Say you find a dentist that you really dig (see above). Then said dentist says, "I'm going to refer you to an oral surgeon to have that removed." Panic attack? Not if the surgeon is Dr. Craig Williams. The docile gent carries on a family practice that's been around since 1897...and that's not a misprint. This family believes in teeth. Williams is swift, calming and, dare we say, paternal. He'll chat you up about Sorta's latest (giving full disclosure that his son's in the band) or he'll just ask about the book you have in your lap while he readies his saws and pliers (or something...we couldn't look). Pain management is a high priority to Williams and his staff. Since mouth surgery is a pain to start with, any additional anesthetics are welcomed.
George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building
Dallas District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons runs three passport offices, but we like the one downtown. If you have to run the gantlet of passport-getting, you get to see the rebuilt George L. Allen Courts Building, which is pretty nice for a gummint building. And this downtown office is staffed by senior employees who know what they're doing and are pleasant to deal with. We suspect that might be true at the other locations too; in East Dallas at 3443 St. Francis Ave. (214-321-3183) and in North Dallas at 10056 Marsh Lane, Suite 137 (214-904-3030). But downtown, Fitzsimmons tends to run a smart shop. And given the boondoggles travelers are having with securing passports right now (don't plan that honeymoon abroad till you have the blue booklet in hand, my friends), dealing with nice, smart people paid by our tax dollars is somehow reassuring.
After a bad auto accident, the last thing anyone wants is to worry about the insurance hounds, the medical records and anything else but healing. That's where personal injury law guru Joe Smith comes in. The jovial family man has a naturally comforting nature that instantly eases in stressful times. And here's something that proves he's a trustworthy soul: He'll tell you honestly if you don't need his services. Hand over your worries and concentrate on getting over that whiplash while Smith and his team tackle the bureaucracies and get you the settlement to pay the bills.
Afterimage Gallery
In its 36th year, Afterimage is one of the oldest art galleries anywhere devoted exclusively to photography. Yep, in our backyard. You can find prints of classic black-and-white pictures by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams and colorful surreal photographs by William Lesch. Jazz greats, documentary work, nudes, landscapes and aerial photographs that look like abstract paintings—the subject matter is endless and the powerful images can be showstoppers in the right room. Afterimage also offers collectible pieces such as the black-and-white print by Imogen Cunningham called "The Unmade Bed," listed for $28,000. If that's out of reach, use the photos here as artistic inspiration. Now where's that camera?
Queen of Hearts Costume Shop
Don't be that guy at Halloween parties who staples condoms to his T-shirt and calls himself a condom tree. Get a real costume this year, and there's no better place to buy or rent your getup than Queen of Hearts in downtown Plano. The shop's been around since 1982, and it's still the best spot in town to find unique, high-quality costumes, as well as all the accessories you'll need to complete your look. Already got your Halloween costume this year? Queen of Hearts has you covered for the rest of the year, too, with Santa and Easter bunny suits, Mardi Gras gear and the perfect duds for the Renaissance Festival, if that's your thing. They also have a complete magic shop and offer lessons for all ages with their staff of professional magicians. But please, for everyone's sake, keep your new "vanishing lit torch" trick away from the office break room.
The first things you see when you walk in Napa Home are Napoleon and Little Bean, two white French bulldogs whose sweet faces and ovoid bodies at complete and utter rest fit with the "simple pleasures for the home and palate" theme of the shop. Napa Home specializes in home accents of natural objects like seashells, fossils, strange pods, odd pinecones and vessels made of turned wood or tortoise-colored glass. The sensual shapes make you want to run your hands over everything. The look is comfortable but also very modern and sleek. It's a great place to shop for gifts for newlyweds who appreciate the out-of-the-ordinary salad bowls, salt and pepper shakers and servers such as Bandeja Laurel trays, shaped like palm leaves and made of shiny alpaca metal and cow horn (naturally shed, of course). Napa Home is also a great place for inspiration. You start to see possibilities in your own backyard. Those giant green bois d'arc "horse apples" (artificial ones are sold at Napa Home) would look good in a large Chinese bowl. The river rocks down by the creek could fill a glass cylinder. Line up a simple display of pomegranates on a fireplace mantel. It's nice to be reminded that some of the most beautiful things in the world don't cost more than $1.98 a pound.
Buying Levi's is a no-brainer. But if you want hip denim hugging your hips—the kind you could wear to the Ghostbar atop the nearby W Hotel—the place to go is LFT (Lifestyle Fashion Terminal), a "concept" shop at Victory Park: 30,000 cavernous square feet with areas dedicated to edgy fashion lines by various designers and a "jeans carousel" similar to the legendary Fred Segal store in Los Angeles. The premium-priced jeans like Hudson, Ksubi and J Brand spin around and around on a contraption you'd find at the dry cleaners, so there's no digging through piles for the perfect pair. Chip and Pepper, one of the featured design lines, has its own space filled with cool jeans. Check out the plastic bins with vintage-look Ts. But don't stop with the jeans. LFT is a great place to scout for a new LBD, that other kind of Ghostbar wear: a tragically hip little black dress. (Anyone who says you need just one LBD is a liar.) Serious fashionistas—you know who you are—should rethink those plans to make a binge shopping trip to New York and drop the airfare on a spree at LFT. It's the perfect cure for the North Dallas mall blues.
Hollywood Nails & Spa
Not every woman can afford a Marc Jacobs bag or red-soled Christian Louboutins. (Especially not women who write for the local alt-weekly. But we can dream, right?) What most of us can scrape together the cash for is a favorite spa service. For us, it's a pedicure. And we love the ones at Hollywood Nails & Spa. The actual pedicure part is great, but what we truly adore are the extras such as the foot and calf massage, salt scrub, hot towel wrap and cushy massage chairs. Oh, and did we mention the bar? Have a glass of wine or a beer while you're being massaged, exfoliated, buffed and polished. And this isn't just girly-girl time. Plenty of suits take off their wingtips to let their toesies be pampered here. Hoof it here immediately.

