So a drunken night in a limo with confetti, a stocked bar and seven of your closest friends was not the best time to wear a white skirt. Now it makes sense. We use Freedom Cleaners in the Old Town shopping center because they can fix anything. They don't make promises, but they haven't let us down yet. Whether you're bringing in a sackload of work shirts or a party-battered white skirt, they smile and ask about your day. We actually believe they care. These people are nice, and we love them--almost as much as that white skirt.
We've never been so disappointed with Borders Books and Music as we have in recent months; bet you didn't know they gotta wear uniforms at the West Village location, which is an enormous turnoff. And Barnes & Noble, well, a chain's a chain, and it ain't no damned good unless it's on a bike, bud. Which leaves us, as always, with the perennial fave, the hometown hero that's been offering books, new and used, for pennies on the dollar ever since people actually read. We're as much in love as ever with the mother ship on Northwest Highway, which always has something to sell us even if they're out of what we came for in the first place. It's the quick stop that turns into the day trip, especially as the weather cools and the hot chocolate's tempting us from the Black Forest Caf in the corner; never has dusty lit tasted so cocoa-y. And the vinyl bin provides the best deals in town; picked up a Bloodrock debut the other day for a couple of bucks, or a fraction of what eBay suckers are plunking down for the acid-rock head trip. Other bargains await around every corner and in every crevice; go now, before we pocket what you seek.
Hotel St. Germain
Weird one, isn't it, for the local to write; should have outsourced this one to an outta-towner (like, say, John Travolta, who can be found in the Four Seasons in Las Colinas as often as a drunk golfer, or a movie-studio publicist who has to baby-sit celebs as they make the rounds pimping product). We've heard bad things about the W, alas. And as much as we love to drink at the Belmont, well, it's still a motor hotel; trendy's fine, but what's the thread count? Which leaves us considering the Holy Trinity: The Mansion on Turtle Creek (softest beds ever, not to mention softest handscan't, and won't, explain), the Adolphus (sweet suites, and if it's good enough for Borat...) and the Melrose (or is that the Stoneleigh...oh, what's the dif?). Not one of 'em tops the Uptown retreat that looks, feels and acts more like 19th-century Paris: the Hotel St. Germain, which is so exclusive it has only seven suites, most with Jacuzzis and every one decorated like royalty's about to walk in, lie down and take a nap. And the restaurant's one of the best in town. So we hear. Like we can afford $650 suites. C'mon.
Look, we don't know the first thing about fancy jewels; just don't kick us in ours, that's all we gotta say on the subject. But this much we do know about William Noble: His stuff is rare, fancy, expensive and among the best bangles and baubles sold anywhere in the United States. His two-decade-plus run in the Highland Park Village attests to that; you don't stay in the highest-rent district in town that long selling crap to chumps. So what's Highland Park Village owner Henry S. Miller doing leasing space to Fifth Avenue carpetbagger Harry Winston, better known as the jewelry-maker to the stars? Making a killing, yeah, but also looking to injure a local who's been around for a good third of the Village's 75-year run. Trust us: This ain't going over well with the jet set, which loves its Billy Noble--SMU grad that he is, nice kid--and would probably spread the wealth were Winston further away...like Rodeo Drive and not Mockingbird Lane.
Olla Podrida closed down exactly 10 years ago this summer, and if you're not from around these parts, let us explain how much of a heartbreaker that was for some of us natives. See, it was an oddball mall at Coit Road and LBJ Freeway built, from what we hear, out of abandoned airplane hangars. Best we can recall, the inside was wood, wood and more wood; our hazy memories recall the place looking like a pirate ship. And it wasn't your average mall, but one filled with artsy-craftsy kiosks--glass-blowers, landscape artists, people who made things with rope, candy-makers--in other words, everyone who sooner or later wound up at the West End Marketplace till it shuttered earlier this year. Well, Olla Podrida is now the home of Akiba Academy and Yavneh Academy--schools for the Chosen People, as opposed to, oh, the Da Vinci Academy, which is a school for the Accepted People, and there's a big difference. The Hebrew learnin' facilities purchased the mall three years ago, tore the place down and built in its place some fancy new kosher digs. Oh, but Olla Podrida lives: There's a band from Austin with the same name (more or less--it drops one "l") featuring David Wingo, who writes the music for the movies of David Gordon Green, who's from Dallas. And the circle is complete.
