Hubbell & Hudson Bistro
Photo by Troy Fields
Who says The Woodlands is boring? After all, the suburb to the north gave birth to the coolest grocery store to come along since Central Market. And it's been such a success, in fact, that Hubbell & Hudson just opened a second location, the first being located in prime territory along the Waterway and across the street from Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. In addition to a fully stocked gourmet grocery store, this flagship location also offers cooking classes, a ready-made foods section, a full deli and an attached bistro that's making some of the best and most underrated food up north.
Replay on 19th
If the jumbled feel of Retropolis gives you hives, head down 19th Street in the Heights to Replay, where you'll find a younger, more curated collection of vintage fashion, owned by "Crazy Mike" Hildebrand and Laura Levine. The shop is arranged thematically, from Aloha wear in one section to '70s jumpsuits in another. Become a regular shopper there and the staff is likely to cut you a deal by handing you a business card good for 20 percent off that never expires. They also buy well-cared-for clothing and negotiate trades. Savvy shoppers who join the Replay on 19th Facebook group also get advance warning when a new shipment of clothing arrives or when there's a close-out sale.
If fish is on the menu for Saturday night, you need to head to Louisiana Foods Total Catch Market, located near Loop 610 and the Katy Freeway. The tiny market peddles the Gulf's finest by-catch: creatures that are accidentally caught while fishermen are netting a different species. But at Total Catch, fish expert P.J. Stoops reinvents the so-called "trash fish," giving them the attention and filleting they deserve. Best of all, you'll know you're getting fish no one else is selling. He'll even teach you how to cook up the finned beauties. (They don't call him Professor Fish Heads for nothing.) Total Catch opens up at 9 a.m. every Saturday. Just be sure you get there before all the fish swim away by early afternoon. 
Traders Village
When they say "village," they mean it: Here you will find more than 100 acres of all kinds of goodies — clothes, electronics, furniture, luggage, records, knives, jewelry, bikes, candles, cell phones...pretty much anything you can think of. Every weekend, 1,500 dealers open up shop to give you some of the best deals in town. And because you'll no doubt need to keep up your energy, you can replenish with food stands offering burgers, hot dogs, turkey legs, beer, funnel cakes, sausage-on-a-stick, roasted corn and other deliciousness. Take the whole family and make a day of it — there's no doubt everyone will leave with a smile.
Erotic Cabaret
If you want to feel luscious, head on over to Erotic Cabaret, a perennial favorite among Houston sex-havers. This sexy standby has been open since 1982, so the friendly and nonjudgmental staff knows its craft well — from the lube to the dirty dancewear. Erotic Cabaret sells the best costumes in town, sure to spice up any holiday. Bustiers, corsets and stripper shoes line the front of the store, and the prices can't be beat. If you need something a little more hands-on, head to the back for sex toys. And luckily, the Cabaret's right next to Radio Shack, should you run out of batteries.
Vinyl Junkie
Another much-needed record shop was added to the healthy yet modest music-store scene when this East End indie swung open its doors on November 1. Owned by South Dakota transplants Titus Haag and his wife, Vinyl Junkie focuses on punk and hardcore rarities (though one can also pick up a reissued Elliott Smith LP from time to time), which means that crate sifters are likely to find efforts by White Flight, Flaming Tsunamis, Brain Killer and Acephalix. When you tire of rummaging through the titles, feel free to post up to one of the space's couches, where Haag's adorable pit-bull puppy will be at the ready for some quality spooning time. The shop also hosts punk and metal shows that end at a reasonable hour.
Super H Mart
Clean, brightly lit and full of bargains, Super H Mart is still the standard by which we measure all Asian grocery stores. Food court with a wealth of ethnic specialties on the go? Check. Bakery with glamorous cakes and fascinating pastries? Check. Produce section stocking hard-to-find fruits and veggies? Check. Seafood department that will sell you a live fish and slice it any way you want it? Check. Kimchee department the size of a convenience store? Check. Toilets and industrial rice cookers sold next to Kellogg's cereal and sake? Check and check. Super H Mart has it all.
Pawn shops and gun stores are fine places to pick up a handgun or rifle if you like paying higher prices than usual to pay someone's rent or overhead costs, but the real gun enthusiasts in town all know that their best bet is hitting up the traveling High Caliber Gun & Knife Show, at its three Houston-area stops. Most every weekend in either Conroe, Pasadena or at the George R. Brown Convention Center, dealers from around the region show up to sell new and used handguns, rifles, survival gear and other related paraphernalia. Need a clip for your AR-15? Just ask around. Looking for a copy of the last Ted Nugent cookbook? Just head to one of the booths selling literature and other pamphlets. It's probably right next to the new Sarah Palin pop-up book.
Dr. Gleem Car Wash
Getting a car wash can be terminally boring: There's only so much time you can spend looking at rows of Christmas tree air fresheners and risqué mudflaps while you wait for the workers to scrub months' worth of grime and pigeon droppings from your neglected car's hood. That's why we like Dr. Gleem, which can turn even the biggest procrastinators into Type As. To wit: This venerable establishment offers not only car washes but oil changes — and has a barbershop and diner. That's right: You can grab a burger and get a haircut while your sweet ride is washed and lubed. We can't think of a more productive way, other than napping in the janitor's closet, to spend a lunch hour. Thank you, Dr. Gleem.
Black Dog Records
Well organized, easy to browse and stocked with foundational albums in the rock, soul and jazz genres, Black Dog Records is the spot to visit whether you are just starting a record collection, want some classic jams or are in need of replacing weathered first-edition pressings. For the wayfaring "music sounds so much better on vinyl" hipsters who happen to wander into the shop, Black Dog conveniently displays and sells LPs by indie rock faves Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jacket. The staff also boasts a vintage attitude — no noses in the air or poopy lips — that's refreshing in this age of music snobbery.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of