Best Of :: Shopping & Services
We consider ourselves pretty savvy, open-minded beer consumers, with tastes that run from tart, brisk witbiers to decadently rich imperial stouts to Belgian ales so complex that mentally processing all the flavors is almost a psychedelic experience. In short, we thought we had a pretty good handle on trying the best beers available in this less-than-beer-friendly state, where geographic distance from coastal breweries, senseless legislation against homegrown breweries and a distributor stranglehold on the industry limit the number of brews consumers can choose from. Then we visited the beer aisle at Whole Foods' Park Lane location. Surrounded on both sides by more than 600 varieties of beer, we felt like the chimps in 2001 when they see the monolith. Except there were two of them, turned on their sides, chilled and filled with beers whose names we'd only heard whispered amidst furtive glances, even beers whose names we'd never heard spoken aloud.
With its sign boasting "ATM Lotto Money Order Cigars" and rack of spank mags near the front door, it looks like just another crummy, run-down convenience store where you're more likely to find Steel Reserve malt liquor and thinly veiled drug paraphernalia than a decent beer. But check out the back cooler and you'll be surprised by the selection of microbrews and imports, including a few we've never seen elsewhere. Even better, the store keeps a list of customer stocking requests. In one memorable visit, we inked in an appeal for Ten FIDY, an expensive and difficult-to-find imperial stout, just below where a shaky hand had scrawled "Strawberry Banana MD 20/20." It was heartwarming to see that the place is willing to take care of you whether you want expensive craft beer or rotgut wine—or Steel Reserve, for that matter.
You'll take credit for the good taste when your giftee thanks you for the gift, but deep down in your heart, you'll know it was all Vynsie, Jully and Derek Law making you look good. Sifting through the latest design trends from New York to San Francisco to Tokyo, but always most enthused about handmade local stuff, the folks at We Are 1976 keep their shop turning over with a fresh stock of sleek, useful things for the kitchen or office, books and zines, toy cameras and miniature creations for the sophisticated man or woman of the world who still likes to get down and play with little toy guys on their desk. From J-Pop to steampunk, the stock's always in small batches so you can bet on uncovering something new on each visit. It's also home to great craft classes and workshops from local designers, plus the best stock of Japanese sodas this side of Garland.
Always on the lookout for a way to improve on what's already the best place to get your hair cut, colored and styled, Johnny Rodriguez now has a blow-dry bar at his award-winning salon. So what's a blow-dry bar? Glad you asked. It's actually pretty simple. You drop by the Inwood Village Shopping Center. You get your hair washed. And then you choose one of four blowouts with names like "The Drop-Dead Gorgeous" and "The Big & Beautiful." Of course, this pampering comes at a price: anywhere from $35 to $55 "and up." Then again, Rodriguez has never been confused for Pro-Cuts.
At first glance, Gratitude Vintage looks like any number of vintage shops around town with each of its many rooms filled with racks of clothes, baskets of belts, stacks of vinyl records and display cases teeming with knickknacks, baubles and trinkets. But as you make your way from room to room, soon you'll notice the hats. They're all over. In every room. Some are hung on display racks, but the majority are hanging from the walls–taking up nearly every square—well, round—inch of space. Known for its hat selection, the Oak Lawn-area shop typically boasts a revolving cast of 300 to 400, ranging in price from a few bucks to as high as $300 for some rare designer domes. But, luckily, the vast majority of the hats are tagged at under $40. This year marked Gratitude's 20th anniversary, though in 2008 owner Marion Weger moved the shop to a larger, swankier spot a few blocks away from the original location.
It was so traumatic for Old East Dallas—the whole closing of Dallas' first Whole Foods on Lower Greenville Avenue. Sort of like what the closing of the Metropolitan Museum might be for Manhattan. Then they opened the new store on Abrams and called it "Lakewood"—a knife in the heart for Bohemians. Might as well have called it "Country Club Whole Foods." But at least Whole Foods has honored its East Dallas origins by maintaining what has to be the city's finest selection of granolas. We counted 79 varieties of packaged granola on a recent visit, and that didn't even include the bulk bins where you can mix up your own. In that sense it's still an East Dallas store, even if you do have fend your way past a lot of sweaty 9-year-olds in golf cleats to get to the granola section.
Designing home interiors is only one aspect of 25-year-old SMU grad Doniphan Moore's many talents. He's more of a life stylist, working with design-challenged clients at all budget levels to unify their aesthetic senses, from furnishings to wardrobe to personal style. His own taste fits somewhere between clean traditionalist and soft modern, with a touch of the eccentric. "I embrace the human element of a home," he says, "and don't steer away from the messiness of everyday life. If a bed has to be made up to look good, it's a shame." He's done high-end interiors, low-end home offices, magazine shoots, weddings, floral designs and head-to-toe makeovers. Moore does it all with a keen eye for bargains and it doesn't hurt that he is even funnier and cuter than Oprah's design guru, Nate Berkus. Our crystal ball (which Moore helped us find in a consignment store) predicts that he'll be a major design star too, sooner than later.
The Fiesta grocery store on Ross Avenue in East Dallas bursts at its Hispanic-targeted seams at all hours of the day and night, a taqueria-and-carniceria wonderland of everything needed to make a spicy, south o' the border meal. (Or, you know, it's also a good place to buy toilet paper and cat litter.) But what many don't know is that it's not just a fine place to pick up taco makin's—Fiesta also has the best selection of British, European and Asian imported foods in town, and yes we are looking at you, Certain Giant And Pricey Grocery Store On Lovers Lane. Three kinds of Weetabix? Check. Spaetzle out the wazoo? Yes, please. Looking to fashion a homemade saag paneer? Party on at...Fiesta.
Every bathroom in every workplace, in every restaurant, in every home, needs a spray bottle of Poo-Pourri. The magical potion is to be sprayed on top of the toilet water (as opposed to around you in the air) to provide an aromatic barrier of essential oils and natural fresheners...and, apparently, magic. As in, the stank goes in the water and never comes back out. As in, everything smells nice and fresh before you even bust a move. As in, if you have one bathroom, this will help sustain that teeny shred of romance left in your relationship. Based in Dallas, and run by CEO and founder Suzy Batiz, the company launched its first product in 2007, after a long R&D process. These days there are many varieties of the before-you-go bathroom spray (we like the bergamot, lemongrass and grapefruit of the original), as well as auto aromatherapies and Pooch-Pourri Pet Odor Remover.
A little hard to find (take Walnut Hill east from Stemmons, turn north on Ables, back west on Merrill) but well worth the search. A respected custom sail maker since 1976, Mariner now offers a spacious showroom full of really neat kayaks by a variety of makers. The staff brings deep expertise on the boats but also on bodies of water in the region and beyond. Mariner is also sort of a neat place just to visit, with the big sail-making room in the back. Very nautical. They do boat demonstrations every Thursday evening at White Rock so you can try a boat before buying. It's free, but you do have to call ahead for a reservation. Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.