Shopping & Services

  • Best Dry Cleaner

    McGowen Cleaners Young professionals in the know swear by this particular dry cleaner, which is nestled in the Montrose area just west of Dunlavy. And it's not because McGowen offers any gimmicks or a particularly sexy product; it's simply good at cleaning, dryly. One customer swears they can get out any stain. Another notes that they've never once broken a… More >>
  • Best Florist

    Heights Floral Shop Established in 1935, Heights Floral Shop is one of the oldest florists in Houston. Age doesn't always indicate excellence (just ask any Hollywood agent), but this family-owned and -operated flower joint is thriving more vibrantly than ever. Take this summer, for example. While many florists reduce their employees' hours during the balmy months, this cozy old house… More >>
  • Best Spectacles/Glasses/Optometry

    Spectacles on Montrose Like the librarian type? Then pop out those contact lenses, man. LASIK is vanity, but eyewear is fashion, and the folks at this friendly boutique can fix you up with the sexiest specs in town. Spectacles on Montrose offers a sprawling variety of über-chic styles, and owners Evan Mape and Corey Theige make choosing a pair a… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Coffee Beans

    Central Market At Howard E. Butt's megamart, Central Market, there are enough varieties of coffee beans to make Starbucks and Juan Valdez very jealous. The coffee buyers at Houston's gourmet paradise scour the globe to bring you the finest in roasted bulk beans. Blends from Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ethiopia sit alongside beans from Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico. On each… More >>
  • Best Delivery

    Takeout Taxi For those times when getting dressed to go out takes too much effort and yet you're tired of zapping your food, you may think your only option is Domino's or Chinese. But you don't have to settle for oversalty kung pao chicken or limp pizza ever again, since the good folks at Takeout Taxi are willing to do… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Fish

    Village Tropical Fish Don't tell these guys you accidentally killed your kid's pet goldfish -- you're not likely to get a laugh. The staffers at Village Tropical Fish think fish are people too and treat them like best friends. They can tell you what type of fish would be happiest in your tank, when it mates and even if it'll… More >>
  • Best Mexican Bakery

    Arandas Bakery Sure, the breads are delish, but it's the sweets that get us salivating every time we walk in the door of an Arandas Bakery. The place is truly Tex-Mex, featuring a variety of desserts from Mexico and the States -- although, when it comes down to it, most the stuff actually originated in Europe, the land of cream… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Spec's Liquor Where else in Houston can you get a case of Guatemalan lager, a bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio, a towering pastrami sandwich and a big, stinky Arturo Fuente Churchill cigar for the ride home? Nowhere, that's where. In fact, calling Spec's a "liquor store" is like calling the Taj Mahal…well…a liquor store. Spec's is a 40-year-old, family-run institution,… More >>
  • Best High-End Resale Shop

    Mid-Century Pavilion At a time when most hip furniture is inspired by the modernism of the '50s and '60s or by the clean lines of old-school Danish designers, why not head to Mid-Century Pavilion for the originals? Instead of dropping $2,000 for a Sam Cocker chair out of the pages of Wallpaper, you could spend $495 for an Eiffel Tower… More >>
  • Best Watch Repair

    The Little Watch Shop How many businesses can you think of in this town that have been around for more than ten years? How about 25? And you can forget about 50, right? Well, since 1947, the dedicated specialists at the aptly named Little Watch Shop have been hunched over their desks, working their meticulous magic under the bright lights… More >>
  • Best Pawnshop

    Valu The most oft-used phrase inside these four walls must be "They don't know what they have." If they did, they'd be certified eBay millionaires. Think you're too cool for a stinking pawnshop? Maybe a drill, a gun, an obsolete stereo and a copy of Predator 2 on Beta aren't on your current wish list, but Valu at Washington and… More >>
  • Best Video Store

    Audio Video Plus Places like Hollywood and Blockbuster do a great job of making sure you get your copy of Terminator 3 if you want it. But when you're looking for a tougher find -- like, say, Schwarzenegger's American film debut as Hercules living in NYC -- you have to go to Audio Video Plus. More than 60,000 titles and… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Central Market With a full-time sommelier and a bevy of wine stewards overseeing more than 3,000 vineyard varieties, on-site cheese mongers caring for the more than 700 different products, and bakers by the dozen, you'll be well cared for at Central Market. From the colorful produce department full of exotic fruits and veggies to the incredible deli, from the cooking… More >>
  • Best Reweaving

