Lower Westheimer

“Art” and “affordable” don’t often go together, but on the west side they actually do.
Lower Westheimer
Laura U, Lower Westheimer, Houston
Photograph by Erin Trieb

1. Laura U

Laura Umansky’s namesake store serves not only as her office and studio but also as a home-accessories boutique. The award-winning interior designer dedicates floor space to beds, seating, and accent tables, along with smaller, giftable items. Even the most persnickety shopper will discover something to drop money on: delicate bud vases from Roost, Stray Dog papier-mâché spider figurines, and Voluspa candles, the gold standard in home fragrances. 1840 Westheimer Rd., 713-522-0855, laurau.com

2. Domy Books

Don’t come here looking for Waldenbooks-type merch: There’s not a Dan Brown best-seller or Cosmopolitan in sight. What you will find in this red-brick Tudor is a more rarefied selection—art and culture books, hard-to-find zines, and kitschy but collectible Kidrobot toys. Browse the coffee-table tomes on photography, architecture, and style and check out elusive periodicals (think France’s racy Purple Fashion magazine and McSweeney’s Quarterly) and a slew of graphic novels lining the shelves. 1709 Westheimer Rd., 713-523-3669, domybookstore.com

3. Brasil

Both laptop-surfing academics and skinny-jeaned hipsters hang at this relaxed order-at-the-counter cafe. A line regularly pokes its way out the door, so get here before noon to avoid the wait. Choose from the options scribbled on the chalkboard—the grilled-eggplant sandwich and BLT are popular—grab your order number, and head to one of the two verdant outdoor patios to soak up the sights and sounds of the eclectic neighborhood. Just beware of the aggressive grackles, which have been known to snatch up that last bite. 2604 Dunlavy, 713-528-1993

4. Duo

Sometimes it’s more about quantity than quality, and this Houston-based chain delivers on that notion with its supremely inexpensive trendy apparel. A purple leopard-print skirt or a vinyl-snakeskin biker vest may seem over-the-top, but pair it with something more subdued and the piece becomes the crowning jewel in a look that’s fashion-shoot ready. Almost nothing here is more than $100, including the oodles of blinged-out chains, bracelets, and oversized watches that fill the glass checkout counters. 1665 Westheimer Rd., 713-963-8825

5. Couture Blowout

Any frugalista worth her weight in secondhand Louboutins knows to shop at Fatou Fall’s consignment boutique for

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