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Best of Big D 2011: Services

The top picks in Dallas for salons, shoe repairs, ways to entertain the kids—whatever you need.
photography: Deno's by R.L. Jones; Red Door Spa courtesy of Red Door Spa

Best Sunless Tanning

Bronze & Beautiful

Spray tans in Dallas exist by the dozens (we love the faux glows at Equinox and Phillip K. Thomas), but none are as easy and beautiful as this one. Adorable Jacy Rader sets up shop in your home. She’ll airbrush your pallor away using a formula she’s customized to your skin tone and then leave you with instructions for maintaining your beautiful new bronze. All for $50.

Readers’ Pick: Palm Beach Tan

Best Facial

Red Door Spa and Salon

Red Door Spa and Salon’s Ultimate Facial is pampering at its finest. Sure, you get all the usual stuff like cleansing, toning, and a skin analysis, along with microdermabrasion or a lactic acid peel. But what really puts this facial over the top are the extras—like a face and eye collagen treatment, a lactic hand treatment with warm mitts, a face massage, hot stone neck and decollete massage, and a hot towel foot wrap. No one can compete with that.

Readers’ Pick: Hiatus Spa & Retreat

Best Auto Mechanic

Bill Hewitt’s Garage

A good auto mechanic is one part surgeon, one part spiritual guide, and one part shock therapist. The hard part about choosing a best in this category is that people find one they like and stick with him until he retires. However, few shops inspire the loyalty that Bill Hewitt’s Garage does. It may not be fancy—no coffee, no doughnuts, no loaners—but chief mechanic Ronnie will not only refuse to charge his customers if he can’t figure out what’s wrong, but he is also known to beat his own estimate. Best of all, if it ain’t broke, he literally won’t fix it. 5505 Maple Ave. 214-631-6848.

Readers’ Pick: Kwik Kar by the Lake

Best Shoe Repair

Deno’s of Highland Park Shoe Service

It’s been family owned and located in Highland Park Village since 1960. Deno still drops by now and again, but the day to day is handled by his son-in-law Harry Yianitsas. The prices aren’t the lowest in town, but the shop has a deserved reputation for quality work and the sort of customer service that the well-heeled expect. 62 Highland Park Village. 214-521-1070.

Readers’ Pick: Deno’s of Highland Park Shoe Service

Best Caterer

Andrew Ormsby Catering

Catering might be the hardest job in the world. It takes a sturdy, talented, patient person to succeed. Andrew Ormsby has proved he can handle the pressure. Once a chef aboard a private luxury yacht, Ormsby now runs a huge catering operation that includes a complex with three charming spaces to host events. Whether it’s your place or his, you can count on Ormsby to value food quality over glitzy presentation every time.

Readers’ Pick: At Your Service Catering

Best Pet Boarder

American Pet Spa & Resort

When we really want to lavish our dog with love, we take him to American Pet Spa & Resort. The rooms have TVs, and there are five parks for him to play ball. But what we love the most are the two swimming pools. Smaller dogs dive into the pool that is 18 inches deep, and bigger ones get the pool that’s 4 feet deep. They can swim once a day or 10 times a day. Which means they’ll not only be happy but really exhausted. And that makes us happy. 8827 Highway 377, Argyle. 940-464-3300.

Readers’ Pick: Urban Paws

photography by Trevor Paulhus
Best Children’s Entertainer


At America’s Teaching Zoo, David Kleven got a degree that turned him into Critterman. He also found the woman who became Mrs. Critterman and convinced him to move to Dallas. Now he’s coming to your party. We suggest going with either the Squirm Factor or Junior Safari packages. Imagine your kid’s surprise when Zuka, the ring-tailed lemur, shows up for his birthday. Kleven has named almost all of his 65 animals, but don’t ask him which animal’s his favorite. He says that’s like choosing among kids. 940-365-9741.

Readers’ Pick: Professor Brainius of Team Family

Best Family Photographer

Sugar Photography

If Jennifer Weintraub from Sugar Photography is good enough to shoot Jewel’s baby shower, then she’s good enough for us. Weintraub has three kiddos of her own, so she knows “how to work around the grumbles.” One of our favorite parts about Weintraub’s business is that the sessions include styling. Your baby is perfect, but a little styling can’t hurt, right? 214-240-1044.