    Jimmie's Reweaving & Alterations Damn. You only wore that delicate pink merino sweater one time, and now you discover that "machine-washable" doesn't mean you can throw it in with a load of jeans and sneakers. You've maimed the previously perfect thing with two ugly holes, and your sweet, generous boyfriend is gonna be less so if he finds out. Don't… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Jen Eberhardt It's all about attitude. And we're talking about lack thereof. Jen has been serving up drinks at this Midtown watering hole for a couple of years now -- without a trace of the I'm-hot-you're-not poutiness that plagues other bars. Some drink-slingers around town will act all frazzled and snarky, thinking it's what customers have come to expect, but… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    Bedrock City Comic Company From 1940s superhero comics to underground Freak Brothers books to hot-off-the-press mainstream affairs, Bedrock City is the place to satisfy your inner geek. The folks there know how to treat customers, too. You can sign up for their subscription service and they'll hold copies of the latest issues for you at a discount. Plus, they don't… More >>
  • Best Greeting Cards

    sloan/hall If you like your greeting cards dripping with hearts, flowers and sentimentality, you'll be just fine at the drugstore. But if you want something a little more subversive, there's no better card selection than the one at sloan/hall. In a strip mall that straddles the Montrose and River Oaks, sloan/hall somehow manages to cater to both the giddy hipness… More >>
  • Best Plants

    Joshua's Native Plants Got crabgrass out back? Critters in your chrysanthemums? Then get your homegrowns some professional help at Joshua's in the Heights. The specialists at this nursery can tell you how to ward off molds and pests, but they also let you wander the aisles without pushing anything on you. If you're already a pro, delight in some of… More >>
  • Best Sexual Health Clinic

    Montrose Clinic Let's face it: No one wants to take an HIV test. But the folks at Montrose Clinic make it as pleasant as possible. A friendly staff member leads you into a small room that somehow seems both warm and antiseptic at the same time. Once there, all of your options will be explained to you in easy-to-understand terms.… More >>
  • Best Magazine Selection

    Issues In this Webby world, the idea of a store stocking nothing but magazines might seem quaint. But the recently opened Issues on Shepherd just north of Richmond proves beyond a doubt there's still life left in the dead-tree trade. More than 3,000 titles line the walls, and the owners are eager to stock any request you have. Where else… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing

    Retropolis From the sidewalk, Retropolis looks like a sliver among the boutiques and antique shops on the Heights' main drag -- a skinny little closet of a boutique worth a quick peek on your way to the nearby gelato parlor. But step inside, walk up the wood-plank stairs at the back, and the store's name starts to click. On the… More >>
  • Best Art Supply Store

    Texas Art Supply Longtime Houston staple Texas Art Supply wins by sheer volume. And since its only real competition -- Montrose's other locale for all things arty, Utrecht -- shut its doors earlier this year, Texas Art reigns supreme in anything an artist needs: rubber stamps, canvases, paints, stencils, clay, markers, easels and desks. Daily discount prices make Texas Art… More >>
  • Best Barber

    Salon Essie It's been almost 20 years since Essie set off for a three-month vacation from Iran. She decided to stay here, and seven years ago, she opened her salon on Richmond. You'll still catch the enchanting lilt of Farsi fluttering through the store in between casual banter with her customers. Men's haircuts all too often become a painful exercise… More >>
  • Best Music Store

    Cactus Music and Video Regulars stop by Cactus to browse used vinyl and check out the magazines, clothing and rock-music action figurines. They also show up when local or touring musicians drop by to perform. Oh, yeah, and they go to Cactus to buy CDs. During the past 12 months, general manager Quinn Bishop has brought renewed focus to the… More >>
  • Best Window-Shopping

