Heights Station Antiques

Smack-dab between the antiquing hotspots of lower Westheimer and West 19th Street there looms this 1895 carriage barn, with more than 5,000 square feet of trash 'n' treasure within. Lots of antique stores tend to cater to women, but Heights Station's multi-dealer layout features a couple of fun testosterone zones with their sports memorabilia and rock and roll collectibles sections. You can get that old chair just about anywhere, but only at Heights Station — the mother of all attics — can you also go home with a signed 8-by-10 glossy of Journey from their "Don't Stop Believin'" heyday and a Charley Kerfeld rookie card.

Penzey's Spices

Just step inside this Heights shop and smell the difference. It's like taking a gourmet-shopping trip around the world. Want Vietnamese cinnamon? Tellicherry black peppercorns? Szechuan pepper salt? Mexican oregano? Yep, Penzeys has all that and more, offering spices, herbs, seasonings, gift boxes and some pretty cool pepper mills and saltshakers. It's a great place to buy gifts, and novices need not worry. The friendly staff will offer recipes and sniff tests. You could spend hours here just sniffing all the different kinds of chili powders. It's spice heaven.

Erotic Cabaret

Sticking out like a giant neon-pink boner, Zone D'Erotica's Galleria location is the perfect paean to no-zoning laws. So you wanna create a huge commercial district with a Container Store, Cheesecake Factory and plenty of nice hotels for dentistry conventions? Fine, we're going to build a big freakin' gaudy, obnoxious-looking place where you can buy edible undies and double-headed dongs. Somehow, shopping for these unmentionables in such a squeaky-clean corporate Green Zone makes the whole thing dirtier, and thus sexier. There are a million places in Houston to buy sexy whatnots (thank God!), but this is really the best place to get 'er done. Go see for yourself.

Wolf's Department Store & Pawn

For some people, including us, Wolf's Department Store & Pawn Shop is as much a Houston institution as Spec's, the Astrodome or the Galleria. At Wolf's, you can find a nice selection of new Kangol and Stetson hats, and the pawn shop collection is light years better than the typical stock. Even better, Wolf's has been around since 1955 and still maintains a vintage look that's truly authentic. It's the kind of place that makes the Third Ward so unique. Wolf's would be a great loss if the area ever goes the way of other wards and becomes overrun with condos and coffee shops.

Whole Foods

There's something fishy at the Whole Foods on Kirby. And we mean that in a good way. The fish section here is swimming with good buys, fresh fish and the coolest fishmongers in town. These guys and gals know their stuff. They stock only organic, sustainable seafood, and they'll tell you what's best and freshest and how to cook it. They also gladly go the extra yard for regulars. No crab-stuffed tilapia filets today? No worries, they'll make you some on the spot. And they'll shell and vein your shrimp and debone your Copper River sockeye (which, by the way, was cheaper here this summer than at that other high-end grocery store in town).

Fish Gallery

The name of this category does not begin to do justice to The Fish Gallery, which could almost pass for a museum of natural science — except for the comfy leather couches in a soothing pale blue. The Fish Gallery offers outreach programs as a museum would: a summer reading program for children and kids' birthday parties. This summer's kickoff party for the reading program drew 72 visitors — when was the last time you saw that many people in a library? The Fish Gallery, one of seven in a nationwide chain, offers custom-designed aquariums, freshwater or saltwater. Looking for a respectable handheld pool skimmer? Check. The delicate Discus fish? Check. Captive-bred or wild corals? Check. CO2 and H2O refill stations? Check.

Just like Madonna or Cher, our local hairstylist to the stars goes by one name only, thank you very much. Cerón's salon in Uptown Park (as well as his space at The Omni and his new Neiman Marcus shop in Dallas) caters to blue-hairs and socialites alike, but you don't have to be Becca Cason Thrash to get a color touch-up or blowout from a wonder in cowboy boots and tight-fitting leather pants. Anyone can get an appointment, if you book early enough. Cerón has been profiled in Texas Monthly and frequently appears in the party pages as arm candy for the rich and bold-named women around the state. But don't let that intimidate you. He's just a sweetheart wielding a blow dryer. Getting your hair done by Cerón is one of those things that should be on any Texan's bucket list.

Fishing Tackle Unlimited

If you ever get lost and you look over and see the world's largest anything, chances are you're in Houston. Fishing Tackle Unlimited helps with that, because the place is literally the world's largest tackle store. The good thing is, it's not an overdone Disney World-type place like other mammoth outdoor shops. The reel section alone is enough to make your head spin — especially if you check out the price tags. You can also "test drive" kayaks in the store's outdoor pool. Put it this way: If you're working on a research paper about fishing, skip the library and head to Fishing Tackle Unlimited.

Rover Oaks Pet Resort

Sit. Stay. Play. Doggies do it all at Rover Oaks Pet Resort, and why not? This five-year-old establishment offers luxury suites that rival rooms at Hotel ZaZa for pets staying overnight. Doggie Day Camp-ers can romp over acres of green space, get in a little cuddle time and gorge on "gourmet" meals. There's also a state-of-the-art spa and training facilities, all of it squeaky clean. But, just like any River Oaks private school, your four-legged love has to apply and go through a screening process to get in. If Fido makes the cut, the staff here will be your pup's new BBFs.

Replay on 19th

Houston is blessed with lots of wonderful vintage clothing stores, but right now our favorite is Replay on 19th St. This charming boutique, right in the heart of the Heights, features 2,500 square feet of reasonably priced clothes, jewelry, handbags and other accessories. Plus, the friendly, helpful sales staff is always open to bargaining. The styles (for both guys and gals) span from the '40s to the '80s, which means that you should have no problem finding the right kind of outfits for your look — or even discovering a whole new look.

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