Best Of :: Shopping & Services
We've had plenty of arguments about whether or not Zeus is the best comics store in town, and we still think if you've never read a comic book before or haven't since you were a kid, this is the best place to start. Owner Richard Neal and the staff don't sit around engaging in impenetrable fanboy discussions, like who was the better Green Lantern: Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner? (Dude, Hal Jordan. Come on.) They might have an opinion, but they know the Marvel zombies and fans of their Distinguished Competition will come in anyway, so it's best to cater to the people who've never stepped inside a comics store. Maybe the people who just saw Ghost World at the Inwood and want to read the Daniel Clowes comic it was based on, or the people who saw the yanked Spider-Man trailer and want to read about the wall-crawling superhero they forgot they loved as a kid. Part of catering to that audience means stocking their store with bright and shiny baubles that remind you of being a kid, sometimes literally. Not only does Zeus traffic in new action figures--which have more points of articulation than most humans--they also have plenty of the original toys you remember from childhood. An old Aquaman doll? Got it. Ronald McDonald, the Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese and the rest of the McDonaldland gang? Got those, too. It's like going on eBay without having to outbid someone. They've got it all, new and old, from comic book to Star Wars characters to WWF superstars to an entire wall of Barbie dolls for the ladies. If you want it, they probably have it. And on the slim chance they don't, Neal probably remembers it and will reminisce with you as a consolation prize. Come for the toys, stay for the comics. You'll be glad you did.
Our experience with other stores that sell used CDs has been drought or flood, depending on who's been in lately to sell or trade. CD World's selection may not be of ark-requirement proportions every visit, but we've yet to leave empty-handed. The racks are divided by category and are in alphabetical order by artist with new, used and import CDs all together for quick comparison shopping. The local section is likewise well-stocked with both new and used (and we don't mean 10 copies of Deep Blue Something's Home and David Garza's entire back catalog).
Good Records is exactly what you'd expect from a store run by a bunch of local musicians: the latest indie label offerings, early-release copies of local records and the entire catalogs of seminal artists. From imports of alternate versions of Radiohead's latest to the aural history of Bedhead, they're all carded on the yellow shelves lined with colored lightbulbs. And if it's not on hand, the staff happily obliges special orders. But don't expect to find CDs here you could pick up at Target for $12, such as the back catalog of Metallica, which, allegedly, a fan hoping to snag a CD to be autographed by a band member dining in nearby Deep Ellum found out the hard way. "Good records" to him was just a matter of opinion.
As the organic health-food business becomes increasingly corporate (see Whole Foods' shareholders), the real thing is alive and well in the heart of Oak Cliff. For 24 years, Ann Munchrath has dispensed vitamins to undernourished Cliff dwellers. In 1998 she, along with son Matt and other family members, took a leap of faith and opened an organic grocery store that is the only thing of its kind south of the Trinity. The custom-built store is stocked with a healthy selection of rice cakes, whole grains, a mind-boggling selection of soy and rice milks, frozen dinners and just about every other organic food a health nut could want. Fruits and vegetables, bought from the Farmer's Market, are restocked daily. The meat section, though small, includes such rarities as Texas-raised lamb and bison. There is also a café that serves up smoothies, fresh juice, frozen yogurts and a chicken sandwich that will keep you coming back for more.
Back when the Trading Co. first opened its doors some two years ago, it was possible to peruse its racks and stumble across the rare and valuable oddity--say, the Criterion Collection This is Spinal Tap or The Usual Suspects, which was then out of print. It's a little harder to find such gems now that everyone, including your mom, has a DVD player; there's always someone digging through the bins, looking for a collectible to keep or sell on eBay. These days, we value the Movie Trading Co. for these reasons: For a few bucks, you can rent any disc in the store (just-released or very old) for five whole days (take that, Blockbuster); and the videotape bins are overflowing with odds and sods we never knew existed (a few months ago, we picked up hours' worth of Captain America and Captain Marvel serials dating back to the 1940s, and not long before that, we found a highlight reel of the New York Giants-Cleveland Indians 1954 World Series, and our pops was plenty pleased). It's kinda like Half Price Books: You walk in looking for one thing, and you walk out with five things you didn't know you needed.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know. The Stoneleigh P has a better jukebox; says so in our 1997 "Best of" ish. So does the Metro Diner just down the street from the Elbow, at least if you like Muddy Waters with your coffee and smokes at 3 a.m. So do half a dozen other joints around town. It all depends on what you like, what you feel like hollering over, what you feel like grooving to before you land that pickup line with the precision of a spastic gymnast. Whim dictates we give this to the Elbow, just because it's the last bar we visited with a jukebox worth the ones and fivers we kept feeding it like a hungry beast with a bottomless appetite. There's just something about being able to listen to Chet Baker, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Johnny Cash, John Coltrane, Howlin' Wolf and Ronnie Dawson over a couple of Maker's on the rocks that makes some nights (or afternoons) more special than others. It's hard not to feel a little cocky with the Clash pouring out of the speakers; it's hard not to cry into your beer when George Jones leans over your shoulder and moans his sad somethin's.