PETCO
Yes, Petco is a chain, but it doesn't feel like one. Walk in with your pet, whatever it may be. This store is friendly, convenient and fast. It carries the biggest selection of pet products from the finest brands, as well as lizards, birds, tropical fish, snakes, spiders and all the goodies you might need for your new friend. Whenever we visit Petco, we always spy at least one happy dog eyeing the buffet of gourmet biscuits. And we're grateful they offer low-cost vaccinations and vet services, plus they support the SPCA in finding loving companions for homeless pets. The employees are extremely helpful and are glad to be there. So dress up your dog and take him shopping; you'll love Petco as much as he does.
Little things mean a lot, especially when the family pet leaves big messes in your yard. With both parents working, it's hard to keep up with the cooking and cleaning and lawn care, let alone enjoy home life. But Scoop le Poop makes having a dog that much easier. For a reasonable fee, le Poop makes regular visits to discretely remove offending matter. No need to worry about these professional scoopers transmitting other dogs' diseases to your household. These waste wranglers are so tidy with their equipment, you'd think they trained with a biohazard unit. (Services start at $15, with discounts for senior citizens and service dogs.)
It's mostly the employees of Fluor Enterprises who know about the affordable, honest wizardry of nearby Auto Tech, but it's also open to the public at large. The original owner, Joe, and his knowledgeable staff could make even the most rickety engine purr like a kitten in no time. Before he sold the place (to live a peaceful retirement full of deep-sea fishing), Joe knew most of his clientele by name and remembered details about their cars most owners would forget. Whatever the problem, Joe could find the least expensive solution and was known to recommend wrecking yards where you could find parts to save a few more dollars. What's more, one of Joe's employees drove a Honda with well over 200,000 miles on it. That's a staff that knows how to keep a car going. Even with new owner Alberto Capitallo, the garage is still so reliable, so true to the original work ethic, that we don't mind the trip down to Sugar Land for service.
Many hardware stores are so enormous, they're more of a hindrance than a help. Who wants to hike two miles to find a one-and-a-half-inch beveled polywasher for the kitchen sink, then another mile searching for one-eighth-inch mirror brackets? Then there's the attitude. Unlike contractors, we usually don't know what we're doing in those long aisles, and most hardware store employees aren't interested in helping us figure it out. The guys over at River Oaks Hardware, on the other hand, will leave you alone but keep a watchful eye, intervening at just the right moment. This is clearly not your typical visit to a "big box" warehouse.

Your ride's looking a little shabby. It wants to get spruced up and feel pretty. But you're particular about what touches your car. You're not keen on some automated gas station drive-thru scratching the gloss on your ClearCoat. And who knows where those frazzled brushes at the coin-operated self-wash places have been? Try the machine-free artistry at Bubbles, where they wash and dry your vehicle with only the gentlest of hands -- wearing lamb's-wool mitts, to be exact. They're also gentle on your wallet; carpet shampooing for cars and trucks is only $20, and a full detailing is only $60.

Best Place to Get a Car Wash, a Haircut and a Brisket

Exquisite Touch

Imagine: An angry ex has poured garbage all over your new sports car. You haven't slept for months, and your hair has become a bit unruly. What's more, you're hungry, dammit. Well, have we got the place for you. It goes by many names. Call it Pop's Exquisite Bar-B-Q, where you can get a chopped roast beef sandwich for $3.50. Or call it Exquisite Touch Auto Detail, home of the $5.99 car wash. Then again, some people know it simply as Exquisite Touch Barber Shop and Beauty Salon. And as you're sitting there, sipping a Diet Coke and eating link sausages, contemplating what your godless ways have wrought, you'll also find a complete set of T.D. Jake's inspirational videos available for purchase, just in case you decide to turn your life around. If you want to know how this multifaceted venue came to be, just ask Pops yourself. He's usually sitting there in a corner of the shop watching TV. And like the wise old sage he is, he'll tell you: "You've got to do something."

We've got a horde of fine club dancers in this town. Somebody's gotta dress 'em. If there were still any raves around, chances are you'd see many shirts out there created by this man. Akindele's brand of clothing, Enjoymusic Enjoylife (EMEL), featuring that all-important musical-note insignia, has been the favorite among energetic clubgoers for quite a while now. Baseball shirts, T-shirts, baby tees -- they're all designed to keep a young whippersnapper comfortable while dancing to all things electronica. Fortunately, if you head out to spots like Hyperia, you can still see clothing bearing the EMEL moniker, and a bunch of kids proud to be sweating their asses off in it.
If you've ever wanted to feel like Alice down the rabbit hole, take a few hours out of your life and go underground here. You can emerge at any number of downtown spots, from office buildings to the Wortham to the Angelika Film Center. If you're smart, you'll take note of the color-coded parking bars to facilitate relocating your car. But who's complaining? Any underground parking lot search, no matter how long, is preferable to running above ground through a Houston downpour in your theater clothes.
Why buy your "How to Talk Texas" books, Houston skyline postcards and Lone Star flag barbecue aprons at some sterile mall when you can do so in the heart of the city, at the foot of the statue of Sam Houston himself? Those who say downtown is a vacuum for shoppers likely haven't yet discovered this 6,500-square-foot Texana delight located on the first floor of City Hall. In addition to the usual Texas-proud inventory, the shop features snazzy, colorful decor, museum-quality displays, a theater that screens historical films, and informative computer stations all surrounding a larger-than-life bronze representation of the first president of the Republic of Texas.

It took a while for the folks at this proudly independent music and video store to get a DVD rental section going, even after bigwig video chains Blockbuster and Hollywood beat 'em to the punch. But once they did, theirs turned out to be the definitive DVD section for die-hard movie geeks. Apart from the regular lineup of new and amped-up releases, the store has just about every release from those packrats at The Criterion Collection (practically the DVD industry's preservation society) as well as rarities from Kino Video. But it's the outrageous collection of discs from Something Weird Video, home to such bawdy, campy finds as Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, that may have folks flocking to the store in curiosity. At last, there's a place where you can get the works of Hitchcock, Bergman, Scorsese and Chesty Morgan all at once.

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