Froggies 5 & 10
Toy stores come and go in this city like rain showers in June; if we had a nickel for every one of them that's come and gone in Preston Royal Shopping Center alone, well, we wouldn't be writing Best of Dallas items for damned sure. But this is sort of the best of all worlds for us: Froggie's has the kitschy throwback toys, the novelty nothings, the expensive gewgaws and trinkets that make every toy store more like a money pit. But it also has its Thomas the Tank Engine table (since adopted by every other joint in town) that keeps the kids busy for hours (share, damn it!) and a sizable book selection that allows us those joyous moments of silent introspection as our young ones settle in for a little Curious George while we peruse the musical instrument section and consider how badly we really want Junior to have a drum kit. And there's always Best Cellars next door--for the wine to go with the whine after you neglect to buy the young one what he/she really wanted, which you'll lose two days later anyway.
Titan Comics
We've come around on Zeus Comics & Collectibles on Oak Lawn Avenue; now that some of us have kiddos well on their way to becoming full-blown nerdlings, hey, we appreciate the action figure as much as the next dork (and if you touch that 1st Appearance Superman on our desk, we will kill you). For the same reason, we love Lone Star Comics, which has as many games as it does new issues of Astonishing X-Men. But when it comes to comic books, there's but one legit player in the area: Jeremy Shorr's Bachman Lake store, where back issues live forever in their plastic bags and cardboard boxes waiting for you to snatch 'em up; fanboys can't live by new product alone, after all, not with the recent renaissance in comics in which new writers, such as Brad Meltzer and Grant Morrison, take old stories you thought disposable as a kiddie and render them indispensable as a grown-up. And Titan is all about breeding the next gen of fanboy: Shorr's got a play area for the little ones, next to the rack of kids' comics (Teen Titans much?).
Dr. Lynne (as she prefers to be called) tackles migraines, aching joints and that nagging pain in your lower back (you know the one) with no pretense, just a skilled hand and one helluva friendly staff. Her practice, Uptown Chiropractic, is a sanctuary of healing, conveniently located near lunch hot spots and errand destinations, so there's no excuse not to fit a visit into that busy schedule. After a lifetime of headaches, a couple of wreck-related injuries and a fear of chiropractors, we've found our savior in the one who made them all things of the past. Plus, the office throws these festive patient appreciation events that make us feel, well, appreciated. It's a doctor visit we never dread. And that's saying something.
Owner Tony Gates and his Urban crew have won before in this category, and we're not opposed to throwing it their way again, because they seriously never fail us. Five minutes from needing a delicate pair of earrings, a knickknack that screams "whimsy!" or the perfect touch of random to add on to a joint gift that needs our personal stamp, Urban always has the answer. For flustered shoppers, they provide friendly help when needed but also know when leave to us alone to overanalyze our options (Hmmm, fantastic, modern vase vs. bold, yet flirty bracelet, vase vs. bracelet...) in both their original Skillman Street location and their new digs on Lemmon Avenue, just opened this year. And, of course, there are the flowers. What's more endearing than adding fresh flowers to your gift? (Maybe buying said gift on time, but that's so not our style.)
David Day Redenta's Garden
Let's face it, Mother Nature is pissed. In the face of droughts, onslaughts of disease and pests and record heat, gardeners have but one choice: Go native. Plants and vegetables that evolved to deal with North Texas' semi-arid climate and endemic pests need less to produce more, eliminating midnight stealth watering and complicated concoctions of fertilizers and pesticides. Redenta's has long been the champion of native plants and organic gardening, and its two locations are known for wide selection and expert advice. Not only will Redenta's help your garden go green, but it will also help keep it that way.

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