Shopping & Services

  • Best Place to Buy Pounded Yams

    African Variety Food Store

    "The world was silent except for the shrill cry of insects, which was part of the night, and the sound of wooden mortar and pestle as Nwayieke pounded her foo-foo," writes Chinua Achebe in his 1959 novel Things Fall Apart. He is describing a scene as basic to traditional Nigerian life as the beat of the udu drum -- the… More >>
  • Best Dog Whisperer

    Pete Stewart

    Got a pampered pooch with persistent problems? We heard about Pete Stewart's Good Manners Dog Obedience School through a friend who owns three huskies. Figuring someone with a pack of dogs oughta know, we checked it out for ourselves. Like most "parents," we were a little apprehensive about dropping our little one off for two weeks, but our fears were… More >>
  • Best Combination Pawnshop and Wedding Chapel

    Kipperman's Pawn Shop

    A scratchy tape of "The Wedding March" blasts from a boom box in a room in Kipperman's Pawn Shop, the walls of which are painted pink and gold with a mural of flowers splashed across one wall in hues of Mercurochrome and MD 20-20. Owner Ted Kipperman, dressed in red vestments, has pronounced another couple man and wife. The wedding… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing

    The Way We Wore

    Like connoisseurs of fine wine, vintage shoppers have their high standards. While those in search of the perfect merlot might sniff the cork, hold the glass up to the light and sip with discernment, vintage clothing shoppers must know: Are there any noticeable stains? Does the zipper work? Do polyester pants make my ass look huge? Fans of these queries,… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Acadian Bakers

    A few weeks back we heard a woman walk into the bakery and say she was new to the neighborhood and needed to find a good place to order a cake for her mother's upcoming birthday celebration. If there were such a thing as the dessert jackpot, this woman had hit it. She asked a few of the people in… More >>
  • Best African-Mexican Food Store

    Mex-African Foods

    Here's an only-in-Houston experience that defies easy explanation. The owner dresses in authentic Nigerian garb, and the music pulses with the beat of big African drums. And the place sells African, Caribbean and Yucatecan cooking ingredients. If you're wondering what East Mexican and West African foods have in common, check out the shelves of this little market. You'll find all… More >>
  • Best Cheese Selection

    Spec's Liquor Warehouse

    If they don't have the kind of cheese you want, and it's available in the United States, they'll find it and order some. That's one mighty big if, though, with a selection in the neighborhood of something like 500 different cheeses, with 588 ("weighed" and "not weighed") listed on their Web site. If you haven't found the section of Spec's… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Stuffed Animals

    Animal Creations

    Lions and tigers and bears -- oh, my! You'll find these creatures plus monkeys and turtles and alligators at Animal Creations. All sorts of fuzzy friends await you in this plush menagerie. Like the jungle, Animal Creations is home to a varied and diverse population. Say you're looking for a snake in this Year of the Snake, well, you have… More >>
  • Best Yerbería

    Yerbería Guadalupe

    From an unassuming shopping strip off Bellaire Boulevard, Francisco Garza offers customers "cures" for their heartbreaks and health woes in the best healing tradition of Mexico. His yerbería is chock-full of the teas, herbs, soaps and votive candles that folks believe will win them love, luck and even cures for diabetes and other ailments. Shelves overflow with a rainbow of… More >>
  • Best Watch Repair

    Wheeler Watch Clinic

    For more than 30 years the Wheeler Watch Clinic sat near the grubby corner of Wheeler and Main. Now it's nowhere to be found on Wheeler. Don't worry. It kept the name, but moved down the street more than a year ago. Now the modest little shop sits at Main and Anita and watches as Metro tears up the street… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy African Clothing

    Citalis

    Vitalis Onu recoils at flowing, overelaborate garments that prompt onlookers to query, "Who's that prince?" For Onu, the creator of the fashion line Citalis, the key is graceful simplicity. That principle is evident throughout the native Nigerian's vibrant showroom in an office building on Richmond near Hillcroft. The racks overflow with robes, caftans and woko suits made of silk, linen… More >>
  • Best Place to Rent Anime

