Shopping & Services

  • Best Head Shop

    Rock 'N Roll It

    With the Houston 420 chain taking over this town, we searched far and wide for a head shop with quality selection, good prices and a friendly staff. (And we'll let you draw your own conclusions from that statement, thank you very much.) We found what we were looking for out on 1960, which isn't so surprising, really, when you consider… More >>
  • Best Tattoo Artist

    Tiger John

    Practically a living legend in the world of tattoos and piercing, Tiger John is a big enough authority to have spoken at the Houston Public Library on the history of tattoos and related health issues. Rather than opting for cookie-cutter stencil work like so many "artists" out there, Tiger John makes one-of-a-kind designs that exhibit the work of a true… More >>
  • Best Tobacco Shop

    The Briar Shoppe

    Wines, ports, lighters, pipes, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, and don't forget the cigars. The folks at this convenient boutique in Rice Village don't just work here. Ask them a question, any question, and they'll fill you in on the details. What corona will best complement a Fonseca Bin 27 Porto? Which blend has the fullest body but with hints of… More >>
  • Best Video Store

    Audio Video Plus

    Have you seen Comfort & Joy, the offbeat comedy about a popular Scottish DJ who goes through an identity crisis after his shoplifting girlfriend leaves him during the holidays and he gets stuck in the middle of a feud between two rival ice cream magnates? If you haven't, you're not alone. The movie has been out of circulation on video… More >>
  • Best Dry Cleaner

    Dry Clean Super Store

    We know it's hot in Space City. For much of the year, venturing out on the streets is no fun because, frankly, the streets aren't air-conditioned. Some days, it's a shame we have to be outdoors for any reason, and this is especially true when we have to run mundane errands like picking up the dry cleaning. Dry Clean Super… More >>
  • Best Fabric Store

    High Fashion Fabric Center

    With the price of clothes these days, many DIYers are creating their own one-of-a-kind fashion masterpieces. And sewers in the know get their threads at High Fashion Fabrics. Within its gigantic 30,000-square-foot showroom, there's a wide selection of patterns to choose from, as well as fabrics and materials of all textures, including vinyl, faux fur and satin. High Fashion Fabrics… More >>
  • Best Magazine Selection

    Brazos Bookstore

    Has this ever happened to you? You head over to a huge magazine rack at a supermarket and are confronted with yards and yards of magazines, and every single one of them sucks. About one in five features the same celebrities; it's a sea of TomJenAngelinaBradTaraParis. And then most of the rest of them are narrowcasted toward hobbyists: Gun Psycho… More >>
  • Best Mall

    Katy Mills Mall

    As you're passing all those car dealerships on I-10 after a shopping trip to Katy Mills, the phrase "a little drive will save you a lot" will echo in your mind. Whether you just purchased a pair of designer shoes or those worn-and-washed jeans everybody's wearing nowadays, most likely you got them for a fraction of the price those Inner… More >>
  • Best Psychic

    Lai

    Newly arrived from Boston, the single-named Lai is already making noises on the local psychic scene. The Norwegian native has been featured on television here and in Canada, and she uses a full array of metaphysical tools to help her clients: tarot, past-life readings, "straight psychic" stuff. Remarkably perceptive, she uses all her talents to tell you things about yourself… More >>
  • Best Vintage Furniture

    Mid-Century Pavilion

    Frustrated thrift shoppers at the Washington Avenue Salvation Army Store inevitably wander across the street to marvel at Mid-Century Pavilion's mother lode of cool, retro furniture and find ways to convince themselves that Mid-Century's prices won't break their budget. (Most likely, the budget was left behind at the Salvation Army, anyway.) Mid-Century's space-age-bachelor-pad furniture is the main attraction -- tables,… More >>
  • Best Builder

    Benssons Builders

    Anybody with a soul will argue that too many Inner Loop bungalows have been bulldozed to make room for that architectural atrocity of the 21st century, the McMansion. But like it or not, builders will keep at it as long as our fair city keeps growing. At least the folks at Benssons Builders are trying to construct something lovely from… More >>
  • Best Tofu/Soy Products

    Rice Epicurean Markets - CLOSED

    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 Markets. These classy joints are part of Houston's oldest family-owned supermarket chain, founded in 1937. The first Epicurean Market… More >>
  • Best Sugar Job

