Best Of Shopping & Services
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The feeling you get when walking into a barber shop shouldn't be the fear of getting another bad cut. You can definitely put your anxiety aside with the staff at Cutthroat Barbers. They specialize in straight razor shaves and fades. Need a beard trim? They've got the warm towel prepped...
Best Pawn Shop
Money Mart Pawn & Jewelry
Some pawn shops have a way of making you feel sad and creepy, about both the world and yourself. This is not one of them. Bellaire's Money Mart is a big, bright, clean store with friendly, laid-back salespeople and a huge, organized inventory of jewelry, electronics, instruments, tools, handbags and...
Melanie McKinnon, DC
You've heard of a comedian's comedian? An actor's actor? Well, Dr. Melanie McKinnon is a chiropractor's chiropractor. She counts several other chiropractors among her patients. A native Houstonian, McKinnon has been cracking bones for more than 25 years. She's had special training in alternative pain care methods and neurology. (Dr...
Best Adult Tap Class
If you like to make noise with shoes and you want to do so in a place with other adults, then Tap Happy hits the spot. The adult tap dance studio started out as a single introductory class in 2008, but it has grown into a host of classes offered...
Best Record Store
When Cactus Music stops deserving to be called Houston's best record store, we'll stop doing it. In the past year or so, the vinyl stock at the Shepherd Plaza mainstay has probably doubled, reason enough to give them this year's award. The frequent in-stores with free Saint Arnold's you may...
Best Vintage Store
The store is packed to the doors with clothes, jewelry, hats and shoes that have somehow survived long enough from the '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s and on to end up in this gem of a place in the Heights. It's basically a vintage mini-mall with different vendors offering up their...
Best Cigar Seller
The Briar Shoppe
According to the Briar Shoppe website, this Houston institution was born from a $500 loan from legendary Texas attorney Richard "Racehorse" Haynes to single mother Alice Amason, who had trouble getting a loan to open a tobacco shop because, bless her heart, the poor thing didn't understand it was a...
Best Flea Market
This sprawling bazaar bills itself as "A Texas-Size Marketplace," and this is one time where the hyperbole is warranted: It features more than 100 acres of goods — we're talking art, jewelry, auto parts, bicycles, electronics, comics, housewares and everything in between. Since 1989, Traders Village has basically set the...
Best Tobacco Shop
Heights Cigar Lounge
Heights Cigar Lounge calls itself "Your den away from home," and for those who enjoy a good cigar, it certainly has all the amenities. You can visit and engage in good conversation with fellow customers over a few smokes while lounging on comfortable leather recliners or sofas; the great selection...
Kate de Para
Designer Kate de Para is both an artisan and an artist. The textiles and women's clothing she designs are simple, elegant and forward-thinking. With an MFA in fibers from the Savannah College of Art and Design, de Para creates responsibly sourced textiles that are dyed and printed in her Houston...
Best New Way to Get Around the City
METRORail Purple and Green Lines
Parking lots are the worst. Our most base, selfish selves come out in them. An event ends and we all pour back to our vehicles, ready to declare war on each other just so we can get into traffic a few seconds sooner. While the METRORail has been real handy...
Best Yoga Studio
Joy Yoga Center
There are tons of choices when it comes to yoga studios in Houston these days, but Joy Yoga Center is hands-down the place to go for your stretching and bending and mindful breathing. The thing that's so great about Joy Yoga is that it offers all kinds of options for...
Best Video Game Store
Game Over Video Games
Walking into Game Over is like walking back into childhood. The store is completely packed with beloved old hits reaching from before Atari to the present generation. Game Over also traffics in all kinds of obscure and hard-to-find titles, accessories and systems like the Philips CD-i and Japanese imports. You...
Best Hobby Store
Ettin Games and Hobbies
If you're a geek who loves non-digital games, you may have already met the folks from Ettin Games even if you've never stepped in their store. At local conventions, they show up not only to sell their wares, but to help others discover new games via their board game library...
Best Instrument/Equipment Store
Rockin' Robin Guitars and Music
It has a little more competition these days, but Rockin' Robin still is synonymous with where to go when something goes wrong, but also when it goes right; like when it's time to roll over all that gig money into some new gear. With a full-time repair shop and a...
Bruno Vazquez — Bayon Auto Service
Finding a great auto mechanic can be like stumbling across a winning lottery ticket blowing across a parking lot. There are plenty of "good" mechanics across the Houston area, but Bruno Vazquez at Bayon Auto Service in the Heights has consistently gone the extra mile for customers who aren't put...
Houston has a fair number of historic cemeteries. One of the oldest is Washington Cemetery (its rather modest entrance is on Washington). Started in 1875, the then Deutsche Gesellschaft von Houston was outside the city limits. Today it's just a few short blocks west of downtown. There was a name...
Best Grocery Store
Sadly not blessed with a sweet nickname like the "Disco Kroger" in Montrose, the behemoth at Buffalo Speedway and Westpark could nonetheless swallow that one for breakfast. This place is so big it deserves its own ZIP code, but the important thing about its size is it never feels crowded...
