Shopping & Services

  • Best Clown School

    Houston Clown School

    Start clowning around -- it could earn you a cool 35 large a year. Instructor Larry Kibbey, 76, has been clowning since 1949 and has written seven books on the subject, so he's got the Bozo thing down pat. He's also the patriarch of what he calls the world's largest family of clowns and magicians -- 14 fabulous entertainers in… More >>
  • Best Spanish Classes

    Leisure Learning Unlimited

    Did your understanding of Spanish stop somewhere between agua and adiós? Well, Leisure Learning Unlimited offers an imaginative way for you to habla mas espaņol. For about $200, you can take LLU's accelerated Spanish classes, which combine role-playing, singing and dancing to maximize your learning potential. The small classes (12 to 14) meet once a week for three hours, for… More >>
  • Best Thrift Store

    Savers

    The sign in the window of Savers promises "4000 new items daily," and they're not kidding. This cavernous thrift store has every type of clothing, along with a variety of housewares and some furniture, on sale for cheap, cheap, cheap. Start your shopping trip by picking up one of Savers' complimentary shopping carts or big red-and-white bags so as to… More >>
  • Best Resale Shop

    The Guild Shop

    Perhaps you've always craved a sterling silver tea set, or a vintage rhinestone brooch or a velvet couch. From the sublimely beautiful to the ridiculously tacky, the Guild Shop has it all -- and at great prices. Because parishioners at the upscale St. John the Divine Church donate their often valuable castoffs to this church-sponsored resale shop, fancy but outdated… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing Store

    The Way We Wore

    Tucked just a few blocks away from the main vintage clothing drag on Westheimer is Houston's best-kept resale secret, The Way We Wore. Its locale, an old Montrose home, gives the place heaps of character. And inside you'll find a resale shopper's dream -- the place is chock-full of high-quality outfits from the days when your grandmother still liked to… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Cheap Shoes

    Phil's Shoes

    There are two different types of shoppers. There are people who shop because there are things that they need; for instance, they need a pair of khaki pants to go with their boring white button-down shirt. Then there are people who shop for the thrill, the joy, the adventure, the hunt. If you're a can-you-get-this-in-my-size kind of shopper, this is… More >>
  • Best Last-Minute Shopping

    Urban Outfitters

    You can create a truly interesting wardrobe created without a huge expenditure -- if you have the time to sift through thrift stores, garage sales, discount shops like T.J. Maxx or Loehmann's and sales at fancy stores. But sometimes there's just no time to mess around -- for example, when you realize you hate every single item in your closet… More >>
  • Best Department Store

    Nordstrom

    Just when you thought the days of helpful salesclerks and expansive racks of interesting goodies were gone to all but the very rich, Nordstrom department store moves into town to save the day. Not only do they have astonishingly kind clerks, great merchandise (some of which is actually "affordable," as one saleslady so delicately put it), and one of the… More >>
  • Best Designer Boutique

    Wink Clothing Boutique

    They have their own label of bottled water. Need we say more? This swanky shop sports Betsey Johnson frocks and darling sequined Ts along with retro Gigi dresses that work from day to evening and Charles Chang-Lima separates made of wonderful fabric. It's the perfect place to nab a little cocktail dress that you won't see yourself coming and going… More >>
  • Best Chichi Sundries

    Sloan/Hall

    The only thread that connects the various and sundry goods at Sloan/Hall is taste. Very good taste. Owners Marcus Sloan and Shannon Hall seem to stock their store not with what they think their customers might want but with what they themselves like. The result is a smorgasbord of interesting (and expensive) items like Comme des Garçons fragrances, Mariage Frères… More >>
  • Best Modern Furniture

    Sunset Settings

    This place is so mod, it could make Andy Warhol's blond-wigged head explode. Those with an eye for design, retro-chic and clean lines (and a mother of an expense account) will likely climax here. Fortunately there are plenty of groovy chairs to relax in afterward, like Gaetano Pesce's line of whimsical yet functional translucent rubbery molded plastic furniture. Lovers of… More >>
  • Best Antiques Store