    Ati Shafik

    The moaners and screamers are mostly men, Ati Shafik will tell you in her delightful Egyptian accent, as she applies a sticky paste of warmed sugar and lemon juice to your hairy parts. It's part of a hair-removal process called sugaring, akin to waxing, but allegedly less painful and damaging to your epidermis. True to her spa's name, Cleopatra's Secret,… More >>
  • Best Adult Video Store

    Emporio 30 XXX

    We don't care much for porn. It debases both the performers and the viewers, if you ask us. But we've got this, um, friend, right, and this friend of ours has been to just about every adult video store in this sticky city, and that's saying a lot, considering how many there are. So our friend just loves Emporio 30… 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 a $4,000 specialty frame and fork. In addition to road bikes and… More >>
  • Best Convenience Store

    Paks Food Store

    All convenience stores are pretty much the same, right? Wrong. This place has all the basics -- you know, candy, chips, sodas, cigs, forties -- but it's the extras that really make it a cut above the rest. There's incense, faux designer sunglasses and weed magazines galore. (Seriously, we had no idea there were so many mags devoted to bud.)… More >>
  • Best Costume Shop

    Frankel's Costume Co.

    Halloween is but one time of the year to dress up and pretend you're someone (or something) else. For example, you can go rampaging anytime. For the uninitiated, that's when a group of friends all dress up in the same wacky style, be it as Santas, ballerinas or simians, and hit up bars and events en masse just to see… More >>
  • Best Place to Frost Your Cake-Hole

    TV Jewelry

    Six years ago rapper Paul Wall hooked up with Vietnamese jeweler Johnny Dang, and the mouths of the South haven't been the same since. Dang's skills with grills are legendary in the hip-hop community, as is evident by the man's client list: Lil Jon, David Banner, Z-Ro, Mike Jones and Nelly, to name a few. It's easy to attribute a… More >>
  • Best Spectacles/Glasses/Optometry

    Spectacles on Montrose

    Nestled in the same strip center as Aries Restaurant and Zimm's Wine Bar, Spectacles on Montrose is perfectly poised to make you look like a true Inner Loop hipster. Want a shiny, iridescent pair of exclusive Booth & Bruce frames from England? How about some paper-clip-thin, uber-chic, aluminum frames by !ci Berlin (for your sunglasses, natch)? For those who understand… More >>
  • Best Wine Store

    Christopher's Fine Wines

    The former Christopher's Wine Warehouse may have a new name and a new location, but the selection, ambiance and expertise are as excellent as always. 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 too. Oenophiles will delight over the wide selection,… More >>
  • Best Tech Geek

    Jay Lee

    Jay Lee, Houston Chronicle Help Line columnist and co-host of KPFT/90.1 FM's Technology Bytes, makes understanding the oft-frustrating wired world of computers possible for even the most basic of users. Lee's strength is in his simple instructions and advice. But if you want to get hard-core, he can also out-geek any challenger on the methods of machinery. Lee first became… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Kraftsmen Baking

    The pane pugliese at Kraftsmen is the ideal loaf -- it can be eaten alone, dipped in olive oil or made into the perfect panini. The large, round, rustic loaf with a thick, extra-crisp golden crust and airy, chewy interior originated in the Puglia region in Italy. These hand-formed, artisanal loaves are made daily from the best ingredients. Because they… More >>
  • Best CD Store

    Music Depot

    At first glance, this midsize shop looks like any other mall CD store. The racks are arranged so that the person behind the counter can see all of the activities throughout the store, giving would-be shoplifters a hard time. But it's what's on these racks that sets this place apart. Most mall stores focus on Top 40 hits, and for… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Spec's Warehouse

    Known as the largest liquor store in the world -- though we're not sure that has been confirmed -- Spec's Warehouse fills 80,000 square feet of floor space with more than 40,000 labels of wines, spirits, liqueurs, beers and fine foods. Visit on a Saturday afternoon, and you'll almost surely leave tipsy, as promotions people from a variety of wine,… More >>
  • Best Newsstand

