A relative newcomer to the Westheimer vintage strip, Leopard Lounge is a welcome young upstart. The leopard-print motif and blaring hip-hop music let you know this is not your mother's consignment shop. The usual suspects are well covered: bellbottom jeans, '50s dresses, tight-fitting team T-shirts from the '70s and so on. But it's the quality of the Lounge that makes this store worth checking out. Finish browsing just one spinning rack of vintage pants and we guarantee you that you'll be headed to the leopard-print dressing rooms with at least five pairs you absolutely must try on. Sure, most of the staff has the requisite cooler-than-you look, but if you chat them up a bit, they'll be eager to offer opinions and assistance. On your way out, be sure to check out the large collection of dog-collar bracelets and chokers. Told you your mom wouldn't shop here.

Even if you don't sew, this fabric store is worth a visit. There's a whole room devoted to silks that makes you realize fabric designing is a true profession. The customers are dead serious in their searches. Brides-to-be walk dutifully, following their dressmakers with anxious looks and hands full of lace. Twenty buttons are scrutinized with a strip of fabric, and furrowed brows accompany questions to the employees. It's enough to make you want to buy a roll of stitch-witchery and make some pillows!
Want to find the styles of the moment? At Tootsies you'll be surrounded by crazy-cool clothes and CZ jewelry that's a great knockoff of the real thing. From Via Spiga shoes to Ralph Lauren haute couture, Tootsies has got you covered. Looking for that diamond horseshoe necklace that Carrie wears in Sex and the City? Just peep under the glass jewelry cases. And don't be put off by the armed HPD guard -- naturally, he's nice. As are the salespeople. Our fave is Miriam, who will run around looking for the perfect T-shirt until she finds it. In fact, Tootsies has the best T-shirts around: Michael Stars. They're not cheap, but they're flattering on everyone. And the sales, oh, the sales! Merchandise is sometimes marked down as low as 75 percent. Un-freakin'-beatable. But get there quick -- in a matter of hours, the merchandise is wiped out. The best strategy is to get on the mailing list so you'll be notified when the sales take place. Now excuse us, we heard there's a sale on. Bye!

Poet Dorothy Parker once scorned her lover's gift of "one perfect rose." Perhaps her boyfriend's mistake was not going to Buchanan's to buy his present. The beautiful Heights plant-and-flower shop offers so many different types of roses it would have been hard for him to stop at just one. The shop, staffed with knowledgeable flower lovers, offers everything from hearty, disease-resistant antique roses to the more finicky but beautiful hybrid teas, known for their large flowers and strong scent. Reasonably priced (some roses sell for just $10.99 a gallon), the offerings include every color you can think of, from red to white to purple. Buchanan's is also in regular communication with the Houston Rose Society, a group of locals in love with the popular plant, so you know it's got its fingers on the pulse of the rose world.
Houston Wine Merchant
Owner Scott Spencer renamed his store, formerly Wines of America, because the name no longer reflected his product offerings. This little gem of a wine shop carries selections from all over the world and reflects what you can do with your shelves when you have limited space but excellent taste. Chat with the knowledgeable staff. Ask questions. Is the Aussie shiraz still as sweet as it once was? What are some of the better vineyards of the Rhône region? Who makes a high-quality yet affordable Pouilly-Fuissé? What's new in Chile? Better yet, ask the staff what they've been drinking lately. By all means, take their recommendations. These folks know their grapes and want to wake up the oenophile in you.

Central Market
With a full-time cheese buyer who spends most of her time visiting local farms worldwide, a full-time department head, and a full-time cheesemonger who may spend 15 to 20 minutes with a customer helping him match up the perfect cheese-and-wine combination, it's easy to see how Central Market manages to stock nearly 700 different cheeses. Each cheese department employee is passionate about one thing and one thing only: cheese from all over the world. Here, you'll not only find a delicious Spanish manchego, you'll find four different kinds. Dutch Gouda comes in seven varieties, many from small artisanal suppliers. The Parmigiano-Reggiano is made especially for Central Market in Italy. Their supply of raw-milk cheese is unsurpassed in the city. Most of their cheeses arrive in bulk and are individually cut and wrapped by hand, with a two-week shelf life, after which they are removed from sale. With the resurgence of fondue parties and the fact that many people are rediscovering the simple elegance of wine-and-cheese parties, they don't have to remove a lot from the racks unpurchased.

Eleanor Roosevelt's solitaire came from Tiffany's; Dennis Oppenheim created a sculpture in New York based on their engagement ring designs; George Peppard had a plastic ring from a box of Cracker Jack engraved by them in the classic Breakfast at Tiffany's. Since 1837, these experts have been dealing in rings and diamonds and little blue boxes with white ribbon. There is no known account of a woman declining a proposal accompanied by that box. Pricey? Certainly. But she's worth it.

Restaurant CINQ at La Colombe D'Or Hotel
Jeff Balke
Humble Oil founder W.W. Fondren never imagined his 1923 home would become one of the finest little luxury hotels in the world. But hey, this is Houston; we could have torn it down. Luckily, Steve Zimmerman not only retained the mansion's elegance but also added the 8,000-square-foot Grand Salon de la Comtesse. Plight your troth beneath circa-1730 carved panels that once graced the greatest hall in Europe. With excellent modern French cuisine and Old World service, you'll feel like you're marrying royalty. Whether amorous or just tipsy, wedding couples don't have far to go to reach the honeymoon suite. Six rooms just up the stairs house antiques, private dining rooms, marble bathrooms and king-sized beds.

Warwick Hotel
Built in 1925, the Warwick is another of those rare Houston gems from time gone by. Old World elegance combined with a recent face-lift make for splendid accommodations: fabulous rooms, a great lobby and the most informed concierge in town, plus the elegant Hunt Room, with its marble fireplace and great steaks. The 12-story structure abuts Hermann Park and the Texas Medical Center. It's a location convenient to airports, the Galleria and downtown that feels secluded thanks to the grand old oaks of the Museum District. Bob Hope once called the view from the penthouse the most beautiful in the world. Who are we to argue with that?
Bob Lemmon's massage room is a magical mini-oasis. There are fountains, mystical music, candles, incense and Bob. Bob is the best part. This man's hands will drain every ounce of stress out of any body. His regimen includes oils, hot rocks, soothing lavender lotion, even warm water poured over your feet. Talk or remain silent, whichever you choose. His hands know exactly where to knead, where to rub gently and where the tension is greatest. And Bob doesn't stick to time limits. He didn't stop when time was up, but went on for two and a half hours. The man is an angel, truly. You leave feeling not only relaxed and destressed but loved. Every single person on the planet deserves an hour of Bob.

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