Shopping & Services

  • Best Comic Book Store

    Bedrock City Comic Co.

    For a comic-book novice -- and by that we mean someone who has a few books in their collection, as opposed to 20 to 30 boxes filled with intricately filed volumes -- it must be a burden going to a comic-book store these days. Clerks and employees who work at a handful of these spots (we won't say which) can… More >>
  • Best Designer

    Chloé Dao

    Houstonian Chloé Dao spent eight years in New York City, including a stint at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Now she's brought her talents home. She and sister Kim opened Lot 8 in the Rice Village at 6127 Kirby Drive two years ago, specializing in off-the-rack trendy clothes and local designer one-of-a-kinds. Dao has lots of her own fashion fun… More >>
  • Best Tailor

    Ann's Tailor & Alterations

    With Ann's help, you can buy off the rack and look like you're wearing a designer original. You walk in, step behind the green velvet curtain, take off your clothes and try on the outfit you like. Then she measures and pins and makes it so that your horrible oversized outfit looks like it was made to order. One really… More >>
  • Best Guitar Teacher

    Dave Payne, 713-728-9036

    Dave Payne can do just about anything when it comes to the guitar. Besides his own beautiful playing and singing, which runs the gamut from classical to funk, he's got enough patience and good grace to teach anybody else how to follow his lead. Everybody from middle-aged engineers looking to perfect all those blues licks they've been working on for… More >>
  • Best Landscaper

    Vicente Torrez

    Some people kill plants. Some overwater their petunias until they turn to mush. Some just don't want to dig in the dirt. So they hire other people to make their backyards pretty. It's too hard and too hot to plant plumerias and palm trees yourself. It's time to call Vicente Torrez. The bamboo trees he planted last summer have stretched… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Plants

    Teas Nursery

    Contrary to what The New York Times Magazine seems to think, Houston is green, not brown. But God didn't make it that way, the Teas family did. By 1951, according to the Teas Web site, the nursery and landscaping company had planted more than one million trees in Houston. They landscaped Rice University, the River Oaks subdivision and Bellaire Boulevard,… More >>
  • Best Mosquito Control

    Accent Services

    Summer in a swampland means clawing at your skin, scratching hundreds of mosquito bites. It means every dinner you eat outdoors has to be lit with citronella candles. And it means the constant sound of blue bug lights zapping. Add to that reports of mosquitoes in the Houston area carrying the West Nile virus and you'll definitely want to wipe… More >>
  • Best Pet Store

    Petco

    Yes, Petco is a chain, but it doesn't feel like one. Walk in with your pet, whatever it may be. This store is friendly, convenient and fast. It carries the biggest selection of pet products from the finest brands, as well as lizards, birds, tropical fish, snakes, spiders and all the goodies you might need for your new friend. Whenever… More >>
  • Best Attention to Detail

    Scoop le Poop

    Little things mean a lot, especially when the family pet leaves big messes in your yard. With both parents working, it's hard to keep up with the cooking and cleaning and lawn care, let alone enjoy home life. But Scoop le Poop makes having a dog that much easier. For a reasonable fee, le Poop makes regular visits to discretely… More >>
  • Best Auto Mechanic

    Auto Tech

    It's mostly the employees of Fluor Enterprises who know about the affordable, honest wizardry of nearby Auto Tech, but it's also open to the public at large. The original owner, Joe, and his knowledgeable staff could make even the most rickety engine purr like a kitten in no time. Before he sold the place (to live a peaceful retirement full… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    River Oaks Hardware

    Many hardware stores are so enormous, they're more of a hindrance than a help. Who wants to hike two miles to find a one-and-a-half-inch beveled polywasher for the kitchen sink, then another mile searching for one-eighth-inch mirror brackets? Then there's the attitude. Unlike contractors, we usually don't know what we're doing in those long aisles, and most hardware store employees… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Bubbles

