Elliot's Hardware
We made the mistake once of giving this one to Home Depot, and man did we hear about that. You think Elliot's is just a hardware store? Listen, the fans of Widespread Panic (another group we've pissed off royally) aren't as noisy as Elliot's devoted shoppers, and we'll admit: They're right. If you want slightly cheaper hardware, sure, the big-box boys might be able to help you out, but God help you if you don't know exactly what you want and where to find it, because it's unlikely anyone else will. Not so at Elliot's. You say you need one of those thingies that screws onto one of those others thingies, and you can describe it, but just not very well. Someone at Elliot's not only knows what the hell you're talking about but will also take you to the aisle where it's located and help you find just the right size. We've made many, many trips to Home Depot, usually about half of them to return thingies we didn't mean to buy in the first place. At Elliot's, one trip gets it right.
Sprouts Farmers Market
Sprouts may not be as flashy as Central Market or as hippie-dippy as Whole Foods, but what they lack in pizzazz they more than make up for in price and convenience. Have you ever actually tried to shop at Whole Foods or Central Market at 7 p.m. on a weeknight? You'd be lucky to get out of there alive without being trampled by ravenous Uptowners. But at Sprouts you can pick up the same Kashi cereals, vegetarian chick'n patties and tofu cream cheeses, often for less money, and be out of there in no time. Their produce selection may not be as extensive as some of their hoity-toity competitors, but their fruits and vegetables are always fresh and cheap, and their meals-to-go and bulk departments aren't shabby either. And if you're running low on dough, check out their weekly ad at sprouts.com, where they let you in on all the best deals. Bartlett pears at 69 cents a pound?! Check and mate, Whole Foods.
TailWaters Fly Fishing
Good fly fishing shops seem to have a hard time in Dallas. Could it have anything to do with a climate that's Trout Hell? Against the odds, TailWaters Fly Fishing has us hooked. This cool new store on the McKinney Avenue trolley line looks and feels like somebody plucked it out of Montana and dropped it here. A knowledgeable and friendly staff, good supply of flies, lots of angler tchotchkes, good range of rods, including ones by Dallas-based Temple Fork—this place has everything to help you forget where you really are. They'll also help you plan fly fishing trips and advise you where the big ones are biting. As a full-service fisherman's helper, they're very fly indeed.
W Dallas Victory
We are including this for one very good reason: You're more or less paying for this anyway, what with the tax breaks and publicly subsidized dough Dallas poured into Ross Perot's piece of property years ago, so ya might as well give yourselves a pat on the big ol' back. For whatever reason—film fests, traveling friends, spa trips, dinner plans—we've found ourselves visiting the W often since its opening last year. And, yeah, hipsters love their Belmont in the Cliff and old-timers love their classy-charming Adolphus and the visionaries can't wait for their Mandarin Oriental, but the W offers just what we were expecting: sleek, cool, comfortable, the coolest swimming pool in town (even if it overlooks the minimum-security jail, ugh), the blissful Bliss spa and one of the best restaurants in town (Tom Colicchio's Craft). And we've heard about issues with hotel security being a tad over-eager on occasion, but that's how we like our fancy-schmancy hotels—well-protected to keep out the riff-raff that really oughta be staying at the Ritz-Carlton or ZaZa. Move along now. But next year, this goes to the Stoneleigh, assuming they don't screw up that multimillion-dollar renovation. They won't. Fingers crossed.
La Mariposa
That drive down to Brownsville can be a real hassle, and they're shooting people in Nuevo Laredo a little too often to make shopping there worthwhile. Best to let La Mariposa handle the Mexican importing for you. No, they don't carry cheap prescription drugs, but they do have a lovely selection of Mexican folk art, jewelry, embroidered clothing and home décor items imported from and inspired by our neighbors to the south. Dig their Day of the Dead trinkets and sculptures, which make great gifts for those who deserve little skeletons.
Visit this fruteria for a taste of one of the best parts of Mexico. Down there colorful fruit stands dot every busy corner selling fresh-squeezed juice and smoothies. This little store in Oak Cliff is packed with boxes overflowing with fruit from Mexico, and depending on the season, from all over Latin America too. There's papaya, coconut and pineapple, mangos and even a fridge full of edible cacti. The glass counter is abloom with freshly cut fruit, including chocolate-dipped strawberries. And you can order fresh-squeezed juice and any fruit (we recommend mango) served with lime and red chili. That'll put a skip in your sip.
We counted 'em—11 different styles of boys' blue jeans, plus numerous khakis, cargo pants and camouflage jeans. Faded, un-faded; dark blue, light blue or charcoal; with or without reinforced knee patches—they come in all kinds, and the best thing is sizes. Unlike a lot of discount purveyors, Old Navy always has the slim and husky sizes you need in stock. And these clothes will have your kid looking sharp at great prices, including frequent buy-two-or-more-for-a-special-price deals. We probably don't need to sell you on Old Navy's girls' selection, because chances are your daughter is already shopping there.
Sure, you can spend all weekend prowling the local gardening stores, picking out the perfect annuals and organic herbs and filling up the back of your SUV with bags of mulch and fertilizer. But when Sunday night rolls around and all the stores have closed, how do you sate your gardening jones? Click on over to Clean Air Gardening online. Their selection of products for environmentally friendly gardening is vast: rain barrels, compost bins, organic fertilizers and additives. The big item is the garden tool that jump-started site founder Lars Hundley's passion for online retailing: the push reel mower. Our order (an upside-down tomato planter, if you're curious) arrived quickly and was well-packaged. While Clean Air Gardening is online only, now that the seeds of retail success have been planted, they plan to plant a showroom in the Dallas Design District soon.
It's time to lighten up. We mean environmentally, as in lightening your energy consumption. An easy place to start is by changing all the old light bulbs in your bat cave to the new long-lasting, Energy Star-certified, low-wattage variety. They have a bounty of bulbs at Current Energy, the Knox Street boutique for all things energy-wise. Besides lights, they also can enlighten you on everything from switching to cost-cutting electric suppliers (takes 10 minutes at one of their computers) to the best way to insulate your attic with recycled materials. They'll even do a "house audit" (for a fee) to let you know everything you could do to save as much as 50 percent on air-conditioning, electricity and appliances in your new (or old) place. And they'll give you a fresh-baked cookie while you browse. Best to keep up your own energy, right?
Sigel's Fine Wines and Great Spirits
Quick quiz: Would you rather have to choose a good, reasonably priced bottle of wine, or overhaul the engine in your car? Yeah, we'd go with the engine overhaul too, and we know precisely dick about motors. Why, oh why, does buying a bottle of fermented grape juice have to be such a royal pain? We just want to bring a nice gift to a dinner party without breaking the bank or facing those awkward, wooden smiles when we hand our more knowledgeable hosts something they wouldn't wash their feet with. We don't have an effin' enology degree. We don't want to know the DNA sequence of the variety of grape we're drinking. We just want to get out of the store without spending a fortune or having the clerk laughing behind our backs. That's why we shop Sigel's—not the huge variety of wines and spirits in every price range, and not the huge cases of cold beer. We go there because they have very nice people who will guide wine idiots to a reasonable bottle, without leaving you feeling like you've just been pantsed.

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