Best of Dallas®

Best Of 2016


  • + Abilene
  • + Addison
  • + Allen/McKinney
  • + Amarillo
  • + Arlington
  • + Austin
  • + Baton Rouge
  • + Big Bend National Park
  • + Brownwood
  • + Bryan/College Station
  • + Carrollton/Farmers Branch
  • + Carswell AFB
  • + Cedar Creek Lake Area
  • + Cedar Hill
  • + Central Texas
  • + Cockrell Hill
  • + Coppell
  • + Corpus Christi
  • + Corsicana
  • + Crandall/Combine
  • + Denton
  • + Downtown/Deep Ellum
  • + Duncanville/DeSoto
  • + Durant
  • + Dyess AFB
  • + East Dallas & Lakewood
  • + East Texas
  • + El Paso
  • + Ennis
  • + Fair Park
  • + Far North Suburbs
  • + Far South Dallas Suburbs
  • + Far South FW Suburbs
  • + Forney
  • + Fort Worth
  • + Frisco
  • + Gainesville
  • + Galveston
  • + Garland & Vicinity
  • + Glen Rose
  • + Goodfellow AFB
  • + Granbury
  • + Grand Prairie
  • + Grapevine
  • + Gulf Area
  • + Houston
  • + Huntsville
  • + Irving/Las Colinas
  • + Kaufman
  • + Killeen
  • + Lake Dallas
  • + Lancaster/Balch Springs
  • + Lancaster/Wilmer/Hutchins
  • + Laredo
  • + Laughlin AFB
  • + Lavon Lake Area
  • + Lewisville
  • + Louisiana
  • + Lubbock
  • + Manchester
  • + Mesquite/Balch Springs
  • + Mexia/Groesbeck
  • + Mid-Cities (H-E-B)
  • + Midland/Odessa
  • + Nacogdoches
  • + New Braunfels
  • + New Orleans
  • + North Dallas
  • + North Texas
  • + Northeast Dallas
  • + Northeast Texas
  • + Northwest Dallas
  • + Oak Cliff/South Dallas
  • + Oklahoma
  • + Out of Town
  • + Panhandle
  • + Paris
  • + Park Cities
  • + Plano
  • + Reese AFB
  • + Richardson & Vicinity
  • + Royse City
  • + San Angelo
  • + San Antonio
  • + Sheppard AFB
  • + Sherman/Denison
  • + Shreveport/Bossier City
  • + South Fort Worth Suburbs
  • + South Texas
  • + Southeast Suburbs
  • + Tennessee
  • + Texarkana
  • + Tyler
  • + Unknown
  • + Uptown/Oak Lawn
  • + Waco/Temple & Vicinity
  • + Waxahachie
  • + Weatherford/Mineral Wells
  • + West Dallas
  • + West Texas
  • + White Rock Lake Area
  • + Wichita Falls
  • + Wylie
Map It

Arts & Entertainment

Food & Drink

Shopping & Services

Readers' Choice

Keep Dallas Observer Free

Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Educational Kids Store

Although most parents might consider Lakeshore Learning solely for teachers, the store caters to any caregiver interested in providing children with learning experiences. These toys aren't superhero focused or purple and pink. They are fun exploratory toys — like kinetic sand and water beads, water tables with magnetic fishing poles and toy fish, parachutes and balance boards, light tables and Magnatiles. Although at times pricey, Lakeshore Learning is one of few toy stores in the Dallas area that carries educational supplies and toys. When your child is playing with toys from Lakeshore Learning, they are also building skills and knowledge. Their curiosity is engaged, not their brand awareness.

13846 N. Dallas Parkway, Dallas, 75240
Best Hair Salon
Dear Clark

Your friend with the good hair gets it done at Dear Clark. This friendly, full service salon has a variety of stylists, all of whom are willing to help you find a new look, whether it's ombre, balayage or neon pink. Plus, they'll serve you a mimosa while they tame your mane. Whether you know what shade of red you want or you just broke up with your boyfriend, they'll leave you looking good. The only downside is the valet parking, but hey, this is Dallas, and at least it's free.

