couple of weeks of waiting, and then your personal code gets the answers it needs. What's more, a label-less brown bag of condoms is offered after your consultation, as if to say, "Go out and get 'em, number!"

(Orange County Central Health Clinic, 832 W. Central Blvd., Orlando; 407-836-2680;


It's necessary sometimes to leave a place to figure out just how much you love it. The Air Orlando Flight School at Orlando Executive Airport can teach intrepid travelers how to extricate themselves — for pleasure, business or otherwise — at a cost of approximately $9,000 ($7,300-$11,000, including books, exams, flight time and headset rental). Of course, you'll need to buy your own plane eventually, and gas prices aren't exactly flight-friendly these days. But who can put a price on freedom?

(Air Orlando Flight School, 319 N. Crystal Lake Drive, Orlando; 407-896-0721;

Threads on the cheap

Don't be daunted by shopping just a few doors down from the famous Ritzy Rags boutique, where a big man can happen upon a pair of size 14 red stilettos, if fancy strikes, or where victims of life-threatening illnesses can replace their tresses — but that's a whole 'nother story. Downtown Consignment's windows are full of fashion reruns for real women and men, and the prices are not quite a five-finger discount — but close. Spill something on your shirt at work? Stop in and walk out spotless, only a few coins lighter. Need a killer dress? No worries. Just fish around till you find one and hand over a 10-spot. Underpanties? Pennies. Shhhhh — not everyone is special enough to know that shopaholics unload their guilt here, so thrifty shoppers don't have to have any.

(Downtown Consignment, 934 N. Mills Ave., Orlando; 407-895-3434)

Keep a soldier in Iraq alert

Amp up our boys on caffeine donated through the Bad Ass Cup-o-Joe program. Nobody wants to make the troops in Iraq TOO jumpy (no itchy trigger fingers, please), but sometimes a decent cup of coffee is necessary to stay vigilant and clear-headed. According to Staff Sgt. Paul N. Whelan, adjutant for Marine Air Control Group 38, "You can't get a decent cup of coffee where we're stationed at. The local blends taste like dishwater or mud, depending on where you go. And it's too dangerous to stand in line for coffee from street vendors." If the corrupt war profiteers hired to supply our boys can't serve a solid brew in Iraq, who can? Well, YOU. Keep 'em wired.

(Bad Ass Coffee, 8554 International Drive, Orlando; 407-226-8673;

Good hair play

Need your locks changed and want something new? Try having a heterosexual Brit do you with a cut and color. Lee at the Alchemy Hair Salon is a refreshing break from the chichi stereotype, being from the same neck of Sherwood Forest as Robin Hood and all. He's as adorable as his accent, and insists upon putting the robe on you himself — nice touch! Fearless with the scissors, he likes to cycle about town and drink and travel and drink and listen to music and drink — with all kinds of people! And if and when you grow weary of each other, just move along to one of the other exceptional stylists who park their chairs inside this hair haven in College Park.

(The Alchemy Hair Salon, 2812 Edgewater Drive, Orlando; 407-650-8022)

Cool baby clothes

So you've reproduced — that doesn't mean you've suddenly lost your taste. Been disappointed, if not horrified, by the dreck infants are forced to wear? There's no reason that any new little bundle of joy can't look as cool as mommy or daddy. Coco Baby makes tiny screen-printed T-shirts and onesies that are as hip as any other limited-edition American Apparel garb, and they're locally made and sold by Evan and Maleah Webb (the same Maleah from Stardust and Alchemy fame)! Don't buy made-in-China crap when a superior local business is just waiting for support. And don't EVER dress that kid in pastel teddy bears if you want him to be as cool as his parents.

(Coco Baby;

Free manure replacement

Hey, gardeners: If you didn't get your compost at Monterey Mushroom Farm, you paid too much! Monterey, in Zellwood, gives away spent mushroom compost for free. They use it once to grow mushrooms, then it's yours. It's a wonderful soil additive for lawn and garden. Bring that pickup truck between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. any day of the week and fill it up with this steam-pasteurized mix of straw, hay, gypsum and protein meal.

