Smith's Opticians has long been Houston's best source for new old stock frames (that means unworn or unopened vintage), but the store also has a carefully curated selection of modern frames (or pretty much any look). Your glasses won't be ready in an hour, and they might cost more than you'd pay at some other places, but the owner, Phillip, will practically wait on you hand and foot until you find the perfect pair. Bonus: You'll have a set of frames unlike anyone else's in this city.

Whether you're a sneakerhead or a hipster, an artist or a bartender, if you want to look good in H-Town, a carefully styled set of hair follicles is a must. The barbers at Kings of the Clippers are exceptionally skilled in fades, shaves, edge-ups and designs. This clean, hip and affordable shop is staffed by welcoming barbers who'll make you feel like royalty, if only for the brief time they allow you to sit on your throne, doing everything possible to make you look your best. Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins are certainly welcome. Their motto is "The Name Says It All." It truly does.

Swim, bike and run. Those are the elements of a triathlon. But in order to accomplish this strenuous feat of physical ability, you will require three things: a strong will, a meticulous training regiment and the specialized gear needed to complete the journey. That's where Tri on the Run fits in. They have been Houston's triathlon specialty store for more than seven years and continue to be a fountain of triathlon knowledge and expertise for all interested in the sport. On top of the supplies, the staff provides help with run-gait analysis, nutrition selections and race tactics.

Super H Mart

Walking into Super H Mart for the first time can be somewhat overwhelming if you didn't grow up going to an Asian grocer. The mall-turned-grocery store is a bit to take in at first, but once you've gained your bearings, you'll find an incredible variety of foods and an array of shops within the impeccably tidy and bright store. This array includes a French bakery, a food court housing half a dozen Korean eateries, and a butcher shop that's among the most well-stocked in the entire city. Super H Mart's seafood cases are a draw unto themselves, housing live and fresh-caught fish and shellfish from around the world.

There are malls, and then there are supermalls. The Galleria is such a monstrosity. If downtown is the heart of the city, this mall is the central nervous system. Bustling with activity from morning till way past dark, it has expanded in recent years with a new wing and enormous parking garage to accommodate the millions of visitors who stop by to shop, skate and people-watch. You will often find a professional athlete or recording superstar walking and shopping the halls of this mall, which houses two hotels and a variety of dining experiences for your spending pleasure.

I W Marks

For 35 years, Houstonians have turned to this family-owned jewelry store for gifts to commemorate life's milestones. The professional staff can help you find just the right diamond and setting to express, be it classic solitaire, three-stone, pavé or even a custom design. With an unbelievable selection and remarkable prices, I.W. Marks ought to be on the list of anyone who's serious about finding the perfect ring and not on the prowl for cut-rate rocks.

When a planned expansion to the Houston Library System's historic Julia Ideson Building was announced, architectural purists held their collective breath — would the building's original Spanish Renaissance design be enhanced or butchered by the addition? Luckily, Barry Moore, an architect with an investment in Houston's historic preservation, was at the helm. Moore used the original plans by Ralph Adams Cram as a guide, updating it for the requirements of new technology and contemporary patron usage, creating a seamless addition to the iconic structure. Over the years, Moore has worked on the renovation of City Hall interiors and the repurposing of the former Congregation Beth Israel complex (built in 1925) into the first campus for the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Moore, who has worked in Houston for more than 47 years, inherited his love of preservation from his father, one of the founders of the Heritage Society and the city's first preservation architect.

Vinal Edge
Photo by Daniel Kramer

Vinal Edge, which relocated to the Heights last year, is no different from the other quaint shops lining 19th Street just west of Yale, except this is probably the only one where you can pick up a rare Alien Sex Fiend singles compilation or the Rev. Pat Robertson's It's Time to Pray, America! LP. Vinal Edge's new location is roomier than its predecessor, which originally opened in 1985 off Veterans Memorial Boulevard in far north Houston, but is just as stuffed to the gills with music old and new, vinyl and CD, in every genre known to man and a couple that probably aren't. In a relatively rare practice among record stores, Vinal Edge catalogs each and every inventory item on its Web site, which makes it even more invaluable for collectors. The more obscure the title, the more likely you'll be to find it at Vinal Edge — but if it's not there, owner Chuck Roast and his knowledgeable staff will be happy to track it down for you via mail order.

Best Of Houston®

Best Of