Readers’ Pick: Sugar Photography

Best Yoga Studio

Karmany Yoga

Karmany’s teachers set up the studio so that anyone who wants to take a class can do so. Each teacher is willing and able to instruct everyone from first-timers to seasoned yogis, and the price of admission is just a donation. There are recommended donations levels, but you can go as cheap as you’d like. You probably won’t want to mess with your newfound karma, though.

Readers’ Pick: Sunstone Yoga

Best Fitness Program

Psycho Gym

The name says it all. Through a combination of kettlebell, heavy ropes, tractor tire, and suspension training, Psycho Gym specializes in real-world strength building. No weight machines. No treadmills. Workouts are designed to burn an average of 20 calories per minute. Every Psycho Gym client receives a detailed nutrition plan designed to achieve his or her fitness goals. So, does pounding tractor tires with a sledgehammer sound a bit barbaric? Well, that’s the point.

Readers’ Pick: Camp Gladiator Boot Camp

Best Hair Salon

Salon Lucien

We love our time at Drybar, but Salon Lucien’s got the whole package: chic decor, luxurious details (free wine and snacks), a glamorous menu of blowouts (including the genius 15-minute dry shampoo version), and expertly trained stylists. If you need further assurance, the salon was even selected as one of just two affiliate salons in the country for celebrity colorist Marie Robinson.

Readers’ Pick: Aalam the Salon

photography by Billy Surface

Best Pet Groomer

Urban Paws

We spend more money on our dog’s haircuts than we do on our own. So trust us when we tell you that Urban Paws is the place to go to turn your dust ball into a gorgeous fluff ball. Groomer J.D. Howard discusses your dog’s needs and then works his magic. Urban Paws even has a maintenance plan so that your scruffy little mutt can be pretty for less money. Now if only he did human hair. 2526 Elm St. 214-748-8008.

Readers’ Pick: City Vet

Best Spa

Spa Habitat

There are dozens of great salons in town, so it’s not easy picking just one. But Spa Habitat gets our vote. The setting is serene. (Organic tea? Yes, please.) The staff is professional. (No amateur Chatty Cathys.) And the services are superb. The use of all-organic products ensures we’re healing as much as relaxing. We just hate that we wind up addicted to another of the boutique’s lotions and potions every time we go.

Readers’ Pick: Hiatus Spa & Retreat

photography: Tailors and Karmany Yoga by Joshua Martin; Gym by James Bland; Aquarium courtesy of Dallas World Aquarium

Best Family Attraction

The Dallas World Aquarium

We love that this 1920s West End warehouse was repurposed rather than razed, and we love what’s been created inside. More specifically, we dig the high-flying, waterfalling action in the Orinoco rain forest exhibit and the 40-foot-long Cenote tunnel. No matter how cool we think we are, being surrounded by sharks and rays makes us gawk like a 6-year-old.

Readers’ Pick: The Dallas World Aquarium

Best Tailor

Park Cities Custom Tailors

There’s nothing worse than wearing jeans that have obviously been shortened. The thread is wrong, the flat hem is wrong, and the fact that everyone can tell is wrong. However, Park Cities Custom Tailors can make it right. They have devised a way to remove the original hem and sew it back on without anyone being the wiser. All for $20. And if they can do this kind of magic to jeans, imagine what they can do for all your other duds. 4351 Lovers Ln. 214-528-0478.

Readers’ Pick: Unique Tailor

Best Veterinary Clinic

Abrams Royal Animal Clinic

Dr. James Murray’s philosophy is that he’s dealing with two patients—the animal and the human—and any good vet has to treat both. He comes off as a bit surly, perhaps (think Dr. House for the four-legged set), but would a curmudgeon get out in his car and look for a lost (animal) patient? Or home-deliver meds over the weekend, if he thinks it can’t wait? Dr. Murray does both and more. 8244 Abrams Rd. 214-349-2260.