(Monterey Mushroom Farm, 5949 Sadler Road, Zellwood; 407-905-4000;

Bathe in earthiness

Shop local, smell global with Orenda Herbal bath products. Sensitive skin needs tender loving care, so why douse it in petrolatum or rub methylparaben into those pores? Even for the Dove-and-water kind of girl, locally crafted herbal face and bath products are enticing — they smell good and look good. And, best of all, you'll feel good about dropping dollars in the community economy. Orenda Herbal's salt scrubs and milk baths, scented with organic jasmine, rosemary and chamomile oils, combat summer's stress on skin. Keep a spray bottle of the Lemon Refresh facial toner in the refrigerator for a luxurious spa experience in your own kitchen.

(Orenda Herbal; 407-595-3731;

Gleaming white porcelain!

It's a given: No one loves appliances more than the Asian guy in the Appliance Direct commercials. And for some folks, there's no better way to spend time than studying his jewels of cinematic commercialism. For these junkies, a fix of home hardware is available 24/7 via the online streaming versions of his performances. Stay on the edge of your seat wondering which one to watch. Will it be the girl in the green dress who hits the truck while screaming, "Same-day delivery!"? Will it be the infomercial-within-an-infomercial about the "butcher" who can't get bloodstains out of his clothes? It's an endless loop of porcelain fashions, and it's just a mouse-click away.


DUI guaranteed

Nothing goes together like drinking and driving! (No endorsement implied, mind you.) But convenience is key at the Chevron on Princeton Street, where fuel tanks of any sort can be filled and there's a choice of 140 different kinds of beer — more than most liquor stores! It's a handy stop for drinkers on their way to a party, and it's also handy for cops low on ticket quotas: Anyone stopping in for a party refill with a hint of hops already on his or her breath, or anyone with the bad judgment to actually crack one on the way out of the service station, is easy DUI pickings. Resist the temptation.

(Chevron, 300 E. Princeton St., Orlando; 407-897-7444)

Why stop at a rubber? Get a hose!

For a quarter-century, Amazon Hose & Rubber Co. has woven its gummy viscosity into the synthetic fabric of this city. It's a veritable playground for the industrially connected and irrigation superior. Rows and spools of daunting circulation tower over even the most (horti)cultured souls who dare to enter its warehouse, but a warm sense of history pulls it all together, winds it up and keeps it wet. Back in spring, Amazon hosted a concert right there in its warehouse: the Fish and Flowers Festival, all Christmas-lit with a punch bowl in the middle. (Insert rubber joke here.)

(Amazon Hose & Rubber Co., 1625 W. Princeton St., Orlando; 407-843-8190;

Feel fat and broke

Need a reason to beat yourself up about gaining a few pounds and spending too much on the power bill? Stand in front of the window at Tuni's boutique on Park Avenue and stare at the wispy fashions that cling to the curvaceous bodies of the mannequins, dripping with imaginary dollars. The colors are so "follow me." The looks are so "take-me-right-now." You have to have something beautiful, and you have to have it right now. Step inside, where the beautiful salesgirls can step and fetch OR give you a sniffy reality check: "We don't have ANYTHING in your size." That means your body OR your wallet. Walk away, giving yourself a stern admonishment: "How dare you eat AND have air-conditioning, sweaty pig!"

(Tuni's, 301 S. Park Ave., Winter Park; 407-628-1609)

Nice kicks

While life in this strip-mall haven can be tough for a true urban soul, one cosmopolitan pursuit comes easy here: hunting down the rarest limited-edition Nike, Adidas and Puma shoes. While New Yorkers pay through the nose at snooty temples of hip like Alife on Rivington, Orlandoan sneaker pimps need only head down to the outlets around International Drive. Throw a few elbows in the throng of British and Brazilian tourists — these places are usually mobbed — to score that elusive Air Rift, Rekord or Mostro at less-than-eBay prices.

(Adidas Retail Outlets, 4949 International Drive, Orlando, 407-352-3607; 5435 International Drive, Orlando, 407-351-1134; 8200 Vineland Ave., Orlando, 407-477-0473. Nike Factory Outlets, 5201 W. Oak Ridge Road, Orlando, 407-351-9400; 8200 Vineland Ave., Orlando, 407-239-3663. Puma Outlet Store, 8200 Vineland Ave., Orlando, 407-239-6211)

Abuse corporate freebies

Hungry, bored and broke? The popular Panera Bread chain routinely stocks up their samples bin with fresh asiago focaccia bread. To work their system, just show up with a Wi-Fi-configured laptop, set yourself up in a cozy corner and start the abuse. A whole day of news, e-mail and food can be had on the corporate dime.

(Panera Bread, multiple locations;