Best Gift Bags 2012 | World Market | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Walk into any drugstore and sure, you'll find a dozen or so gift bags. And while they'll sufficiently wrap whatever it is that needs wrapping, chances are they're overpriced and look downright drab, cliché or otherwise tacky. A quick trip to World Market will open your eyes to a whole new world of gift-wrapping possibilities. The store is heaping with over-the-top and wow!-worthy bags, boxes, wrapping paper, bows and stuffing of all shapes, colors and sizes, and for less than your average drugstore.

Forget the prepackaged grocery store cuts of meat. The best steaks in town are cut right in front of you by the expert butchers at Rudolph's Market. When you walk in the door, you're likely to see one of the butchers shaving the top layer off of a massive century-old cutting board, where your steak will be carved. The long, refrigerated case that spans the room contains huge cuts of top-quality prime beef, pork and just about anything else that once breathed air and can now be eaten. And if your wallet isn't as thick as that rib-eye, Rudolph's makes its own hot dogs, which are also much better than anything found in a grocery store.

Driving a motorcycle is a freeing experience. Connecting with the elements at 60 mph is certainly a thrill. But it also comes with many dangers, the greatest of which is not being seen by other motorists. Motorcycle Training Center Texas, which offers a two-day course held in various locations around the area, does a fantastic job teaching future bikers how to not die on the road. It's divided into two parts: classroom and riding exercises, where basic motorcycle maneuvers are taught. Taking and passing this class exempts students from taking the on-cycle test at the Department of Public Safety. All classes get the same amount of riding time, but weekday classes might have a better student-to-teacher ratio. You can find the best time for you by calling 972-242-0300 or visiting

There's a reason Deep Ellum is teeming with mopeds and Vespas. It's because of Blitz Moped, the scooter shop located on Main Street near Malcolm X Boulevard. It's hard to miss the shop. Every day five or six new scooters for sale are out front, and inside there's a good mix of Italian Vespas and their less expensive Chinese counterparts. The prices on bikes and accessories are reasonable, and so is the cost of repair work. Blitz has expert mechanics available almost everyday. One trip to Blitz Moped and it's easy to see why people are trading in their gas guzzlers for these fuel-efficient two-wheelers.

At Good Records' many events, namely its massive annual Record Store Day celebration, you know the party has reached its apex when the Good Records Chicken starts making the rounds and posing for photographs. "Basically, we've had the chicken suit for 12 years in various incarnations," says Good Records part-owner Chris Penn. According to Penn, the store's original chicken suit belonged to The Polyphonic Spree's Tim DeLaughter, but was somehow destroyed at a Guided By Voices concert. Penn still considers the mascot important enough to rent a chicken suit for Good Records' special occasions.

The most important product an auto shop can offer is honesty. At North Texas Performance in far West Dallas, that's the way they do business. You'll never be sold something that your car doesn't need. In fact, owner Tony Huerta will even let you look under the hood as he and his mechanics work, something most other auto shops wouldn't dream of. From small things like oil changes to huge undertakings like engine and transmission rebuilds, North Texas Performance can take care of it. And if you don't know what's wrong with your car, they do free diagnostic checks.

There's something whimsical about Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District, and at the center of it all is Dirt, a flower shop that shares the artistic atmosphere of the neighborhood. The smell of seasonal flowers and the dark colors of the rustic walls and distressed wooden tables have a calming effect. They have the basics covered: roses, peonies and succulents, and there are usually a few exotic flowers to mix in. They take a European style approach to flower design, but by using wildflowers, they create a countryside-inspired design of their own.

Nice pairs of shoes get worn out. City sidewalks can chew up the soles of boots and shoes long before they've taken their last step. In that case, hidden in the downtown Dallas tunnels, Shoe Pro has set up shop. Whether your entire shoe collection needs repair or you just need a shine, they do a good job for a low price, and, most important, they get the job done quickly, in most cases on the same day.

How many children's clothes, toys and ephemera can you can squeeze into the first floor of a renovated Victorian house? If you've been to The Cozy Cottage Boutique, you'll know that it's a surprising amount. The shop, on 8th Street in the Bishop Arts District, is cozy, as its name implies, but without being cluttered. The selection of clothing, which ranges from newborn to about 6, is varied without being overwhelming. Help's available if you need it, but no one's breathing down your neck. Also, if your toddler pees himself because he won't put down his Hunky's hot dog to go to the bathroom and you realize you don't have any spare pants, The Cozy Cottage has you covered.

Stan "No, Not That Stan Getz" Getz is approaching the 30th anniversary of his employment at the record plant, a business he liked so much he bought the company. Yet he still exudes a youthful enthusiasm for vinyl, the format that seemed to be facing an all but certain death just a few years ago. We're glad he stuck with it and that the old-school platters are making a comeback, as it's an honor to have in our city the company that top acts such as the Flaming Lips come to have their discs pressed. A&R is staying on top of the game, offering colored and color-swirled albums to a new generation of musicians who insist on the nostalgia and audible warmth of vinyl.

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