Readers' Pick:

Avalon Salon

3317 McKinney Ave., Dallas, 75204
Best Place to Blow Your Paycheck

Forget a savings account. Treat yo' self. This Los Angeles transplant in the Joule Hotel offers nothing but the best. You deserve that $75 shirt. It's made from bamboo and the ultra chic shop girl says it never smells bad. Oh, and toss in that $65 candle. Sure, they're the cheapest things in the shop, but you'll feel so luxurious when you walk through downtown Dallas after spoiling yourself. If you're really looking to break the bank, put together a full outfit from brands like Cheap Monday, Deer Dana and Creatures of Comfort, but maybe get advice from the shop girl before you pull the trigger on those culottes.

Best Accessories With a Past

In March 2014, Lake Highlands got a kick in its vintage game. Where a weary Dollar General once stood, excitement was building with every bronze figurine, Lucite lamp or Eames-era chair positioned in the booths of Top Drawer Antiques and Mid Mod Shop. What was once a 7,500-square-foot store offering rows and rows — or hours and hours — of treasure hunting has in the past year expanded in the neighboring space for what's now about 13,000 square feet of accessory heaven. (There's 7,000 square feet more to come as the store expands again after the start of 2017.) Western art, bar sets, vintage ashtrays, light fixtures, Pyrex, classic toys. Top Drawer's larger pieces (full Danish modern dining sets, pristine couches, dressers) are exquisite, but there's just so much fun to be had poking around for the lamps, the art and the small items that are, like the name says, top drawer. The best part, however, is the staff, who clearly adore what they do and what they sell. Reed Sutton, owner and matriarch, runs the place with daughter Corey Sutton on the daily, and if it's busy, their husbands are there too. It's a labor of love to manage approximately 70 vendor booths at any given time, but there's a lot of laughter behind that counter. With stock constantly turning but wonderfully curated, the Suttons have given Dallas a great way to shop down memory lane.

10622 Northwest Highway, Dallas, 75238
Best Eyewear Selection

Warby Parker has every style of glasses and sunglasses you could imagine. That isn't the best part. They'll let you try out up to five sets of frames at home for no charge. That also isn't the best part. The best part of Warby Parker is the price. Their stylish, durable frames are all available for a flat $95, single vision lenses included. For anyone who's suffered through paying $300 or more for "discount" glasses, Warby Parker and its try-before-you-buy Dallas showroom is a godsend.

Readers' Pick:

Warby Parker

2008 N. Henderson Ave., Dallas, 75206
Best Decorative Accessories for the Garden

Owner Jason Cohen, a partner in Curiosities antique store, takes his eccentric eye out into in the garden for this new store and finds predictably unpredictable treasures — an antique wheelbarrow right out of Peter Rabbit, tin chicken fountains that spit, a twig rocker, a bell jar in which a perfectly bleached bird skeleton flutters above a mossy nest and a variety of quirky wind-driven ornaments and gewgaws. A visit here may change your whole vision of what a garden can be.

8920 Garland Rd., Dallas, 75218
Best Place to Play Games in Public

Sometimes playing games is actually good for one's relationships. Game playing has even been known to foster new ones. At least, that's the case when the games are played at Common Ground Games. No one is required to play Cards Against Humanity. Most of the game playing during the week revolves around Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, Pokémon, Star Wars: LCG and community-centric games. Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to close serves as a new game demo and board game night, and most every Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., there's open gaming (although, technically, Common Ground is always open gaming, that's just the day there's no scheduled game event). Attendees can buy, borrow or BYOBG, then grab a table. All are welcome: That is to say, there's no intimidation — backgammon, Risk, Telestrations, Mysterium and Tyrants of the Underdark are all perfectly acceptable. Most folks bring fellow players with, but friends can be made over shared strategies and/or snacks. As always with gaming (and relationships), snacks and hydration recommended.

