Used CD marts abound in Dallas, and merchants ranging from Wherehouse Music to CD Warehouse to Half Price Books have selections of used product. But where do the most fervent music lovers go to locate their much-desired discs? We point to CD Source in the Old Town Shopping Center, which boasts excellent selections of jazz, folk, blues, Latin, and other genres as well as good old rock and roll. CD Source seems to defy the cardinal rule of used CD shops, which is that people trade in crap they don't want, making for crappy selection and plenty of copies of Live's Throwing Copper.

This lovely store sells all sorts of unusual items for the garden and home. We saw some angel sculptures and large-scale urns that would make almost any outdoor setting look classical. It also carries a nice assortment of iron works and other small collectibles for home exteriors.
Piled in the row of glass display cases are thongs for every occasion and to match every mood. Workday thongs in black teem from the case alongside lacy and satiny bits in lavender, cobalt, peach, or lime for color coordinating with super slinky dresses and skirts. When the time is right, pick from the fierce jungle prints or the sleek black and red numbers, or maybe one in pink lace with little bows for a very good bad girl.
Blockbuster Video locations sprout up like so many mushrooms at nearly every Dallas intersection. But where, oh where, to go for all things urban, African, and hip? We recommend Alternative Videos in Fair Park, where you can pick from a range of selections, from Thelonious Monk videos to the Roots miniseries boxed set and a huge array of classic '70s blaxploitation flicks. The store is cluttered and can barely hold three people, but it has the most variety when it comes to the African-American persuasion. Open Friday and Saturdays only, 12 p.m.-6 p.m.

Best handmade tortilla, soft drink, and voodoo market

Super Mercado Mexico

Fiesta and Danals offer bigger, brighter Mexican stores, of course, but Supermercado Mexico is still mecca to people who like their markets small and messy and who need to see their tortillas being baked. Cow heads can be found here, in season, along with an excellent collection of prayer candles, some of which tend to veer off in the direction of certain ancient West African gods associated with voodoo. This is definitely not Tom Thumb, which is why you may like it.

It pains us to write about this subject. For the last three years, every "Best of Dallas" winner in this category, as soon as it receives this accolade, has had its service go from exemplary to downright unpredictable. It's almost as if some sort of curse is attached. With this in mind, we want to state that we wish no ill on Dee & Hattie Cleaners. We wish them well for all the personal and friendly service they have provided their customers. We wish them success for the fine quality of dry cleaning they provide. Most of all, we wish that they can continue to get the mustard stains out of our shirts.

Best place to find a gift for someone you barely know

Talulah

Talulah Belle
It has probably happened to all of us. You need a present fast for someone you barely know--cousin's fianc, boss' teenage son, better half's Aunt Mable. Gift certificates and checks stuck in nondescript greeting cards are out. They're too impersonal. Flavored body oils are a touch too personal--unless you're way friendly. Talulah in Lakewood has great, inexpensive stuff that says, "Hey, I put some thought into fulfilling what is, in reality, an imposition." The store carries specialty bath and body care items in a variety of scents and styles, from Blue Q's Ultra Fancy Dirty Girl to more manly scents packaged in plaid flannel sacks. From the whimsical (dashboard hula girls and boys) to the more conservative (baskets, candleholders, and original art), everything can be gift-wrapped. Talulah even stocks greeting cards for all occasions.

The guys at Enterprise rock: free soda when you walk in, nice people, and they deal. Granted, renting a car is usually not a pleasant experience, especially because the majority of cars are rented when your car is in the shop. And if your car is in the shop for a prolonged period of time, it's because you were in an accident. These guys understand. Here's a sample conversation:

YOU: "Hey, I was in a wreck, and I need a rental car. But I'm also under 25 and really don't want to spend an extra $20/day just because I'm younger."

THEM: "No problem. These things happen. We've got a full-size car for $36/day."

YOU: "F@#k! I only wanted an economy size and $36/day is too F@#$%n pricey."

THEM: " All right. Check this out. We'll rent you the full size at the economy price of $23/day, and you get unlimited miles. Now how you like them apples?"

YOU: "I likes."

The folks at Rent-A-Wreck understand that the primary need of a customer is to obtain reliable transportation. This is a no-frills auto rental shop, but that doesn't mean the cars are inferior, despite the unfortunate name. We loved the midsized automobile that we rented for a week at a price far lower than at one of the national chain stores. Next time you need a car between auto shop visits, save a few dollars and check them out.

The people who sell their CDs to this store either have fickle tastes or really love their CD burners, because it's easy to score used copies of new albums here. The selection runs the gamut from small, local labels to major-label releases with healthy doses of independent releases and imports available too. The selection is better than most, and so are the prices. Depending on the number of copies in stock and how long they've been sitting around, a used CD runs from $2 to $9. That means you'll save enough on that used 'N Sync CD to grab their Japanese import with the additional tracks.

OK, so the stock on hand doesn't match up with the warehouse chains, but owner Donna Cressman and her staff make up for it with friendly service and by offering useful critiques of books they've actually read. The selection of hardbacks and paperbacks is good, and if they don't have the particular title you're looking for, they'll quickly order it and give you a call when it arrives. The salespeople obviously love books and are quick to tack a note on the shelves offering a personal review of something they're eager to recommend. It's one of those hospitable stops that visiting authors, touring to beat the drum for their latest tomes, love to see on their schedules. It also sells a good selection of magazines, national and local, and greeting cards for every occasion.

Best Of Dallas®

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