    Brownstone Gallery

    One of the largest family-owned and -run antiques stores in town, Brownstone has more than 14,000 square feet of floor space cram-packed with treasures. The expansive space is so full of wonderful finds, it's advisable to visit several times before making your final selection; you might overlook the perfect sideboard on the first trip. Whether it's a pair of distinguished… More >>
  • Best Bookstore

    The Book Collector

    Book collector Jim Taylor opened this field of literary dreams in Rice Village 13 years ago with several thousand of his own books. In February, he moved to his current location, a quaint former fire station with stained concrete floors and a classy, minimalist decor. Taylor specializes in leather-bound books and modern first editions from heavy-hitters like Hemingway, Steinbeck and… More >>
  • Best Rustic Furniture

    Yubos

    Like many boutiques on Yale and Heights, the converted house where Yubos resides probably goes unnoticed by many a driver. Pity. Passers-by are missing out on an eclectic bevy of Latin luxury. Recognized mostly for its gorgeous rustic furnishings, Yubos specializes in custom furniture and can make anything you like. Bring them a picture, some sketches or just your ideas… More >>
  • Best Lighting

    Lighting Unlimited

    Bernard Wolf loves lighting. His store is aglow with table lamps, floor lamps, desk lamps, sconces, chandeliers and ceiling fans. Solid name brands like Artemide, Luceplan and Schonbek are in abundance, with your choice of halogen, fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. Lighting Unlimited offers the widest range of lighting styles in town, from classy to conventional to mod to kitschy. If… More >>
  • Best Place to Pretend You're Kirstie Alley on a Budget

    Pier 1 Clearance Store

    If you're living on Cheers royalties, you can afford to buy hundreds of $10 candles. You can wander around Pier 1 dressed like a fairy and say stupid things like "True or false, this whole table setting cost less than my shoes!" But for those of us without the Jimmy Choo shoes, Pier 1's fairly reasonably priced items add up.… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet People with Large Discretionary Incomes

    Neiman Marcus

    These are the types who will pay $100 for a pair of socks. There are people in this very store buying $300 T-shirts. The best way to find out who the Richie Riches are is to watch them shop. Now, there is the remote possibility of meeting someone's personal shopper or assistant out doing errands. But chances are, if someone… More >>
  • Best Hotel

    Hotel Derek

    The new downtown luxury hotels, like the Magnolia and the Sam Houston, could've been contenders in this category if it weren't for one thing: construction. Downtown demolition ruins the luxury. Until the city center is put back together again, the stylish Hotel Derek remains the place to be seen lodging among the elite. Celebrity sightings are commonplace, and the surroundings… More >>
  • Best Day Spa

    Trellis at the Houstonian

    Trellis is the newest, fanciest day spa in Houston. From the interior float pool to the Mediterranean-style balcony, this 17,000-square-foot spa wraps up luxury and serenity into one nice package. Visitors can relax with a Vichy rainfall shower or a tension relief cocoon body wrap. Those self-conscious about baring their aging bodies before the ultrafit Houstonian crowd can opt for… More >>
  • Best Manicure

    Mai's Nail Perfection

    At Mai's Nail Perfection, a converted house on Sunset Boulevard, everything is purple. When you get a pedicure, you sit on a purple throne, surrounded by purple walls. You'll feel like a queen, unless you don't take good care of your feet -- in which case Mai will chastise you and make you feel like a naughty little girl (or… More >>
  • Best Tanning Salon

    Darque Tan

    It's December 1, and you're spending the holidays in the Caribbean. Lucky you. Of course, your pale skin hasn't seen the light of day in months, and that could be a problem. If you don't want to spend the first few days of your vacation hiding under an umbrella or nursing the sunburn you got after your 45 SPF washed… More >>
  • Best Acupuncturist

    Eastern Harmony Acupuncture & Herbal Clinic

    Is your biological clock ticking overtime? Are you having trouble conceiving a child? Eastern Harmony treats scores of stressed-out wannabe mothers with caring, compassionate acupuncture treatments in a soothing atmosphere complete with Eastern mood music. Acupuncturists Randine Lewis and Sadhna Singh hold both Western medical degrees and acupuncture certifications. They can use acupuncture alone or as a complement to their… More >>
  • Best Psychic

