Best of Houston®

Best Of 2013

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Liquor Store
Spec's Midtown
Jeff Balke

In the world of liquor stores, Spec's is the undisputed king in Houston. And the featured jewel in the crown is the company's Midtown location, which can be described as a wonderland full of beer, spirits, cigars and specialty foods. Every aspect of this store is top-shelf, with low-priced selections of your favorite tequilas and whiskeys; specialty beers such as Saint Arnold Divine Reserve; and those high-end bottles that you only see in rap-music videos. The staff is always available and friendly, and if by some remote chance they're out of what you need, no worry; they'll find it for you at one of their 70 other locations.

2410 Smith St., Houston, 77002
MAP
713-526-8787
Best Vintage Clothing
Replay on 19th

What to say about Replay, the 19th Street Heights vintage boutique run by Laura Levine and "Crazy Mike" Hildebrand? It's simply the best vintage store in town and has been for years. It would be better to clue you in on how to shop at Replay in order to find the best deals. Follow them on Facebook, where they often post photos of their hauls and special discounts. Attend the numerous parties the staff throws, whether it's a street fest like Lights in the Heights or an art gathering with a DJ and photographer ready to catch you in those vintage duds. Looking for something specific, like, say, a vintage dirndl? Call the store and ask if they've seen any lately. If they have, they'll let you know, and even set it aside for you. And Houston now has double the vintage. In September, Levine and Hildebrand opened a second shop, called The Place Upstairs, above the Continental Club.

373 W. 19th St., Houston, 77008
MAP
713-863-9344
Best Bike Shop
West End Cycles

A rider recently posted to the Critical Mass Houston Facebook page to complain about a half-assed bike tuneup he'd received at one of those chain bicycle shops. "They took it in and two minutes later it rode out — they just shifted thru the gears and said it was fine." That sort of thing would never happen at West End. Blaine Grove and his team care about cyclists — all kinds of cyclists — whether you're looking for a daily commuter, a Dutch-style bike or something to ride in the MS 150. They'll even let you test-drive infinite styles through their Memorial Park-area neighborhood. The store's employees are almost all daily riders who won't hesitate to show your their own rig, and most are willing to make quick adjustments for you on the fly if you happen to be in the neighborhood. The best part, though, is that the service you'll get comes without snark or a "holier than thou" attitude, no matter what you ride. Plus they house an awesome vintage bike collection — not for sale, unfortunately.

5427 Blossom St., Houston, 77007
MAP
713-861-2271
Best Democrat

Okay, so the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association is endorsing her opponent, but the Houston Police Department still loves her — just a sign of what happens when candidates become officeholders and there's not enough money to go around. Mayor Annise Parker, now running for a third term, stays on top of social media (we love that she follows the Houston Press Rocks Off music blog on Twitter) and is working the city's way back out of the reduced circumstances caused by the recession (public library hours are being restored!). She's gamely helped out promoting BARC's dog and cat of the week while presiding over City Council meetings in a fair and reasoned manner. The business background of this Rice University graduate and previous City Controller makes it difficult to paint her as anything but what she is: a competent, non-corrupt public official with a deep love of Houston, where she and her partner are raising a family. She doesn't sidestep her credentials with the Houston LGBT caucus but stresses that she's mayor of all of Houston. And she's staying focused on her goal of continuing to promote Houston as a good place to live and to add jobs.

Best Republican

There are few politicians, regardless of level, who can provide the emotive range of state Sen. Dan Patrick, who represents northwest Houston. Whether he's ripping into pro-choice advocates in a public hearing or choking up when discussing students eligible for his neo-vouchers, Patrick serves his deep-red district with enough artistic aplomb to make any televangelist jealous. And while he's seemingly content manning the Senate Education Committee, don't be surprised if Patrick soon reveals that his sights are set on higher office. His tears deserve a larger audience, anyway.

Best Flea Market
Traders Village

Since 1989, this behemoth of a flea village — we're talking more than 100 acres — has been a Valhalla for those who not only love a good deal, but love the hunt. You don't go to Traders Village on a quick errand — you go there for the day, and you inevitably wind up finding treasures you didn't expect. Furniture, clothes, music, art, home decor, tools, electronics, auto accessories, pet supplies, toys, luggage, appliances — Traders Village has it all, and at excellent prices. Whether you're on a solo sortie or you take friends or family, you're guaranteed to have a blast. Trust us.

7979 N. Eldridge, Houston, 77041
MAP
281-890-5500
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Best Liquor Store: Spec's Midtown

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