When we visited Junkadoodle for the first time, it was not on purpose. We were searching for another address and in the process saw what we are now lauding for Best Junk. We have to admit that it was the name that sucked us in--and the fact that the sign out front was designed with bubbly purple letters. In case you were wondering, we are also the kind of people who buy books based simply on their covers. Shallow, maybe, but sometimes you pick a winner--as was the case with Junkadoodle. This shop is filled with all sorts of goodies, from antique furniture to artwork to a bowl filled with buttons. And despite the name, "junk" is not really apropos of the store's contents. Maybe it's that whole "another man's trash" thing, or maybe we're just incredibly cheap, but we think Junkadoodle is more treasure than anything else.

Best Place for a Musician to Cash In

Guitar Center

Hang out in the metro music-scene nightlife long enough, and you'll realize one thing. It feels like there's just as many struggling musicians in the city as there are peeps in China's army. "Feel" is the key word, word. Where is the coolest place shaggy-haired melody makers can find some cash flow to go along with sudden inspiration? We're assuming a gig at Guitar Center. There's nowhere else drummers get a head at cost and guitarists may play with more bodies than fingers know what to do with. For musicians cool enough to embrace a setting full of instruments as a way to maintain a lifestyle, Guitar Center is a home away from home. Guess that applies to those other musicians, too, plucking away in offices full of every instrument known to mankind besides the musical ones. Or for people new to instruments who just have an urge to play one. OK, we admit it, Guitar Center is for everyone. "Stairway to Heaven" riffs or unknown musical masterpieces, they'll let you play; maybe you'll like it enough to pay, and since the folks answering your questions know a thing or two about the craft, you're in good hands.

Pair O'Dice is our best because we trust them with our own bodies. It's almost the official tattoo parlor of the Observer staff. We go here; we bring our friends. We tell strangers to come here when we find them gawking at us in line at the grocery store. Get the hint? Come here. To us, trust is a key element in tattooing. You're paying someone to permanently scar your body. And the folks at Pair O'Dice can do that. Lots of other people can, too. But here you'll feel at home, always have a say in what they're doing and never feel intimidated. If you look nervous, you'll get teased...and possibly placed in a headlock. No, really, it helps. In addition to the artistry of Richard Stell, Deb Brody, Josh Robinson, J.P. Morin and Casey Cokrlic, there is also plenty of wacky stuff on the walls and loud tunes on the stereo to keep you distracted.
Big, bright, sparkly clean, lots of pumps, with beautiful cashiers and friendly service, yada yada--that's not why this is the best pit stop. It's the best for one simple reason: The owner is oddly obsessed with selling the coldest, cheapest beer in Dallas. The beer is already chilled to 36 degrees. As Best of Dallas was going to press, Lakewood Mobil was undergoing major reconstruction to create a special "ice-cave" at the back, where the beer will be chilled to 26 degrees--still liquid, but the bottles might freeze to your fingers. They sell all the hard-to-get cigarettes--Esmir Stingers, Kents, Dunhills--and they have a pretty decent wine selection, too. Not bad for a Mobil, eh?

Truth is, the term "belly dancing" is a bit of a misnomer. The traditional dance moves actually give the knees and lower back a workout, not the abdominals. Just ask the lovely ladies you'll find at Egypt World, which houses a diverse supply of belly-dancing gear. In addition to the rookie purchases of silky veils and hip sashes covered in bells or small metal coins, there are also dresses, pants (think I Dream of Jeannie), skirts, bra tops and a wide range of things that go jingle-jingle-jingle when you go shake-shake-shake, including belts, bracelets, anklets and headpieces.

The rule is don't go to a stylist with bad hair. We say don't trust a piercer who doesn't have any piercings. That's definitely not a problem at Skin & Bones, but that's not the only reason to choose this place. It's clean. The prices are fair. And even if the piercing artists aren't sporting the style you want, they can tell you about it or possibly even show you on the gray foam rubber models of body parts. Never seen a female genital piercing? Well, here's the place to see one without having to tip a dancer or feeling (too) embarrassed. It's right there in the case near the candy-colored navel rings and large-gauge ear jewelry.
When faced with finding a new hairstylist, panic undoubtedly ensues. The hair is, after all, a key detail in one's look and personal style. More than a year ago, Roman filled in when our regular stylist was out. He fashioned a seductive, flirty 'do that we coveted. But when our pocketbook was padded enough to allow for a little pampering, we couldn't find him at the old salon. We called everyone we knew who could have information, searched the Web and finally resorted to driving in the general area where one tip placed him. Yes, he's that good. After years of botched haircuts, there were only two people we allowed to come within feet of our hair, and with one now retired, Roman's our guy. Get a cut and color (say goodbye to irritating multiple appointments) in a comfy space from a stylist who makes each customer feel like the only customer. His credentials include photo shoots with Kristin Davis and models of the highest caliber...and we feel like one after he's worked his magic. Guys: One male staffer said Roman worked wonders on his unruly hair, too.

Whatever your video needs, Premiere will, 99 times out of 100, be able to fill them. Want something vintage and foreign, something out-of-print, something not even available yet? Call Premiere. Want something brand-new with Ashton Kutcher? Call Premiere. (But why would you even want to watch such a thing?) Want something from Europe or Asia that hasn't even been released in the States yet or only hit theaters recently--like, oh, 28 Days Later with that alternate ending? Really, call Premiere. Premiere has everything and then some, including those multiregion DVD players, for rent or purchase, that allow you to watch copies of BBC shows you've never heard of and Thai movies you'll never know about unless you ask the staff to suggest something new and cool. So let there be no misunderstanding: Call Premiere.
The Labyrinth, located appropriately on Bell Street, is also next to Shake-Rag, the highest-priced musical junk store that exists in the South. So when you pull up to the quaint purple house decked out in wind chimes, don't hold the eyesore next door against them. You may enter to buy incense for your, um, extracurricular activities, or maybe you need some homemade bath salts for a Sunday soak. Regardless, Mary Jane will greet you with an honest smile when she asks your name. Come around enough times, and she won't allow your departure without a hug. OK, you're not the "getting hugged" type, or "being spiritual" type, or "connecting to the higher planes" type. For those readers who are into the hokey-pokey hocus pocus (we know you're out there), this is the place to get all kinds of goods, including books, candles, stones, herbs, salts and, of course, the best darn incense.

Best Place to Party Like It's 1979

Pandemonium

Ever wonder what happened to those rockin' concert T-shirts your older brother/cool uncle/baby sitter wore? We're talking Styx, Journey, KISS, Foreigner, Pink Floyd. Well, they're at Pandemonium in near-mint condition. Hell, even your little sister's New Kids on the Block and Tommy Page shirts are here, though it would take some balls--or a very refined sense of irony--to walk out the door with those. One day there will be a Nelson concert T-shirt circa After the Rain. That is, just as soon as we give up hope on marrying Gunnar. Or was it Matthew?

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