    Patricia Williams

    Patricia Williams has been helping folks cleanse their auras and balance their chakras for 30 years. But that's not all: A gift passed on from her great-grandmother allows her to read palms, tarot cards and crystal balls, as well as assist with something called Tibet meditation, which sounds pretty darn relaxing. She also sells potions, candles and crystals -- even… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    Bedrock City

    For 13 years comic book fans -- and more recently, parents exasperatingly herding Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh enthusiasts -- have trekked out to the intersection of Westheimer and Hillcroft to visit Bedrock City, the friendliest and most helpful comic book store in town. The shop is relatively bright and airy (rare in the literally low-rent world of "graphic novel" outlets) and… More >>
  • Best Clothing Designer

    Vanessa Riley

    In a town that's not all that fashion-forward, up-and-coming British-born designer Vanessa Riley is a true find. Known for her extravagant, corseted couture gowns and sweeping, floor-length coats, Riley has dressed the beautiful people for events like the Grammys, the Academy Awards and Houston's society balls. But her designs are not inaccessible to the rest of us -- especially if… More >>
  • Best Jewelry Designer

    Mari Carmen Ibarra of Contemporary Stones

    She's exotically beautiful, she speaks four languages, and she designs killer jewelry. Mexican-born Mari Carmen Ibarra's trademark is unusual clasps -- one popular version resembles a ribbon of 18-karat gold. Her contemporary designs, appropriately sold under the name Contemporary Stones, also feature long strands of freshwater pearls and other semiprecious stones. No wonder the ultracool design store Kuhl-Linscomb decided to… More >>
  • Best Watch Repair

    Box & Box Jewelers

    Why do those men in shorts and black dress socks comb the Galveston beaches with metal detectors? Because they know maybe, just maybe, they'll find a silver Rolex amid the shells and jellyfish. Tony Box sees it all the time. The burly, gregarious owner of Box & Box Jewelers restores and performs mechanical surgery on many a Rolex in his… More >>
  • Best Dry Cleaner

    Swans Cleaners

    Van Pham's Swans Cleaners is one of the few places in town where it's hotter inside than out. That's because there's no separation between the counter and work area. Steam rises constantly from the presses, and some 30 fans tilt quixotically against the heat. Pham's loyal following doesn't mind, though. Besides really good cleaning, they get a laundry bag with… More >>
  • Best Florist

    David Brown

    Nothin' brown at David Brown. This chichi Rice Village florist shop is filled with greenery and riots of colorful flowers. In addition to the fabulous flower fashions, there are garden sculptures and gifts for the green- and not-so-green-thumbed. But your best bets are the special arrangements -- you're just a phone call away from making someone smile or swoon. Specialties… More >>
  • Best Hardware Store

    Southland Hardware

    While The Home Depot and Lowe's continue to assert themselves as the Starbucks of hardware stores, putting the fear of God into more modest chains like Ace, this humble Montrose shop -- one of the oldest hardware stores in Houston -- is staying alive. Its smaller size makes it much more navigable than those monstrous hardware hangars, and the staffers… More >>
  • Best Texas Stuff

    Goode Co. Barbeque Hall of Flame

    The cheesy Alamo facade is a dead giveaway: The Goode Co. Barbeque Hall of Flame is all about Texas. Here you'll find Texas food from the Goode Co. Barbeque smokehouse across the street, the Lone Star State's best and biggest grills, Texas cuisine cookbooks, Western wear, Texas-style jewelry, toys for Texas tots and shot glasses hand-painted with bluebonnets. Send Texans… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy a Gun

    Carter's Country

    Carter's Country doesn't sell hunting supplies. It sells huntin' supplies. That's how you know you're getting the real deal when it comes to buying gear you use to kill stuff. It stocks more than 800 makes and models of firearms, from purty li'l things for the ladyfolk to handheld cannons for the Dirty Harrys out there. Carter's, which has been… More >>
  • Best Cowboy Outfitter

    Ed Kane's Western Shop

    Looking for a big-ass belt buckle with a buckin' bronco? Or perhaps a pair of tasteful boot-shaped earrings? Well, look no further. Ed Kane's has been selling this kind of stuff for more than 30 years. With more Stetsons than you can shake a latigo flogger at, a boatload of boots, jeans of every color imaginable, and stuff for your… More >>
  • Best Barbershop