    Issues Magazine Store

    It's not just the smell of glossy, well-inked pages pressed by ever-crisp binding, the sensual peeling apart of the articles and images, or even the spacious, casual atmosphere. It's all of the above. Issues Magazine Store gives enthusiasts a place to congregate without fear of the Frappuccino crowd and their 2.5 kids muscling past, as they tend to do at… More >>
  • Best Store in the Galleria

    Dylan's Candy Bar

    The consumer fire is dying down. You've searched through linens, leathers and all manners of finery during today's Galleria hunt. But the fleeting thrill of discovery and possession is waning as the weight of your bags increases. Shopping is tiring, we know. What you need is a sugar fix. At Dylan's Candy Bar, bright candy-stripe borders and oversize lollies greet… More >>
  • Best Asian Strip Mall

    Diho Square

    One of the oldest Asian-oriented strip malls in Houston, Diho Square may not lure you with goldfish or pagodas, but for everything from hot-pot beef to the hottest Pacific Rim fashions, it's still the best. The uber-cute Japanese shop girls in Harajuku Loft sell clothes that look Japanese (but they're made in China and cost, like, $4 for a tank… More >>
  • Best Black-and-White Photo Booth

    Amy's Ice Cream

    Nothing captures spontaneity more than a trip into a photo booth. In four frames, moods and gestures can change so rapidly. While a lot of photo booths have come to the modern age with color photos and stickers, this veritable time warp inside Amy's Ice Cream has stayed just the way we like it. Inside, friends and lovers can cozy… More >>
  • Best Bookstore

    Murder By the Book

    So the last mystery you read involved one or both of the Hardy boys? Not a big fan, you say? Well, do yourself a favor and check out this store, now celebrating its 25th year of providing the best whodunits around. The folks at MBTB love their genre, and their passion is contagious. They publish their own quarterly newsletter (The… More >>
  • Best Clothes for Your Dog

    A Dog's Life

    Dogs, to many of us, are like non-speaking children. We feed them, bathe them, buy them toys, shower them with affection and take them on walks and to the doctor. They may have fur, but isn't that kind of like being naked? Don't you want your best friend to look stylish? A Dog's Life offers everything from funny little hats,… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Bayou City Farmers' Market

    Pity the fool who hasn't browsed the rows of delightfully handmade and hand-harvested offerings at the Bayou City Farmers' Market. As local jazz players weave their way around the musical scale, shoppers move through the stalls in the parking lot behind 3000 Richmond, checking out fruits and vegetables, cheeses, blended teas and locally roasted coffees. Step up and sample a… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Traders Village

    You tried to just walk by, to leave the samurai weaponry and throwing stars alone this trip. Instead, you fondled a nocturnal flying squirrel from Tasmania and haggled a little too aggressively over a sofa set already priced beneath outlet prices. Hell, you handled every power tool in sight at this 60-acre flea market, the largest marketplace on the Gulf… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    H-E-B

    Howard E. Butt knew a thing or two about designing grocery stores. According to the company's Web site, his motto was "He profits most who serves best." From the looks of them, some other supermarkets' mottoes appear to be "sell crappy food out of sketchy buildings." When you walk into an H-E-B, you'll get the feeling that you've never been… More >>
  • Best Haircut Under $20

    L-N Hair Tech Professional Hair Care

    You don't want to be dropping 40 or 50 bucks on a haircut, but somehow you're leery of what you'll look like after you walk out of one of those cheap strip-mall franchise operations. So instead head into L-N Hair Tech, where men's cuts are $8 (more if you have really long hair) and women's cuts are under $20. Ask… More >>
  • Best Mall Alternative

    Harwin Drive

    What are you looking for? A $175 wedding dress? Mexican-flag boxing gloves? A 500-pound brass statue of Buddha? Sunglasses? Perfume? A car stereo? Or maybe it's an action figure of dubious copyright, let's say, "Superheroic Man," a longhaired Superman riding a horse with a sword and a whip in his hand. You can find all that and much, much more… More >>
  • Best New Record Store

    Sig's Lagoon

    Looking for that long-out-of-print Loretta Lynn/Conway Twitty duet album? The new Calexico DVD? A painting of an albino with an Afro bowling? Sig's Lagoon, the latest musical addition to the thriving Continental strip at the Ensemble/HCC Metro stop, has all that and more. The shop takes its name from a column by Sig Byrd, the long-deceased chronicler of mid-20th-century Houston's… More >>
  • Best Organic Farm