    Planet Anime

    For selection, you just can't beat Planet Anime. This Rice Village store has more than 2,500 tapes for rent, and many for sale, though approximately 400 were destroyed by the flood. Looking for Cowboy Bebop, BubbleGum Crisis, Martian Successor Nadesico, Ranma 1/2 or Tenchi Muyo? Planet Anime has got them in subtitles, so you don't have to watch bastardized, dubbed… More >>
  • Best Consumer Advocates

    Houston Area Mental Health Advocates

    It's a widely held view that inadequate state funding for the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County is to blame for the steady collapse of the local public mental health system. That's certainly how MHMRA incessantly spins the situation, and policy makers and elected officials, out of ignorance or convenience, largely have gone along. Last winter, a… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Minit Man Car Wash

    This business has been in operation since 1949, a pivotal year in automotive history. It was the first year Detroit issued brand-new models after the war. Back then, the average family car was almost a decade old, and Americans finally had money to purchase some new wheels. And when they did, they wanted to keep 'em clean. Back in the… More >>
  • Best Mexican Bakery

    Taqueria del Sol Restaurant & Authentic Mexican Taco House

    After spending way too much money on Day of the Dead bread at a bakery inside the Loop last year, a friend-in-the-know pointed us to this bakery, fused to the side of a taqueria near Hobby Airport. Order your Day of the Dead bread early, as this popular panadería gets muy busy closer to the holiday. No need to wait… More >>
  • Best Boot Repair

    Herman Shoe Repair

    "We doctor shoes. We heel them, we save their soles and attend their dyeing." So goes the motto of Herman Shoe Repair, a mom-and-pop outfit run out of a converted old house in the Heights. The place, owned by veteran boot repairman Herman McCarty, is pungent with the smells of leather and polishes, the way any good shoe clinic should… More >>
  • Best Pet Pharmacy

    BCP Veterinary Pharmacy

    We don't know about your pets, but ours don't like to take medication. At all. We have the battle scars to prove it. Instead of buying cases of first-aid ointment to heal all the wounds received while trying to administer medication to our asthmatic cat, we discovered it's cheaper and easier to call BCP Veterinary Pharmacy. They work wonders with… More >>
  • Best Asian Bakery

    St. Honoré Bakery

    For a bakery, St. Honoré is located in a weird place: inside an Asian mall that is perpetually empty, its escalators moving and moving nobody at all. Never mind, though. Just head straight to the bakery on the first floor, with the window display of a huge gingerbread-houselike Chinese palace, layered in icing. St. Honoré bakes delightful French-style cakes, multicolored… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Grocery

    Droubi's

    Meandering the aisles of Droubi's with Arabic music in the air, one can imagine wandering through a Lebanese open market, only with air-conditioning. The aroma of constantly baking bread that is sold still warm, a myriad of bulk herbs and spices sold by the pound and the daily lunch specials of Lebanese food sold in the grocery's small dining area… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Fred Turton

    Legend has it that Fred once threw a couple out of Rudyard's because they ordered only water. All right, so it sounds a little harsh. Actually, it's comforting. The world is full of bartenders who are willing to give you free water, listen to your stupid problems and shake their heads sympathetically. But not Fred. He's too busy serving your… More >>
  • Best Exterminator

    Bugs & Burglars

    The founder, owner, operator and sole employee of Bugs & Burglars is Roy Law Elliot, a Houston native who has also been, at one time or another, the owner of Doctor Doom's Garage of Mystery (a legendary Volkswagen repair facility in Berkeley, California), a counterculture T-shirt silk screener (12 designs are in the permanent collection of the Oakland Museum of… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    Christopher's Wine Warehouse

    There is nothing quite like Christopher's in Houston. The creation of the husband-and-wife team of Christopher and Donna Massie, this 6,000-square-foot, single-venue operation offers rare wines that sometimes are allocated by growers and importers to less than one case for the entire state of Texas. French wines are showcased here, as Massie himself has lived and worked in French vineyards… More >>
  • Best Russian Grocery

    Moscow Market & Deli

    This cheery newcomer, way out west on Memorial at Kirkwood, is targeted at Houston's 40,000 plus Russophone community. Even if you know less about Russia than, say, a Republican ambassador to Moscow, you can still profitably explore the spiffy, well-lit aisles for unusual goods like Cornelian cherry compote or smoked Latvian sprats. The extensive cold cases offer caviar by the… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Roses

