Best Rail Station
Photo by Ed Schipul via CC

Houston is a city likely cursed to always have questionable mass transit. We'll never be a New York or a Chicago, but stepping off the METRORail and onto Preston Station will at least give you the illusion of being a walkable city. There's plenty to visit, plenty to walk to, without having to worry about the burdens of parking. It's bright, and with spots like Notsuoh and Nightingale Room, among others, there are plenty of options for a night out without the worry of a drive home. Until you take the METRORail back to your car. This is still Houston, of course.

Best Hair Stylist
Photo by T.J. Lentz via CC

Getting your hair done is as much about the experience as it is the end result, and that is why you want to go to Flo at D-Vine Salon & Spa. Flo has been working miracles in Houston hair for years, and her customers keep coming back because not only does she provide stylish cuts and excellent color, but she ensures the style and cut is something you'll be able to manage and maintain. She's also wonderful at making her clients feel absolutely at home. Whether you need a cookie, a cup of coffee or just someone with whom to talk about life, she's got it all. You never leave feeling less than 110 percent better than you were before.

Best Dog Trainer
Photo by airwaves1 via CC

Dr. Lore Haug is a licensed veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior. Based in Sugar Land, Haug has more than two decades' experience treating dogs (and cats, horses and other animals) for issues like aggression, separation anxiety, noise and weather phobias, and compulsive disorders. With her calm demeanor and uncanny ability to understand how animals think, Haug is able to solve behavior problems that have confounded dog owners. With plenty of success stories to show for her hard work, it's no wonder many Houston veterinarians refer patients to Haug.

Best Grocery Store
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

Though smaller than its suburban counterparts, H-E-B's so-called "Buffalo Market" sacrifices none of the Lone Star supermarket leader's essential Texan-ness. Start with the vast expanse of produce offering dozens of varieties of pretty much anything currently grown or picked, organic and non, and proceed past the fine in-house deli (the rotisserie chicken is especially delicious) and fleet of customer liaisons offering ever-helpful recipe suggestions or samples of anything from stone-ground crackers to wine. If a special occasion is approaching, don't miss the spacious floral department and an absolutely killer bakery. On the shelves, many H-E-B-brand products easily eclipse their neighboring name-brand rivals in both flavor and price. When it comes time to check out, the friendly (if often slammed) cashiers will be happy to offer up a few "Buddy Bucks," which kids can feed into a boardwalk-style wheel of fortune. For a place most families can't avoid visiting at least weekly, Buffalo Market makes grocery shopping less like a chore and more like a reward.

Best Tattoo Artist
Photo by Mike Woods

Mike Woods, artist and owner of Advent Tattoo, is booked months in advance for those highly coveted five-hour slots for sleeves and other major ink projects. His portfolio speaks for itself, and this very talented inkmaster works with the body's curves to deliver highly detailed masterpieces that scream to be shown off. He's a class act, and you won't hear him publicly badmouthing the work of others, even when he has to rescue a tearful damsel in distress from a poorly rendered rose. Can't get in? The other Mike at his shop, Mike Ashworth, does amazing work as well.

Retropolis

Walking into Retropolis can be rather daunting initially. The long, slim aisle that you must march up to enter is packed to the brim with clothes, shoes, sunglasses, beaded handbags and crazy earrings from various decades, all thrown together in a kaleidoscope of brightly colored possibilities. But don't get bogged down there, because it's not until you move past the counter and up the stairs that you get to the really good stuff. The upstairs of Retropolis is massive but divided into booths. Each seller tends to have different specialties, so whether you're looking for Victorian-era loungewear, the perfect Led Zeppelin T-shirt from the actual days of yore, or a 1950s prom dress to wear to a symphony performance at Jones Hall, there's a section that is likely to offer something along the lines of what you're looking for. If you don't find it on one trip, just keep trying. The selection is always changing, and with time and patience, there are countless vintage goodies to be discovered and procured.

Best Mechanic
Photo by Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos via CC

In what is perhaps one of the most unassuming auto shops on what is rapidly becoming an extremely busy street corner just outside the Heights, Kelley Tires has quietly been fixing cars for decades. The tiny little shop still writes up orders with pen and paper, often stained with oil from the hands of the mechanics who handle the repairs and paperwork. They can fix almost anything and they will tell you when they can't. If nothing else, they are fair and honest, a critical component for customers when your lack of knowledge of cars can literally cost you.

Best Cemetery
Photo by Olivia Flores Alvarez

What makes Olivewood so incredible isn't how it looks, though the lovely six acres are well maintained. It's the history behind the place that makes it so special. Originally a slave burial ground, it became the first African-American cemetery in Houston, and it is the final resting place of numerous black pioneers from the 1800s. In 2003, a nonprofit organized to revitalize the location and it is now thriving as a result, having been dedicated as a Historic Texas Cemetery in 2010.

Best Dry Cleaners
Photo by Your Best Digs via CC

Dirt, ketchup, grass stains, whiskey or ink — there isn't a substance on Earth that we haven't accidentally rubbed into our clothes. And pretty much every time this happens, Hi Cleaners has come to the rescue. We don't know what we did before, and we can't remember a time when that basic, no-frills blue-and-white sign wasn't there, like a Laundry Lighthouse, calling us in from the Stain Storm. Hi offers speedy, friendly service at fair prices — you owe it to yourself to try it out if you haven't yet. You don't need to wait for an emergency, but if you do, you won't have to worry. Once you say "hi," you'll never say "bye" to this king of cleaners.

Best New Way to Get Around the City
Photo by Alfredo Mendez via CC

The pink mustaches are back. After leaving Houston in 2014 over a beef with the city concerning its driver regulations, the rideshare service has returned thanks to a new law the Texas Legislature passed this year. Lyft gave Uber the rideshare monopoly back in '14 because it didn't like that Houston required costly fingerprint background checks on all its drivers. But after Governor Greg Abbott signed a law that transfers the power to regulate rideshare services to the state, Houston's Uber and Lyft regulations will be null by September. And so you can ride in style again inside mustachioed cars.

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