    Your ride's looking a little shabby. It wants to get spruced up and feel pretty. But you're particular about what touches your car. You're not keen on some automated gas station drive-thru scratching the gloss on your ClearCoat. And who knows where those frazzled brushes at the coin-operated self-wash places have been? Try the machine-free artistry at Bubbles, where they… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Car Wash, a Haircut and a Brisket

    Exquisite Touch

    Imagine: An angry ex has poured garbage all over your new sports car. You haven't slept for months, and your hair has become a bit unruly. What's more, you're hungry, dammit. Well, have we got the place for you. It goes by many names. Call it Pop's Exquisite Bar-B-Q, where you can get a chopped roast beef sandwich for $3.50.… More >>
  • Best Dance and Club Wear Designer

    Tunde Akindele

    We've got a horde of fine club dancers in this town. Somebody's gotta dress 'em. If there were still any raves around, chances are you'd see many shirts out there created by this man. Akindele's brand of clothing, Enjoymusic Enjoylife (EMEL), featuring that all-important musical-note insignia, has been the favorite among energetic clubgoers for quite a while now. Baseball shirts,… More >>
  • Best Downtown Parking Garage

    Wortham Theater Complex

    If you've ever wanted to feel like Alice down the rabbit hole, take a few hours out of your life and go underground here. You can emerge at any number of downtown spots, from office buildings to the Wortham to the Angelika Film Center. If you're smart, you'll take note of the color-coded parking bars to facilitate relocating your car.… More >>
  • Best Texas Stuff

    Houston Visitors Center in City Hall

    Why buy your "How to Talk Texas" books, Houston skyline postcards and Lone Star flag barbecue aprons at some sterile mall when you can do so in the heart of the city, at the foot of the statue of Sam Houston himself? Those who say downtown is a vacuum for shoppers likely haven't yet discovered this 6,500-square-foot Texana delight located… More >>
  • Best DVD Selection

    Cactus Music & Video

    It took a while for the folks at this proudly independent music and video store to get a DVD rental section going, even after bigwig video chains Blockbuster and Hollywood beat 'em to the punch. But once they did, theirs turned out to be the definitive DVD section for die-hard movie geeks. Apart from the regular lineup of new and… More >>
  • Best Anime Purveyors

    ADV Films

    Houston, Texas, a portal city for Japanese anime? Yes, thanks to forward-thinking ADV founders John Ledford and Matt Greenfield. For the uninitiated, anime is Japanese animation for adults, too, not just kids. It's extremely popular in its home country and increasingly so all over the world. Recently spotted at the Video Sellers and Distributors of America conference in Las Vegas,… More >>
  • Best Adult Videos

    Friendly Mart

    We've all seen those boring, windowless wooden shacks on the side of the freeway with such original names as Adult MegaPlexxx. And if it's just porn you want, then those places are probably your best bet. But what if you're itching to grab a copy of High Society magazine and, say, some beef jerky? Or what about a nice, tasteful… More >>
  • Best Novelty Store

    Erotic Cabaret

    Walk in nice, walk out naughty. This store has more selection than a buffet on Sunday brunch -- from complete drag-queen attire to standard dildos and edible underpants to sinfully seductive latex nurse outfits and she-devil getups. They also carry every prop you might possibly need to carry out any fantasy, from yummy body paint and furry handcuffs to whips… More >>
  • Best Surf Shop

    Surfhouse

    A recent transplant from Southern California was shocked when we told her that people really do surf here in Texas. She would have died laughing if we had shown her our pick for Houston's best surf shop. It's true that the outside of the Surfhouse isn't what you might expect. Instead of seagulls, we have blackbirds. Instead of salt in… More >>
  • Best Discount Bookstore

    Quarter Price Books

    To think, a whole generation has grown up believing that bookstores are supposed to be run by boards of directors, serve 80 kinds of coffee and loom as large as airplane hangars. Yes, the megaplexes do have every book on every subject known to man, and yes, it's nice to be able to quaff a cup of chai while you're… More >>
  • Best Children's Bookstore