    The Galleria While the fashionistas burn up Daddy's credit card and waddle under the weight of their bagged purchases, you'll be the practical one. There's no guilt when it comes to window-shopping, and the Galleria is the hottest spot for it. All the names are here: Betsey Johnson, Kenneth Cole, Versace, Abercrombie. You can scope the United Colors of Benetton… More >>
  • Best Used CDs

    Soundwaves So, yeah, the commercials are horrible and the Hummers a bit gauche, but when it comes to selling used CDs, Soundwaves reigns supreme. They offer as much as $5 for newer CDs, so it's a good place to get the albums you never listen to off your hands -- it's like a pawnshop full of music geeks. The fact… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    French Gourmet Bakery French Gourmet Bakery serves up a bounty of goodies: warm loaves of cinnamon-apple bread, strudels, decadent chocolate cakes (great for parties) and box lunches containing buttery croissants with chicken salad. Need treats for the office or classroom? You can't beat the fresh cupcakes slathered in homemade frosting or the iced ginger star cookies. Even better, the sugar… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Tint Job and a Taco

    Adas Window Tint Pimpin' ain't easy, least of all when it comes to your ride. If you've got to score your ground effects in Pasadena, your alloys in Tomball and your LEDs and hydraulics in Katy, you might not have time to brake for lunch. That's why today's busy gangstas head down the East Freeway to Adas Window Tint, where… More >>
  • Best Head Shop

    Smoke N' Toke This place is the epitome of stoner chic. Spread out in five rooms of a converted house, the joint has an ample selection of pipes, bongs, hookahs, nargiles, dugouts, smoke stones, papers…hell, just about anything you could ever need to smoke your, um, stuff. The staff is hip-looking and just friendly enough to not be annoying, and… More >>
  • Best Asian Grocery

    Viet Hoa Here in Houston you can find Asian foods in most any mainstream grocery store. But if you're hankering for fish sauce, Peking duck or some restaurant-style bowls for serving pho, you're best served traveling to Viet Hoa in southwest Houston. A massive warehouse-sized temple of Chinese and Vietnamese fare, the store peddles produce, Chinese health and wellness goods,… More >>
  • Best Tofu/Soy Products

    - CLOSED

    Rice Epicurean Markets Sometimes we all need a break from chicken-fried steak and baby-back ribs smothered in mesquite barbecue sauce. And, well, some of us don't like to eat dead stuff. So when your inner hippie's stomach starts grumbling, hightail it to Rice Epicurean for Houston's widest-ranging selection of healthy, meat-free eats. Silken tofu, extrafirm tofu, faux cheese, soy ice… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Carriage Glass & Detail Co. Brothers Andy and Craig Deas don't just run a car wash -- they offer an "automotive cosmetic repair facility." Price-wise, this may not be where you wash your car every week, but the service is far and away the best in town. Hand-washing and -waxing will leave your wheels glistening, and Cesar and his crew… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Houston Farmers' Market Two years ago, choosing the best farmers' market in Houston would have been impossible because there weren't any. Now, the problem has flipped the other way: In addition to visiting the Houston Farmers' Market in the Heights, the intrepid produce shopper could venture to the Midtown Farmers' Market housed at chef Monica Pope's edgy T'afia or, beginning… More >>
  • Best Bike Shop

    Daniel Boone Cycles Thirty-five years ago, Dan and Joy Boone started refurbishing secondhand bikes in their backyard for extra grocery money. Today, they have one of the most popular bike shops in the city. The shop is still in the backyard, but they now have everything from $300 city bikes to $4,000 specialty frames and forks. In addition to road… More >>
  • Best Chiropractor

    Kenneth Lester Comedian Eddie Izzard once had this to say about a chiropractor: "They could have their fingers in your nostrils, one foot on the back of your underpants, and they're pushing your spine away with a broom." While you won't find any brooms at Lester's office, you will find a practitioner so hell-bent on health that he's been known… More >>
  • Best Local Designer

    Tina Knowles Destiny's Child has an image and a style that's recognized worldwide. In her new book, Destiny's Style, Tina Knowles, the creator of the world-famous Destiny's Child look, shares her (and the group's) shopping, sewing and lifestyle secrets. Her designs have graced the covers of such magazines as In Style and Vogue, influenced the style of women across the… More >>
  • Best Mechanic

