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  • Best Costume Shop

    Frankel's Costume Shop

    It's inevitable: When Halloween comes around or you just need that certain something for your party, someone yells, "Just go to Frankel's!" The family-run shop, which began life in 1950 as Morty's Magic Mart, has become Houston's own Walmart of costumes, wigs and everything in between. We mean Walmart in the best possible way, too. With Halloween still a month… More >>
  • Best Hispanic Supermarket

    Mi Tienda

    This concept store from H-E-B has been a massive success in its first location in a heavily Hispanic area of Pasadena, and it's easy to see why: The store has been designed to resemble a massive indoor mercado complete with tortilleria, an aguas frescas bar and even women cleaning and prepping bright green nopales paddles. There's no Hispanic ingredient or… More >>
  • Best Hobby Shop

    Sweet Spot Audio and More

    Forget the grown men who refer to the objects of their hobbies as "toys." Sweet Spot Audio and More will have none of that. A grown-up hobby shop for the Don Draper kind, Sweet Spot is a cigar shop, men's boutique and audiophile's fantasy rolled into one. They sell coffee and tobacco along with new and used vinyl, and feature… More >>
  • Best Liquor Store

    Spec's

    Phooey on getting lubricated at home before going out. Instead, step into Spec's Midtown location and prep for a night on the town at one of the state's most massive odes to boozery. There's always some sort of beer and/or wine tastings, especially on the weekends. No worries on the food tip because the spot boasts a deli, a section… More >>
  • Best Camera Store

    Houston Camera Exchange

    Walking into certain camera shops in town can feel like the equivalent of walking into the Comic Book Guy's store on The Simpsons. If you're not cool enough to know the most obscure photo trivia or have the newest DSLR, you're treated with barely veiled derision. Not so at Houston Camera Exchange. They carry a full range of new and… More >>
  • Best Visionary Web Support Company

    Trinicom Communications

    Need a website? Web hosting? A server to rent or buy? Local programming whiz Keith Christensen started out renting a house near the Galleria and over the years expanded his data solutions business to include Voice over Internet Protocol, which allows users to make calls through their computers, for businesses large and small. He's now relocated to an industrial site… More >>
  • Best Maid Service

    A Natural Woman's Touch

    Tiese Jordan's housecleaning service, A Natural Woman's Touch, is a refreshing change from the services with an ever-changing, anonymous cast of characters who wham and slam through your home in between five other homes within the same day. Jordan will bring help if needed for larger jobs, such as a move-out, but usually she flies solo and, amazingly enough, gets… More >>
  • Best Manicure

    Prestigious Nails & Spa

    Manicures are like summer romances: They're meant to last awhile, then fade away just as you're ready to replace them. Prestigious Nails in the Heights is the perfect place for a fling-worthy manicure, with minimum investment and maximum reward. The space, painted a soft sea-foam green, is well-lit and incredibly clean. Mini waterfalls create a calming effect as the nail… More >>
  • Best Bookstore

    1/4 Price Books

    The last time we were in this store, we were standing in line, eager to purchase an out-of-print book, while a middle-aged man two spots ahead of us paid more than $100 for some rare finds, including a copy of Alice in Wonderland from the early 1900s. But instead of walking out with his books, he turned around and handed… More >>
  • Best Mechanic

    Arthur's Auto Service

    What you want from an auto mechanic is pretty simple: Competence, sure, but more than that you want someone you can trust, someone whose eyes don't light up as he looks under the hood and imagines all the wonderful things he can charge you for. Arthur Cruz fits the bill. His shop is tucked away in a southwest-side neighborhood, but… More >>
  • Best Antique Store

    Reeves Antiques

    Run by a father and son in the hot little Montrose block at Taft and Hyde Park, Reeves Antiques specializes mostly in mid-century furniture and decor at prices that are half of what you'd find in those shops on the Westheimer strip. Turnover is high, which means you'll find something new each time you look, but it also means you… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Used Bicycle

