The Best of Big D 2009
Our annual review of the Dallas people, places, food, and drink that make us say, “Sweet!”
Texas Honeybee Guild
For his 30th birthday, Brandon Pollard’s friend gave him a membership in the Collin County Hobby Beekeeper’s Association. It literally changed his life. It was there he met his wife Susan and there the Texas Honeybee Guild (which the couple operates together) was born. Currently, they have more than 50 bee colonies spread across North Texas and are adding to their numbers one backyard at a time. Really. One of the services the Pollards provide is house calls; if you have an infestation, they will come get your bees. It’s good for you, and good for them, since it provides them with stock for Extra Virgin ZIP Code Honey, their hyper-local side business, which offers honey by ZIP code (it helps with allergies). If they don’t have a hive in your area, you can find the Pollards at the Dallas Farmers Market. But call the Texas Honeybee Guild first to find out. It’s worth it. 214-826-8696.
Best Chop Shop
Rudolph’s Market & Sausage Factory
The pungent smell of raw meat smacks you hard as you step into the 114-year-old Rudolph’s Market & Sausage Factory. On the other side of the counter, head butcher Jessie Mendoza saws, slices, and otherwise sculpts a slab of meat on the huge, well-marked chopping block, the same one that has been standing on this wood-chip-filled, sawdust-covered floor since 1895.
The worn black-and-white pictures hanging on the wooden walls tell the story of Rudolph’s evolution. Starting out as a grocery store in 1895, Rudolph’s narrowed in specialty in the 1920s when meat demand grew, largely thanks to better methods of refrigeration. Sid Pokladnik bought the place in 1950 after working there since he was 16. Rudolph’s has been a family-owned meat market ever since. Now Pokladnik’s grandchildren, brothers Richard and Brandon Andreason, are Rudolph’s third-generation owners.
The details make Rudolph’s a great story, but the store’s tremendous selection makes it worth your money. Rudolph’s trumps other shops because it specializes in “heavy-aged” choice beef, and the store sells 15 different European sausage items, usually for about $4.85 a pound. The meat cases contain whole loins, rather than the smaller portions most grocery stores showcase, and they custom cut everything according to customers’ preferences.
The Andreasons pride themselves on never diverting from their longtime family recipes, as well as selling all meats year-round, not just during peak holiday seasons. Craving a turkey in January? This is the only place in town we could find a fresh one so far from Thanksgiving. And if that isn’t enough reason to go, you can watch Mendoza, pictured here, saw through some bones. That’s fun, right? 2924 Elm St. 214-741-1874. www.rudolphsmarket.com.
Best Lawyers Who Pour
Veritas Wine Room
From their office on Lower Greenville, Bradley and Brooks Anderson have a unique view of Dallas, literally and figuratively. The latter in that they help people handle traffic tickets. The former because their office sits between two great Dallas institutions: the Grape and the Dubliner. Their appreciation for these places, combined with their oenophile nature, helped inspire them to create the best drinking spot on lower Henderson Avenue since Louie’s: Veritas Wine Room. It combines the homey dark woods and mellow vibe of the Dub with the easy sophistication of the Grape. “We’re really a wine pub,” says brother Brooks. “We’re a neighborhood joint. We’re not fussy. We just have great wine, beer, and food.” This fusion means you can sample high-end noshes (like the paté provided by Grape chef Brian Luscher) and reasonably priced reds (like the stellar pinot noir we sampled, and sampled heavily, during our interview). You can also buy any wine on the wall, usually at insanely good retail prices. This perfect marriage of upscale and easygoing is why you’ll see lawyers lounging and sipping with service industry regulars. It’s also why you’ll see us right in the middle of them, any chance we get. 2323 N. Henderson Ave., No. 103. 214-841-9463.
Best Luxe for Less
Chic and thrifty, Pam Scrima launched parkerhawn.com in 2006, selling her vintage finds and collectibles online. The site became so popular that she opened shop in a 300-square-foot nook upstairs at Hadley & Harriet’s on Lemmon Avenue earlier this year. The picky owner, known for never wearing the same thing twice, scores designer items and sells them well below market value. Nothing costs more than $100 (most items are less than $50), including duds by Valentino, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, Betsey Johnson, Moschino, Christian Lacroix, Gucci, Halston, and more. We picked up a pair of fabulous Halston heels from the ’80s for $48, and we spotted a Dolce & Gabbana skirt for $46. A shipment of Valentino, Escada, and Burberry is expected for fall. 3922 Lemmon Ave. www.parkerhawn.com.
Best Brag Book
Lyssa Orchid and Laura Lleal loved the artwork their kids made in class but didn’t love the clutter it caused. So they came up with a sensible, moneymaking solution: keepsake coffee table books featuring your child’s artwork (up to 120 pieces). The items are taken to a studio, where they are photographed and arranged in a page-by-page layout, then printed in a hardcover book, complete with dates and titles, a colorful cover, and an author’s bio. In two to four weeks, you’ll have a unique brag book that arrives packaged in a pretty blue box. Prices from $150 to $550. Copies of the book can be ordered for $100 or, after it’s been printed, $115. www.cucobooks.com.
Best Mix of Drinking, Driving, and Superfluous Apostrophe
Daiquiri’s To Go
Sure, we understand why MADD is less than pleased with Daiquiri’s to Go owner Marcus Lewis’ business plan. You probably shouldn’t be allowed to walk out of his store with a freshly made daiquiri—say, a Dirty Kinfolk or a Pink Panties or one of the many other crudely named and sweetly delicious varieties he offers. But the fact is, you can, thanks to Lewis’ shrewd exploitation of a loophole and a bit of smoke and mirrors, recipe-wise. No beverage he sells contains any liquor. Though they are divided into four categories—“vodka,” “rum,” “tequila,” and “rum/vodka/tequila”—all contain only wine. (The menu never actually states that they are made with those liquors, though it is implied.) Once made, they are sealed in a thin plastic bag, skirting the open-container law by less than a millimeter. The only thing that we are less than pleased with? That unnecessary apostrophe. Where’s the law that prevents that? 1622 Market Center Blvd. 214-741-0600.
Best Ugly Italian Food
Calzone at Russo’s New York Coal-Fired Pizzeria
Russo’s comes to Richardson from Houston, where its specialty is New York-style pizza with a crisp-yet-chewy crust, produced by the blazing heat of its coal-fired oven. But that same yeasty dough is also used in the calzone. When they bring it to the table, it sprawls across your plate, hanging over the edges, big and fat, goading you to cut it down to size. Do as it bids: crack open the monster, become engulfed in its warm, yeasty aroma, then inhale the crusty bread and melted cheese. 700 E. Campbell Rd., No. 100, Richardson. 972-235-7992. www.nypizzeria.com.