    Blue Willow Books

    Some parents regard their children as an extension of themselves, so show all your friends you're better than they are by improving your kids. How? Expand their minds. Take the time to read to them. And if you want to really blow the Joneses out of the water, find unique children's reading at Blue Willow Books. For six years they've… More >>
  • Best Astrologer

    Jennifer Bobbitt

    Ever toyed with the idea of seeking career counseling from a psychic or an astrologer but been put off by the garishly muu-muu'ed, incense-burning, turban-coiffed mystic promising to solve your love woes as you choke on perfumed smoke? Well, if you want career guidance from someone who not only talks the talk but also walks the walk as a professional… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    G&G Model Shop

    Stepping into this little orange-and-brown shop in the Rice Village is like stepping back into 1954. Makes sense. That's when G&G moved into its current location. The cozy, jam-packed store has an endearing, musty quality to it. But the selection is second to none. Anything you ever wanted in model trains, boats or cars is here, displayed on shelves or… More >>
  • Best Jewelry

    Fly High Little Bunny

    Call up this jewelry store and ask, "Where are you located?" and don't be surprised if the person on the other end answers, "Houston, just between New Orleans and Austin." Fly High Little Bunny is a goofy place, and not just because of its good-natured staff. There's the bizarre but memorable name, the whimsical ads and the sadistic-looking bunny logo… More >>
  • Best Fish Market

    Whole Foods Market

    Sure, it's the largest retailer of crunchy stuff, but there's more to Whole Foods than bulk granola and Gardenburgers. For example, it's also the best place to snag a live lobster, a tuna steak or wild salmon. The tattooed guys behind the counter are friendly and knowledgeable. They know their orange roughy from their whitefish. Yes, some markets have a… More >>
  • Best Farmers Market

    Canino's (Farmer's Marketing Association)

    Don't let yourself be overly distracted by the incredibly good selection of produce, vinegars and bulk beans. The real bargains are way in the back, where the growers have the discount stuff fresh off the trucks. Get red peppers for a buck a pound, jalapeņos for pennies, and some really tasty tomatoes without that nasty waxy stuff you get in… More >>
  • Best Camera Store

    Houston Camera Exchange

    A visit to the Houston Camera Exchange is kind of like those commercials for Circuit City, where the technophile runs through the store in ecstasy. On a recent visit to the place, we intended to duck in quickly and check out the selection of books on black-and-white photography. But plans for a short trip were soon derailed, as we were… More >>
  • Best Back Store

    Relax The Back

    Sufferers of long-term neck and back pain will try anything to find relief, even if it's just temporary. At Relax The Back, you'll find all the equipment and reference materials you need to provide relief from pain and to help keep you in good shape. The furniture offerings include ergonomic office and leisure chairs, leather shiatsu massage chairs, mattresses and… More >>
  • Best Resale Shop

    The Guild Shop

    It's hard to figure out why the cars are crawling to a stop and little old ladies are fighting for parking along Dunlavy. With no obvious signs to flag you down, you could drive right by the Guild Shop without even noticing. Variety and good deals are the key to this thrift store's success. Items are marked according to how… More >>
  • Best Shoe Store

    Sole Sensation

    It may be in the heart of River Oaks, but women from all over town know this is the place to buy those Sex in the City, midlife crisis, hot-date-tonight shoes. Divine Donald Pliners, gorgeous Goffredo Fantinis, majestic Mezlans and charming Charles Jordans, all to die for. Towering stilettos and stacked wedgies await. In this tiny shop the shoes never… More >>
  • Best Sole Revival

    Shoe Savers

    It's a delicate business, salvaging footwear that costs as much as a used Honda, but Barry and Ellen Croft handle the art of shoe repair with an aw-shucks mirth that cuts through the pomp of Prada. Barry, who started Shoe Savers years ago, has become the official cobbler for Inner Loop socialites, city officials, lawyers and the occasional visiting celebrity.… More >>
  • Best Laundromat

