Best Of 2014

Best Place to Find a Birthday Card

Sloan/Hall
5424 Broadway, (210) 828-7738, sloanhall.com

Housed in an Alamo Heights landmark beneath one of the few surviving Mobil Pegasus neon signs, Marcus Sloan and Shannon Hall’s “multi-category lifestyle store” tackles specialized gifting from various angles (jewelry, books, clothing, housewares, fragrance, etc.) but truly takes the cake with its carefully curated wall of refined greeting cards. On a recent visit, standouts from the nicely varied birthday corner included hand-painted creations by Judy Barnes ($6), hip letterpress offerings from Elum Designs ($5.50) and MikWright greetings made from quirky vintage photos ($3.50).

RUNNER-UP: On Main Off Main
120 W Mistletoe, (210) 737-2323, onmainoffmain.com

If the birthday boy or girl in question has a particularly naughty or campy sensibility, On Main Off Main might be the best choice.

Chicho Boys Fruit Market
1631 S Laredo, (210) 225-7557, chichoboys.com

With its intoxicating aromas of fresh fruit and its farm-stand appeal, Chicho Boys has a rare, nostalgic quality that’s driven home by hard-to-beat prices on produce. Although we’ve arrived with a full-on list in hand (especially when cooking for a crowd is in the cards), the Westside gem lends itself to those who just show up to see what looks good. While you won’t find many outlandish offerings (you’ll need to shop elsewhere for pluots, fiddleheads and Romanesco), Chicho Boys stocks a lot more than the basics (turnips, Bosc pears and asparagus are all in the bins) and posts weekly specials on its website. Stopping in on a recent Saturday, we picked up a pound of portobello mushrooms for $3.99 (a full dollar less than you-know-where) and a bountiful, fresh-cut fruit cup for $2.49.

Frankenbike
Location varies, (210) 305-1557, sanantonio.frankenbike.net

Living up to its Shelley-influenced name, Frankenbike is like the SA Craigslist bicycle page come alive, with pro and amateur vendors dealing ready-to-ride bikes, parts, accessories and service at competitive prices. Founded in 2005, the swap established itself in San Antonio in 2010 and has been serving the DIY bike culture here since. Changing its location for each monthly meeting, Frankenbike is a moveable feast for bike buffs who enjoy bargaining in a flea market environment.

Seoul Oriental Food Market
1027 Rittiman, Ste 101, (210) 822-1529

Don’t try finding a website for this joint—you won’t. But you will find just about everything else inside the warehouse-like Seoul Oriental Food Market, and at bargain prices. Its selection of dried seaweed snacks is unparalleled, and you’ll find your fair share of instant ramen for under a buck, a bevy of frozen seafood and the freshest daikon radishes and napa cabbages money can buy (or gallons of ready-made spicy kimchi, if you’re not up to fermenting your own batch). Better still is the café at the back right corner of the market, which cranks out wallet-friendly noodle soups, bulgogi and kimchi fried rice ($6-$12.99).

1. Pearl Farmers Market
312 Pearl Pkwy, (210) 212-7260, pearlfarmersmarket.com

2. Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market
255 E Basse, (210) 722-5077, quarryfarmersmarket.com

3. The RIM Farmers Market
17503 La Cantera Pkwy, (210) 854-1116, hillcountryfarmersmarket.org

 

What makes them so special? Comment below.

1. Agosto Cuellar
agostocuellar.com

With his key role in Una Noche en la Gloria’s Runway en la Calle (above), DJ gigs, the pop-up studio Espacio and a custom-made Cornyation gown for Queen Anchovy, Agosto Cuellar is boldly proving there’s life after Jive Refried. Likely among the reasons readers elected him Best Local Fashion Designer, Cuellar has a keen sense of humor that plays out in culture-mashing collections like 2013’s “San Antokyo.”

 

2. Deco Tease
facebook.com/decotease

3. Jupiter Moon 3
jupitermoon3.com

Bexar Goods Co.
bexargoods.com

The definitive source for high quality, handcrafted leather goods made right here in Bexar County is none other than Bexar Goods Co. Established by three young men of the Rubio family, brothers Falcon and Christian and cousin Guy, Bexar Goods’ products are sold online as well as in a few stores in Austin—and one in Singapore. While there’s no local storefront just yet, the Rubios hope to open a workshop and boutique within the year. At the top end of the register, exquisite leather briefcases, carryalls and messenger bags run from $270 to $875; canvas totes and bags with leather detailing range from $140 to $350; belts fall in the neighborhood of $85; and other accessories, from coasters and mouse pads to dog leashes and collars, cost anywhere between $35 and $95. Head to the website to see these gorgeous goods for yourself.

The Richter Co.
616 Broadway, therichterco.com

Not only has The Richter Co. become a source for men’s and women’s luxurious basics, tailored button-downs and trendy staff T-shirts for a host of new restaurants (see: Grayson Street Eatery, SoBro Pizza and Tuk Tuk Tap Room, just to name a few) designed and crafted right here in the Alamo City, the lower Broadway store has become a chameleon-like social venue for pop-up yoga, Taco Tuesdays and evening soirees. Shop in person (Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m and Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.) or online.

RUNNER-UP: S.C.R.
3609 Broadway, (210) 375-5882, scrman.com

This class-act clothing store for the gents is located on Broadway near the Witte. Short for “style comfort relativity,” the shop sells top-caliber casual and dressy menswear, carefully designed here in SA and produced in Vernon, Calif., by the same manufacturing houses of many major designer labels.

Mission Open Air Market
707 Moursund, (210) 923-8131, missionopenairmarket.com

With tacky imports, new plastic toys and other landfill-destined unnecessaries now being the norm at most flea markets, veteran junkers are hard-pressed to find anything a flea would bother burrowing into—sad truths that make a dusty destination like Mission Open Air Market all the more appealing. Encompassing 50-acres, this “mall without walls” is advertised as the “king of bargains” and “a little taste of Mexico 10 minutes from Downtown”—both of which check out, save for the strip club-worthy $6 ATM fee (side note: you’ll need $1 per person to get in the gate). Here, bargaining seems most effective on Sunday afternoons, when dealers would often rather cut a deal than pack it up again. While it can’t compete with Selma-based Bussey’s in terms of collectibles, Mission delivers a distinctly San Antonio experience that comes complete with food trucks (stocked with mini tacos, roasted corn and aguas frescas), excellent people-watching and a misting station under a sign that reads, “Spot free rinse: no soap provided, come sit for a spell.”

Alamo Records & Sheet Music
125 Broadway, (210) 212-4200

Located among several centuries’ worth of cultural detritus, Alamo Records & Sheet Music sits in a corner of Alamo Antique Mall’s top floor, patiently awaiting vinyl collectors and devotees of pop cultures past. With thousands of records pouring off the shelves and onto the floors, Alamo Records caters to the purest of record nerds, thrilled by the chase of perusing vaguely categorized vinyl stacks. For budget shoppers, Alamo tends to make up its fairly priced tags for their mid-tier releases—we recently picked up a knockoff Blue Note of Herbie Hancock’s Inventions and Dimensions for $8. But for the cream of the unorganized crop, expect a deep wound in your wallet, with original pressings of Beatles’ records reaching the triple digits. An impressive library of jazz, blues, country and oldies-station pop, Alamo Records is the place to itch that analog scratch. A word to the wise: It’s best to call ahead—like their organization, there’s some strange logic to their hours.