Best Of :: Shopping & Services
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 even if you're there right after Lakewood Church has just let out across 59. You could explore here for weeks and never even come across the aisles of organic products tucked behind the produce, but luckily the beer and wine island is located square in the middle of the store and thus very, very hard to miss. The store also has plenty of room for regional delicacies amid all the mass-produced stuff; we're partial to Mrs. Renfro's salsas and relishes out of Fort Worth. Needless to say, this Kroger also carries plenty of amenities that people in River Oaks and West U need, like free wireless, an olive bar, a bakery island and a deli case that never runs dry.
READERS' CHOICE: Central Market
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 and ready to go. The classic look and feel of the shop may make you forget that you can book your appointment online. Every cut comes with a complimentary beverage, usually on tap. Two locations.
READERS' CHOICE: Big Kat's Barbershop & Shave Parlor
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 other stuff that's all in great condition. Whether you're buying, selling or seeking a short-term loan, you're bound to have a decent experience, and none of that "Wait, did I just get ripped off?" second-guessing that happens at too many other stores of its ilk. Don't pawnder any longer — go see for yourself!
READERS' CHOICE: Shaw's Jewelry
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. McKinnon has a Diplomate in Neurology.) She uses the Gonstead, Diversified and Activator methods to treat sciatica, whiplash and all manner of vertebrogenic disorders. Rehabilitation and corrective exercise sessions and massage therapy are offered on site under McKinnon's supervision. Wary of X-rays? So is she. Sure, they're needed sometimes, but sometimes they aren't, so why be exposed to the unnecessary radiation?
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 up by Sara Draper and the other teachers who have been signed off to teach in the Sara Draper method — that means you'll be learning old-school tap while being taught to make noise with shoes while holding your hands at the proper angle for each step. Whether you've taken dance classes all your life or are only now getting to live out that childhood fantasy of being Shirley Temple, Tap Happy has something to offer you.
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 know about, but here's some neat stuff about Cactus you may not: Cactus was founded in 1975 by Don and Bud Daily, son of legendary Houston record-label owner and jukebox supplier H.W. "Pappy" Daily. It has been in its present location since November 2007, after the original space next to the Alabama Theatre closed about 18 months earlier. Between record-company promo cutouts, historical photographs, framed 45s, oversize album covers and periodic installations, it's almost as good of an art gallery as it is a record store. It doubles as a gift shop par excellence, too, with all sorts of music-themed knickknacks and novelties. Even if you're just browsing, it's much more fun when a local luminary is spinning in the Record Ranch, which often happens weekend afternoons (and selected other times). And no true Houstonian is complete without at least one Cactus T-shirt in his or her wardrobe.
READERS' CHOICE: Cactus Music