    Graustark Laundry

    Maybe it's the goofy messages posted on the sign ("We Make Good Scents," for example). Or perhaps it's the odd collection of celebrities painted on the front of the building (David Letterman, Tom Hanks, Jerry Seinfeld and Roseanne -- you figure it out). Maybe it's the cheesy rock stations permanently tuned in, continuously playing the lamest yet greatest '70s and… More >>
  • Best Accordion Teacher

    Susan Jackson

    Susan Jackson has one of those high-beam smiles that could blind you if it didn't make you feel so good inside. That's part of her power as a music teacher. There's also something about her tiny attic studio that makes you feel really, well, arty. It's filled with instruments, because Jackson doesn't teach just the wonderfully antiquated accordion; she will… More >>
  • Best Manicure/Pedicure

    Instyle Nails

    Sister act Peggy and Maggie Lu run Instyle Nails like Donald Trump runs real estate. In the past four years they've had to add more spa chairs thanks to increasing demand. As any local woman knows, a spa (vibrating chair and foot whirlpool) mani/pedi is $25 at practically every shop in town. But the Lu girls have added a free… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing Store

    Leopard Lounge

    A relative newcomer to the Westheimer vintage strip, Leopard Lounge is a welcome young upstart. The leopard-print motif and blaring hip-hop music let you know this is not your mother's consignment shop. The usual suspects are well covered: bellbottom jeans, '50s dresses, tight-fitting team T-shirts from the '70s and so on. But it's the quality of the Lounge that makes… More >>
  • Best Fabric Store

    High Fashion Fabrics

    Even if you don't sew, this fabric store is worth a visit. There's a whole room devoted to silks that makes you realize fabric designing is a true profession. The customers are dead serious in their searches. Brides-to-be walk dutifully, following their dressmakers with anxious looks and hands full of lace. Twenty buttons are scrutinized with a strip of fabric,… More >>
  • Best Designer Boutique

    Tootsies

    Want to find the styles of the moment? At Tootsies you'll be surrounded by crazy-cool clothes and CZ jewelry that's a great knockoff of the real thing. From Via Spiga shoes to Ralph Lauren haute couture, Tootsies has got you covered. Looking for that diamond horseshoe necklace that Carrie wears in Sex and the City? Just peep under the glass… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Roses

    Buchanan's Native Plants

    Poet Dorothy Parker once scorned her lover's gift of "one perfect rose." Perhaps her boyfriend's mistake was not going to Buchanan's to buy his present. The beautiful Heights plant-and-flower shop offers so many different types of roses it would have been hard for him to stop at just one. The shop, staffed with knowledgeable flower lovers, offers everything from hearty,… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    Houston Wine Merchant

    Owner Scott Spencer renamed his store, formerly Wines of America, because the name no longer reflected his product offerings. This little gem of a wine shop carries selections from all over the world and reflects what you can do with your shelves when you have limited space but excellent taste. Chat with the knowledgeable staff. Ask questions. Is the Aussie… More >>
  • Best Cheese Selection

    Central Market

    With a full-time cheese buyer who spends most of her time visiting local farms worldwide, a full-time department head, and a full-time cheesemonger who may spend 15 to 20 minutes with a customer helping him match up the perfect cheese-and-wine combination, it's easy to see how Central Market manages to stock nearly 700 different cheeses. Each cheese department employee is… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring

    Tiffany & Co.