    Avalon Barber Shop

    In this era of über-chic salons and bewilderingly varied hair products, a visit to a traditional barbershop is a rare treat. And the Avalon Barber Shop is a classic, complete with revolving red-and-white-striped barber pole. Ask for Paul, who'll sit you down in one of the vintage chairs and deftly snip away at your mop as you survey the walls,… More >>
  • Best Record Store

    Soundwaves

    The biggest store in the Soundwaves chain knows how to soothe the savage beasts that are music consumers. Their wide collection of new and used CDs, not to mention hard-to-find import albums and indie releases, is enough to satisfy any music junkie. And the place has become a haven for local DJs, thanks to a vinyl collection that's heavily up… More >>
  • Best Auto Repair

    Nathaniel Mayes III, Big J's Power Garage

    Being stranded sucks almost as much as towing fees. No more. Nathaniel Mayes III is on the scene. Give him a call, explain the problem, and he'll be out there the same day. He'll check out your car, procure the necessary parts and fix the problem. If he can't fix it right there, he'll tow it himself back to Big… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Fiesta

    Allegiances run deep among Houston grocery shoppers. Die-hard Kroger devotees are just itchin' to pop a cap in some Randalls-card-carrier's ass. And don't even get us started on the Whole Foods posse. Us, we're members of the Fiesta crew. If you want good food (especially Mexican specialties) at good prices and can sacrifice some decor, this is the place to… More >>
  • Best Mall Alternative

    Kim Hung Mall

    You won't find a B. Dalton, Gap or Olive Garden at this Chinatown landmark. You will find an exotic Asian market with fresh produce, meats and seafood; unusual sauces and condiments; inexpensive housewares and decorations; and an outstanding selection of drinks, snacks, candy and sweets. Elsewhere in the building are shops that sell herbal remedies and books on Asian (largely… More >>
  • Best Mexican Bakery

    El Bolillo Panaderia

    If you let a six-year-old loose in here, the contact high would probably last a week. Sugar. The place smells like pure sugar. There are multicolored cookies; strawberry, pineapple and peach tiramisu; and fresh, original versions of those cinnamon and sugar sticks that Taco Bell and Domino's Pizza ripped off. You can also special-order cakes and cookies and breads. That's… More >>
  • Best Tofu/Soy Products

    Whole Foods Market

    Are you a soy newbie? That is, you hear about the soy craze on the news but don't know what the hell you're supposed to do with the stuff? Does the idea of eating tofu make you want to yawn with boredom or gag with disgust, even though it's been shown to cut cholesterol and even fight some cancers? Never… More >>
  • Best Coffee Beans

    House of Coffee Beans

    If you find the aroma of coffee intoxicating, you'll be in heaven at the House of Coffee Beans, which has an on-premise roaster that constantly emits alluring fragrances. The coffee beans are purchased from all over the world in the green state and then medium-roasted in small batches. Looking for some shade-grown, hand-picked beans from a family-owned estate in Guatemala?… More >>
  • Best Pastry Shop

    Epicure Cafe

    The Austrians take their coffee and cake very seriously. After all, where else do they confer the honor of konditoreimeister, or master pastry chef? (Okay, Germany.) Epicure Cafe owner Khan Esmail is a native of Iran who studied in Austria and brought his knowledge and skills to Houston some 16 years ago. Everything he sells, he makes. Fine European pastries… More >>
  • Best Gift Cards

    Avalon Drug Co. & Diner

    You wouldn't expect a 1930s-era drugstore and diner to have an attitude, but Avalon does when it comes to gift cards. In fact, it's one of the best places in town to grab a greeting. Four rows and a rack are stuffed with paper salutations -- Weiner Dog and Sunrise Greetings sharing space with recycled products and traditional get-well cards.… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Roses

    Fannin's Flower Row

    Despite being choked by the light rail construction, the flower stalls along Fannin Street, like perennials, are making a comeback. Need to redecorate for tonight's party or impress a date? The indoor-outdoor markets are still the best place to buy roses without breaking the bank. Ten bucks will usually get you a dozen roses of almost any color that will… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring

    A.A. Benjamin

    Diamonds might be a girl's best friend, but they're also as common as a flat highway in East Texas. The mall's no help. Every bauble there is a cookie-cutter version of every other. Instead, try A.A. Benjamin, a tiny showroom hidden in the back of a bank building. Among the many antique and estate delights laid out in the glass… More >>
  • Best Vinyl Record Store

    Sound Exchange

    Sound Exchange on Richmond and Black Dog Records were neck and neck for top honors in this category. Both stores have an exquisite collection of rare and long-lost vinyl LPs, often at affordable prices, and they both have their share of eccentric regulars who like to hip the knowledgeable employees to the latest conspiracies. For a while there, Black Dog… More >>
  • Best Maternity Clothes

    Nine

    Can a pregnant woman find happiness in a clothing boutique? She can if it's Rice Village's Nine, the trendy maternity store where the trust-fund babies with babies on board come to shop. With an atmosphere that feels more like Neiman's than nine months in waiting, the little store caters to pretty young mommies-to-be with clothes that are hardly your mother's… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Cigars

    The Briar Shoppe

    Sisters Pat and Donna O'Connor have turned this store, which their mother opened more than 40 years ago, into a stogie smoker's oasis. With a 200-square-foot walk-in humidor featuring everything from Arturo to Zeno, you can't go wrong. The shop(pe) also features a wide selection of pipes, wine, liquor and smoking accessories such as humidors, lighters and cutters. And they… More >>
  • Best Toy Store

    FAO Schwarz

    Frederick August Otto Schwarz came all the way to Baltimore from Germany 141 years ago so that you could get some kick-ass toys. The least you could do is check out his store. So they're not local -- so what? The huge Houston location across the street from the Galleria is the quintessential toy store. If you need a plush… More >>
  • Best Pet Store

    Houston SPCA

    Face it: Unlike those poseurs at the mall pet stores, the animals here really need you. At any given time, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has 300 to 400 pets waiting to be adopted -- every kind of critter, from dogs and cats to horses and pigs. Your $65 kitty or doggy adoption fee includes spaying… More >>
  • Best Place for a Kid's Birthday Party

    The Mad Potter

    Even if your kid isn't a budding Jackson Pollock, he will be blissfully occupied at the Mad Potter. This place has birthday parties down to a science: Carefully smocked children joyfully smear clay animals, boxes and plates with paint while adoring adults sip cocktails. Helpful staffers dole out small blobs of paint to the tiny artists and help to keep… More >>
  • Best Video Selection

    Cactus Music and Video

    If you're hunting for hard-to-find videos and DVDs, Cactus is the place to go. Good luck locating, say, the Criterion Collection edition of Jim Jarmusch's masterpiece Down By Law at your local Best Buy. The store managers at the big chains lack the knowledge and taste to stock such relevant works. But at Cactus, there's an entire Criterion Collection section.… More >>
  • Best Adult Video Store

    Cindie's

    When it comes to shopping for adult videos, it doesn't get much pinker or cuter than Cindie's -- the red-and-white awning covered in hearts, the frothy lingerie in the window. But don't let the candy-coated packaging of this adult novelty store fool you. Cindie's also stacks top-of-the-line adult videos and DVDs, guaranteed to get you in the mood. A $10… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Trojans and Truffles

    Hollywood Book and Cafe

    Where can you find rows and rows of hard-core gay porn -- and cheesecake? This place is like The Chocolate Bar meets the News Stand. It's like the Kroger Signature Store of the Hollywood stop-and-shop porn chain. Of all Houston's various XXX stores, this one has to have the most varieties of Wet (the lubricant gay men prefer, according to… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Artist

    Dan Martin

    Too few tattoo artists do more than stencil work. Such is not the case with Dan Martin, an artist for Scorpion Tattoos, Houston's only shop to be published in a national tattoo magazine. A graphic designer for eight years, Martin worked at The Houston Post and elsewhere before taking to skin art. Now he specializes in color and neotraditional work,… More >>

Search Best Of Awards

Best of Award Graphics

Loading...