Readers’ Pick: City Vet Hospital

Best Framer

Wildman Art Framing

Frame freaks, take note: Wildman offers thousands of framing options at its Design District location, including gilded period frames, leather, steel, and one-of-a-kind painted finishes. But what we admire most is its specialized frame services: gilt gold leafing, custom carved period frames, repair and restoration services, and even shadowboxes and acrylic cases for your cherished collectibles. Wildman’s client list is impressive as well. After all, if it’s good enough for the Mansion and the Four Seasons Resort, the framer should do just fine with your “dogs playing poker” print. 1715 Market Center Blvd. 214-741-7100.

Readers’ Pick: Mann’s Art & Frame

photography by Trevor Paulhus

Best Children’s Art Class

Oil and Cotton

You won’t find much finger-painting going on here. That’s a good thing. We give this new Oak Cliff community center props for instructing even the earliest art lovers in simple vocabulary and technique (think lines, shape, and form), as well as introducing them to masters like Joseph Turner, Ed Emberley, Van Gogh, and Matisse.

Readers’ Pick: Dallas Museum of Art

Best Place for a Massage


Exhale is exactly what a massage from this spa will make you do—over and over. The masseurs are held to the highest standards and are specifically trained to perform various types of massages, from deep tissue to Thai therapy. With extras like heated neck rests, scented oils, and hot towel foot wraps, it’s impossible not to feel spoiled. Bonus: when your treatment is over, you can use the sauna, clean-as-a-whistle showers, or rooftop pool.

Readers’ Pick: Hiatus Spa & Retreat

Best Place to Get Eyebrows Done

Laura the Brow Queen

Laura Khalil, aka Laura the Brow Queen, is so obsessed with flawless eyebrows that on your first visit she’ll snap a “before” photo in order to make a critical comparison when the transformation is complete. Khalil believes that brows should enhance a face, not distract from it, and she knows exactly what it will take to create the perfect balance. She can solve just about any brow conundrum, even overtweezing. It may take some time, but, eventually, you’ll have brows fit for royalty. Eliza Hair Studio, 9669 N. Central Expwy., Ste. 250. 214-682-0840.

Readers’ Pick: Cindy DiMaggio at Salon Boutique

Best Dry Cleaner

D.D. French

Consider D.D. French your clothing superhero. With its state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge technology (like the Miele Wet Cleaning system—it was the first in the Southwest to have it), the pros here can make any damaged garment new again. With more than 50 years of experience, the family that runs this business has seen it all. Shoe prints on a designer dress? No problem. Wedding gown preservation? Easy. Yellowed vintage christening dress? Have no fear. D.D. French is here. 4131 Lomo Alto Dr. 214-521-5631.

Readers’ Pick: Bibbentucker’s

Best Place for Waxing

Completely Bare

We’ve had enough waxes to tell you that this is the quickest, least painful, and most thorough (no stragglers left behind) wax in town. Plus, the room is a pretty purple, and the wax comes in girly colors and smells like grape bubblegum. 5670 N. Central Expwy. 855-366-6060.

Readers’ Pick: Hiatus Spa & Retreat

Best Stationer

Missing Q Press

Every product that Jason McDaniel and his team produce is hand-printed on one of their six vintage letterpresses. The styles are whimsical and classic, with an unmatched taste level. As one staffer said, “His stationery/invitations are the ones you get in the mail and hang on to.” In this day and age of Evites and Facebook messages, that’s saying a lot. 9995 Monroe Dr., Ste. 113. 214-673-8857.

Readers’ Pick: Paper and Chocolate

Best Manicure/Pedicure

Hiatus Spa & Retreat

We gave up the crowded row of massage chairs and shoddy polish jobs after experiencing the mani-pedi room at Hiatus. It’s more of a spa experience than an errand. Try the 80-minute Mani-Pedi Retreat. You’ll sip “comforting tea,” recline in a zero-gravity chair while covered with a soft blanket, and leave more beautiful, with your tips polished in pretty, natural Zoya and SpaRitual colors. 250.

Readers’ Pick: Hiatus Spa & Retreat