Whole Foods, we love you, but sometimes we need household cleaning products that aren't made with lemons (you also don't sell Fritos). Albertson's, you work, but you can't satisfy our craving for fresh basil pesto and imported chocolates. Until someone learns to combine these two extremes under one roof, Lovers and Greenville is still our best option. Tom Thumb's Old Town store (5809 E. Lovers Lane) is great for the basic essentials--toilet paper, garbage bags, Oreos--and it also stocks Natural Lay's, Ruffles and Cheetos, which are a million times better than any of the fancified kettle chips you'll find across the street (trust us). Central Market (5750 E. Lovers Lane), on the other hand, fulfills all of your freshest needs, while indulging our foodie flair. If you plan it right, you can make it in and out of both stores in about an hour, just in time to prepare your fresh Atlantic salmon and unclog that bathroom drain.
While he's not the only fountain of knowledge to be found at a Dallas record store (the old guys at CD Source could probably fill a canyon with all the records they've owned over the years), Good Records' C.J. Davis is undeniably the most enthusiastic, always eager to hip us to his latest musical discovery. You'll never see him roll his eyes at your guilty pleasure purchases either. No snarky High Fidelity attitude here. The guy will talk your ear off about music if you let him, and though his recommendations might not hit the mark 100 percent of the time (we're still not sure how we feel about Tunng), you'll at least hear something you wouldn't have otherwise. Thanks to C.J., you just might end up with the kind of record that will last you through 1,000 rainy days.
This is not a Best of award for every Whole Foods store on earth. This is specifically for the Lower Greenville store, because it has more East Dallas history than corporate Whole Foods probably even knows about. This store really started out across the street in the early 1970s when Harper's Head Shop began selling Tiger's Milk Bars and found there was more money in food than bongs. H&M Groceries evolved, which later became Bluebonnet, which then moved across Greenville to the current location. Whole Foods bought the store in 1986--the fifth store in the chain. It's small for a Whole Foods these days, but that just gives it the perfect intimacy for Old East Dallas, of which it is a treasured and essential element. Open every day, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Rats. The milk's soured and the ground round's freezer-burned. Nothing to do for that but order in--again--or trek to the supermarket. It's a ponderous task, but the Kroger Signature Store on Mockingbird Lane offers some accoutrements other area grocers cannot and avoids those that make for a frustrating shopping trip. If you just need some garlic, why sift through 1,000 different kinds at the gourmet grocers? Kroger's got your plain and simple cloves. Here's the value-added part: The foodstuffs look good, but there's other stuff to look at too. By the fried pies are some cutie-pies. Scanning the fresh fruit are some ferocious SMU frosh. Yes, the selection is fine--from foreign foods to sushi--but the eye candy is even more divine. Like the '80s scene at the Old Town Tom Thumb, this has become the store that's now destination uno for anyone with "tasty hookup" on his or her shopping list.
Bass Pro Shops - Outdoor World
Keep your shirt on! We know you can't buy a suit at Bass Pro Shops. And we're not recommending it for skaters or head-bangers. Sheesh. Be a little broader-minded, OK? We're just saying that for a broad mid-range of casual and outdoorsy clothes, it's a great place to shop. The store brands, Redhead and Bob Timberlake, offer reasonably priced pants and shirts in a variety of styles, from office-appropriate to fish-camp. Just up from those in price are Woolrich and Columbia, with the high end at Tommy Bahama and Callaway (golf). Of course, what every man really needs is a pair of $110 Filson khakis so tough a bear couldn't bite 'em. But not every man knows that. Yet.
Tents and camp stoves and solar showers and all of that stuff you need for camping--at least in the lower to middle price range, it's all pretty generic nowadays. Everybody has the same brands. So the point is to pay the lowest possible prices. Academy consistently hits that mark, with fully stocked shelves and friendly salespeople who give you the impression they actually like working there. The merchandise covers a broad range of outdoor activities, from camping to backyard grilling to passing out in a hammock.
REI
Sometimes people get the idea that REI is a camping store only for extreme rock-climbers and people who trek through the Alaskan wilderness, which is not really right. They have some of that stuff, but more of what they offer is aimed at the average family willing to shell out some extra bucks for equipment that will last. Small tents at REI, for example, cost $50 to $100 more than the ones at the big-box stores, but REI's tents are just about bullet-proof, backed by a no-questions-asked lifetime satisfaction guarantee. And anyway, haven't you always wanted titanium tent stakes? Sure you have. The store's tricky to find: You have to drive westbound on the north service road from Welch toward Midway and watch for it on your right, set back from the road.
In the years since they set up shop at the corner of Abrams and Gaston, Green Living has become much more than simply a store. Their seminars--including those on gardening, keeping chickens and being bat-friendly--are informative and usually include tasty baked goods. They've launched community efforts to keep electronics out of the landfill, and their Web site is a cornucopia of info on how to live greener in the metroplex. The 10 principles by which they select what products they sell--including sustainability, recycled content/biodegradability and fair trade practices--ensure that whether you're picking up a onesie, a low-flow showerhead or a gallon of no-VOC paint, you can purchase with a clear conscience.
Whole Earth Provision Co.
Amazing "tech" fabrics have been invented for outdoor wear. They keep you dry but not sweaty, cool but not wet, warm but not itchy, even bugless. Whole Earth sells the best selection, including socks and caps in "Smartwool"-- real wool from real sheep but re-jiggered so it never gets scratchy. This is where you also can get Prana knickers in a blend of nylon and Spandex that's abrasion- and wrinkle-proof and also quick-drying. Mountain Hardware jackets here are made of "conduit silk" to let them breathe. Or you could go for a Marmot hoodie made of "microporous polyurethane impregnated with silicon dioxide particles." How about Ex Officio's "Buzz Off" line? The clothes themselves repel mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers, midges and charging rhinos, according to the label. Well, not the rhinos. We made that up. But it might work if you put the clothes on first and then run real fast.
Buffalo Exchange
The closet swap always seemed like such a good idea in theory. You grab all the stuff you'll never wear, such as those disastrous purchases, made on a whim, now living rent-free in the back of your walk-in. Your friends do the same, and everybody trades. One girl's trash is another girl's treasure, right? Wrong. Turns out nobody really wanted those lime green leopard-print pedal-pushers. But at the Buffalo Exchange, things are different. The salesmaidens (and misters) know good stuff when they see it, and they're happy to buy it from you. And you're happy to rummage through the well-filtered selections from other emptied Dallas closets. Great finds have been made at the Exchange, from a $30 Betsey Johnson sundress to just $5 for that vintage Alf tee. Would that all other swaps--spit, wives, whatever--were such positive experiences.

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