BEST MALL 2013 | NorthPark Center | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

It has its own smell. If you grew up in Dallas, the scent of NorthPark Center likely evokes childhood memories of staring in wonder at those huge robotic sculptures of men ceaselessly hammering, and running up and sliding down those smooth brick quarter-pipe-shaped planters. It could trigger happy nostalgia for picking out toys, wistful memories of ceaselessly trying on clothes as the start of another school year looms or that time your mother loudly asked a clerk if they have any husky-sized jeans to fit your fat ass. We try to avoid going to malls whenever possible, but we won't deny that eau de NorthPark makes things just a little more bearable when we are about to drop some coin on a pair of shoes, a Legos set or an IMAX blockbuster.

For those of us who can't buy bespoke, there's Lee's, which will make you look bespoke. Say you're on your lunch break, and you have a new suit from H&M. It looks good, but the sleeves are a bit long, and the pants need to be taken in and hemmed. So, you walk in, and your fondest hope is that this doesn't take forever, and that you actually get to eat lunch. Without a moment's wait, you're ushered into a dressing room. Once you've changed, a nimble-handed man is turning you around in front of a mirror, deftly slipping pins into the back of your jacket, the seat of your pants, your waistband and hems. In less than five minutes, you're done. A week later, your suit is ready and you look bespoke as hell, but you didn't spend two months' pay. The mom and pop running Lee's are fast, friendly and, best of all, really, really good at what they do.

Here's how to spend your Saturday afternoon: Fill up on brisket at Lockhart Smokehouse (some fat and a little bark with deviled eggs on the side), and, thus sated, stroll a few hundred feet over to M'Antiques. You need stuff from there. Like a giant brass tank shell to put flowers in. Or a leather Davy Crockett jacket with awesome fringe. And, while you're at it, you know that mounted bass head is going to look pretty sweet on the wall. They've got antique swords too so ... good luck not blowing your paycheck on extremely random, manly trinkets. This ain't your ma's antique shop.

Fuel City is best experienced in the wee hours of the morning, when the clubs have disgorged a collection of intoxicated women whose dresses may have been intended as tube tops. Fun game, but seek the answer at your own peril: Which of them are working girls? On the way to the counter, you'll surely get panhandled by drunks and meth heads. But once you get there, you're at the precipice of the greatest drunk food on God's green earth. Pastor on corn tortillas, with diced onions, cilantro and red sauce? They've got barbacoa, beef fajita and chicken fajita, all for $1.40 a pop. By this time of night, the gas station doors will probably be locked, so stroll on over to the window and order a Mexican Coke from the attendant while you wait for your tacos.

We Are 1976 pretty much has the market cornered on adorableness in this town. This is where the hippest chick you know got her gorgeous pocketknife necklace or that teddy bear patterned like a brain she's got artfully propped up on the sofa or the hip Japanese robot figurines marching in formation across the windowsill in her kitchen. Now you know her secrets, and you know where to get her next birthday present. They've also got an ever-rotating display of gorgeous prints, an always delicious assortment of Japanese candy and easily the most beautiful selection of cards around.

Dallas may be lacking in the horse department — we have Fort Worth for that — but that doesn't mean you shouldn't rock a sweet pair of cowboy boots. Consider it one of your inalienable rights as a Texan, right along with eating chicken-fried steak at least once a week. This emporium of Western wear has a massive selection of men's and women's boots of every style and color, from affordable everyday pairs to ridiculously expensive ostrich numbers, not to mention all the belt buckles, Western shirts and Wranglers your little Texan heart could possibly desire. (Oh, and just in case you find yourself drunk at a bar with a sudden urge for some new footwear, Pink's offers shuttle service. Hey, it happens.)

Do you dream of a bygone era when neon-colored jeggings and tramp stamps had yet to be invented? If the overall look you're aiming for is more Rita Hayworth than Courtney Love, hit up this Deep Ellum boutique that's stuffed to the brim with everything you need to cultivate a classy pinup look, from vintage dresses and retro-style swimwear to the perfect shade of red lipstick. There's even an in-house photography studio boasting its very own hair and makeup stylist who's a pro at bringing out any woman's inner retro sex kitten. Major bonus: Nearly all of the merchandise is sourced from local, female-owned businesses.

Good jeans are hard to find; once we locate the perfect pair, we have a tendency to wear them for weeks at a time until they're perfectly conformed to our asses. So unlike the sparkly crop tops that compose much of our weekend wardrobe, we consider a great pair of jeans an investment piece. This Snider Plaza shrine to denim stocks more than three dozen different brands of high-end jeans in every style, from super-skinny and wax-coated to boot-cut and destroyed, and their denim experts will help you find a pair that's just the perfect size, fit and wash to make your butt the very best it can be. Go during happy hour and they'll even hook you up with a pint of beer or a mimosa, which makes that whole squeezing into skin-tight pants thing all the more tolerable.

This extremely friendly, well-lit neighborhood smoke shop has everything you could possibly need for a night of debauchery: a zillion varieties of rolling papers from bubblegum-flavored to Bob Marley-branded, a wide selection of the newest and most high-tech vaporizers on the market and tons of locally blown glass ranging from bargain-priced everyday pieces to some seriously artsy stuff reaching into the thousands of dollars. There's also a huge refrigerated case full of beer, a rather unusual find for a head shop, that makes Puff N Stuff ideal for Friday night one-stop shopping.

Had to happen someday. Somebody finally took your dad's old hardware store and turned it into something that speaks to how people live in cities today. Gecko Hardware is part of the old True Value chain, but it's definitely not from yesteryear. Stocked with green yard products, bird-feeding supplies, urban chicken-keeping equipment and ... what is that cheeping sound coming from the back? Oh, wow, they even sell baby chicks! This is like Mr. Greenjeans heaven. And it's still a good hardware store, by the way.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of