    The Last Organic Outpost

    Under a green canopy of trees, a stream meanders by a series of raised beds boasting a variety of leafy greens. Through the narrow aisles, volunteers' sandals and work boots pad along. The stream feeding the Local Organic Outpost is one of the last that flows over mud and clay rather than city-engineered concrete channels. It feels a thousand miles… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Coffee Beans

    Taft Street Coffee House

    Ah, the rich caramels. The hints of chocolate, the earthy aromas and the lingering taste of exploited labor. As so many addicted Houstonians know, a good cup of coffee can be a lifesaver. But what about the extreme poverty suffered by plantation pickers? FairTrade labeling organizations and the high-minded folks at Taft Street Coffee want your cup of joe to… More >>
  • Best Psychic Fair

    Marva's Psychic Fairs

    For almost eight years, Marva's Psychic Fairs have been a staple of Houston's metaphysical community. The first Saturday of each month, a conference room at the Ramada becomes a veritable Galleria of the world beyond this mere dimension. There are astrologists, palm readers, reflexologists, iridologists, herbalists and tarot-card readers. (Here's an idea: Go to several different vendors and get them… More >>
  • Best Record Store

    Cactus Music & Video

    This perennial favorite continues its stranglehold on this category for two simple reasons: They stock things you can't get anywhere else in town, and the staffers know their shit. Whether it's a Houston or regional title, import, long-lost record your granddad had, or an obscure EP by Death Cab for Cutie, you can find it at Cactus. If not, they'll… More >>
  • Best Used CDs

    Half Price Books and Music

    Forking over $15 or $20 for a new CD these days puts a dent in the wallet of many music connoisseurs. Thankfully, there's Half Price Books. Here, you can find used CDs of mainstream artists and popular indie acts priced anywhere from $5 to $8. Lesser-known artists show up on clearance racks, priced from $1 to $3 -- and music… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing

    The Way We Wore

    So, you want to dress as a naughty elf for that certain someone. Or you want to dodge the landlord (an inconspicuous glam metal wig and pair of Bono shades). We suggest you hit the full-to-bursting rooms at The Way We Wore, which offers an almost endless selection of everything from oversize mushroom hats to false teeth. Whether your kick… More >>
  • Best Vintage LPs

    Sound Exchange

    "Back in the day -- 1977 -- Houston was a sleepy cow-town, known mostly for petroleum-related businesses, serial killers with "Wayne' in their name, and the Astrodome..." So begins the epic saga of Sound Exchange, as told on its extremely entertaining Web site. But here's a spoiler alert: The saga ends with a few dudes running a great new-and-used record… More >>
  • Best Wine Class

    Wine Fundamentals

    So, you have a subscription to Wine Enthusiast, own a wine encyclopedia and special corkscrews, and conduct blind tastings at home with vintages from your cellar. Still feel like that's not enough? If you really want to impress your friends and be the ultimate wine geek, fork out $1,500 and take the Wine Fundamentals course offered by the International Sommelier… More >>
  • Best Wine Tools/Accessories

    The Wine Bucket

    We counted 20 varieties of wine bags alone at this chic boutique located in the Upper Kirby District. To say the least, it's an oenophile's wet dream. Wait, make that a person-buying-an-oenophile-a-gift's wet dream. Wine charms, wine stoppers and books about wine abound. Need a bottle opener? But of course. They even sell cheese accessories and tasty varieties of wine… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    CARisma Wash

    Ever paid someone to wash your car by hand, only to spend another hour at home erasing pesky droplet spots? Sometimes a task isn't worth doing unless you do it yourself. We found a place that allows you, the driver, to dry and polish your car. It's the best of both worlds: a top-notch automated car wash that gives you… More >>
  • Best Comic Book Store

    Bedrock City Comic Company

    Whether you're in the market for a collectible silver-age comic, an old Kurtzman Mad or the most recent "Vertigo noir" titles, Bedrock never disappoints. Not only is Bedrock City itself full to bursting with every imaginable example of the sequentialist's art, but its Web site has a searchable database and allows you to place special orders without leaving the comfort… More >>
  • Best Greeting Cards