Best Place to Go Before You See Iron Man Next Year

Titan Comics

Titan Comics
Not so long ago we were talking to an out-of-town friend who's way into comics, by which we mean he writes and draws a pretty well-known title, so he's actually in comics. We got to talking about comic shops when we mentioned to our friend, "Actually, we're going to Titan today to pick it up." Wait, said our friend. "That's right, you're in Dallas you lucky bastard. I hear that place is amazing." Turns out, as much as we love the all-comics comic store—no action figures, only new titles and back issues lovingly displayed in bagged-and-boarded sleeves placed in long white cardboard boxes—it's got quite the national rep to go along with its copious Best of Dallas awards. Three times, in fact, Jeremy Shorr's Titan Comics near Bachman Lake has been a national finalist for the Will Eisner Spirit of Retailing award presented to the best comics shop in all the land—an honor presented each year at the freaks and geeks' spectacular-spectacular, the San Diego Comic-Con. And, technically, the place does sell more than comics. If you need a Batman sculpture or a cool painted reproduction of a 1940s cover, Shorr also has you covered. Fact is, the place is a cross between a retailer and an art gallery. Yeah, we know—dorks, right?
Centennial Medical Center
Giving birth is a bitch. Pain, screaming, pushing, crying—and that's just what the fathers go through. Try being a new mom getting that fat little human being out of you-know-where in something even close to a peaceful environment. It's surprising what a difference little things make in this high-stress situation. Centennial Medical Center goes the distance to turn the birthing process into a pleasant, calm experience. Chances are, if you're giving birth here, you'll get your own room, but that's not even the best part. Parents of newborns are treated to a gourmet meal during their stay, courtesy of the hospital's chef. It's a delicious way to celebrate the family's newest mouth to feed.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of