Ross Discount Tire

Tires will always, always go flat at the most inopportune times. Some of our favorite flat tire memories include 103-degree heat, sleet, a fairly bulky Halloween costume and temperamental lug nuts. Ross Discount Tire has always been our go-to for treaded salvation. The amiable staff offers unbelievably inexpensive puncture tests and patches, and are lightning-quick. The air-conditioning in the lobby ain't too bad either. In addition to flat fixes, RDT is generous with free air checks (better to be safe than sorry) and swift with rotations and balances. A word to the wise, though: In case you're not in RDT's neighborhood next time you flatten out, be sure to ask their friendly tire techs to check and prep your spare. It's just too bad they can't also repair all the potholes on Ross Avenue.

Yes, we do love flowers. And we love cats too. Maybe that's why this little storefront shop tucked next to an Albertson's grocery at the corner of Northwest Highway and Midway Road is our favorite flower peddler. For years, until she went to that sandbox in the sky, Isadora the kitty dwelt among the fresh-cut flowers and vases at I Love Flowers. She's gone, but the kitty love continues with Oliver (the friendlier one) and Cece (who keeps an eye on the business end of the shop in the office). How the friendly, talented staff of arrangers, whose designs for us always look like living, one-of-a-kind artworks, keeps the cats from munching the merch, we'll never know. It's not because the flowers aren't fresh enough for cat chow. The roses we've picked up here have kept their color and scent for so long, it's almost like they have nine lives.

Sephora

They'll spackle, paint and powder your mug at this makeup emporium. But better than the free makeovers are the free samples of expensive creams and emollients from high-end brands such as Murad and Dr. Perricone. Chat up one of the nice salespeople, and they'll open the magical sample drawers and hand you handfuls of packets—enough to keep you moist and wrinkle-free for weeks. Join the frequent-buyer club (for free), and you'll get more samples with every purchase. For makeup mavens, this place is the candy store of cosmetics.

Best Free-Range Celebrity Sightings (with Cookies)

Celebrity Café & Bakery

Celebrity Cafe & Bakery

Angie Harmon eats. We know because we've seen the reedy actress gobbling some of the $2.50 iced sugar cookies at this HP Village café. Order a quiche or a bowl of made-from-scratch soup, grab one of the wrought-iron chairs at a sidewalk table and on any afternoon you can see actual celebrities stroll in, out and by the place. We've done it. Jessica Simpson has been there. And on one afternoon last spring we saw Wayne Gretzy, his wife Janet and, not 30 minutes later, Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife Lynn. The latter were accompanied by a large retinue of Secret Service men and women. Up on the roof of Tom Thumb across the way were what might have been sharpshooters. Hey, it ain't the Polo Lounge, but for the price of a cookie, this place ain't bad for celeb-spotting.

Design Within Reach

Budgets guide decorating choices. But we've moved up from the "Free Good" line (as in curbside chairs with the "Free Good Chair" sign taped on). These days we need help making our abode look respectable and fashionable without seeming painfully trendoid. Design Within Reach is our fave place to dream-shop. We come here to imagine, ogle...and wish for a good sale. This store's modern wares include furniture, accessories and lighting. Their best items are from their licensed classics. Take Le Corbusier's LC2 collection from 1928. DWR has the three-seat sofa. Eames chairs? They've got the 1956 lounge—a huge coup for modern design. Go mid-century with George Nelson's iconic ball clock. And if you love Eero Saarinen's pedestal tables and trademark Tulip Chair, DWR has those too, and a lot more from 1950s and '60s designers who made their marks on living rooms the world over. DWR has furniture we covet, and while a certain build-it-yourself discount chain may have reasonable knock-offs that are more affordable, we're ready to invest in the best for our nest.

Richardson Bike Mart

After spending hundreds of dollars on gym memberships and home fitness equipment, you get easily disillusioned when you realize you haven't stepped foot in the gym in months. See that Gazelle glider in the corner? Nice coat rack. That's why bicycles are so badass. Not only do two-wheelers save gas money and help the environment, they give you quite a workout. Only thing is, you need the right team to advise you what to wear, how to care for your new bike and how to fix a flat tire, loose chain or wobbly seat. The crew at the three locations of Richardson Bike Mart can do all that plus set you up on group rides organized for every skill level. If you've never pedaled in your life, the staff will help provide a smooth, fun transition into cycling. Now, let's go ride bikes.

Whole Earth Provision Co.

How prepared are you for bag-checking hassles and lugging what you'll soon realize is too much crap from home to airport to hostel to train to the Himalayas and back again? If you're still overpacking, you need the help of Whole Earth Provision Co. Choose from JanSport, North Face, Timbuk2 and other travel backpacks or messenger bags to cut down on the suitcase burden. Then wander around a full section of nifty things to pack in your bags. Whole Earth stocks clothing for all climates, plus a wide selection of walking shoes (important for the health of your soon-to-be-tired hooves). Don't forget waterproof space-saver bags to shrink the packing space for your unmentionables (grab an extra to separate the dirties). Then browse for passport holders, airplane-legal toiletry containers and travel books to make short work of eight-hour-plus flights. With Whole Earth's help, you can fit everything you need in one small bag, then spend less time worrying about luggage and more time enjoying the sights on your grand tour.

Elliot's Hardware

Let's see, you've got your Turner Hardware in Farmers Branch. Nice, helpful people up there, but kind of small and, besides, this ain't Best of Farmers Branch (as if). There's always Lowe's or Home Depot, with about a gazillion locations, which is good, because if you're lucky enough to know exactly what you need, chances are the location nearest you won't have it. (If you don't know exactly what you need, well, you're just screwed. Good luck getting help.) East Dallas' home rehabbers—that's pretty much everyone who lives there—are fond of Ace Hardware in Lakewood. But for the very best combination of helpful, knowledgeable staff and a broad selection of every bolt, nut and screw imaginable, plus a wide assortment of tools, fancy decorating items and paint, we'll have to go once again with that perennial fave, Elliott's. This is, after all, Best of Dallas, not Pretty Good of Dallas.

Roy's Natural Market

Used to be that the health food store was only for earth mothers or people stocking up for their trip to Burning Man. In the era of the Toyota Prius and tainted produce, we've all started to think more about where our food comes from and our ecological footprint. For hippies and hipsters alike, Roy's Natural Market has become the store of choice for earth-friendly staples and supplements. Gluten-free, vegan, fair trade, raw—Roy's hits the buzzwords, but also doesn't miss organic produce, locally raised meats (such as Fran's Fryers) and enough vitamins and herbs to put a pharmacy to shame. Don't go on Saturday (they're closed), but you better go or we'll sic a hippie on ya.

The Shabby Sheep

Remember when grandma used to sit around and knit a wool cap or pair of slippers? Remember how you swore to yourself that you would never wear that cap or slippers but felt guilty about not wanting them so you put them on just to please her? Fast-forward 35 years. Remember when you learned that your wife was taking up a new hobby—knitting—and she schlepped you to the Shabby Sheep in the old State/Thomas area and you fell in love with all the rich colors and the fabulous textures? Remember how you decided to take a class with your wife—a Summer of Socks, they called it—and now you can knit your own socks as well as wool caps and wool slippers for your own guilt-ridden children? And the circle of life continues. In an argyle pattern.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of