Best New Law
Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)
It's too bad that most people only know about this local law because of all the convoluted legal wrangling. It's too bad that many people only know it as "The Bathroom Bill" and believe it was designed solely to give predators easy access to children. It's too bad the Texas...
Best Record Label
From the Wonky Power HQ on Navigation Boulevard, Mario Rodriguez is gradually showing Houston what the city sounds like in the 21st century. Rodriguez himself is a member of two of Houston's most adventurous rock bands, Tax the Wolf and Satellite D'Homme; his other band, Bang Bangz, is the group...
Best Wedding Venue
1940 Air Terminal Museum
Taking the vows traditionally has been reserved for churches and traditional wedding facilities. But if it's something unique you crave for your special day, consider a trip to one of the most beautiful monuments to art deco architecture around, at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. Literally the site of the...
Best Wine Store
Premier Wine and Liquor
Wine can be tricky. There are so many kinds and so many bottles of it, and let's not even get into the question of whether it was a very good year. Sometimes you know exactly what you want and you can walk into a store and rattle off the name...
Best Head Shop
Burn Smoke Shop #2
Burn #2 doesn't have a website, and the Facebook page hasn't been updated for a year, but that seems fitting for this low-profile, laid-back provider of all your smoke-related needs. The shop does tweet frequently, to let folks know about new arrivals from High Tech Glass Works or Cali Crusher,...
Best Clothes for Your Dog
We all know someone who loves her dog a little more than she should. Even those who don't fill their Instagram feeds with doggie snapshots and spend thousands of dollars every year on organic pet treats can occasionally be excessive with Fido. But why not? You can't put a price...
Best Liquor Store
In the world of liquor stores, Spec's is the undisputed ruler in Houston. The jewel in the crown is the company's Midtown location, which can be described as a magical place packed full of interesting beers, spirits, cigars and specialty foods. Every aspect of this store is top-shelf, with low-priced...
Kaboom's website says this used bookstore is stocked with 100,000 books, and we'll take their word for it: Walking into this charming shop in the Woodland Heights, you'll see ceiling-high shelves filled with what seems like an endless selection of titles. Kaboom boasts 76 different sections, and while it does...
Best Mall (Pedestrian)
You have to hit Baybrook at the right time to get the maximum pedestrian value out of it, but if you do, there's no finer walking arena in the city. (No point trying this on a Saturday afternoon.) It takes two laps around to walk a mile and the building...
Best Doggie Day Care
Houston Dog Ranch
You don't want to drop off your precious pup with just any doggie day care. You want a safe, clean, fun, engaging environment where dogs get to romp and play and get a few hugs. That's the Houston Dog Ranch. It is styled after an old Western town complete with...
Best Jewelry Store
So if you're going to spend three-months salary on an engagement ring (that's the general guideline), you want to make sure you get the most wonderful, beautiful, spectacular diamond you can, right? And at the fairest price possible. That's where Helzberg Diamonds comes in. Morris Helzberg started the company in...
Best New City Policy
BARC's expanded foster boundaries
For mysterious reasons, Houston's municipal pound — BARC — only accepted animal fosters who lived in the city's limits. But in 2015, BARC expanded the boundaries to 15 miles outside those limits, and we couldn't be happier. Houston is blessed with so many people willing to offer their time —...
Best Mall (Indoor)
There are malls, and then there's the leviathan otherwise known as The Galleria. Developer Gerald Hines started planning the indoor mall back in the 1960s, and he drew on the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a shopping arcade in Milan, Italy, as inspiration for his shopping extravaganza. The result was The...
Best Vitamin Shop
Whether you're looking for the perfect protein shake or a particular vitamin supplement that your best friend swears will make you stop bruising like a peach, Total Nutrition in the Heights is the place to go. Unlike most places that just hand over the vitamins, the folks at Total Nutrition...
Best Place to Buy Western Wear
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
You're coming to the rodeo anyway, and you're probably in the mood: Why not pick up some new Western threads while you're there? Within the vastness of NRG Center, an entire row of merchants like Cavender's and Pinto Ranch set up tent-like structures whose inventory can't quite compare to their...
Best Sporting Goods Store
There are places to buy running gear and then there's Luke's Locker, which takes that concept to a whole other level. We love this place because the staff is a crew of extremely cheerful and incredibly helpful running experts. They have all the gear you could possibly imagine and a...
Andrew Vaserfirer — Revival Market
Revival Market has become an important local stop for Houstonians seeking nose-to-tail cuts of beef, heritage breed pork, lamb and chicken, as well as occasionally available seasonal game meats. This is made possible largely by the skills of Revival's head butcher and charcutier, Andrew Vaserfirer, who brings a passion for...