    Tracy Writers know their mechanics. Driving around this city in search of hot stories puts a lot of strain on our old jalopies. And most of us certainly aren't getting rich, so we need a mechanic who's honest and affordable. According to statistics, there are only about ten such folks left in the world. And, luckily, one of them lives… More >>
  • Best Gamble for Junk

    The Guild Shop Walking through the doors of the Guild Shop is like being on stage with Monte Hall. On the price tags you'll find three prices. Next to each price is a date. The price goes down as the dates progress. So if you think you can hold out for a few days on buying that wicker wheelchair or… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy a Gun

    Academy Sporting Goods Whether you're looking for a Mossberg Maverick 12-gauge 28-inch synthetic shotgun or a Beretta U22 Neos 4.5 handgun, Academy is your place. With low daily prices on all hunting and protective firearms ($219 for a Smith & Wesson 22A; Rimfire is practically unheard of), they've got specialty gun shops around town beat by an average of $50,… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring

    I.W. Marks A quarter-century in the making, this jewelry emporium in Braes Heights Center has ten -- count 'em -- ten cases of engagement rings. There are diamond solitaires set in platinum, loose diamonds and the wildly popular three-stone engagement rings. Want to treat her like J.Lo with a pink, yellow or blue diamond ring? I.W. Marks has it. In… More >>
  • Best Kids' Clothes

    Andree's Corner This consignment store is no secret to thrifty Inner Loop 'rents. Located at the busy corner of Kirby and Sunset, it has trendy items for every stage of a kid's life. Andree's knows every mommy (and daddy) needs more time, so the old house is divided into different rooms for girls, boys, shoes and maternity wear. And books… More >>
  • Best Bookstore

    Half Price Books Half Price Books rules this town when it comes to getting quality reads on the cheap, and the Rice Village store is the chain's monarch. Here you'll find volumes on just about any subject imaginable -- thanks to the area's college students, who consistently trade in their required reading for beer money. Whether it's your soul that… More >>
  • Best Clothes for Your Dog

    Haute 2 Trot If your pooch is tired of being in the doghouse of fashion, browse the Web site of local canine couture outfit Haute 2 Trot. Founded four years ago by interior designer Elise Winslow Kelly after she couldn't find any decent clothes for her pampered Chinese crested, Haute 2 Trot has become the ne plus ultra of four-legged… More >>
  • Best Tobacco Shop

    My Cigar Shop: Cigar Factory Sure, there are a lot of tobacconists around town who have nicer stores and more selection than Reno Bayo, but the man wins out because of the little things. His shop is nestled in a strip center between a pedicure place and a tattoo shop, making la-di-da pretension an impossibility. Inside is a small humidor… More >>
  • Best Costume Shop

    Arne's Located in a spooky, red brick factory building in the industrial strip between Montrose and the Heights, Arne's is the perfect department store for all of your ghoulish needs. Hike up the stairs and past the still-operating conveyor belt and you'll find enough freakish fashion options to outfit an apocalypse. Whether you're into witches, devils, vampires, demons, trolls or… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Flea Market Row Driving up Airline past I-45 and 610 on a Sunday afternoon, you might think you're approaching a Rolling Stones concert or a sold-out Houston Texans game. But nope. You would have known if the Stones were coming to town, and the Texans play in that building down by the Dome. So what the heck is going on… More >>
  • Best Dog Trainer

    Jim Burwell Rover Oaks Pet Resort offers boarding, grooming, classes and all the other amenities available at today's high-end pet facilities. But more important than the expensive clippers and gourmet dog food is owner-founder Jim Burwell, who has an uncanny ability to communicate with dogs. Not some weird "dog guy," he's more a gentle "dog whisperer." Even when coaching large… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    Christopher's Fine Wines The former Christopher's Wine Warehouse may have a new name and location, but the selection, ambience and staff expertise carry on in the tradition of excellence that longtime customers appreciate. Christopher Massie has been in the business for 20 years, so he knows his stuff. And if you hang out long enough at his shop, you will… More >>

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