    Cyclone Cycles

    Let's say you're the type of person who loves to ride a bike but isn't necessarily a fanatic about the accoutrements — fancy bike shorts and little caps and things like that — or having some absolute top-of-the-line $5K wheels. Let's say you just want something that will reliably get you from point A to point B and you don't… More >>
  • Best Pawn Shop

    Mason Road Jewelry and Loan

    This family-run business has been buying, selling and trading jewelry, watches, guns, instruments, appliances and other stuff for more than 30 years, which means they must be doing something right. And get this: If you already have a loan at another pawn shop, Mason Road will pick up that item and give you a lower interest rate. Oh yeah, they… More >>
  • Best Grocery Store

    Hubbell & Hudson

    Who says The Woodlands is boring? After all, the suburb to the north gave birth to the coolest grocery store to come along since Central Market. And it's been such a success, in fact, that Hubbell & Hudson just opened a second location, the first being located in prime territory along the Waterway and across the street from Cynthia Woods… More >>
  • Best Vintage Clothing

    Replay on 19th

    If the jumbled feel of Retropolis gives you hives, head down 19th Street in the Heights to Replay, where you'll find a younger, more curated collection of vintage fashion, owned by "Crazy Mike" Hildebrand and Laura Levine. The shop is arranged thematically, from Aloha wear in one section to '70s jumpsuits in another. Become a regular shopper there and the… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Fish

    Louisiana Foods Total Catch Market

    If fish is on the menu for Saturday night, you need to head to Louisiana Foods Total Catch Market, located near Loop 610 and the Katy Freeway. The tiny market peddles the Gulf's finest by-catch: creatures that are accidentally caught while fishermen are netting a different species. But at Total Catch, fish expert P.J. Stoops reinvents the so-called "trash fish,"… More >>
  • Best Flea Market

    Traders Village

    When they say "village," they mean it: Here you will find more than 100 acres of all kinds of goodies — clothes, electronics, furniture, luggage, records, knives, jewelry, bikes, candles, cell phones...pretty much anything you can think of. Every weekend, 1,500 dealers open up shop to give you some of the best deals in town. And because you'll no doubt… More >>
  • Best Sex Shop

    Erotic Cabaret

    If you want to feel luscious, head on over to Erotic Cabaret, a perennial favorite among Houston sex-havers. This sexy standby has been open since 1982, so the friendly and nonjudgmental staff knows its craft well — from the lube to the dirty dancewear. Erotic Cabaret sells the best costumes in town, sure to spice up any holiday. Bustiers, corsets… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Music

    Vinyl Junkie - CLOSED

    Another much-needed record shop was added to the healthy yet modest music-store scene when this East End indie swung open its doors on November 1. Owned by South Dakota transplants Titus Haag and his wife, Vinyl Junkie focuses on punk and hardcore rarities (though one can also pick up a reissued Elliott Smith LP from time to time), which means… More >>
  • Best Asian Supermarket

    Super H Mart

    Clean, brightly lit and full of bargains, Super H Mart is still the standard by which we measure all Asian grocery stores. Food court with a wealth of ethnic specialties on the go? Check. Bakery with glamorous cakes and fascinating pastries? Check. Produce section stocking hard-to-find fruits and veggies? Check. Seafood department that will sell you a live fish and… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy a Gun

    High Caliber Gun & Knife Show

    Pawn shops and gun stores are fine places to pick up a handgun or rifle if you like paying higher prices than usual to pay someone's rent or overhead costs, but the real gun enthusiasts in town all know that their best bet is hitting up the traveling High Caliber Gun & Knife Show, at its three Houston-area stops. Most… More >>
  • Best Place to Feel Accomplished

    Dr. Gleem

    Getting a car wash can be terminally boring: There's only so much time you can spend looking at rows of Christmas tree air fresheners and risqué mudflaps while you wait for the workers to scrub months' worth of grime and pigeon droppings from your neglected car's hood. That's why we like Dr. Gleem, which can turn even the biggest procrastinators… More >>
  • Best Vintage Record Store

