Best Tailor
Photo by Windell Oskay via CC

When you have put off getting your bridesmaid dress hemmed until the last possible moment and are desperately praying for a miracle solution so the bride won't throttle you, Bridals by Nancy is the place to go. Tucked into a tiny shop on a corner in Rice Village, Nancy will not bat an eye when you carry in your too-long dress, or your too-expensive-to-simply-throw-them-away jeans, or your vintage swing dress that's roughly 80 years old but only needs to be stitched up in 15 different places to be wearable again. She will simply take the item you have proffered, examine it, give an incredibly reasonable price for the work and then have it neatly, sturdily done when you come back at the appointed time. Altered clothes will fit to perfection, and any patches will be so seamlessly and thoroughly done that the items will look like new.

Best Spectacles/Glasses/Optometry
Photo by John Spade via CC

Although we are lucky to live in a city that is full-to-bursting with able medical specialists, we're still a little skint when it comes to holistic practitioners, a notable exception being Dr. Moss, whose approach to optometry is rooted in general health strategies and cutting-edge approaches to vision correction. In addition to the usual Victorian gadgets, eye tests and hypnotic lulls one encounters in every eye doctor's office, Dr. Moss puts in the extra time — the extra time reading about progressive medical practices, the extra time looking at the whole messy spectrum of well-being, and, rarer yet, the extra one-on-one time with her patients.

Best Car Wash
Photo by Dean Hochman via CC

There's nothing "basic" about Splash's basic wash package, which runs a reasonable $18-$35. The attention and care Splash attendants give to your vehicle, from the lowliest bucket to the fanciest Italian import, is a marvel. They will vacuum, wash, Armor All, and generally primp and preen your ride to your heart's delight. For a few bucks more, you can step it up to the executive wash package, which includes cleaning the dashboard, door panels, console areas and seats. For the super-serious driver, Splash offers premiere detailing services like shampooing, deodorizing, deluxe leather conditioning and oxidation removal. You'll leave feeling like your vehicle is brand-new, and for the amount of time most Houstonians spend in traffic every day, it's well worth it.

Best Vitamin Shop
Photo by Mike Mozart via CC

We haven't always exercised regularly or eaten healthy — hence that unfortunate summer we came down with scurvy. But, with just a little effort, we got our act in shape, and a big part of that was the Vitamin Shoppe. Sure, we felt out of our element the first time we walked in, especially since we were holding a bucket of fried chicken. But the employees were patient, courteous and knowledgeable. They explained all the different powders and supplements without pushing any product or trying to rush us out the door. It's amazing — we started to feel better even before we left. We're pretty sure you will too.

Best Sporting Goods Store
Photo by Mike Mozart via CC

Dick's has a way of immersing shoppers in whatever sport they're browsing for in the way a cruise line brochure might sell you a vacation. Deer heads are mounted on the wall in the hunting section. Pictures of sweaty runners with to-be-envied steel abs seem to be racing along the walls. Golf clubs line the putting green, where you can try them out. The point is, Dick's has a way of convincing you that you deserve the highest-quality equipment, for any sport or activity. Whether you're in need of football cleats or hockey skates, kayaks or snowboards, Dick's has everything for both serious athletes willing to lay down the cash and casual shoppers who just want to pick up a lawn game and some jogging shorts.

Best Mall
Houston Press file photo

Memorial City Mall is not without its quirks. You have to go outside to get to the Old Navy. The part of the mall next to the ice rink is a weird, pretend ski lodge. One of the anchor stores is a Target. But that's kind of the magic of the mall. What other mall in Houston gives you the chance to get an American Girl doll styled after you as you grab a bite at Tout Suite and check out the model trains courtesy of the Houston Tinplate Operators Society? Memorial City Mall isn't a place to be seen or a place to kill a few hours before a concert. It's a place you go to hang around for a few hours and give in to the eccentricities of the place. And with the addition of The Square, there are even more reasons to kill a day at Memorial City.

Best Pharmacy
Photo by Mike Mozart via CC

It feels like there are roughly a million drugstores within the Houston city limits, but that doesn't mean all those pharmacies are actually good places to get your prescriptions filled while also finding fun new face creams and picking up a last-minute birthday present. That's where the Walgreens on West T.C. Jester comes in. There are plenty of fun goods to look at and potentially impulse-buy while you wait on your prescriptions, but the magical part about this Walgreens is you will almost never have to wait long. The pharmacists behind the counter know what they're about and are quick to get prescriptions filled, and if you're getting something new that you have questions about, they'll be glad to answer them. On top of that, if for some reason they can't fill a prescription, they will take the time to figure out what the problem is, whether it's an insurance issue or the fact that the entire chain just happens to be running low on a particular medication. From there, they'll make the phone calls needed to get the prescription approved or to find a pharmacy that can fill your order, and they're always nice about it.

Field & Tides Restaurant & Bar (FTRB)
Photo by Troy Fields

With more than 17 years of bartending experience in her back pocket, Monique Hernandez runs a tight ship at Field & Tides, the go-to Heights eatery for pimento balls, scallops and more Gulf Coast delights, with a cocktail list that's incredibly food- and user-friendly. While offering hospitality with panache and grace, Hernandez is the type of bartender that epitomizes what the job is all about: making customers happy and crafting complex flavors into refreshing, approachable quaffs. Her spicy, snappy play on a margarita is worth the trip alone, but you'll also want to sample the showstopping El Vaquero, a frothy mezcal sour with the restaurant's logo, FT, stenciled across the top.

Best Head Shop
Photo by Ecig Click via CC

This homegrown beauty of a shop has now won three years in a row, and no, it's not because we suffer from memory loss. Rather, it's because we simply haven't had a better customer experience since. Plus, the selection is astounding — whether you're looking for ornate, locally crafted, hand-blown glass or just a basic vaping accessory, chances are you've come to the right place. But really, what keeps us coming back is the super-knowledgeable, amazingly courteous staff. They'll make you an instant, loyal customer. Now, where'd we put those Cheetos...

Best Amusement Center
Photo by Brittanie Shey

If Clark Griswold could have a do-over, and we all know he could have used it, we bet he'd haul the family and station wagon to the Pleasure Pier right here in our own bay. What's better than a boardwalk attraction that has its own roller coaster — 100-foot drop included — a Texas-size fried Oreo and a Ferris wheel that's picture-perfect come sundown, plus rides for even the smallest thrill seekers? If you don't have time to visit this summer, Pleasure Pier has got you covered there too. It is open year-round, including weekends during the fall, and the opportunity is always there for you to make memories at the Houston area's best amusement center.

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