Best Place to Ease Working Mommy Guilt 2016 | Dallas Spanish House | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

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.

Patrick Williams

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.

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.

There's nothing like a well done military surplus store. Sure, they often appear the same, with racks of old uniforms, displays of button insignia, dangling backpacks from various nations and cheeky T-shirts that say "Infidel" in Arabic. But the Army Store, Dallas' oldest surplus store, takes the concept to a professional level. The prices are reasonable, the stock is clean and well-presented and the staff friendly. Even better for aficionados, the stock rotates nicely so fresh finds are there to reward repeat visitors. The family-owned store doubles as the best place in Dallas to buy airsoft paintball weaponry.

Best Place to Buy Something Cute for Baby and You

Gypsy Wagon

A modern cowgirl's oasis in Knox-Henderson, Gypsy Wagon offers a plethora of clothing, home decor, shoes, hats, children's toys and clothes. Although abundant in its bohemian Western wear, the store is carefully curated. From Free People tribal dresses to Minnetonka leather cowboy hats, Gypsy Wagon carries the perfect outfit and accessories for a festival weekend or a road trip to Marfa. Bring that Boho Texas feeling home with their home goods selection — from cactus vases to bright hand-stitched pillows. Have a little cowgirl? Check out the kids' corner with onesies from KicKee Pants, embroidered Mexican dresses, leather baby moccasins and cowboy boots. And if you are shopping with the little one, the cute plush unicorns and longhorns will make for a great distraction.

This outlet is where craftsmen carefully stitch, stud and staple leather gear for BDSM sex. In 2005 California-based Leather Masters bought a boot shop and opened a fetish supply outlet in Deep Ellum. It may not seem like a big deal to the uninitiated, but having experts on staff and the ability to make alterations on premises is a huge plus. Honestly, who wants to be uncomfortable when dangling from a harness while someone whips your genitals? Well, you know what we mean.

Look at your neighbor's yard. Behold the array of large rocks and stones laid out in such complex and bewildering patterns that future archaeologists could try to match them with myriad astronomical alignments. Then ask yourself, how do I get my own yard looking as Druidic and mysterious? The answer, you wannabe pagan, is AAA Sand & Stone. It's a 5-acre playground of earthen material with enormous racks of rocks, slabs of stone, collections of car stops, miles of mulch and groupings of gravel to examine. Watch your fingers and back muscles as you handpick your rocks, or depend on their delivery service and fleet of trucks to deliver.

A couple years ago, Citibank changed strategies. Where once they focused on 120 cities around the world, they decided to cut 20 from their consumer banking portfolio. Dallas was one of the 20 they cut. When Citibank abandoned Dallas, cardholders who moved to Dallas from out of state discovered that the only place to find an ATM is a 7-Eleven convenience store. The preferred store for such bank-seekers largely depends on location, but special consideration should be paid to locations that accept check deposits. For that, the 7-Eleven on Garland and Easton takes the cake.

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.

She slings ink better than most artists, creating lifelike images with her permanent art. She's been featured in the Observer and appeared on several cable tattoo shows. Her designs have garnered her a legion of followers on Facebook (more than 1 million and counting), and she's become a celebrity among celebrities. But all of this fame hasn't gone to her head. Liz Cook still slings ink out of her shop Rebel Muse Tattoo in Lewisville. "Tattoos are a collaboration," she says. "A lot of times I try to get the feel for it to understand that personality and be able to push the piece past what was requested."

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Deborah Brody Pittman

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