Best Comic Book Store
8th Dimension Comics
8th Dimension just keeps getting bigger and better. The store is moving to a new location across the street from the old one (opening August 26) that expands the retail space and opens up 8th Dimension's gaming/event area to more than three times the original size. The store continues to...
Best Dry Cleaner
Hi Cleaners & Alterations
Whenever we see the "Hi Cleaners" sign, we like to say "hi" back. And wave. Yes, we realize it's dorky, but we can't help getting a lift in spirits, because it's a sign (literally) of quality and dependability. We hope the day never comes when we get oil, grass stains...
Best Tree Removal
Two things set Tree Climbers apart from other tree-removal and cutting services in Houston: the company's ability to respond to emergencies and its attitude regarding conservation. Houston's weather, which can seemingly change from a drought to a flood in just a few minutes, can weaken trees. Weak trees can fall,...
Best Antiques Store
When we've got a yen for some unusual old stuff, we head straight for AG Antiques to get our fix. Nestled on West 19th Street in the Heights, AG Antiques offers way more than the usual array of doilies and ugly 1970s furniture that turn up at so many "antiques"...
Best Place to Get Plants
Buchanan's Native Plants
There are plenty of plants that will grow in Texas, but not all of them belong here. That's where Buchanan's Native Plants comes in. As the name implies, this Heights nursery specializes in plants indigenous to the Lone Star State. We're talking about Texas Firecracker, Texas Kidneywood, Texas Olive, Texas...
Best Party Supplies
Arne's Warehouse and Party Store
Rarely can a person say a store has everything one needs for a special occasion, but Arne's might be the exception. Quinceañera tiaras? Check. Kids' birthday balloons? Check. Penis-shaped bachelorette party favors? Double check. It's bustling on most days and packed to the gills leading up to national holidays, so...
Best Computer Store
Now this is what we call a no-brainer: Not only is this gigantic store filled with every kind of electronic thingamajig and watchamacallit imaginable, it's got it all for incredible prices and even better service. If you're not the super-geek type who likes to wander the aisles staring in awe...
A good nail place offers a manicure that is the holy trinity — nice to look at, long-lasting and cheap. That's where Neon Nails comes in. It's got a quiet, relaxed feel and the most comfortable spa chairs around. Once you've settled in and tucked your feet into a vat...
Best Car Wash
Keep It Clean
If you're driving along Washington and all of a sudden find yourself stuck behind a parade of cars all trying to turn in to one little parking lot, chances are you've found yourself in the Keep It Clean zone. There's a reason for this: This hand-wash mecca has built up...
Best Watch Repair
Little Watch Shop
Not many businesses — of any kind — can boast the staying power of this charming little house on the corner of South Shepherd and Welch, which has quietly and professionally tended to Houstonians' watches and clocks since 1947. The staff is downright incredible, both in friendliness and expertise —...
The word "bartender" doesn't do Lainey Collum justice. She's more of a Mixology Mastermind; a Tincture Titan; a Cocktail Queen. With ninja-like skills and a seriously impressive résumé — including stints at The Hay Merchant, Double Trouble and Provisions — her knowledge of all things beverage is unparalleled. Today, you'll...
Best Adult Gift Store
We like to buy all our major holiday gifts here, be it a foxtail butt-plug (faux fur, of course — we wouldn't want to feel guilty) for Uncle Walt, a satin-and-lace bustier for Grandma or a hot pink silicone vibrating dong dildo for the office Secret Santa exchange. Point is,...
Carol's Alterations and Dry Cleaners
Carol's doesn't look like much on the outside, but it's a place where clothing miracles are worked. You walk in with a dress your granny wore in the 1940s, 97 percent sure that there's no way to fix it, and then the good tailors at Carol's take over and with...
It's your wedding day and everything has to be perfect, right? Well, you can count on The SenterPiece to provide beautiful, affordable flower arrangements that capture your vision for the day. Like elaborate and elegant? The SenterPiece has you covered. Maybe you're looking for simple and sensational. The SenterPiece has...
Best Dog Trainer
Dogs are the absolute best, but sometimes we need a little help because, say, our furry friends have taken to barking all night long or shredding books to ribbons or trying to attack other dogs on sight. That's where Donald Chambers comes in. Chambers is a certified dog trainer and...
Best Place to Buy a Gun
Full Armor Firearms
This being Texas, there's not exactly a shortage of gun stores. But not all such stores are equal, and Full Armor distinguishes itself from the crowd with a massive selection of both new and used pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and accessories, all at decent prices and with excellent customer service...
Best Department Store
This Sears is awesome for all kinds of reasons. Back when the place opened in 1939, it was a huge deal around here because this $1 million Sears was the first to open in Houston. On top of that, the department store featured the first escalator in Texas, and was...
Best Bike Shop
Blue Line Bike Lab
Whether you're a new rider, a casual rider or king of the mountain on every Strava segment you've traveled, Blue Line Bike Lab is our choice for Best Bike Shop. Not exactly sure what you want? Blue Line Bike Lab offers excellent advice for your next whip, and keeps the...