    Black Dog Records

    Well organized, easy to browse and stocked with foundational albums in the rock, soul and jazz genres, Black Dog Records is the spot to visit whether you are just starting a record collection, want some classic jams or are in need of replacing weathered first-edition pressings. For the wayfaring "music sounds so much better on vinyl" hipsters who happen to… More >>
  • Best Barber

    Bart Maloney

    Bart Maloney has good hands. If he's not snipping away at the brand-new Big Kat's Barber Shop — he specializes in shear cuts and razor shaves — Maloney may very well be across the street at the Continental Club or Big Top, caressing his steel guitar in Nick Gaitan & the Umbrella Man, the Octanes, or all-caps '40s swing revivalists… More >>
  • Best Vegan Bakery

    Sinfull Bakery

    Sinfull Bakery doesn't have its own store, but you can pick up its vegan delectables at Central Market, Whole Foods, Onion Creek Café and others — check the Web site for the full list. According to the bakery's Web site, the whole thing didn't "just start as a hobby" for owner and baker Brittany Dylan-Carnes. A vegetarian who's allergic to… More >>
  • Best Washateria

    Graustark Laundry

    They say you should never trust your lacy underbits to an untested laundromat. After learning the hard way too many times, thank goodness we found Graustark Laundry. Whimsical bubbles painted on the outside greet laundry-doers at this comfortable and friendly Museum District spot. If you're lucky, you'll even be greeted by Newt, the sweet rescue bulldog that plays behind the… More >>
  • Best Place to Pamper Your Pet

    Urban Tails Pet Resort

    It doesn't matter if your dog is a mutt or a pedigreed champion, Urban Tails Pet Resort is the perfect place for your canine friend. Your pooch will have a choice of luxury loft lodging (with lots of perks) or cage-free sleepovers, so Fido can snuggle up with his friends on a large bed. There's also day care, a low-chlorine… More >>
  • Best Resale Shop

    Family Thrift

    One thing that sets Family Thrift's 12 area locations apart from the competition are the hours. Unlike so many local thrift stores, they are open late — until nine p.m. on weeknights. That gives the working stiffs who need the cheap clothes a chance to get there. We also love their rewards program, whereby every dollar you spend is a… More >>
  • Best Sexpert

    Nike Lukan

    If it can be transmitted during sex, Nike Lukan is on it to end it. As the Director of Prevention Services at AIDS Foundation Houston, she raises awareness about the problem of HIV and AIDS in Houston. Lukan helps organize Hip Hop for HIV, a project that provides a free hip-hop concert with just one catch: You have to get… More >>
  • Best Pet Psychic

    Sonya Fitzpatrick

    Wondering why your dog is incessantly barking when you're away from home? Curious to know what your departed cat is up to in the afterlife? Sonya Fitzpatrick, the world-famous pet psychic, can tell you. For $300 for a half-hour phone session, the English-born animal communicator will tune in to the magnetic fields in which nonhumans project their thoughts and feelings… More >>
  • Best Nursery

    Enchanted Forest

    Squint your eyes at Enchanted Forest's lush landscape and pretend it's the backyard of your dreams as you put your feet up and lounge on the patio furniture with the resident animals. Newbie or seasoned gardener, you're in excellent hands here, whether you're seeking out a desert willow tree, drift roses or mallow hibiscus with bright, sturdy blossoms as big… More >>
  • Best Small Business Helper

    Kitchen Incubator

    You might make the world's best apple marshmallow salad, but if you sell it out of your kitchen, you'll be shut down before you can even start up your start-up. Luckily for you, there's Kitchen Incubator. It's the first licensed commercial kitchen for rent in Houston, meaning you can reserve a kitchen, cook up a storm and (legally) sell your… More >>
  • Best Coffee Roasters

    Java Pura Coffee Roasters

    We discovered Java Pura Coffee Roasters at a tasting at Central Market and now go out of our way to get to their offices in the industrial district in Bellaire just to stock the office. (Though not really geared for walk-in traffic, the offices are quite nice, and they sponsor tastings.) Java Pura's master roaster, from Portland, Oregon (where else?),… More >>
  • Best Doggie Daycare

