Best Of :: Shopping & Services
In cities such as San Francisco, almost every neighborhood has a boutique bakery with handmade breads and pastries cooked with top-quality ingredients. Houston has Kraftsmen. Walk over (if you live in Montrose) or drive in from Sugar Land. Either way, it's worth the trip if you value a great French baguette or boule crunchy on the outside, dense and moist in the middle or a croissant that's light, crisp and not too oily. The zucchini bread has a following, and the sticky buns are the tastiest use of day-old croissants that you're likely to find in Texas. Whether you eat in the springy interior or under an oak tree on the brick patio next to the branch library, you're apt to feel like staying for a while. Indeed, Kraftsmen draws a seasoned gaggle of lingerers foodies, ladies who lunch, students and celebrity-watchers looking out for the man in charge, Houston chef and Pic./Gravitas founder Scott Tycer.
There are few adulthood joys that compare to the childhood experience of walking into a Toys-R-Us. But walking into Spec's Liquor gives grown-ups that same feeling of wonder. You immediately find yourself running down the aisles going, "Oh, wow! I can't believe they have this stuff, too!" Wanna down some New Orleans Voodoo Lager that you never thought you'd find in Texas? Spec's has you covered. Need to impress snooty friends with a Scotch so fine it would make Dominique Sachse jealous? Check. Need to be romantic in a pinch and pick up a rare red wine from Oregon that your girlfriend loves? They've got your back. And this playground isn't just confined to the world of alcoholics. Cigar aficionados, cheese buffs and people who love to eat rare foods will all enjoy the libationary wonderland that is Spec's Liquor.
Although having something dry-cleaned sounds like it should be a straightforward task, it can sometimes be a horrific experience: You drop off your most expensive piece of clothing and it comes back destroyed, with a terse reminder of the cleaner's liability disclaimer. A former member of Faith No More once went so far as to purposefully puke all over his dry cleaner's counter after those folks ruined his favorite shirt. Fortunately, there's no need for puking at Montrose Dry Cleaners they're always happy to take your stuff, and they always manage to return it to you safe, clean and sound. As simple as that seems, it's woefully rare.
The company's Web site says the typical DSW store carries more than 30,000 pairs of shoes in more than 2,000 styles. Sounds about right. The two Houston locations are huge yet easy-to-navigate churches of footwear. They've got everything from dress shoes to flip-flops at prices that will make your wallet as happy as your feet. And the staff isn't pushy, so you'll never have salespeople on your heels while you test out that pair of Pumas. This is shoe-shopping made easy and affordable. That should soothe anybody's sole. (Sorry, we couldn't resist.)
That's right, Megaplexxx. With three Xs, you know you're getting the real deal. We're talking a purported 100,000 movies, eight private viewing rooms and nine 63-channel arcades. We're talking a cornucopia of porn a "pornucopia," if you will. They've got hot new releases, cheap used videos and classics, and there's always a good sale going on. You like amateur videos? They've got 'em. MILFs? Check. Tranny delight? You betcha. Interracial? Don't even get us started. Basically, if it's legal, it's for sale, along with a nice little selection of toys and lingerie. It's one-stop shopping! Fun for the whole family! Er, wait, scratch that...
Whodunit? Murder by the Book, that's who. The 26-year-old Inner Loop book nook has retained a loyal following despite the proliferation of enormous chains in its immediate neighborhood. Many patrons of the indie store are die-hard mystery fans who go to see and hear the parade of prestigious and up-and-coming mystery authors who give readings there several times a week. Some go in search of the stacks of signed first editions, the abundance of rare and collector books, the award-winning bimonthly magazine The Dead Beat or to attend the monthly mystery book club. Still others have been clued in to the genuinely good service and informed recommendations of its staff and have switched to reading mysteries as a matter of principle. It doesn't take a detective to see why Houston readers have made this place their favorite for decades.