Kegg's has been serving up delicious handmade chocolate crafted right here in Houston for more than 60 years. This place has it all, from chocolate truffles and chocolate-coated nuts to oversize peanut butter cups and fudge. Everything comes in both dark and milk chocolate. And if buying in bulk is more your style, Kegg's can easily accommodate; the chocolatiers can even shape their decadent wares to look like a set of tools, a tennis racquet or a set of dentures.

When out-of-town rap stars find themselves in Houston, their itinerary might include a stop at SF2. Owner Teresa Waldon travels far and wide (okay, mostly New York City and Los Angeles, but still) to get the scoop on what's hot, and her stores (there's also a smaller one near Sharpstown Mall) carry a selection of brands and styles diverse and fresh enough to make the likes of Rick Ross and Jadakiss come in and sign their names on the wall. At the Sharpstown location, the back wall is a glass case of high-tops to make any aficionado drool — Adidas and Reebok, sure, but also Creative Recreation (Los Angeles), A-Life (New York) and PF Flyers. Clothing brands range from skate-savvy Supra to Crooks and Castles to Paul Wall's Expen$ive Taste and T.I.'s Akoo. If you need a little wisdom on the different choices, the well-schooled staff is happy to fill you in.

There are cleaner, more organized comic book stores, sure. There are also cooler ones, which specialize in hipper, more underground comics. But let's not kid ourselves: A comic book store needs to cater to people who love comic books (it seems so simple), and that's what Third Planet does, by virtue of sheer volume. Entering the store, you are greeted by a vast expanse packed full of shelves, cabinets, boxes, tables, more boxes and more shelves, all loaded with comics and comic memorabilia. Oh yeah, the memorabilia is nice, too, from brand-new, expensive collectors' items to forgotten treasures that can still be picked up for a song. But the main reason to go is for the comics: tons and tons and tons of them, all kinds, all in excellent condition.

Pak's sells all the convenience-store staples like milk, bread, radiator fluid, candy, smokes, 12-packs of Lone Star and what have you, but the quirky food mart near the border of Midtown and Montrose (a.k.a. the 527 Spur) also has a decent selection of $15-and-under nonrefrigerated wines and a $1.29 coffee-and-pastry special that makes an excellent breakfast. Although the store seems to have done away with its porn stash (sniff), you can also pick up a New York Times and recent DVD releases while you're there. But the real reason we're partial to Pak's is its soundtrack — usually house music, Bollywood or Afrobeat (or all of the above). It's light-years more interesting than the usual KRBE/Sunny 99.1 quick-stop fare, and played at a volume that rivals most nightclubs. It's why we'll sometimes find ourselves heading to Pak's even when we don't really need to buy anything.

You might want to don sunglasses before walking into Ronald Konig's cosmetic dental practice: The smiles there are dazzlingly bright. One patient reports that losing a front tooth — horrifying, yet not uncommon when an old root canal mummifies — was made far less traumatic by Konig and his team, who produced a comfortable and attractive "flipper" (mini denture) before the new implant could be installed. Meticulous care is taken to size your own personal super-bleaching trays, and Konig also focuses on neuromuscular dentistry, a.k.a. TMJ. A bonus to the location near the Med Center is his proximity to an excellent oral surgeon and periodontist, Stephen C. Watson, DDS, just down the hall on the same floor. Together, they work efficiently to ensure your new teeth are stable and gawgeous.

When Halloween rolls around, or any event when a costume is needed, there are two ways to go. The first is the slut-and-companion method. Slutty nurse and patient. Slutty cop and criminal. That kind of thing. The other route is to get creative, and if that's the way you roll, there's no better place than Vintage Oasis, a Montrose shop packed tight with so much clothing that it's hard to move around in the place. There are the pre-made and packaged costumes, but not many. The bulk of the garb is organized by decade when the style was popular, and you can find everything from wedding dresses to tuxedoes to fur coats. There are also accessories like sunglasses and bracelets and wigs, and there are even a few crates of old records. Be sure to pet the cats.

No one, except maybe the Bill Murray character in Little Shop of Horrors, likes going to the dentist. So "Best Dentist" doesn't necessarily mean a place where you'll enjoy yourself; it just means the utter annoyance of it all will be kept to a bare minimum. And that's what you get at Houstonian Dental, conveniently located at Greenbriar and 59: two dentists (Dr. Helen Jafari and Dr. Jane Herrington) who are cheerful, efficient and good at their jobs. Kids who have gotten too old for the surrounded-by-toys dental offices will be in good hands here and be made to feel safe and...well, if not exactly happy, at least not dreading the experience for days before the appointment.

Got a big date or speech coming up? Visit the Chantecaille desk at Neiman Marcus. The cosmetics team will wave the gorgeous wand over you. The glamorous but definitely down-to-earth J.R. Johnson and Darlene Gillespie keep customers updated about special complimentary events such as makeovers or facials with them or Greg Messer, the line's L.A.-based esthetician. While the goods are a bit pricey, they're also natural, subtle and French — worth it if you have delicate skin or need to look as though you have money. And the TLC is free. Pampering without prissiness: heavenly.

It's not easy to trust someone to walk, feed and truly care for your furry little four-legged baby while you're away. But the folks at The Dog Walker, owned and operated by Ben Louis, make it as easy as possible. Fully bonded and trained in pet CPR, Louis, a former Rice student who turned his sideline job into a full-time business with a host of employees, will play with your dog probably more than you do. And after each walk and game of fetch, The Dog Walker will leave behind a doggie report card letting you know what kind of mood your dog was in that day and how many times it went to the bathroom. Other services offered include bringing in the mail, taking out the trash and sending Internet greetings and photos from your pet.

One thing to remember about a dry cleaner: Absolutely no one achieves 100 percent customer satisfaction. There's just something about clothes and stains and expectations. If you praise an establishment, someone will fire back with a "lost my buttons" story. Eagle Express in Montrose no doubt has its share of disgruntled former customers, but we're guessing it has fewer than most. The crew there is polite, efficient and seems to remember your name after even one visit. The prices are in line with every other place, and Eagle Express is not going to be here today and gone tomorrow. (We say with fingers crossed, given the current economy.) Even if you live out in the 'burbs, if you work downtown, it's worth a bit of a pre- or post-work drive to Montrose to get quality care for your clothes.

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