Best Of :: Shopping & Services
We consider ourselves pretty savvy, open-minded beer consumers, with tastes that run from tart, brisk witbiers to decadently rich imperial stouts to Belgian ales so complex that mentally processing all the flavors is almost a psychedelic experience. In short, we thought we had a pretty good handle on trying the best beers available in this less-than-beer-friendly state, where geographic distance from coastal breweries, senseless legislation against homegrown breweries and a distributor stranglehold on the industry limit the number of brews consumers can choose from. Then we visited the beer aisle at Whole Foods' Park Lane location. Surrounded on both sides by more than 600 varieties of beer, we felt like the chimps in 2001 when they see the monolith. Except there were two of them, turned on their sides, chilled and filled with beers whose names we'd only heard whispered amidst furtive glances, even beers whose names we'd never heard spoken aloud.
With its sign boasting "ATM Lotto Money Order Cigars" and rack of spank mags near the front door, it looks like just another crummy, run-down convenience store where you're more likely to find Steel Reserve malt liquor and thinly veiled drug paraphernalia than a decent beer. But check out the back cooler and you'll be surprised by the selection of microbrews and imports, including a few we've never seen elsewhere. Even better, the store keeps a list of customer stocking requests. In one memorable visit, we inked in an appeal for Ten FIDY, an expensive and difficult-to-find imperial stout, just below where a shaky hand had scrawled "Strawberry Banana MD 20/20." It was heartwarming to see that the place is willing to take care of you whether you want expensive craft beer or rotgut wine—or Steel Reserve, for that matter.
You'll take credit for the good taste when your giftee thanks you for the gift, but deep down in your heart, you'll know it was all Vynsie, Jully and Derek Law making you look good. Sifting through the latest design trends from New York to San Francisco to Tokyo, but always most enthused about handmade local stuff, the folks at We Are 1976 keep their shop turning over with a fresh stock of sleek, useful things for the kitchen or office, books and zines, toy cameras and miniature creations for the sophisticated man or woman of the world who still likes to get down and play with little toy guys on their desk. From J-Pop to steampunk, the stock's always in small batches so you can bet on uncovering something new on each visit. It's also home to great craft classes and workshops from local designers, plus the best stock of Japanese sodas this side of Garland.
Always on the lookout for a way to improve on what's already the best place to get your hair cut, colored and styled, Johnny Rodriguez now has a blow-dry bar at his award-winning salon. So what's a blow-dry bar? Glad you asked. It's actually pretty simple. You drop by the Inwood Village Shopping Center. You get your hair washed. And then you choose one of four blowouts with names like "The Drop-Dead Gorgeous" and "The Big & Beautiful." Of course, this pampering comes at a price: anywhere from $35 to $55 "and up." Then again, Rodriguez has never been confused for Pro-Cuts.
At first glance, Gratitude Vintage looks like any number of vintage shops around town with each of its many rooms filled with racks of clothes, baskets of belts, stacks of vinyl records and display cases teeming with knickknacks, baubles and trinkets. But as you make your way from room to room, soon you'll notice the hats. They're all over. In every room. Some are hung on display racks, but the majority are hanging from the walls–taking up nearly every square—well, round—inch of space. Known for its hat selection, the Oak Lawn-area shop typically boasts a revolving cast of 300 to 400, ranging in price from a few bucks to as high as $300 for some rare designer domes. But, luckily, the vast majority of the hats are tagged at under $40. This year marked Gratitude's 20th anniversary, though in 2008 owner Marion Weger moved the shop to a larger, swankier spot a few blocks away from the original location.
It was so traumatic for Old East Dallas—the whole closing of Dallas' first Whole Foods on Lower Greenville Avenue. Sort of like what the closing of the Metropolitan Museum might be for Manhattan. Then they opened the new store on Abrams and called it "Lakewood"—a knife in the heart for Bohemians. Might as well have called it "Country Club Whole Foods." But at least Whole Foods has honored its East Dallas origins by maintaining what has to be the city's finest selection of granolas. We counted 79 varieties of packaged granola on a recent visit, and that didn't even include the bulk bins where you can mix up your own. In that sense it's still an East Dallas store, even if you do have fend your way past a lot of sweaty 9-year-olds in golf cleats to get to the granola section.
Designing home interiors is only one aspect of 25-year-old SMU grad Doniphan Moore's many talents. He's more of a life stylist, working with design-challenged clients at all budget levels to unify their aesthetic senses, from furnishings to wardrobe to personal style. His own taste fits somewhere between clean traditionalist and soft modern, with a touch of the eccentric. "I embrace the human element of a home," he says, "and don't steer away from the messiness of everyday life. If a bed has to be made up to look good, it's a shame." He's done high-end interiors, low-end home offices, magazine shoots, weddings, floral designs and head-to-toe makeovers. Moore does it all with a keen eye for bargains and it doesn't hurt that he is even funnier and cuter than Oprah's design guru, Nate Berkus. Our crystal ball (which Moore helped us find in a consignment store) predicts that he'll be a major design star too, sooner than later.