    Eleanor Roosevelt's solitaire came from Tiffany's; Dennis Oppenheim created a sculpture in New York based on their engagement ring designs; George Peppard had a plastic ring from a box of Cracker Jack engraved by them in the classic Breakfast at Tiffany's. Since 1837, these experts have been dealing in rings and diamonds and little blue boxes with white ribbon. There… More >>
  • Best Place for a Wedding

    La Colombe d'Or

    Humble Oil founder W.W. Fondren never imagined his 1923 home would become one of the finest little luxury hotels in the world. But hey, this is Houston; we could have torn it down. Luckily, Steve Zimmerman not only retained the mansion's elegance but also added the 8,000-square-foot Grand Salon de la Comtesse. Plight your troth beneath circa-1730 carved panels that… More >>
  • Best Hotel

    The Warwick

    Built in 1925, the Warwick is another of those rare Houston gems from time gone by. Old World elegance combined with a recent face-lift make for splendid accommodations: fabulous rooms, a great lobby and the most informed concierge in town, plus the elegant Hunt Room, with its marble fireplace and great steaks. The 12-story structure abuts Hermann Park and the… More >>
  • Best Masseur

    Bob Lemmon, Pope Salon

    Bob Lemmon's massage room is a magical mini-oasis. There are fountains, mystical music, candles, incense and Bob. Bob is the best part. This man's hands will drain every ounce of stress out of any body. His regimen includes oils, hot rocks, soothing lavender lotion, even warm water poured over your feet. Talk or remain silent, whichever you choose. His hands… More >>
  • Best Bed-and-Breakfast

    Robin's Nest

    This amazing old structure, built in 1898, is lovingly restored and chock-full of Victorian charm. Yes, it's a little foofy; don't check in if your idea of luxury is the downtown Hyatt. This luxury is of a different, softer sort. Stroll over (yes, you can stroll in Houston) to one of the many restaurants in the Montrose, or just lie… More >>
  • Best Reason to Go to the Galleria

    Sephora

    Nestled between Origins and Victoria's Secret, Sephora is the Never-Never Land of beauty. Grab a basket for help-yourself makeup shopping. The first thing you encounter when you walk into the store is two walls of perfume, listed alphabetically. It's daunting even to a product whore. The selection of makeup is nothing less than miraculous. Christian Dior, Shu Uemura, Terrax, Shiseido,… More >>
  • Best Galleria Alternative

    Highland Village

    If your goal is to experience the luxury and selection of the Galleria but to avoid the insane parking and crowds, then check out Highland Village. All of the staples are there: the Gap, Banana Republic, Victoria's Secret and, of course, Starbucks. But the area also includes fine apparel stores such as Tootsies, Cole-Haan and the always cool Anthropologie, where you will find… More >>
  • Best Chiropractor

    Kenneth Lester, Kirby Health and Wellness

    The beautiful people stroll regularly through Kenneth Lester's door, perhaps because of his reputation, perhaps because of his location, in the Page Parkes building in River Oaks. But while Lester is appropriately fabulous, there is substance to his style. For years the med student-turned-triathlete-turned-chiropractor has been breaking his back to mend those of his eclectic mix of patients. His facility,… More >>
  • Best Electrolysis Practioner

    Dr. Esta Kronberg

    Those Aussies who make Nads are big dirty liars. No, Crocodile Dundee, we do not like putting Nads on our face, our hairy back, or anywhere. It hurts. Dear Lord, it hurts. That's why we turn to electrolysis's technologically advanced younger sister, laser hair removal, and to the bedside manner of Dr. Esta Kronberg. Her staff takes all the time… More >>
  • Best Dog Trainer

    Patricia E. Mercer

    It's not so much that she has done an excellent job of training a particular canine, it's that Patricia Mercer has been instrumental in ensuring hundreds of dogs a happy relationship with their new owners. As executive director of the SPCA, Mercer oversees a training program that gives larger dogs a better chance of being adopted. In addition to nudging… More >>
  • Best Watch Repair

    The Little Watch Shop

    If these guys can fix a glockenspiel music-box clock built in 1800 with all-wood mechanisms (which they can), just imagine what wonders they can work with that collection of old watches that's sitting in your bathroom drawer. Serving time since 1947, the shop has six folks on staff with degrees from watchmaking school, and they can often do the work… More >>
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