    Events

    The back room of greeting cards in Events is like an art gallery. You won't find any run-of-the-mill images with sappy cliched limericks here. Most of the cards seem hand-made, using miniature cutouts and appliques. You might even pass them off as being homemade...we won't tell. There are also plenty of clever mass-produced cards, most with laugh-out-loud photographs and messages.… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Stemware

    Pier 1 Imports

    We'll begin by defining the term "stemware" as wine-and-cheese-by-the-pool casual, not Thanksgiving-dinner-with-the-in-laws crystal goblets. This said, you just can't beat Pier 1 for whimsical design at an astoundingly affordable price. Obnoxious drunk guy drops his glass? No problem. The same design is probably now available for half-price, or even cheaper at the clearance store. And you can't go wrong there… More >>
  • Best Plants

    Buchanan's Native Plants

    The ecosystem as we know it is in crisis. Invasive species like popcorn trees are decimating our East Texas forests, and water hyacinths are clogging our streams. Bravely battling this trend one backyard at a time are the native-plant guardians at Buchanan's Native Plants, gardeners fighting to ensure Texas will always be Texas, no matter what Chinese or South American… More >>
  • Best Art Supply Store

    Texas Art Supply

    They win again. Texas Art Supply won last year, and there's simply no reason they shouldn't kick butt in 2005 as well. Established in 1948, this company offers it all: paint, clay, pencils, acrylics, markers, easels, desks -- and we even heard they have paper. Of course, most art supply stores are going to have that stuff -- but visit… More >>
  • Best Camera Store

    Houston Camera Exchange

    Houston Camera Exchange boasts a 7,000-square-foot showroom of new and used cameras and equipment, including lenses, flashes, cases, tripods and more. As for cameras, you got your Canon, Contax, Fuji, Leica, Nikon, Olympus -- you name it. They also offer digital and film processing, and their Web site has a forum where you can swap tricks of the trade and… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy CDs by Local Musicians

    Sound Exchange

    You just witnessed an awesome set by one of Houston's many local bands, and now you're freaking out because there was no merchandise available. No fear, local music lover, Sound Exchange is here. This music hotspot lets local bands hawk their latest material. Beat freaks can find DJ Sun, Freedom Sold and Geto Boys. Stoners will get more than a… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring

    Sharpstown Jewelry Center

    Tell us where else in the city you can purchase diamond fronts for your teeth on the same trip you buy a diamond engagement ring, and we might just let you debate us. Till then, shut your frosted yapper and head on in to the 200-plus jewelry stores located on six stories right next to Sharpstown Mall. The place is… More >>
  • Best Salon

    Elements Salon

    The way you style your hair can say a lot about your personality. But you don't have to put up with the snooty stylists and chemical smells that permeate so many salons just to look in step. The friendly folks at Elements use only all-natural Aveda products that don't hurt the environment or your look. The eclectic staff is trained… More >>
  • Best Service from a Car Dealer

    Archer Volkswagen

    Anyone can give you a good deal on a car these days, but when it comes to servicing it after the sale, things can get dicey. Not at Archer Volkswagen. Whereas some dealerships will go over the warranty with a microscope looking for a loophole, the guys at Archer just worry about getting your car right. They know what too… More >>
  • Best Mexican Bakery

    Arandas Bakery

    The four-foot portly baker outside Arandas Bakery on Airline represents all things hot and yummy. Grab yourself a stainless serving tray and a set of tongs here at Jose Camarena's first Houston bakery and start loading up. The fresh-baked empanadas, pig cookies, orejas and cream horns run the entire south wall of this spotless eatery, where a crack team of… More >>
  • Best Wine Tasting

    The Tasting Room Wine Cafe

    So successful has been the first Tasting Room in Uptown Park that Jerry and Laura Lasco recently opened a second location in Midtown. The Uptown location serves about 200 different wines from around the globe, each hand-selected by the owners. Here, you can taste, drink and shop for wines in a stylish, comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Novice wine lovers will… More >>
  • Best Bubble Tea Spot

    Tropioca Tea & Coffee Bar - CLOSED

    There are two Tropioca shops in Houston, and while the downtown spot isn't too shabby, the original Midtown location features something that adds a little spice to your pearl-filled smoothie consumption: the most beautiful customers in town. We don't know where they come from, but if you're in your early twenties, Asian and hot enough to have your own photo… More >>
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