    Jana's Flowers

    Before Metro decided to tear up Main and Fannin at the same time, we used to like to run down to the flower district north of the Medical Center to pick up a dozen roses if we were in love, in trouble, or both. But now that the area resembles Kosovo, we find it easier to swing by Jana's in… More >>
  • Best Wash-and-Fold

    Fairview Cleaners

    For decades this Montrose mom-and-pop institution has been doing what everyone hates to do: your laundry. Get your clothes in by 7 a.m. and you can have them back by 5 p.m. Your shirts will be on hangers, and everything else will be neatly folded and packed in a plastic bag. Special orders -- like letting your blue jeans drip-dry… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Value Village

    The two most important words when it comes to thrift store shopping are quality and quantity. Value Village is both. Those of you who are pros at this kind of shopping will fall to your knees and thank the thrift gods above that this store exists. Rookies at fossicking have no fear: It's well organized (a special category exists for… More >>
  • Best Asian Grocery

    Dynasty Supermarket

    You can tell right away that Dynasty Supermarket is an authentic Asian market when you walk in, because of one telltale sign: It stinks like fish. There to the left are the fish swarming in overcrowded tanks, and in another tub crabs crawl over each other, spitlike bubbles forming as they breathe displaced from water. Soon they will become someone's… More >>
  • Best Bookstore

    Bookstop

    Sure, we're the types who would tend to go for the independent bookshop over the big chains, but there's good reason to praise this subsidiary of Barnes & Noble. Unlike, say, the shopping center housing the River Oaks Borders, which ended up plowing down the century-old Ale House to make room for a few dozen more parking spaces, the Bookstop… More >>
  • Best Tofu/Soy Products

    Whole Foods Market

    The problem with soy is that it's kind of boring in its natural state. That's why you need to get to a place that will take this brilliant source of protein and transform it into countless mouthwatering, delicious edibles. Okay, so Whole Foods doesn't actually do the transforming. But it does sell the stuff in all of its glorious incarnations.… More >>
  • Best Grocery Employee

    Dawn

    Her name tag reads "Dawn," and she's always there with a smile. This very small Fiesta is in a transitional neighborhood, so the customers cross a wide income range, with a variety of demands. On one busy weekend, Dawn was working all by herself. The line was long, and several people needed a number of things sliced or served into… More >>
  • Best Bookstore for People Who Don't Read

    Menil Collection Bookstore

    All freedom-loving people would be inspired to walk into the Menil Collection Bookstore and see, front and center on the largest display rack, an art-book cover photograph of a very lifelike sculpture of an erect penis -- and directly across from the children's section, too. Perhaps it's an up-yours salute to the outgoing senator and philistine from North Carolina. More… More >>
  • Best African Art Store

    Black Heritage Gallery

    Local artist Joan Bristow has works on display at Black Heritage Gallery, a venue she likes for its diversity. Bristow hails from Trinidad and paints images on silk. She is having some framed at the store, which is how we learned about the small space cozied up next to Green's Barbecue on Almeda. A friend of ours from Austin was… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Parlor

    Miss Fortune Tattoo

    So, your boyfriend went back to his wife? Your shrink's out of the country? Someone else won your Pulitzer Prize? For every reason you have to get a tattoo, there's a place in town that can do it. But if you wanna get inked right, we suggest you head straight for Miss Fortune. Don't let the punny name scare you… More >>
  • Best Used CDs

    CD Warehouse

    God only knows who would sell their copy of End on End by Rites of Spring, but aren't you glad somebody did? Because CD Warehouse had this kick-ass Washington, D.C., rock band priced at only $3.99, just one of the many treasures buried in this chain of discount CD stores. The stores are well organized and understated -- forget sales… More >>
  • Best Newsstand

    Globe News

    Mega-stands may come and go, but Globe is forever. In business since 1961, Globe News is not only the best, it's also the oldest. And it has the musty smell that a newsstand should have. Its selection covers the waterfront of publishing from newsweeklies and monthlies to sports to photography to music to food. Daily newspapers from around the country… More >>
  • Best Auto Repair

    Montrose Tire & Automotive Center

    On the front end of the Honda Civic, at least a mid-'90s model, there is a splash guard that rides very low to the road. It frequently hits the pavement when being driven out of parking lots or up to concrete parking blocks. After a couple of years of abuse, the splash guard gets detached. The Honda dealership service department… More >>
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