    The Pooch Pad

    Fido may be a big boy who gets along better with small dogs, and Muffy might prefer to be in the yard all afternoon instead of in her crate. No matter how special your pet's needs are, The Pooch Pad will try to meet them. Located in an old house in Midtown, just minutes from downtown, the place feels more… More >>
  • Best Cigar Shop

    McCoy's Fine Cigars

    We like a cigar store that's downtown. We like a cigar store that's family-owned. And we like a cigar store that carries more than 100 premium brands at decent prices. We don't like snooty and snobby, and we're not huge fans of any cigar shop that attracts overgrown frat boys who want to be seen smoking the most expensive stogie… More >>
  • Best Spice Shop

    Penzeys

    Although you can certainly find any spice your heart desires here, it's the spice blends (the Pasta Sprinkle is simply indispensable) and smartly boxed spice sets (the assortment of baking spices makes a great gift) that are the main draw here at Penzeys. Well, that and the ability to open and smell any spice jar until you find exactly the… More >>
  • Best Tailoring

    Le Silhouette

    Do yourself a favor the next time you need an item of clothing altered. Take it to an actual alterations shop, and not just your local dry cleaner. The best one we've found is Le Silhouette, which you've likely driven past dozens of times on Alabama but never noticed. That's because it's in a tiny bungalow, where the two women… More >>
  • Best Time Machine

    Another Time Soda Fountain & Cafe

    If the glorious chocolate malts and grape phosphates at Another Time don't take you back, the renovated soda fountain in historic downtown Richmond, overlooking a beautiful train museum, certainly will. After polishing off your patty melt and banana split, keep the time warp going by visiting all of the many antique dealers all around Another Time — you'll work off… More >>
  • Best Male Lingerie

    Male Uwear

    Underwear, thongderwear, boxer-brief-dongderwear. Male U-Wear has it all at its delightful little shop in — where else? — Montrose. Any pair you can imagine, they've got: plaid print, fruit print or even the kind perforated with a sexy cock peephole. Male U-Wear stocks the best array of swimsuits, from Speedo-type coverage on up. Whether you're gay or straight, the charming… More >>
  • Best Sexy Lingerie

    Top Drawer Lingerie

    Tucked in Uptown Park, Top Drawer Lingerie is the perfect solution for those days when local ladies need a boost. And we're not just talking about the bras. The whole store is daintily feminine, and it feels like a parlor, complete with a chandelier. Lacy panties, silk teddies, and bras that will actually fit are laid out neatly around the… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Canino Produce Co.

    It's possible to walk out of Canino Produce Co. with a good week's supply of produce for less than $20, which may be the least interesting thing about the sprawling warehouse-like facility on Airline Drive. Opened in 1958 and now occupying more than 20,000 square feet, Canino has any sort of fruit or vegetable you can name, fresh from the… More >>
  • Best Window Shopping

    19th Street

    Though in constant flux, one thing about 19th Street in the Heights hasn't changed in years — it beats the Galleria by a mile (several blocks, actually) when it comes to window shopping. For one thing, the items in the windows on 19th Street are things you can actually afford. Vintage fashions at Replay complement the Heywood Wakefield furniture in… More >>
  • Best Fashion Innovation

    Green by Adeline

    Houston's only 100 percent eco-fashion boutique, Green by Adeline focuses on "fashion with a conscience," designing clothes that are sustainable and comfortable out of ecologically sound fabrics like bamboo, beech tree and wood cellulose. Adeline Sung, who has lived in Houston for two decades, studied fashion in Milan and Paris before making Houston her home. Her line mainly features clothes… More >>
  • Best Gay Porn Store

    Black Hawk Leather & Video

    Don't let the blackened windows at this Montrose haunt scare you, because inside, Black Hawk Leather & Video is a bright, happy gay man's playground. Racks of the highest-caliber porn live here, including favorites like Jizz Gym, Key West Cum and Oink Pigs at Play. It's a classy, clean one-stop shop to ensure that your viewing is at its most… More >>
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