1328 Inwood Rd., Dallas, 75247
Best Handyman Fantasy Land

We've lost our significant others for hours on end in this unassuming warehouse that's stocked to the gills with, well, wood — and we've been lured in ourselves by the promise of design inspiration. We weren't disappointed. Inside Wood World, there is indeed a world of lumber in all its forms. You'll find exotic varieties, like Peruvian walnut and beautiful striped zebrawood or plain old plywood in all its practical glory. And when the vast array of timber starts to make your head spin, the well-versed staff is there to tell you what pieces are best for your big ideas, what tools you'll need, and whether or not you're about to bite off way more than you can chew.

13650 T I Blvd #101, Dallas, 75243
Best Blooming Muse

High-end florists are in no short supply in Dallas, but we've always had a soft spot for this one in particular, founded by local floral dynamos Luit and Jamie Huizenga. Now run by Doan Do, the shop still consistently produces some of the most artistic, elegant and stunning arrangements in town thanks to the efforts of its long-term designers, most of whom have been churning out paves, bouquets and custom florals for close to a decade. The mix of French, Eastern European and Latin American aesthetics is an obvious indicator of the diversity of the staff, and the shop's loyal following among Dallas high society is a nod to their artistry and emphasis on quality. We love the less traditional offerings, though: Beautiful succulent blends with impeccable construction, funky orchid designs and whimsical color combinations never fail to floor their recipients.

4415 Lovers Lane, Dallas, 75225
Best Place to Ease Working Mommy Guilt

Behind every successful working parent is good childcare. Seriously, if you don't have a good, reliable source for childcare, you're screwed. And even then, chances are that you're still going to question whether you're doing the best thing for your kids. Spanish House, which has built a devoted following among East Dallas parents, takes all that doubt out of the equation. Their Spanish immersion nursery and preschool programs combine the necessity of daycare with the power of dual language learning. Staff speak to the children primarily in Spanish while providing top-notch care and creative educational programming. The drop-off line is a mix of local artists and musicians, professionals and mother's-day-out types who enjoy peace of mind while their kids learn español. One caveat: Get your bebé on that waiting list while they're still in utero. The waiting list here is muy gigante.

5740 Prospect Ave., Dallas, 75206
Best Pint-Sized Party
Disco Kids at It'll Do

We're sticklers about bedtime for the most part, but once in a while we are more than happy to bust up a bedtime routine in favor of busting a move. Local party doyenne Alicia Duncan provides the venue for kids to break out and get down about twice a month at the venerable It'll Do Club, and while the dancers are teeny-tiny, the good times are in no way diminished. One recent Friday, the lighted dance floor was packed with toddlers and preteens, decked out in strobe-lit jewelry and hopped up on food from Easy Sliders (one of Disco Kids' frequent food truck vendors). The music was loud enough to facilitate some serious grooves, but not so loud that the pediatrician's gonna kill your buzz, and those kids were jammin'. And the parents weren't exactly wallflowers — the full bar is available and the DJ occasionally inspired some parental booty-shaking with well-placed Prince or B-52's tracks. For upcoming Disco Kids events, which are $5 each for kids and free for parents, see their official Facebook page.

4322 Elm St., Dallas, 75226-1133
Best Used Bookstore
Recycled Books

Known as "the big, purple building on the square," Recycled Books is a beacon for book and music lovers from across the country. Located in the historical Wright's Opera House on the corner of Locust and Oak streets in Denton, Recycled offers three levels filled with shelves of used books. It's quite a change from the tiny storefront on University Drive where Recycled first opened in the early '80s. Today, the used bookstore is emblematic of Denton's "independent and arts-loving spirit" and offers rare books, records, CDs, DVDs and VHS (as well as other collectibles) all at affordable prices. "Just as Walt Whitman commented that great poetry requires great audiences, Recycled is able to be what it is because of its great customers and the community it's a part of," its website reads, and the Observer agrees.

200 N. Locust St., Denton, 76201

Best Educational Kids Store: Lakeshore Learning Store

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.