Best Auto Mechanic in the 'Burbs 2022 | Quality First Auto Service | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

On a backstreet not far from Central Expressway, right off the DART line in Richardson, Quality First Auto Service is a dependable, quick and honest garage. The family business opened in 1993, and despite changing names since then, Quality First has been fixing cars ever since. The garage works on all types of automobiles, excluding European makes and diesel powertrains, all for a reasonable $100 an hour labor rate. It also offers 12-month or 12,000-mile warranties on parts and labor. Better still, you stay updated about your vehicle throughout the process, and in the Observer's experience, you'll get a phone call at least once a day with any updates you might need.

Kathy Tran

We hope one day Dallas will have far more bicycle shops to choose from. Maybe that will come when we actually get connected trails or proper infrastructure. For now, we celebrate people who have chosen to devote their small businesses to bicycles. And it's even better when there's actually a welcoming attitude from the staff, whether you come in shoulder-to-thigh in spandex or you've never been on a bike before. Red Star Bicycles has that. On a recent stop at the store off the Santa Fe Trail, the owner patiently guided us through a little bicycle glitch; and the bill didn't break the bank. Going here for your bike needs feels like getting friendly help from a neighbor.

Believe it or not, people still use paper. As long as there is a garage tribute band or a long-form improv comedy troupe trying to get people to come to their shows, they'll need paper to help get the word out. The AlphaGraphics in Addison is one of the best deals in the city and one of the most efficient and friendly print shops you'll ever encounter. Unlike those other copy places where you have to do all the work, the staff here will help you come up with designs and develop a marketing plan for your business. They can even produce an "agBox" of business-related swag and print media to help get the word out about whatever you're trying to promote.

James Hartley

Imagine people who love and understand cigars so well that they travel to Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Connecticut to examine tobacco growing conditions, processing and cigar rolling. This is standard operating procedure for the ownership team at Cigar Art in the Bishop Arts District. The BYOB lounge that opened as a small kiosk in 2012 is now a sprawling standalone haven with accessories, pipes, coffee, events, its own line of premium stogies, a massive walk-in humidor, a booming online store and more. For the Winston Churchill-like pro smokers and beginners alike, Marcos, the shop's cigar sommelier, can lead you to the right cigar. Perhaps best of all, cigars are best when paired with a premium BYOB cognac, rum, bourbon or port, and Cigar Art is happy to accommodate guests with glassware and cozy confines. The Bishop Arts District is obviously one of the best neighborhoods to hang out in Dallas, and it's businesses like Cigar Art that are the reason.

If you're getting your lunch from a convenience store, you're either running really late and need something to keep you from passing out or you're just drunk enough but can still operate a credit card. The Dallas-based convenience store chain 7-Eleven rolled out a new concept at the corner of Alpha and Preston roads that aims to cater to more than just the busy and/or inebriated. This 7-Eleven is three times the size of the average convenience store. It has a beer cooler and a cheap but respectable wine selection, a long line of frozen treat dispensers, including its signature iced slush drinks, and a larger-than-usual selection of snacks, drinks and daily delivered sandwiches, fruits and veggies. It also has its own Laredo Taco Company restaurant in the store offering tasty breakfast tacos and the best barbacoa taco you'll find at any gas station. High praise, indeed.

Norcostco Theatrical Supply seems made for professional theater folk, but it caters to costume wearers of all shapes and sizes. The business specializes in supplying costumes, makeup and stage accessories for professional theatrical productions, but it's also the best place to find something for a last-minute Halloween party, themed gala or other costumed affair. If you're looking to go a little farther than just slapping on a rented Belle dress or sticking your head in a Beast mask, the staff can help you find the right makeup materials to achieve the look you're trying for with what makes sense for you and not what costs the most. The selection is crazy. Pull three random adjectives and an occupation out of the air, and chances are they'll have a costume, prop or accessory that can help you bring it to life.

Few things are as particular to the human race as the willingness to participate in unthinkably weird, counterintuitive things for the sake of wellness, like stepping into a sub-zero chamber for a few minutes to treat a variety of ailments, from asthma to inflammation and chronic body pain. Cry-o indeed. But just as we can withstand the music of Maroon 5, our bodies adapt to the cold through the cryotherapy sessions. Glo Spa also has tanning beds and warm saunas, so you can practically pasteurize yourself by going from extreme cold to high heat or vice versa. Glo Sun Spa has more of a luxury spa ambiance than a standard tanning salon, with fancy robes, minimalist decor and a friendly staff.

Let's face it: Most kids are in dance class to fulfill a very specific dream that involves wearing a tutu, twirling a bit and tapping. We're not all going to the Bolshoi, you know? That's why we love AD Dance: if you're a ballet prodigy, you're definitely in good hands here, but if your kiddo is content with the experience, this high-quality, low-pressure and inexpensive studio in the heart of East Dallas is a sure bet. The instructors have impressive resumes; there are plenty of options for all ages, skill levels and interests (including hip hop and jazz); and owner Amanda Dalton takes dance seriously but also seems like someone you would have borrowed a Cure sweatshirt from in high school. Another major plus to this sweet little studio? The recitals are blissfully simple: no all-day affairs or zillion-dollar portrait packages required.

Kathy Tran

It's been a tough couple of years amid a global pandemic, and it's easy to forget about tending to your spiritual side when constantly faced with life-and-death scenarios. Next time you're feeling depleted, treat yourself by beelining for the best metaphysical store in Big D: Botanica Esoterica. This welcoming shop offers nothing but the best vibes plus top-notch tarot card readings and cathartic spiritual cleansings. Its beautiful candles and bracelets are packed with positive energy, and its excellent selection of Santa Muerte statues will fill you with awe. Trust in Botanica Esoterica's expert, caring staff to help you shed your psychic pain.

It seems like there's a new story every other week about the last Blockbuster Video franchise, located in Bend, Oregon. Half the time, the stories overlook some of the other movie stores that rent and sell Blu-Rays and DVDs, like our very own Movie Trading Company, particularly the one on Belt Line Road near Addison. This MTC branch packs every inch of floor space with rows of new and used DVDs, CDs, pop culture collectibles and video games from pretty much every generation of gaming. If it doesn't have what you're looking for, the staff will try to find another location that does and have it shipped to you. The end caps are always stacked with recommended classic re-releases from specialty publishers. Everybody behind the counter looks and sound like they live and breathe movies, music and games, so you're likely to get an interesting recommendation or spark an interesting conversation about why you're voluntarily subjecting yourself to a DVD copy of The Wizard starring Fred Savage.

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