Best Strip Mall - 2012
Braes Heights Shopping Center
In many ways, Braes Heights seems more like Rice Village than Rice Village. First, there's the food: It's home to iconic and storied local eateries in Molina's Cantina, and two Village refugees in Fuzzy's Pizza and one of the last redoubts of the once-sprawling Antone's po-boy empire, not to mention Hunan's, an unpretentious time warp to the '80s Chinese-American place much like the closed Fu's Garden in the Village. (And then there are the smoothies at Dan's Vitamin House.) Imagination Toys and Shoes reminds us of the Village's long-gone and much-lamented mainstay World Toy and Gift Shop. There's a good, old-fashioned, honest-to-God, red-white-and-blue-polled barbershop, much like the Village's long-departed Times Barber Shop. Just seeing the name I.W. Marks takes us back to good times in the Astrodome and the late Big Irv Marks's plenitude of TV commercials: "Come see us, come see us and save." All that fun and nostalgia comes in an attractive, two-story, clean-lined Mid-Century mod architectural package. Sure, there's a nail salon in the strip mall itself and a CVS next door — those are required by Harris County ordinance. (Just kidding). But this remains our favorite strip mall in town.