BEST EYEWEAR SELECTION 2013 | Payrite Optical | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

In the market for a new pair of specs? Check out this Greenville Avenue eyewear shop, where friendly owner Arman will take one look at you and present a selection of frames to perfectly suit your face — and his expertise will likely be appreciated, as the store has no less than one zillion options, whether you're looking for some funky cat-eye frames or a classic horn-rimmed setup. He's a hell of a wheeler-dealer, too, meaning you'll always walk out feeling like you got a sweet deal. Payrite also does fast and affordable repair jobs, whether you bought your glasses there or not, and they'll even outfit vintage frames with your prescription.

Just try to resist the siren song of the Nordstrom shoe department when strolling through NorthPark Center. We challenge you. When there's serious footwear-shopping to be done, the iconic department store is the first place we head for the unbeatable selection, whether you're in the market for a fresh pair of Toms or just want to drool over the never-gonna-afford-them Louboutins. The extremely liberal return policy doesn't hurt matters, either, nor does the top-notch customer service.

Danny Fulgencio

There is no better judge of a garden store than a first-time homeowner, who needs everything and knows nothing. In Dallas, there's no better place for a first-timer than North Haven Gardens. The sprawling garden center has enough acreage to carry everything from basic backyard building blocks (soil, fertilizer, keg-sized buckets) to exotic plants and even some weird things they call veg-et-a-bles. There's plenty of space to maneuver and hunt on your own, but a friendly and knowledgeable staffer is always lurking just behind the corn gluten, ready to pretend your super-dumb questions aren't dumb. If there's something they don't know or can't do, just ask them to break open their binder full of contractors: After 51 years in business, they probably know a guy, and the guy's probably pretty good.

The other NYLO locations in Plano and Las Colinas are a bit too contrived-hipster for our tastes, but the brand's newest locale in The Cedars is decked out in an eclectic industrial-ornate style that seems perfectly suited to the neighborhood. While the location of most of the city's top hotels will find you hailing a cab to get anywhere cool, the NYLO is located within walking distance of plenty of prime spots including The Cedars Social and South Side Ballroom. It's also eco-friendly and has super-comfortable beds, and did we mention the rooftop pool with a full bar and killer skyline views? Yeah, we did.

The best place to find your new furry friend — or, perhaps more accurately, let that dog or cat find you — is the municipal pound. The huge facility built in 2007 has dozens and dozens of dogs that you can get to know in play areas outside. And along with a huge selection, the city shelter has the lowest adoption fee we could find: $85 for any dog or puppy, $55 for any cat or kitten with greatly reduced fees for the more seasoned pets. Included with that fee is spaying/neutering, current vaccinations and microchipping. You can look online at pictures of adoptable animals, but there's no sense in committing, as you never know which animal is going to capture your heart once you start walking past their enclosures.

The "... and Dallas Home Brew" part of the name may make it seem like homebrewing supplies take a backseat to the needs of amateur vintners. Could be true, or at least that could be what most local homebrewers think. Whatever the case, we were recently looking for a few ounces of Nelson Sauvin hops, a relatively scarce New Zealand variety, and the guys at our usual go-to spot just shook their heads wistfully when we asked. But one visit to The Winemaker's Toy Store later, we had more than we needed and left some behind, too. If you're looking for a hard-to-find specialty ingredient or piece of equipment and come up empty at Homebrew Headquarters, there's a good chance it hasn't been snatched up yet at this sleeper store.

For the uninitiated, an e-cig is basically a battery attached to a heated atomizer that turns a more-or-less nicotine-laced liquid into a vapor that you inhale in place of smoke. Arguably much better for you than real coffin nails — the FDA would quibble over that point — e-cigs come in a mind-numbing array of shapes and styles ranging from the disposable, God-awful expensive Blu thingies sold at convenience stores to elaborate, rechargeable behemoths with refillable liquid tanks, lights, power meters and, we suspect, enough power to jump-start a car. Vape Lounge has all the gewgaws a serious gearhead could desire; a friendly, patient staff who'll explain how to use them; and an enormous menu of vapor flavors ranging from the vaguely tobacco-like to a whole host of candy- and dessert-flavored concoctions, for those inveterate smokers who have always wanted to put away those Marlboro Reds and try something a little more piña colada-flavored. (You can sample any flavor before you buy.) If you're looking to kick the smokes, a visit to Vape Lounge is worth a trip to Carrollton. It may or may not extend your life, but it won't waste your time.

One level above the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton in Uptown is 12,000 square feet of pure luxury. The spa and salon here treat you like a revered guest, even if you're just a slob who drove over from your rental in Lower Slobbovia. With a dozen treatment rooms (each with in-room shower), two VIP treatment suites for couples (if you're that lucky) plus "healing waters," dry cedar saunas and eucalyptus steam rooms, this joint is a haven of health, a sanctuary for sagging skin and strained sacroiliacs. Our picks for best treatments: the restorative facial using infusions of pure oxygen pumped right into your complexion and the Texas Eight-Hand Massage. Be sure to arrive an hour or two early to chill in the quiet relaxation room, where complimentary hot tea, Champagne, fruit and tiny cups of nuts and M&Ms are delivered by friendly but not-too-chatty staffers. Lie back and say "aaaaah."

Actually going shopping for books is something of a dying art these days, what with Amazon Prime, e-books and all that tech-y stuff. But when it comes down to it, nothing compares to the tactile pleasure of being able to turn the pages of a weighty hardcover (not to mention inhaling that unmistakable musty smell that all bookstores possess). When you want to do some book browsing that doesn't involve clicking a mouse, head to this incredibly well-organized used book store, where the selection ranges from best-sellers to the more obscure. Bring in your old library to swap for fresh reads — or cash — or just browse the shelves. There's also a decent selection of old VHS, cassettes and vinyl.

Whether you have dreams of rocking Beyoncé's flowing honey-colored mane or want to rock a pink ombre faux-hawk, the hair wizards at this Uptown salon can make it a reality. Each of the 20 or so stylists and colorists are chic, professional and up-to-date on all the latest trends, from so-hot-right-now pastel hues to intricate braids, and they have a knack for figuring out how to translate your dream style into something that's wearable for you. If your hair just needs a little pick-me-up, head for the Blow Dry Lounge and sip a glass of bubbly while your locks get pampered with a deep-conditioning treatment (a killer neck massage is a major bonus).

Sure, the name and location of this new salon are unexpected, but once you find your way inside you'll wonder how you ever got by without it. Located on lowermost Greenville and owned by Xristofer Crowder, this spot is more than a hair salon, it's a transformation room. You walk in burdened with everyday messiness, with your hair pulled back in a ponytail and your face reflecting the stress of where you've been. Then, you sit with these specially selected stylists and all of that static simply discharges. The catty, gossipy salon stuff you've grown accustomed to does not exist at Free Xpirit. Instead, you're in calm, uplifting hands. It's pure positivity. And you know what the best part is? Those hands can really sculpt a head of hair. Plus, they'll talk you through a long-term growth or styling plan, shaping and coloring your hair through its various stages. Sure, it's not an inexpensive cut and color, but you leave feeling great about yourself. And that splurge is worth every penny.

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